The -monogatari juggernaut shows no signs of abating as one of SHAFT's big-hitters, and what better way to start the year (or end 2012, depending on how you look at it) than by offering up a prequel to Bakemonogatari, taking in Tsubasa Hanekawa's Golden Week experiences which occurred before the events of that series.
First though, Araragi is in need of some advice from his sisters, most notably Tsukihi, as he has a very simple question that needs answering - what does falling in love feel like? Despite having a boyfriend, Tsukihi doesn't have a precise answer to this question, love being the nebulous thing that it is - we do, however, ascertain that it isn't directly related to a desire to grope a girl's breasts. Indeed, it seems as if Araragi is rather over-excited about certain things, to the point of even groping his sister, which suggests that his lust for Hanekawa... sorry, "Miss H", seems to have clouded any feelings of love. Still, at least Karen has a far simpler answer as to what love is all about.
As Araragi heads out to find a suitable magazine to ease his frustrations, he finds himself bumping into the object of his interest... or rather, he finds himself flipping her skirt for some reason. With a hefty plaster covering a bruise on her face, we learn all about Hanekawa's situation with her family - or rather, the lack of said family - and the occasionally violent upbringing which she seems to have justified and accepted, to Araragi's disgust. With her stress clearly already starting to build, I'm sure we can all guess where things are headed....
After being left largely disappointed by Nisemonogatari, I had hopes for something a little more from Nekomonogatari; judging by this first of four episodes however, the series is a hit and miss affair in terms of delivering what I hoped... or more specifically, its delivery of some thoughtful discussion about tough issues was offset by clumsily over-the-top fan service that continues to go way beyond anything Bakemonogatari ever attempted, much to my chagrin. As much as I like the Fire Sisters and think that add quite a lot to the series, the incestuous elements of the show threaten to overrun the more legitimately good writing also on show here, and while I appreciate the show's visual flair as much as ever such moments are becoming more and more off-putting the more blatant they become. I can only hope that Nekomonogatari manages to move on from such things as the focus of its remaining episodes shifts.