Surviving a vampire attack, meeting several girls plagued by supernatural entities, and just trying to get through life are some of the things high school student Koyomi Araragi has had to deal with lately. On top of all this, he wakes up one morning to find himself kidnapped and tied up by his girlfriend Hitagi Senjougahara. Having run afoul of Deishuu Kaiki, a swindler who conned Senjougahara's family, she has taken it upon herself to imprison Araragi to keep him safe from the con man. But when Araragi gets a frantic message from his sister Karen, he learns that the fraud has set his sights on her.
Along with Karen's troubles, his other sister, Tsukihi, is having issues of her own. And when two mysterious women who seem to know more than they should about Araragi and his special group of friends step into their lives, not even he could anticipate their true goals, nor the catastrophic truths soon to be revealed.
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.
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!
Shaft has been on a pretty good run for the last few years churning out some extremely popular and perhaps over-hyped series. Now they have brought us Nisemonogatari, a show that I was looking forward to quite a bit. This is partly because I just generally find their work interesting but also because I did enjoy its predecessor. Now while I would not classify myself as a huge fan of the original show I did enjoy the characters, quirky story, and fabulous artwork. However Nisemonogatari is a pointless and directionless mess that feels more like a cash grab that takes
everything good about the original and turns it to crap.
I am sure people will accuse me of being excessively harsh when I say Nise's story... is one of the five worst things I have ever seen. Maybe that’s because there isn’t any story to speak of. What this series promised us was a story about Araragi's younger sisters and their encounter with the black swindler. It also promised some fill in the blanks of some of some of the other story arcs from Bakemono. I was particularly interested in seeing more on how Senjougahara ended up cursed. What we got instead is what I would consider to be a full length DVD extra putting the various girls in the cast in compromising situations and in assorted states of undress. The anime plods along aimlessly, taking us nowhere substantive. When they do finally get around to something other than panties or erotic tooth brushing, it is crammed in to an episode and a half and then quickly buried to get back to what’s really important. What’s too bad is that when they do bother to tell some story I do find myself interested in it. But also I was pissed off that it was all I got. To be honest the entire "story" could have been more productively told with a 2 episode OVA than an entire TV season. (cough: money grab)
Now I am not going to sit here and rail against service in anime, what’s the point? I am not even offended by it and I find it pretty amusing most of the time. Bakemono certainly had its pervy undertones but it didn't revolve around them or beat you over the head with them either. Nise seems to have just taken those elements and decided to make an anime around them. Frankly what offends me the most about the way the service is presented is that it takes itself way to seriously. It’s like somebody at Shaft just discovered you can put this kind of thing in anime and just completely lost their heads. Then have the nerve to act like it’s somehow smarter than anything we have ever seen before. Just because you inserted some witty dialogue and clever puns in between the breast fondling and skirt flipping doesn't turn it into high art.
Second only to the horrible story is what they did to the series cast of characters. Say what you will about Araragi's but for a harem lead (yes fanboys, Bakemono was a harem anime. Deal with it. It’s not a bad word), he managed to be a pretty interesting and compelling character. Well you can throw all of that out the window after viewing this series. He is a shell of his former self as he has been relegated to an immature perverted lolicon and pedophile who would be a registered sex offender in every developed nation in the world. His world view is that of a 10 year old boy, not a high school senior who is a borderline adult. People might try to say he is being ironic or sarcastic or maybe he's just a bully or a clown. But seriously who in high school, particularly a senior still goes around flipping the skirts of elementary school girls?
The rest of the cast fairs no better. The girls get little in the way of character development and are only treated as objects and tools for service. While you may initially feel some nostalgia as the previous cast is reintroduced and it feels like reacquainting yourself with old friends. However, if you went into this show like I did, wanting to see and learn more about Araragi's two sisters Karen and Tsukihi, then you’re in for a rude awakening. (Unless that is you wanted to learn more about their bust size and figures) For a series that was supposedly based around the two of them they have shockingly little actual screen time.
Well it’s not all bad. As expected from Shaft, the shows artwork and animation is absolutely fabulous. As is customary of their productions the screen is full visual overload of information with innumerable references and puns if you’re able to catch or comprehend them. The styling of the show is very much like its predecessor and has a very unique original feeling about the entire production. Even though the artwork is undeniably stunning, I did not always care for it. Another annoyance would be why they decided to cut the hair of every girl in the show. By the end of the series everyone looks the same. I mean... why? If they had changed their hair colors I wouldn't have even known who some of them were. But if you’re just a general fan of art and animation there is a whole lot to love about this show.
The music and voice acting is also equally brilliant. I honestly think this is the one thing Shaft almost never fails at, is picking appropriate music and animation to open and close their anime titles. Like Bakemono, Nise uses the voice cast to sing the various OP songs but it was the show's ED song which stands out the most. ClariS' "Naisho no Hanashi" is by far the duo's best single to date. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because it meant the episode was over?
Overall only the most ardent Bakemono and Shaft fanboys need apply when it comes to watching this show. Though if you were truly a fan of Bakemono I don’t know how you could not end up being disappointed. The lack of any kind of coherent story mars any sensory satisfaction you may get out of the shows artwork and audio track. You can pour and entire bottle of perfume on a pile of crap but in the end its still, crap.
Nisemonogatari is the sequel to Shaft's 2009 hit Bakemonogatari. It features much of the same cast as the first show, but it includes many new characters as well. The particular focus is on Araragi's sisters, Karen and Tsukihi this time around. The first show broke sales records and this one is looking to do incredibly well as well. However, if you were expecting more of Bakemonogatari you might be in for a surprise.
There is always an issue with sequels when it comes to the story. They always seem to never really live up to their predecessors and sadly Nisemonogatari suffers from this issue as well.
While the story is both interesting and engaging, it just lacks that overall “wow” factor that Bakemonogatari had. This pattern is especially prevalent in Shaft's other sequels other than maybe Hidamari Sketch but that's probably due to me needing a nutbladder replacement every time I watch another one of those. However, that is not to say that the story is not good. It is actually very good but it just lacks that special feeling that the first series had. When it comes to the actual story, it is a similar format to the first series where Araragi goes around messing with the various females in his life and unraveling mysteries. In Nisemonogatari the focus is on his two younger sisters and their issues though. However, instead of spending a significant amount of time on the mysteries themselves the sequel focuses more on character development and character interaction. I will not say that it's particularly a “bad thing” but the overall pace and tone of the story is definitely different from the first series and I'm not completely sold on those changes. Without spoiling everything, if you enjoyed the setup of Bakemonogatari and you enjoyed the characters of the first series you'll most likely enjoy the sequel. There really isn't much to say on the story just because if you're watching this, you must have watched Bakemonogatari as well so I would just be reiterating the facts that you already know. What I must point out is one of the flaws and distractions that was present in the sequel though.
Nisemonogatari essentially translates into “Falsestory” or “Impostory”. However, it should be translated into “Fanservicestory”. If I were to say Bakemonogatari didn't feature a significant amount of fanservice I would be lying, but they really did go overboard with the sequel. They must have put a significant amount of effort into cramming the most amount of fanservice into this 11 episode series and it definitely shows. From the convenient camera angles to half an episode dedicated to a discussion with Shinobu in the bath to the (in)famous “toothbrush scene” you can definitely see that there was a significant amount of work involved. While the novel includes this as well, it certainly is incredibly distracting to the overall tone and mood of the show. This is one of those cases where the source material does not particularly go over well into the adaption. While the original source material did include a lot of fanservice, Shaft also took it a step further with a multitude of compromising camera angles. That is not unexpected of them since it occurs in nearly every one of their shows, but it only adds to the distraction and makes the overall feeling of the show more low brow than the predecessor. Before you get your jimmies rustled, I am not against fanservice. I enjoy fanservice masterpieces such as Queen's Blade after all. I just feel that the second season's fanservice was a bit excessive and detrimental to this show's overall quality.
What wasn't detrimental to the overall quality was the art in this show. Shaft generally has a policy where the TV broadcast looks abysmal but they come up with an absolutely stunning Blu Ray release. In the case of Nisemonogatari, the TV version is excellent and they will be hard pressed to do any incredible changes to the Blu Ray release. The animation was for the most part very fluid and the background scenes were beautiful. They really outdid themselves on this show and it looks great. Likewise, the sound was also excellent in this show. The OST was fitting and the various openings were all great as well. Platinum Disco definitely stole the show this time around, like how Ren'ai Circulation stole the show in Bakemonogatari. I have absolutely no complaints when it comes to the art or sound in Nisemonogatari. Shaft went above and beyond my expectations on making an actually presentable TV anime and the sound continued on par with it's predecessor. Overall I feel that this section is much better than Bakemonogatari since you could only really enjoy it if you watched the Blu Rays due to the sheer amount of fixing they did to it.
As previously mentioned, Nisemonogatari focuses more on characterization over the mystery solving that was most prevalent in its predecessor. We see several new characters such Kaiki who brings up quite a bit of Hitagi's past and Yozuru and Yotsugi who serve as an exorcist combo. We also see Karen and Tsukihi having actual roles in the story as well. Without going into much detail since that would give away the entire show, I must say that the characters are once again a very strong point for the show. There is little character degradation between both shows and there is quite a bit of development as well (some of which I don't particularly like but I guess it can't be helped after all). The new characters are interesting and enjoyable while the old ones are what you knew and loved from before. The voice acting was once again top notch. The cast is filled with veterans that you have heard many times before. The new characters are also voiced by veterans and are fitting for their respective roles. Even Shinobu gets to talk this time around, however instead of Aya Hirano we have Maaya Sakamoto for obvious reasons. The characters are definitely a strong point for the *monogatari series and it continues on quite well in this sequel.
Overall, I must say that I enjoyed this show quite a bit but I was not nearly as impressed with it as I was with Bakemonogatari. Nisemonogatari does well as a sequel since it mostly maintains itself but it just leaves you feeling just a little disappointed. Bakemonogatari is one of my favorite shows due to its interesting dialogue, it's characters, and the overall story of it. Nisemonogatari picks up on much of that but the overall product feels unimpressive compared to Bakemonogatari. I think the issue with this show is that despite being great, it still pales in comparison to Bakemonogatari. The excessive fanservice and some certain “character development” that happened in the last episode really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. That along with some of the previous season's characters getting much less screen time and development also makes me feel somewhat frustrated with this series. I will not say that I am platinum disappointed with this show overall, but I just feel that it is not as good as Bakemonogatari. What is good news is that this particular arc of the story is now over and there are plans to continue this animation project with even more. The Kizumonogatari movie should be coming up soon and a suspicious “to be continued” at the end of the last episode shows that this story is definitely not done with. What I can say is that I am still looking forward to more and I hope that the upcoming projects maintain the overall quality. Surpassing the original will be a difficult feat, but I'm optimistic about the upcoming projects and I can't wait to see more. I just hope to the Space Pope that Shaft doesn't decide to release them as online episodes every 6 months.