Does story this sound familiar to you? That's right it is that "Golden Week" that was mentioned during the "Tsubasa Cat" story-arc in "Bakemonogatari (2009 - 2010)". With that said, once you watch that storyline you'd have very high expectations going into this mini-series and does the story meet up with those expectations? Yes, yes it does. The story in this series is more straightforward than any other story-arc found in the previous volumes and gets straight to the point. I like this approach to this series but it only works with a flashback series like this one as we already know the twists and turns and just want to see what dealing with the Cat Demon for the first time was like. Another thing I like is how tight the writing is for this mini-series as there was no scene that felt wasted. The drama, action, and comedy were balanced really well with no weird genre clashing at all.
This series is also really short at only four episodes long but while it is short you feel very satisfied after watching it. This mini-series does answer some questions but it also leaves the biggest question unanswered: "Just what on Earth happened during the week that lead to Araragi turning into a vampire?". I'm sure that'll be answered in another prequel mini-series just like this one. Even though this show is mostly dialogue (and interesting dialogue at that) you do get some action scenes. I did enjoy the action scenes as they were intense, exciting, clever, and surprisingly very gory to where you'll see geysers of blood and body parts flying all over the place. There is also some comedy and you should know what to expect at this point if you have seen any prior episode of Bakemonogatari or Nisemonogatari. If you have no idea what the comedy is like, expect some awkward sexual comedy that can be a bit over the top but alas it is really funny and you'll get a good chuckle out of it.
Characters in this series were very good and I did enjoy how the characters in this show are slightly less mature and experienced than in the other series as it helps with the "one year before" atmosphere. The characters are also very interesting and charming to the point where you'll love them so much that they will become some of your favorite animated characters of all time (to hell with Team Jacob and Team Edward, I'm on Team Araragi motherfu**ers). It was also very nostalgic seeing some characters in this show that were absent in "Nisemonogatari" even though that I watched that show not very long ago (note: Not saying which characters as I do not want to spoil what goes on in Bake/Nisemonogatari).
Artwork in this show is very good with a nice crisp, clean, detailed look and a lot of very strong but very lovely coloring. Backgrounds were very beautiful in this show and the outside scenes help build up a very intense and spooky atmosphere. Character designs are nice and have a very memorable design that simply sticks out. This show also uses one off still shots that are used for a more cartoony and gaggy effect and they also looked good with one of them even paying tribute to "The Powerpuff Girls (1998 - 2005)". Animation in this show is very smooth and I didn't spot any awkwardly animated moments or any signs of this show being rushed. This show is only available in a Japanese dub with English subtitles and I dread seeing an English dub for this show as the Japanese dub was done really well with voices that matched up with the characters personalities. The soundtrack in this mini-series was decent with an atmospheric sound but I also can't see it being in any bodies soundtrack collection unless you are a hardcore fan of this franchise.
There isn't much to be found in the special features section as you only get the text-less versions of the opening and closing credits. They were not bad to re-watch as they had some beautiful but trippy animation mixed in with some very nice music. The text-less credits can be found on both the DVD and Blu-Ray with the only difference being that the Blu-Ray version has higher picture quality.
Overall this was a really good addition to the Bake/Nisemonogatari series and I would go as far to say that this is my favorite story-arc of the show as of this review. If you are new to this series I wouldn't recommend this for you as I recommend watching this show from Bakemonogatari as this isn't a series you can jump in at any time. For those who have been following this series since the start you should get off of your seat, fly off to the store, pick this sucka up, put it in your dvd or blu-ray player, sit back, enjoy as this is a show worth watching. Great viewing.
Title: Nekomonogatari Black
Animation Studio: Shaft
Genre: Animation/Anime, Supernatural, Action, Drama, Black Comedy
Running Time: 96 Minutes (4 Episodes)
Distributor: Hanabee Entertainment
Rating: MA15+ (Strong animated violence)