Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jan 8, 2012 to Mar 18, 2012
24 min. per episode
R - 17+ (violence & profanity)
L represents licensing company
Score: 8.251 (scored by 81722 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisThe black swindler Kaiki Deishu, who once deceived Hitagi, returns to town and spreads the incantation which cursed Nadeko before.
Koyomi's sisters Karen and Tsukihi try to capture Deishu but...
Related AnimeAdaptation: Monogatari Series: First Season
Sequel: Monogatari Series: Second Season
Character: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari - Magica Quartet x Nisioisin
Characters & Voice Actors
Fanservice has always been a bit of a controversial issue. Some love it, some hate all instances of it. There's really no feasible way to please everybody when the reaction can often be likened to a dichotomy, split between 'too much' and 'not enough'. While Bakemonogatari is a series known by most for its unique art direction and character interaction, to say that it's removed itself entirely from sexual themes would be a flat-out lie. It's not much of a surprise then, that these elements are even more prolific in Nisemonogatari, for both better and for worse.
The first thing that should be recognized before watching Nisemonogatari is this very change and shift in focus. It wouldn't be much an exaggeration to say that at times it can feel like a different series, and certainly not all fans are going to approve of the change in tone and theme.
Despite this though, things are not all that unlike either.
Being that this is the sequel to one of SHAFT's most successful anime, it would be incomprehensible for them to suddenly remove the unique style and flavor that the series became so known for in the first place. Head tilts are still prominent, the scenery is highly stylized, the characters will frequently engage in a playful diatribe and critique of Araragi, and surrealism remains a pervasive aspect in the presentation and overall experience. This is Bakemonogatari in much of its glory, but with the story itself becoming something of less importance than the characters and their interaction with each other.
Probably the largest addition to Nisemonogatari is the new role of Araragi's two younger sisters, Karen and Tsukihi. Both of them form a group known as the 'Fire Sisters', and together they create the main focus of the entire show. Tsukihi is a sharply sarcastic and disapproving sister while Karen, voiced by the beloved Kitamura Eri, behaves as a bit of a tomboy and energetic character who strives to fight for justice and what she feels is the right thing.
These ideals of justice create an interesting problem for Karen as she comes into contact with the antagonist, Kaiki, a con artist exploiting teenage girls out of their money which quickly escalates into a conflict between the two, with Karen focusing on protecting the innocent and Kaiki on using them for his own avaricious goals. Kaiki as a character is quite unique and interesting as he never falls into a generic and stereotyped 'bad guy' persona, instead adopting a very grey morality where neither good nor bad exists. He cares for little else than money, and money is something he aims to attain regardless of who loses out for it. Surprisingly, he doesn't antagonize the main characters very much outside of their first few encounters with each other. As long as they don't complicate matters for him, he generally has no issue. The way his departure is handled is also very surprising and refreshing when compared to the usual conventions in storytelling. It's just disappointing that he loses his role as a main character in the second half and falls much to the side, since his scenes are without a doubt the most memorable and engaging in the entire show. Being a character that stands out so much in a series full of unique characters is a very hard feat to achieve but Kaiki managed to pull it off.
Of course, Nisemonogatari wouldn't be the same without the cast from the previous season playing a prominent role in the story. All of the main characters from Bakemonogatari retain a large role in Nisemonogatari each with their own unique scenes, though unfortunately most of them don't appear anywhere near as much as they did in Bakemonogatari. Senjougahara in particular is largely missing from the first half of the series until becoming a large focus of the story again, which may be a bit disappointing at first for fans of her character. Thankfully, the episodes before that focus on an excellent blend of new and old characters and concepts, bringing just enough to the table to make the series fresh again while maintaining enough of the old that fans will still feel mostly at home when watching.
Focusing on the aforementioned Kaiki as the antagonist, the story itself is largely about his exploits and the characters' resulting intervention for the first half of the story. It picks up further towards the end into a galvanizing climax and battle between Araragi and the two new antagonists, one of which being a character from the previous season. Fans of Bakemonogatari will find something enjoyable in that respect once things start to pick up, but the story itself is not so much the focus of Nisemonogatari as it is what gives a way for the audience to see the characters interact in a variety of new and different situations.
This brings us to the main problem — fanservice.
Do you like fanservice? Do you want fanservice? If not, you probably won't enjoy Nisemonogatari too much. It's not nearly as oppressive or prominent as some screenshots would lead to believe but it's very easily a defining and inherent part of the experience. Characters will frequently try to seduce Araragi which leads to some amusing scenes with him on the verge of cheating on his beloved girlfriend and paying dearly for it. There's also fanservice for the female viewers, with long shots gawking deeply at Araragi's chest. Nude scenes are not too uncommon and the series often plays more with sexual feelings than it does with its witty dialogue and stylized presentation. Though these common elements still do remain a large part of the experience, all one needs to do is take a look at the infamous toothbrush scene to have a good understanding of how Nisemonogatari is often presented.
Whether or not the viewer will approve of these changes comes down to personal taste and what they primarily enjoy the series for. It would be a lie to say that I didn't enjoy the frequent fanservice and sexual themes at least somewhat, but it's just that, perhaps, Nisio Isin and SHAFT went slightly overboard and forgot a little bit about what made the series so highly respected in the first place. It's enjoyable in smaller and occasional doses but being that it's the forefront of the entire experience, it sometimes detract from what is an otherwise very engaging and unique story. Subtle or even suggestive fanservice would have been preferable to the ubiquitous butt-shots and nude scenes.
It doesn't help matters much when the pacing of the anime is negatively impacted by the fanservice as well. As a result of much of the screentime being spent on trying to make the viewer erect, it often feels like the main conflict surrounding Kaiki and the later two antagonists is a bit rushed. Certainly, more time could have been spent developing those characters and the main plotline. Things often shift haphazardly between fanservice and important story events and it feels a bit unwieldy and awkward for that reason. It's hard to appreciate the fanservice much when there's a serious and interesting story going on in the background, and conversely it's also hard to fully appreciate the story when the next scene will transition into more of the fanservice and silly interaction. Had SHAFT and Nisio Isin focused primarily on the story instead of these sexual themes, the main story could easily have been something equal to or even greater than Bakemonogatari. Which is a real shame.
Fortunately, thanks to the success of Bakemonogatari from a few years earlier, a large budget increase is very evident with the quality of animation. This really is one of the best-looking TV anime on the market and the fluidity in each frame is something truly stunning at times. The way the characters move and jump around so freely is something unique to the series when compared to the previous season which relied primarily on transitions and stills. While some complained about the lack of animation and movement in Bakemonogatari -- often comparisons to a slideshow -- this is definitely not the case with Nisemonogatari. This is just as much a visual presentation as it is a verbal one
Nisemonogatari can often verge on the surreal with its artwork. SHAFT loves to play with their scenery in highly creative and interesting ways which serves to immerse the viewer and give personality to the artwork and the area that the characters live and interact in. It wouldn't be strange to see a colorless cityscape with a bright blue-green sky looming above, a room filled with mountains upon mountains of same-colored books, a sudden letterbox effect in the image, a home bathroom with stained-glass windows reminiscent of a medieval church, or a gloomy thicket dyed beneath a red sunset. It's this stylized presentation which creates much of the atmosphere of Nisemonogatari and what makes the viewer feel like they're in a very different place. There's really nothing out there that looks or feels the same way.
And with more effort spent on the series, positive improvement comes to the music and soundtrack as well. The usage of songs and music is a perfect fit for the scenes they are used in, especially those involving Kaiki. They may not all be songs that will stick in your mind and be reminisced for long after, but when used in the anime itself they are an excellent fit. And much like Bakemonogatari, a variety of unique opening sequences are performed by the seiyuu and each styled with their own unique theme. While there's nothing quite on the same level as 'Renai Circulation' here, all three of the openings are very catchy and memorable. In particular, the second opening 'Marshmallow Justice' was something that I felt perfectly represented the series as a whole and its theme. Disregarding my own love towards Kitamura Eri as a seiyuu, it's quite a pleasant song that mixes the quirkiness of the series with the energy of the characters.
In the end it becomes very easy to see where the complaints and negativity surrounding Nisemonogatari come from. While there is truth to be found in the complaints of there being too much fanservice, it's also evident that some are focusing too much on this one aspect instead of fully seeing what it accomplished and did well. It's not quite as good as its predecessor, but Nisemonogatari still manages to be a solid entry to the series and one that paints its own unique character as well. It's certainly different, and different in a way that will be either a bad or a good thing depending on the feelings and tastes of the individual.
Hopefully, with the next animated installment of the Monogatari series these fanservice elements will be toned down a bit. We (well, some of us) have had our fun, and now it's time for the series to go back to its roots. Small change can often be beneficial but in cases like these it's best to know when to leave well enough alone. read more
Nisemonogatari was certainly one of the more interesting anime of the season, not least for its trait of dividing viewers down the middle in terms of who enjoyed it and who didn't; this show, being the continuation of a well-known franchise, has attracted plenty of vitriol in the last eleven weeks, even though many people have been outspoken in its defence. But now that broadcasting is finished (even if the argument over whether it is masterpiece or merely the latest victim of too-high expectations has plenty of fuel still left to burn), I'm afraid to say that I couldn’t resist the lure dangling so temptingly in front of me, and so it’s time to tackle Nisemonogatari and hopefully wring a definitive conclusion out of it.
Now, the main sticking point with Nisemonogatari has been the storyline, which was quite slow in its progression; if you’ve recently read about the ‘fast-paced, clever storyline’, and are quite surprised by this assertion, then I shall elaborate; the first three episodes reintroduced characters from the first series, and while the Karen Bee arc was supposedly seven episodes long, it really did drag at points. In addition to that, the resolutions of each arc felt way too easy, and while we’re on it, the almost-complete absence of Tsukihi from the first two episodes of her own arc was bizarre. Although it initially wasn't promising, the story did become more interesting as the series went on, although I believe there will be further episode releases post-broadcast, because not everything came to a conclusion within the eleven episodes (and the Japanese equivalent of 'to be continued' seen at the end of the final episode is a confirmation that we'll be getting more Monogatari one way or another). I think the best way to see Nisemonogatari is as the bridging point which sets everything up nicely for a third series (and if the director is to believed, several more series after that), and in terms of introducing characters who will probably play a part in these later series, it does a pretty good job. Contrary to the impression I might have made, I did enjoy watching this, but I do think it could have been better.
The art style is extremely effective. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it before (except in Bakemonogatari, to state the obvious for the resident pedants here). The background art is most striking, with the use of colour co-ordinated objects and scenery to create scenes which immediately grab the viewer’s attention. The much-debated black and red scenes seem to have been cut down on since Bakemonogatari, now only making a couple of appearances per episode, but the use of talking heads is still common. The background sets the atmosphere much more effectively than a show which is constrained by realism; just watch Kaiki Deishuu’s first screen appearance, and the shadows of the trees stretching out towards Koyomi, and you will realise the brilliance of this art style. And now, the fanservice; how do they handle it? Well, what’s happening on screen and the progression of the storyline are almost completely separate from one another, for starters. It’s nothing compared to an actual ecchi series, and the characters are wearing clothes (cough… most of the time), it’s just the choice of shot and where it focuses on the character’s body that makes it fanservice. And when there are no clothes present, any details are obscured by the production team, preventing the need for masking or other censorship. That was incredibly awkward to write. Moving on…
The sound hasn’t changed drastically from the first series; the episodes start with a blast of heavily distorted electric guitar, and a catchy pop-song opening, which is reminiscent of Staple Stable, to say the least. The lack of background music in Nisemonogatari compared to other series is noticeable, with only the occasional piano melody from the opening or ending slipped in at appropriate moments, but with the amount of dialogue that it has, this is actually a good thing; it would be pointless including any more soundtrack, as it would just either pass completely over our heads or make it incredibly difficult to listen to. The ending is a pop-rock four-chord number which will probably get stuck in your head on an endless loop at some stage, and no amount of purging your memory with your own music collection will dislodge it. If you liked Bakemonogatari’s Staple Stable and Renai Circulation, then this is definitely worth a listen.
The characters from the first series remain as they are for the most part, with the exception of Hanekawa Tsubasa, who is now short-haired. Hitagi Senjougahara, self-diagnosed tsundere of the highest order, seems to have been relegated to a supporting role in Nisemonogatari, having only made three or so appearances in seven episodes; however, Araragi’s sisters, Karen and Tsukihi, step into the breach, so we have a net gain of characters. Connoisseur of Hawaiian t-shirts and supernatural phenomena Oshino Meme has disappeared, and the role of ‘sole adult in the series’ has gone to the much more evil, scheming Deishuu Kaiki, who looks like one of the creepier film incarnations of Dracula. It’s interesting that they’ve gone for a central villain, rather than having different problems which are unrelated in cause, as per Bakemonogatari. It must be mentioned that in this series, the characters do not merely lean on the fourth wall, they've practically installed a revolving door in it for their convenience. Even the creation of the anime was slipped a thinly veiled reference in one of the characters' metaphors. I quite like it, but you will need to know at least a little bit about the Monogatari franchise to get some of it.
It should probably be mentioned that Nisemonogatari will make some of its audience feel uncomfortable at certain points. Aside from the various Lolita characters, there are incestuous overtones involving Araragi and his sisters, including the now-infamous ‘toothbrush scene’. And I know that people will say “Oh, it’s only here in the West that we’ve got a problem with it, but in Japan, those scenes are seen as the funniest part of the show.” Aside from not wishing to read anything into these peoples’ apparent attempts to justify having relationships with underage girls or members of their own family, they might have a point; our moral values here don’t let us see the funny side. If we look at the source of all this trouble, Vladimir Nabokov’s now-infamous novel, half the time he is mocking us and our values; are SHAFT doing the same thing? Quite possibly. Just be prepared to ignore the screams of moral outrage you might occasionally feel welling up inside you while you’re watching this show, make sure your parents/partner/siblings/friends aren’t going to walk in at an awkward moment and then spend the next three weeks not talking to you, and you should be able to cope.
So, Nisemonogatari does indeed have all the elements that Bakemonogatari was praised for, and at the same time features fanservice, which Bakemonogatari, if I remember correctly, did also have a certain amount of. I don’t think it is possible that it has ruined the series, as some people claim; these claims probably would have been made regardless of the actual nature of the series, and were sparked by its mere existence. Unfortunately for those claims and the people making them, Akiyuki Shinbo, the animation director, has apparently stated his intention to animate every single Monogatari novel, of which there are (or will be, to be entirely accurate) twelve. Now, if the first one came out in 2009, and the second in 2012, I think we can safely say that this series will continue for a while. For my part, I'm looking forward to it, and I hope that it may continue to be as innovative and interesting as it has been up to this point! read more
Opening Theme#1: "Futakotome (二言目)" by Hitagi Senjougahara (Chiwa Saito) (eps 1, 3)
#2: "marshmallow justice" by Karen Araragi (Eri Kitamura) (eps 2, 5-6)
#3: "Hakkin Disco (白金ディスコ)" by Tsukihi Araragi (Yuka Iguchi) (eps 8-10)
Ending Theme"Naisho no Hanashi (ナイショの話)" by ClariS
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