Monogatari: Was Kiss-Shot’s Fate With Araragi Too Cruel?

The widely acclaimed Bakemonogatari uses vampires and a diverse spread of monsters to weave a complex coming-of-age story that is as heartfelt as it is playful. Protagonist Koyomi Araragi is thrown into the world of oddities after coming into contact with a princess-turned-vampire, whose lengthy name can luckily be shortened to Kiss-Shot.

While the main series of Bakemonogatari glosses over Koyomi and Kiss-Shot's relationship, the prequel film trilogy Kizumonogatari acts as a prequel, giving fans important insight into what ties the two together. But was Koyomi's final decision for Kiss-Shot's fate really the right choice?

In the Kizumonogatari films, Koyomi meets Kiss-Shot after she's been attacked and left for dead by a group of vampire hunters. In the process of helping her, Koyomi becomes a vampire blessed with many wonderful abilities that come with being turned by a powerful monster. A series of bloody battles ensue for Kiss-Shot's stolen body parts, an idea that carries heavy metaphorical weight but would require an essay of its own. Eventually, they are able to regain Kiss-Shot's limbs and return her from her child form to her full adult glory. At the end of the day, though, Kiss-Shot is a vampire and regaining her power means regaining her vampire traits -- which includes feasting on humans.

Kiss-Shot's true nature is too much for Koyomi to handle, forcing him to confront her in a bid to neutralize her threat to humanity. The final clash between the two vampires is brutal, and it culminates with a heart-breaking twist. Kiss-Shot reveals her death would allow Koyomi to regain his humanity, and admits she is willing to forfeit their fight and die for him. But Koyomi, with his bleeding heart, is unable to kill her. He turns to Meme Oshino, who acts as a sort of mentor and suggests a solution that can't be fully classified as good or bad. Instead of killing her, Koyomi weakens Kiss-Shot until she reverts to her child form once again. In this state, she is unable to attack humans and must depend on Koyomi to survive.

At first, Kizumonogatari's outcome seems to be the best option, as everyone lives and Kiss-Shot is no longer a threat to humanity. However, Koyomi's decision effectively strips Kiss-Shot of her autonomy. Even after coming to terms with death and learning from a terrible past experience, Kiss-Shot is unable to take control of her own fate. This is also an extremely humiliating situation, as Kiss-Shot is downgraded from a fearsome immortal to a dependent child. Not only is she stripped of her monstrous powers, but she even has the ability to decide things for herself taken from her.

Maybe Koyomi's decision was truly in Kiss-Shot's best interest. After all, she begged him to save her at the beginning of Kizumonogatari. If she honestly wanted to die, that would have been her best chance. Perhaps Koyomi has, in some twisted way, saved Kiss-Shot. At the very least, his choice ensures he is able to continue fighting oddities while giving Kiss-Shot another shot at life.

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