While anime compilation films are nothing new, Kizumonogatari: Koyomi Vamp, isn’t made up of footage from a TV show. Rather, it is the combination of three films: Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu (2016), Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu (2016), and Kizumonogatari Part 3: Reiketsu (2017). And despite the low-quality reputation that compilation films tend to have, this one works quite well. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best single compilation film I’ve ever seen (and I have seen a lot of them).
This is due to a perfect storm of sorts. The original three Kizumonogatari films are relatively short as far as films go—64 minutes, 69 minutes, and 83 minutes, respectively. Despite this, I remember feeling that each of them dragged a bit at points when watching them—like there wasn’t quite enough story to fill the runtime. Koyomi Vamp trims the fat, so to speak, with a runtime around the 150-minute mark. Only about an hour of footage ends on the cutting room floor when all is said and done.
The film works so well despite the cuts due to the already eclectic editing style the Monogatari series is known for. It feels perfectly normal to get sudden time jumps forward—and subsequently have brief flashbacks filling us in with the need-to-know information for the current situation. Not only do the cuts keep the story moving at a good pace, but they also put the film’s entire focus on Araragi, Hanekawa, and Kiss-shot. (The vampire hunters appear for their fight scenes and nothing more.)
Only one section of the film truly felt rushed—the fight with Episode and the lead-up to it. The setup, climax, and conclusion of that part of the story are so close together, that much of the drama and tension surrounding Hanekawa and what happens to her are lost. The story here needs more time to breathe than it gets.
On the visual side of things, Koyomi Vamp looks great—which is expected considering the three films that make it up did as well. The film’s biggest claim to fame is how it uses ultra-violence as part of its humor—turning horrific, graphic visuals into inventive, insane visual comedy. It truly is a visual spectacle (if you have the stomach for it).
In the end, while I wouldn’t call Koyomi Vamp the definitive version of the Kizumonogatari story, I would say that it’s the most watchable version. Overall, it has better pacing than the original three films and still retains the best bits of each in a way that makes you wonder if anything has been cut in the first place. So my recommendation is this: If you’re not familiar with the Monogatari franchise and want to give it a try, this film would be a great place to start (it is the beginning chronologically, after all). If, however, you’re already a fan, the uncut three films are probably a better choice, as you won’t want to miss out on a single second of silly wordplay and surreal visuals.