The Monogatari series offers a variety of abstract composition and Hanamonogatari was no exception. The series’ uses of compositional elements are very much open to interpretation and at times can be a bit enigmatic. The unorthodox style is part of the appeal to many but can be polarizing to a few. Anyway, let’s begin with these shots:
The beginning parts of this arc gave us repeated shots of rotating things, such as paper windmills, an umbrella and spintops. They are all colored red, a striking color that strongly draws the viewers’ attention to these objects. A major theme of Hanamonogatari’s story is time and the way it can be used as an escape and how it can pass a person by. These objects seem to symbolize time as they rotate just like the hands of a clock or the earth on its axis.
Lines, Curves and Shapes
There were plenty of shots dominated by lines, circles and arcs. One way lines, especially vertical and horizontal ones, can be interpreted here is they express rigidity and feel static. Both Kanbaru and Numachi are in a static state, the former is held back by fear and guilt, while the latter by her misery. Circles can be seen as confining. Multiple times we see these characters in the middle of a circle, perhaps symbolizing how they feel trapped by their own struggles.
Lines can also be used as visual guides. Some of the shots in Hanamonogatari have a lot of things going on in the background. Leading lines were used to guide the audience’s attention to the point of interest. Here is an example.
Also, the shots above are either wide shots or extreme wide shots. These types of shots are usually used as establishing shots to give the viewers a sense of time and place. Mid-shots and medium close-ups are then used for dialogues. What Hanamonogatari does differently is have many dialogues extensively shot in wide or extreme wide. Perhaps this was another way to communicate the feeling of standstill and impasse that relates to the struggles of these two characters.
The above shots use receding shapes to create a vanishing point effect that leads the viewers’ eyes to the point of interest. So, despite the dense amount of visual information and the subjects basically being dots on the screen the viewers’ attention is still drawn to them.
Another interesting thing about these images is the contrast between the use of random sized circles in the first one and a checkered pattern in the second. The random sized circles conveys enigma, which was appropriate to the first appearance of the mysterious Devil Lord. After Numachi disclosed her motives and methods, a checkered pattern is used to create a sense of order and clarification.
These shots are another example of the use of contrasting lines or shapes to evoke different feelings. The crossing lines literally form cross roads, which symbolize Kanbaru’s confusion and indecision. As Kanbaru receives counsel from Araragi during the car ride, we see some S-curves which generate a gentle and calming feeling. This reflects Araragi’s role in Kanbaru’s life, that is of a mentor with a stabilizing and guiding presence.
Lateral Tracking Shot
After finding out that Numachi committed suicide and is in fact a ghost, the magnitude of the situation suddenly dawned on Kanbaru. Confused and under both mental and emotional pressure, all she could do to respond was to run away. The lateral tracking shot, with the camera pulling back from wide shot to really extreme wide shot made for a poignant moment. She’s running away emotionally and this scene is an imagery of the expanse of this escapism and the distance she’s willing to put between herself and her problems.