"To be blunt, I just enjoy talking to you... so I want to talk with you more."
"If our opinions clash, let's talk it over." (Dialogue from episode 5)
'Bakemonogatari', cleverly translated as 'Ghostory' or 'Monstory', is about five not-so-normal girls that Araragi Koyomi, a vampire himself, encounters and attempt to save from oddities possessing them.
The main characters of 'Bakemonogatari' are among the most unique and complex I have yet to encounter.
Heroine Senjougahara Hitagi is a tsundere like half of all modern heroines in anime, but she is also 「ドS」, a sadist to an extreme degree, which is more common for side characters and rare for heroines.
Our protagonist, as expected, is rather on the masochist side who takes constant verbal abuse from Senjougahara.
What makes the couple extraordinary, is that Senjougahara is often boke while Araragi is tsukkomi. Traditional Japanese stand-up comedy consists of a duo: One takes the "boke" role who says something stupid while the "tsukommi" role points out the flaws in boke's argument, often with a violent slap in the head.
Yes, that's right. Boke is masochist by nature and often not very intelligent, while tsukommi is sadist by nature and often more observant.
The leading couple in this series, on the other hand, take turns with the roles. It is particularly interesting when the sadist and intelligent Senjougahara purposefully take on the boke role and overwhelms tsukkomi. Such as making insulting statements that sound flawed, but when Araragi tries to make a comeback, he realizes what she said was true. Or Senjougahara makes a blatantly flawed statement just to hurt Araragi, and his comeback fall into deaf ears. And of course, plenty of intentional boke or tease spoken with so much authority that Araragi just gives up and let it slide.
The unlikely toggling of comedy roles were delivered extremely well, and this back and forth interaction between the leading couple is a key part of this show's appeal.
The remaining four main characters are not as complex as the leading couple, but they all have their own unique issues that drive the story,each with distinct personalities that made them memorable.
There are 6 main characters in this series, and total of only 5 side/peripheral characters (Meme, Shinobu, two sisters, and Senjougahara's father) in the whole series. The limited character headcount made thorough character development possible despite being an arc-based series.
Simply put, half the show is about the romantic relationship between the Senjougahara and Araragi.
The other half is about a constant argument between two values: The rational vs the idealistic, with Araragi as Mr. Nice Guy seeking happy end for everyone. Solution of supernatural oddities as the topic of the argument.
Hachikuji, Kanbaru, and Hanekawa's arcs developed the relationship of leading couple while offering new topics to the story.
The only flaw in the story in my opinion, is that Sengoku's arc was pretty much by itself, and contributed very little to the whole series other than loli and moe fan service.
Each arc is an incident focusing on a different girl, but all the arcs combine to show a whole picture of Araragi and Senjougahara closing their personal distances.
"Bakemonogatari" is essentially a verbal performance with visual support. Story is driven by back and forth debate on various issues.
With verbal performance playing such a big role in this show, voice acting is taken to a whole new level in this series.
Every characters' voices fit perfectly, and not only that, distinct tones and nuance of speech establish unique impressions for every single character. The characters speak so fast in this series with lots of tongue twisters, but the seiyuu cast had done a wonderful job in keeping up. I don't think it's an exaggeration to describe voice acting in this series as epic.
Music score in 'Bakemonogatari' has a generally consistent ambient feel to it with a nice flow. Other than intense music for action scenes, they don't particularly set the mood or enhance drama as what I usually consider to be strong BGM for anime, but the usually upbeat sounds in the background set the quick pace for dialogue, and make conversations all the more engaging.
OP song "Staple Stable" is one of the best anime opening theme song by a seiyuu, ever. Really memorable tune accompanied by great vocal and lyric by meg rock was simply amazing.
The other four OPs sang by seiyuu of each arc heroines were nowhere as impressive as "Staple Stable", but offers refreshment value to the OPs, and fits each character perfectly.
ED song's lyric made little sense at first, but its meaning was unveiled in a conversation between the leading couple in a certain episode, and it turned out to very suitable for the series. The two Senjougahara theme songs (OP1, ED) were masterpieces.
Animation in 'Bakemonogatari' mainly serve as a visual aid to the verbal performance, and it proved to be very effective.
Visuals for the anime got somewhat of an "art house film" treatment. There were many abstract and surreal scenes, unconventional cuts, and intriguing camera angles that made the viewing experience very pleasant. It's the perfected form of SHAFT's signature style.
Character designs were attractive, and main characters had visually shown a wide range of emotion that further portrays the character's state of mind.
The only complaint I have with the animation is the use of photographs/videos of real-life imagery. At the risk of sounding like a super-otaku, I would say 3D images do not belong in the world of 2D.
As a fansubber and having seen thousands of hours of fan/professionally translated works, I can tell you that at least 10% of the meaning is lost in translation, no matter how well translated. In conversation/narration driven series filled with wordplay and metaphors, at least 20% of the meaning, therefore enjoyability, will inevitably be lost to non-Japanese speakers.
Still, 'Bakemonogatari' is a true masterpiece with experimental production that actually worked. Attention was paid to the tiniest details, and a story well-told. Truly amazing direction by Shinbou Akiyuki left us with so many memorable scenes, and this will definitely be a series to be remembered.
The 8-month wait for the final three episodes were excruciating, but the ending was so satisfying that it almost made it worth the absurd wait. Given the commercial success 'Bakemonogatari' has achieved, I will be hoping for the remaining novels in the series to be animated. Possibly 'Kizumonogatari' OVA/film and 'Nisemonogatari' as a sequel season.
To be blunt, I just enjoyed listening to them... so I want to listen to them more.
If I had to choose a word to describe Bakemonogatari, it would probably be ‘faux-ironic’ – and I don’t mean that in a positive sense.
To describe Bakemonogatari’s plot simply: it’s a harem anime. The show features our ~mysteriously charismatic~ hero, Arararararagi-kun (sorry, my tongue slipped) as he somehow manages to charm a whole load of girls – whilst, at the same time, he battles with the supernatural to sort out their problems. Minus the ‘supernatural’ aspect (which seems kind of like a cheap gimmick, to spice up this ‘harem’ style story we’ve surely seen countless of times before), there is nothing special about Bakemonogatari.
all fall into certain archetypes (harem lead / sporty lesbian girl / bratty loli / cool and aloof tsundere-type / intelligent and reserved student council president / moeblob), and none of them seem multi-faceted or particularly interesting. A lot of them are used as vehicles for jokes and ‘witty’ dialogue, but that’s about it. When their back stories are revealed, they’re brushed right over, and no time is spent on them at all – but a great, great deal of time is spent on meandering dialogue that tries to throw as many jokes at the audience as possible (using wordplay, repetition, common straight man / the clown routines, etc, etc), hoping at least some of them will be funny. The characters, also, are mainly constrained to their own scant few-episode long ‘arcs’, and don’t really do all that much outside of their own allotted time period – which makes it feel a little mechanic, like these girls are just being cycled through; right, we’ve finished the storyline with a loli-girl, now onto the lesbian…! Keep throwing pretty girls at the audience so they don’t get tired…! So, I didn’t think all that much to characters; they’re pretty standard – and although there were a few entertaining exchanges and jokes, these are lost amongst the deluge of random stuff that just keeps coming from everybody’s mouths.
So, what makes Bakemonogatari so ‘unique’ – if not the plot or the characters? Well, that would obviously have to be the art.
Bakemonogatari is animated in a very odd way, which is kind of expected of Shaft – but it seems to have been taken into extremes here. Odd camera angles are used, placing the characters far away in the screen; strange colours; real-life photography is inserted here and there; there are frequent split-second cuts to large walls of text that are impossible to read unless you pause; and there is very little actual ‘animation’ to be found – instead, the show keeps jumping around to numerous, static cuts (static save mouths flapping open), in a very indecisive way that sometimes gets irritating to look at.
The art in Bakemonogatari is certainly interesting – but at times, it seems clear certain methods were used to save money. The slideshow like effect, of jumping between static scenes frequently, looks pretty cheap – regardless of how ‘odd’ and ‘unconventional’ it is. In fact, it’s easy, when watching this show, to calculate how much each scene would have cost. If there’s actual movement on your screen, then probably, this was more expensive than most of the other scenes (this is a fun game you can play when watching it – ‘I wonder how much this cost…’) And the fact the characters are often placed at the side of the screen, very, very small, feels a little alienating.
Furthermore, although the backgrounds might be unusual in the anime, the character designs are all very, very standard for harem anime. The girls are all conventionally pretty and attractive; the main lead looks like an average guy. Unlike the anime of Satoshi Kon, or Masaaki Yusa, which often use somewhat odd imagery but also feature characters that are not conventionally attractive (some of them are very old, some of them have large chins, some of them are overweight, some of them look like gremlins), Bakemonogatari is actually playing it far, far safer than people seem to be giving it credit for. As a harem anime, the main draw to the audience is attractive girls – and, although Bakemonogatari does have slightly odd directing, the girls are all attractive (and often seen wearing swim suits / in the shower / their breasts pressing against the back of the main character / etc), and all meet ‘typical harem standards’. If Bakemonogatari really was as ‘daring’ and ‘edgy’ with its art as people seem to assume, surely they would have tried to give some variation the girls’ character designs? But, of course not – this is a harem anime, and pretty girls sell. So, even if the art does look unusual, I feel this is pretty superficial, because the most important aspect of the art – the character designs – is very, very typical.
The characters, too, often engage in conversations that break the fourth wall. Senjougahara, especially, often calls herself out on being a ‘tsundere’, and talks a lot about ‘moe characters’, ‘sporty characters,’ etc – at one point even saying ‘I have a fantastic voice actress’. Araragi, in turn, will retort ‘so we’re suddenly characters in an anime?!’ or some such thing – the joke being, of course, that they are, and we know it, but the characters don’t (or do they???) There is also humour surrounding the large amount of fanservice in the show; Araragi will sometimes joke about being a ‘lolicon’ around the resident loli character, or he will launch into a long debate with the sporty character about how odd it is she reads so much yaoi / is she wearing underwear under her shorts / why do you own a school swimsuit and a pair of bloomers anyway, isn’t that unusual?
A lot of people praise this kind of interaction as being amusing; using it as ‘proof’ that the show is ‘self-aware’ and mocking its own harem genre, by poking fun at the fact characters are often consigned certain roles, that their personalities are usual cookie-cutter, and that fanservice can come seemingly out of nowhere, without making much sense.
However, I would argue these aspects are exactly what makes Bakemonogatari ‘faux-ironic’ – and, ultimately, a rather soulless and empty show. ‘Irony’ is somewhat similar to sarcasm, and often used to assert something blatantly wrong as though it is true – in which case, humour arises. However, in the case of Bakemonogatari, this ‘irony’ is utilised not only to make the audience laugh, but also to protect itself from criticism. As lots of the humour arises from the characters being uncannily self aware they are one-dimensional archetypes acting out commonly done ‘tropes’ in the anime medium, it is actually – rather than being ‘clever humour’ – a lazy way for the authors to rely on one-dimensional archetypes and commonly done ‘tropes’, whilst, at the same time, poking fun at them. It’s a kind of laziness that suggests ‘You know this story / these characters have been done thousands of times before, and I know that this story / these characters have been done thousands of times before, so let’s laugh mockingly at how similar so much anime is nowadays whilst, at the same time, this show is the exact same as so much anime nowadays – but you can’t mock this show, because it’s self-aware!’ It seems incredibly lazy; as though the author wanted to rely on clichés, but didn’t want to be criticised for it, so decided to mock the very foundation of the story when putting it together.
And, this heavy use of self-aware humour has several downfalls. Not only can it not hide the fact Bakemonogatari is, itself, the exact kind of show it’s mocking (‘but you can’t mock us because we’re the ones pointing it out – we’re not exploiting it at all!’), but it also makes the whole show feel very empty. If the whole show is devoted to making fun of its own nature, then what does that make the show itself, exactly…? It makes it seem very disingenuous – and it’s hard to like anything in particular about the show, because it’s so cynical of itself, and seems to be regarding its audience as people who won’t realise it, itself, is relying on harem anime clichés to keep itself afloat – or maybe it doesn’t care if people realise, because its art and direction is so ‘artistic’ it can deflect any criticism…?
Regardless, I found Bakemonogatari a rather prickly and unpleasant show, that isn’t necessarily ‘trying hard to be clever’, but, by the use of its own jokes, constantly seems to undermine itself – often making me think ‘what’s the point in watching this, if even the show itself acknowledges it’s cliché, overdone and unoriginal?’ If you want to watch an ‘artistically interesting’ anime, then watch something like The Tatami Galaxy of Paranoia Agent – but not this. Although you might be fooled by the odd art direction and the long streams of dialogue, it’s really nothing new at all.
For every medium, there are few masterpieces that transcend the genre and become something special. Since I consider anime, as a genre, to be just as legitimate an art form (despite the bad rep it often gets), I will also review Bakemonogatari as a work of art, and it is irrefutably one of the special few anime series that fully capitalize on the strengths of the anime medium.
People have complained that the story is too episodic, too disjointed. However, the virtue of Bakemonogatari's storyline is that it is so minimal. In all senses, this anime is a character-based experimental, and an elaborate
storyline would actually detract from that experience. There are plenty of anime out there that thrive on plot twists and progression that keep the viewer on their seats, but Bakemonogatari isn't one. The episodic storyline is a brilliant framing device for character development and nothing more, which works out perfectly for this particular anime.
As usual Studio SHAFT splurged on art. This is definitely a series to be enjoyed in high-definition, preferably with the room lights turned off. Anime, by definition, is a genre segregated from realism. The beauty of anime as a medium is that every cut is animated, so that the blemishes, imperfections, and limitations of reality can be omitted in favor of stylized, beautified perfection. Anime art style that attempts to be too realistic are bound to lose that edge and, naturally, pale in comparison to live-action works featuring comparable visuals. Anime that go all in on stylizing can often seem distracting and too detached from reality. With all of that in consideration, Bakemonogatari is one of the few shining masterpieces of the anime genre that hits the sweet spot. Everything in this anime is crisp and beautiful, from the characters to the slightest scenery detail. What would have seemed tacky when drawn are boldly stylized and symbolized, rather than allowed to compromise the atmosphere. For example, people have complained about the cuts to photographs and abstract diagrams that pop up frequently. But imagine if all of those were actually animated; it would have been clunky and distracting from the dialog. For example, Senjougahara's mother isn't a character in this anime, therefore having an designed, animated character to her credit would distract from the very small and tight cast. I don't know how much budget went into this production, but they sure splurged where it was needed (characters, scenery-porn sequences, pivotal action sequences) and were decisive in radically minimizing what would have been superfluous.
There is quite a rave about Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari and Staple Stable, and they are indeed catchy and appropriate opening/ending. Much more underrated are the mundane, ambient sound design of this anime. Just as Bakemonogatari should ideally be viewed in high-quality settings, so it should be heard with at least "nice" audio. Perhaps I had the fortune/misfortune of being an impeccable audiophile and watched the series with headphones that cost me half a fortune, but everyone should at least watch Bakemonogatari with real speakers or decent headphones. This is a series that can only be fully appreciated when the viewer is immersed in it, and laptop speakers simply won't do.
Having said all of that, the non-intrusive BGM and ambient sounds do a perfect job of accentuating the dialog/situation without, again, distracting from what is really important. Perhaps the best example is in the TV finale, where the BGM swells and fades without the viewers really noticing because they are so perfectly integrated with the ebb and flow of verbal/situational push and pull between the two leads.
The voice acting, without even the need to elaborate, are top-mark. The seiyuu for Koyomi is appropriately serious, jocular, and reflective. I especially enjoyed the sequences and inserts in which Koyomi is thinking selfish/perverted/silly thoughts. Excellent sound designing makes it sound like Koyomi's voice is really ringing inside my head, adding to the effect and how identifiable his character is. Voice acting for Senjougahara seemed a bit too fragile and breathy at first, but it was revealed to be not the fault of the seiyuu, but part of character development, but more on that will border on spoiling. Let me just add that voice acting for both leads hit the sweet spot at least by the TV finale.
All of the other elements, story, art, and sound, up to now were accompaniments to the brilliant characters of Bakemonogatari. If those elements had their virtue in garnishing the backgrounds of this anime, the characters' virtue lie in their shocking assertiveness and charisma.
Koyomi - Of all anime leads I've seen, he is one of the few truly-believable leads that are likeable. He is objectively decent-looking and decently dressed, not, as are many a blue-haired shounen characters, outrageously flamboyant. He is not an outspoken paragon of bravery and power. He is even a bit of a sociopath. However, the subtle inner stability he shows makes him stronger than Goku or Lelouch in my opinion. He isn't a social butterfly, but he would never seriously harm another person. Though he is a bit of a pervert, just like the rest of us, the viewers can't picture him ever being disloyal to his romantic partner. Koyomi's inner strength and stability are what keeps this series from becoming a typical harem anime, and such qualities of his character are what makes the viewer so strongly and ineffably identify with him.
Senjougahara - First of all, her name is awesome, just phonetically. I read that it means something like "battlefield" in Japanese, but it sounds so feminine and appropriate to her character. With that aside, if Koyomi is the steady, dependable drummer keeping beat to the Bakemonogatari band, Senjougahara is the lead vocalist that captures and enthralls the viewer. Anime is, more than anything, a visual art, so it is of course important that her every frame is perfected and beautified with adoration. Not only is she one of the most flawlessly beautiful female characters in anime, the way she poses and moves is also idealized. Imagine a girl who never does anything unsightly: never makes an unflattering face, is never without makeup (or always looks perfect without one), never goes to the bathroom, you get the idea, and that would be Senjougahara. Again, the creators of Bakemonogatari really cashed in on this aspect of anime to create a visually flawless female lead. Utter perfection, however, isn't always likeable, as none of us are perfect. Senjougahara, therefore, needs some profound flaw in order to offset her physical perfection, and that's when her character development comes into play. I won't say much more on that for fear of spoiling, but she exists not as a perfect, standalone being, but someone who absolutely depends on Koyomi to complete her. That's why their interactions work, even though they should logically have zero reason to even know each other. Senjougahara is the modern Yamato Nadeshiko, though the usage of that term to describe her may be controversial. The numerous attempts to categorize her as a tsundere/kuudere/yandere/whaeverdere have all failed because her character is grounded not on a trope, but a real-life ideal of feminine beauty. She is the culmination, or rather, an amalgamation, of decades of anime heroines that captured the viewers, male and female alike. Senjougahara and Koyomi have such subtle and inexplicable chemistry because they are both subtle, ultimately mysterious characters.
This is the one category where I admit that the 10/10 is highly subjective. Objectively, Bakemonogatari is a top-quality art form, and I firmly believe that high-profile artists, filmmakers, etc. would appreciate that Bakemonogatari is the epitome of modern anime counterculture (Suzumiya Haruhi being the mainstream crystallization of modern anime). However, you have to be looking for the right thing to enjoy this anime. If the anime you typically enjoy are Naruto, TTGL, etc. (not that they aren't fantastic either), Bakemonogatari is perhaps not for you. This series is really for people who have watched a lot of anime, perhaps even an otaku, and were drawn to the more sophisticated, post-modern aspect of the genre as a whole. It is, in a way, analogous to how Mozart is universally loved (for a good reason!), while composers like Hindemith appeal strongly to those who have developed a taste in classical music. I personally pick this series as the number one anime of all time (along with NGE) because it had all I was looking for: deep, subtle characters, platonic romance, somewhat surreal atmosphere, idealization only possible in anime, wit, and that pinch of sociopathy shown in each character, as are present in every human being. There isn't one thing about this anime that is the "hook" (though, if I had to pick one, I'd go with SENJOUGAHARA FASCINATION). Rather, every aspect of it plays its role perfectly to create a gestalt whole. Oh, and by the way, if you're like me and are desperately looking for non-moe, non-loli (getting harder and harder to find) anime made in 21st century, welcome to Bakemonogatari. This series is for mature viewers looking for a subtle, yet decisively anime experience.
Overall, if you think yourself the discriminating, intellectual beta-component of modern society (who also happens to watch anime), you will love this series. It's a love or hate type of anime, in my opinion, and if you are the type of person this show caters to, you will come to thoroughly appreciate every aspect of the show, besides just Senjougahara. If you're not, that doesn't mean you're not as cultured or some nonsense; just need to find your anime masterpiece, as I found Bakemonogatari.
THIS REVIEW IS FOR ALL SEASONS, AS SUCH, IT CONTAINS SPOILERS
Monogatari takes place in a city populated by about 20 people, cardboard cutouts and kanji characters, and follows the story of Koyomi Araragi as he meets girls who have supernatural oddity-related issues in their lives and tries to help them.
I am not a fan of the Monogatari anime, but I will get into why later in this review.
The characters are all pretty much what you'd expect from a harem anime. There's the selfless main character, the Tsundere girlfriend, the shy Moe girl who turns out to actually be psycho and manipulative, the smart girl who
wears glasses (for a brief time anyway), the little sister(s), the sports girl, the lesbian, etc.
However, most of them are written with more nuance than what you'd expect, as in, they get backstories, but on a basic level, I don't feel like it's any deeper than the character backstories from any other anime. But they do have a bit more depth than what you'd expect from a harem show, meaning they are not in a round-the-clock quest for the main character's dick. I'm not a fan of the characters (except for Kaiki Deishuu and maybe Meme Oshino), and don't think they're anything noteworthy, but I do give them credit for that.
The dialogue is also the same as what you'd expect from an anime. Talking about motivations, delivering exposition, and bantering whenever there's nothing going on. The difference is that most the show is just that, talking, with nothing else going on. However, I don't have that much of a problem with that aspect and some of the dialogue is occasionally funny. Nevertheless, even then, the dialogue often tends to go in circles and isn't strong enough to carry the whole show in my opinion, but more on that later.
When it comes to the story, however, a lot of the story arcs start out with potential, but then they end up focusing more on the dialogue rather than doing something interesting with the premise, and then end unmemorably. The biggest example of this is in Monogatari Second Season's Mayoi Jiangshi arc.
Surprisingly enough, despite the first scene of this show being a 15-20 second-long panty shot, there isn't actually all that much fanservice. However, when there is, it's rather unappealing.
Two running gags with Araragi include going out and molesting Mayoi, who is 11, and planning on tricking his little sisters into being molested by him, and he suffers no real comeuppance for it. I'd say it's refreshing to have a subversion as a change of pace from the typical harem humor wherein the main character does something perverted by accident and gets beaten up for it, but I don't think child molestation or incest are funny.
That's not to mention the rape snake from the Nadeko Snake arc, and two extended scenes from Nisemonogatari, wherein Shinobu, who is over 400 years old but is physically 8, bathes with Araragi, as well as the infamous scene where he brushes his little sister's teeth and it looks like they're having oral. I have read an essay analyzing the fanservice in Nise, of all things, and apparently it's supposed to represent teenage sexuality. Okay, but that doesn't mean that I have to feel it's worth wearing a monocle and a top hat while smoking a Cuban cigar, listening to Mozart and waxing philosophical about this aspect. Might as well apply that same logic to every ecchi harem out there.
The biggest problem I have with Monogatari, however, isn't inherent, since I've read some of the light novels and think they're okay, despite having these flaws.
The animation looks nice and clean (despite the obvious low budget resulting in all these still frames), however, it is also its biggest flaw (besides the fanservice).
Shaft has been using the same visuals for every Shinbo-directed show for several years, but I feel that when making Monogatari, they rely on their visuals too much.
A lot of the time, during the dialogue scenes in Monogatari, they keep cutting to Dadaist visuals, text screens, weird camera angles and extreme closeups, which wouldn't be a problem, except that they focus on them for so long and so often, that it detracts from the experience. They go too overboard with those and fail to build up a good momentum for the pacing.
I don't judge a show based on the animation, as long as I'm interested in the story and the characters, but this is one case where I have the opinion that it detracts from everything else. In this case, I feel like the animation department is too busy showing off what I already know that they can do while not advancing the story in a significant measure in each episode with little pay-off, and that aspect is what I actually care about in a show. I've already seen this exact same type of animation in multiple other Shaft shows previously, so it doesn't do anything for me anymore, I'm not going to give it extra points.
Imagine if someone made an adaptation of a book, and instead of adapting the events of the book in a visual format, the adaptation entirely consisted of watching some guy sitting there, reading the book out loud. That's what watching Monogatari feels like.
In conclusion, I think that the Monogatari light novels are okay despite their flaws, but that Shaft's direction makes the anime boring to watch, and that I would have likely enjoyed the show more if it was made by another studio, or if Shaft hadn't gone so overboard with the animation to the extent that it detracts from everything else. The only reason I continue to watch it is just because I'm waiting for the moment where it finally lives up to its potential.
Monogatari is a love-it-or-hate-it show, watch it if you want, maybe you'll like it, but if you end up not liking it, I recommend watching Monster or Mushishi as preferable alternatives.
While revisiting Monogatari's franchise, this time in chronological order, I can't stop thinking that my biggest mistake during the first watch was not to rewatch key events immediately after getting the full picture. Now that the plot is naturally flowing like river water it's easier to comprehend its simplicity.
What to say about the interactions? They're weird and I don't get most of the meta-jokes simply because I don't speak Japanese. The dialogue is clearly alienating as if you don't pay strict attention to what they're saying, you'll lose contextual grasp more rapidly than you can eventually recover. Your only option will be going back and
rewatching a part of the dialogue just to realize there's nothing poignant there. It's like they're saying important stuff in between a lot of useless information that carries no weight, more or less as we do in real life, but way more randomized and "comical". It's a matter of how much verbal adornment one's able of attaching to his speech so the viewer has to decipher beyond the huge amount of ornamental surface.
As a non-Japanese speaker, however, it's simpler for me to ignore those deeply hidden details that whilst funny to some who do share the language understanding, are useless to me. So sometimes there's nothing to what they're expressing beyond oddness. Well, whether one will get extremely annoyed by the weirdness or rather impressed it's on his own and entirely subjective. To me, I'm in the middle way where it doesn't make a difference. Some interactions are interesting, some are boring, some are annoying. Usually related to how they're important to what's happening, how they aren't and how some are simply so out of context, of nowhere, having no reason to exist other than simply doing so and fulfilling the desire of some fans to see such things happening. So the latter tend to fall flat and provide no enjoyment whatsoever.
As to what's happening, well, it's rather common to see the premise, but it is in the execution where lies the quality. It's hard to see something like Monogatari around and calling it unique fit like a glove. Araragi and his harem in middle of odd mysteries and equally odd scenarios and places that enhance the weirdness the show tries to convey. It's hard to even identify clear themes due to how alienating the show can become and sometimes you have to stop and think about what's happening before continuing in order to grasp some of the arc's intents. It's easier to identify through listing the characters struggles and general attitude towards a specific set of events...
"Did you know every time you sigh, a little bit of happiness escapes?" - Senjougahara Hitagi, Episode 6
Well, you won't be sighing anywhere in this anime.
Bakemonogatari from the start can give the wrong impression to the viewer. They must be wondering, "Why is this rated so high, if it all it is, is just random words popping up on the screen?" However, it is a really good anime in its own weird way, and you're probably going to have to appreciate it that way as well.
Character: Usually, I'd start my review with the main part (story), but I believe the most important part of Bakemonogatari
is its character development. You have Koyomi Araragi, who interacts with 5 different girls throughout the story; the tsundere Senjougahara Hitagi, the cute and small Mayoi Hachikuji, the tomboy Kanbaru Suruga, the other cute loli Sengoku Nadeko, and the Queen of Fanservice Hanekawa Tsubasa. Oh yeah, I almost forgot Oshino Shinobu. Each interaction and arc is unique. From funny wordplay, to stapling someone in the mouth, the character development is what makes this series a really entertaining one. If Bakemonogatari didn't have a storyline at all (which it does), it would still be entertaining to watch.
Story: The first episode actually starts off with flashing scenes from Kizumonogatari, the prequel of Bakemonogatari. You have Koyomi Araragi, who was recently bit by a vampire. In the beginning of the story, he meets Senjougahara by catching her fall. Was that the right decision to make? Araragi himself says; "Not ignoring her was the right decision... I think" (Episode 1). She then tells him (in fact, forces him, by stapling the side of his mouth) to be quiet about her "incurable disease", but Koyomi insists on helping. He gets his friend who had helped him recover from the vampire attack; Oshino Meme. He specializes in supernatural problems to help not only her, but everyone else throughout the story. The series overall isn't a story-focused one. It's more focused on the character interactions. The interaction between Senjougahara and Araragi are always entertaining to watch.
Senjougahara: *to Araragi* "I'm suprised you know such useless things. This is the first time since birth that I've admired you."
Sound: The voices sound really nice, and the voice cast has a lot of popular names. The dialogue plays an important role is this anime, and is done really well, especially with its jokes. The OPs are really catchy (notable mention to Senjougahara's "Staple Stable" and Nadeko's "Ren'ai Circulation") and the ED (supercell - Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari) is just great.
Art: The art is somewhat similar to SHAFT's other work (as expected). It's almost like a mix of Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei and Arakawa Under the Bridge, but everything is crisp and clear nonetheless. Another element that plays a huge role in Bakemonogatari is the flashing text and small detail that happens almost too frequently each episode. I think it is done well, and sets a mood for the episode. You don't have to stop and read everything, but the flashing words do provide some info and foreshadowing.
Enjoyment: Bakemonogatari has a lot of entertainment value, and all the elements combined make it a really good supernatural-romance-comedy. Each arc is enjoyable, and has a good amount of fan service for those who enjoy it. The romance was also done very well, which leaves the view with a warm feeling at the end. It took some time to get used to the weird flashing words in the beginning, but once you get used to it, you'll be in for an entertaining ride.
Gatari is voicing form of Katari. Katari is a tale which by oral tradition, is passed down from generation to generation. Thereby, the words "Bakemono" means monster and "monogatari" means story. Thus, you get "Bakemonogatari" which is an anime that contains tales of monsters.
Alright, enough of the trivia. Let's get down to business.
It'd be very difficult to describe the story without letting out spoilers. With that in mind, I can only tell you that Bakemonogatari is a collection of monster tales that are revelant to life. The story depicts surrealism and "supernatural phenomenons" amongst people, which occur when the main character, Araragi, interacts
Once again, SHAFT saves the day! SHAFT is well known for their artistic techniques to portray abstract scenes. Their other works, such as Ef - A Fairy Tale of the Two, are very much similiar. Bakemonogatari utilizes many, unique camera angles that are relevant or not relevant to what is being said. Such scenes could be the sky, cars, the character's hair, etc. Additionally, multiple screens and walls of text pop up to give the viewer a sense of abstract understanding.
The music is amazing. I don't really know anyone who dislikes the OP and Ending themes. To make Bakemonogatari interesting, director Akiyuki Shinbo, allowed only a few episodes to have certain OP/Endings and mix them so it won't get boring. Indeed, it's nothing like your standard anime where there is the same boring OP and Ending played over and over. The insert music is also very excellent.
#01: "staple stable" by Chiwa Saito (Eps. 2, 6)
#02: "Kaerimichi (帰り道)" by Emiri Katou (Ep. 4)
#01: "Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari (君の知らない物語)" by supercellxnagi
The reason for the 8 is because, I feel the characters aren't being introduced thoroughly. Of course, it's understandable that Bakemonogatari will only be 15 episodes - thus they have to "pack and condense" the character development (Tales) to fit the 15 episodes. Had Bakemonogatari been 24 episodes though, I think overall character growth would be KILLER. The romance between tsundere-Senjougahara and male lead-Araragi is pretty nice, however.
Beside the story and character development-in-15-episodes, Bakemonogatari deserves a good two thumbs up. Also, for a anime having a tsundere female, I'd say it REALLY stands out from Shakugan no Shana or Zero no Tsukaima. Albeit the many interesting anime coming in 2009, Bakemonogatari is certainly something else. It's unique because it stands out from your traditional anime. It is as if Bakemonogatari is wearing a green shirt while the other anime series wear white.To put it bluntly, Bakemonogatari offers this sense of upmost perfect surrealism that is damn near addicting.
Bakemonogatari (Monster Story) is definitely a MUST-SEE.
This anime seemed to have a lot of mysteries in it, but the biggest mystery it presented to me was why I took such a violent dislike to it even though it has been favorably discussed by intelligent viewers. I stopped watching it early on, out of simple irritation. To me it was marching straight down that wrong road we are warned against in the aphorism, "Don't gild the lily."
It's episode number 2, and an interesting "exposition" conversation is taking place between the anime's Girl Number 1 and the hero. It presents a considerable subsidiary mystery--why is this girl acting in this unusual and
unpleasant way? This viewer would have liked to watch the interchange closely to try to find that out. But I couldn't! Or at least I couldn't do so with full real comprehension, because it was just here that the director intensified his already-established habit of complexifying everything on the screen beyond reason.
This scene is taking place in some kind of loft-like living space within an industrial building. Beams and pillars cross and recross the whole field of view of the "camera", which is set at a middle distance from the action. In addition, when the camera moves, it is often to new points of view that are also well-removed from the action--and every one of the resulting fields of view is also seriously obscured by more architectural elements. In this long scene there are times when the camera does get closer to the "actors", and there are even a few--very few--closeup shots of the players' faces, but when those shots arrive they are usually jump-cuts--a quick close-up of the face in question then away. The overall experience of dealing with this as a viewer is similar to trying to interact with someone you've never met before in a dark room where the only light constantly goes off and on at irregular intervals.
All of this ladles on lots of mystery. FINE. The director's primary job at the beginning of a show is to suck us into the story--that is, to make us at least begin to make the story imaginatively ours. One way to do that is to mystify us at the outset, but this can be overdone! When the basic premise of the show, given in the first episode, is already a very large mystery, do we really need in the next scene to be presented with constant subsidiary visual mysteries? The other usual way to "suck us in" is to make us at least begin to identify with the protagonist. That's pretty hard to achieve here, where, in their very first substantial conversation, both the protagonist and his antagonist have been distanced from us both by too much shooting of their conversation with long shots and by constant visual clutter that has nothing to do with the story.
But I bet lots of you liked it all. And my best guess as to why lots of you do, and I don't, is generational. Modern technology permits all lilies to be easily gilded, I bet few directors can resist doing so; so most of you have gotten used to this. I'm an old guy, and I can't.
Watch this intriguing anime, please, and see what you think. It may be announcing the beginning of a new rococo age.
You don’t have to be a member of the anime community for long to know that the Monogatari series is very, very highly praised. Inevitably, I gave into the hype and tried it out for myself. The result? Well… I walked away entertained, but FAR from impressed. Yes the characters are amusing, yes the dialogue is witty, and yes the visuals are beautiful, but make no mistake: Bakemonogatari is just a harem. It exists only for comedic gags and fanservice. The characters are shallow and have little to offer beyond their archetypes and their dialogue, not to mention that the “plot” is loose
and unimpressive to say the least. I guess I have very mixed feelings about this anime; I’m happy I watched it, but the people hailing it as a masterpiece need to check themselves.
Synopsis: Koyomi Araragi, our harem lead, gets himself involved with all sorts of supernatural stuff, including vampires, spirits, myths, ghosts, and other apparitions. Being the overly selfless, and unreasonably nice harem lead that he is, Araragi meets a series of girls, each of which with their own problems. He finds a way to solve those problems, thus making essentially all of those girls fall in love with him until he has his very own harem.
Now, you’ve probably heard that sort of plot premise many times before, and that’s because there is nothing unique about this show’s plot what so ever. Even the supernatural thing has been done before. It’s quite simply a show about a boy helping girls with their problems one by one, a-la every visual novel ever made (even though this show is not based on a VN). There really isn’t much to say about it except one thing: Holy shit is there dialogue. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing; lots of my favorite anime are considered dialogue heavy, but Bakemongatari is essentially “Dialogue: The Animation”. Granted, it's usually very witty and well-written dialogue, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't lose interest on more than one occasion. I really enjoyed the action scenes because of how incredibly animated they are, but they were few and far between to say the least. You can count them on one hand. In short, this plot is just a bare-minimum narrative framework for the show to conduct comedic gags and show tons of fanservice all the while attempting to incorporate every otaku fetish ever conceived. Needless to say, the plot is NOT the reason to watch this show…
The real selling point for Bakemonogatari is the characters: They are praised to no end for their likeability and depth. The former I can get on board with. The latter, however, I must wholeheartedly refute. The cast of characters is simply shallow, and I don’t think that’s debatable (I’ve been told they receive more depth in later seasons, but for now, they are shallow). Senjogahara, everybody’s obligatory “best girl”, may be amusing with her witty remarks and constant insults, we never get to know who she really is as a person. The romance between her and Araragi has its moments, but it comes across as unrealistic and misguided more often than not. Araragi claims to love Senjogahara but... does he? It doesn't seem like it at all. She constantly berates him, constantly puts him in uncomfortable situations, and is clearly mentally unstable. Senjogahara’s love feels very unreciprocated, making it quite difficult to empathize with their relationship. Speaking of that love, the show also doesn’t bother to flesh out why Senjogahara loves Araragi in the first place. As the anime itself manages to point out, it seems like she's just a mentally unstable, lonely girl who would fall in love with anyone who showed her the slightest bit of kindness a-la Yuno Gasai. That person just so happened to be Araragi, making the entire relationship based upon coincidence rather than legitimate connection on a psychological and/or spiritual level. The question is simply this: Is the show making fun of these tropes, or merely utilizing them? Who knows, but in the end, it doesn't really seem to matter since nothing profound is ever actually discusses and no commentary is ever made. For that reason, I just can't get into them as a couple; I don't like the confusing and round-a-bout way that it was handled. The other characters don't receive any remarkable depth either. They come and go at random intervals in between episodes; uncomfortably blurring the line between minor and major character. Our protagonist, Araragi is the prototypical overly generous and generic harem lead, with the exception of his tendency to create situations with unfathomably sexual undertones (even more so than an average harem). Don't get me wrong, the characters are witty and entertaining; they had me laughing multiple times, but there is an obvious problem with depth. They are funny, but shallow and archetypical.
I would be doing the show a disservice if I didn’t mention the beautiful animation, which was easily the best part of the entire anime. Bakemonogatari’s beautiful, experimental art style and orgasmic uses of shot composition and lighting are the real reason you should watch this show. Any fan of animation owes it to themselves to bask in the glory of this genius art direction. There are a FEW shots that don’t really work, but as a whole, stupendous animation. The music was good as a tone setter, but a tad underwhelming as a whole with the exception of a single track: The ED; AKA my new favorite anime ED of all time. My god is it increadible.
In conclusion, Bakemonogatari consists entirely of witty humor and fanservice in a beautifully animated and surreal setting. It has lovable characters and great dialogue, but it seriously lacks depth and originality in the departments of plot and characters. The plot isn’t memorable at all, and if the characters are memorable, it’s for their humor and boobs rather than their motivations and complexity. While I totally understand why fans of harems consider this to be the pinnacle of anime, it’s quite clear that Bakemonogatari is not worthy of that title. I think the show is worth watching, but don’t let the ridiculous hype surrounding the series ruin it for you. Remember: At its core, this is just a harem.
It is very rare to see such a successful marriage of a director’s vision and an author’s material. Bakemonogatari’s existence is an anomaly especially in present day where adaptations are subpar when compared to the source. However, there has never been a more potent combination than Nisio Isin and Studio SHAFT’s Akiyuki Shinbou. Shinbou’s quirky, and imaginative art direction greatly compliments the fast paced dialogue and witticisms that Nisio is known for. The end result is a tour de force of both visuals and prose. Bakemonogatari is a meticulously crafted tale that never ceases to maintain the viewer’s attention and titillate the imagination.
Story- Bakemonogatari is
a broken into individual arcs, each focusing a certain character dealing with a supernatural “Oddity.” There is an overarching plot that is delicately threaded throughout each arc. Every character is related to one another either directly or indirectly. Throughout each arc, we learn more about each girl and their specific affliction. In other shows, this would mean long, drawn out expository dialogue that lacks personality and charisma. However, Bakemonogatari is unlike other anime. Every interaction is interesting due to how well the visuals compliment the dialogue. Although the dialogue seems to meander from time to time, the interactions between characters are always at the very least entertaining. And through these seemingly meaningless conversations, we learn more about their personalities, motivations and personal beliefs. It is all done in a very subtle way so it may take some close attention to catch some of the nuances of the characterization. Bakemonogatari does not try to baby the viewer; it tells you only what you need to know and lets your imagination fill in the gaps.
The quality of writing remains consistent throughout each arc but the show takes a bit of a downward spiral during the Nadeko Snake arc. Not that it is a bad arc as much as it is underwhelming. Sengoku Nadeko is easily the most uninteresting female in the cast. She is timid, shy and cute. She does not have any stand out traits or eccentricities like the other members of the cast. It seems her sole purpose in this arc is to appease fetishists due to her being placed in many compromising positions. She wears school swimsuits and her affliction is the most sexual in nature. The conclusion to this arc also leaves much to be desired but it is only a minor dip in the overall quality of the narrative.
Art- Studio SHAFT has become synonymous with eccentric art and whacky animation, and Bakemonogatari really benefits from SHAFT adapting it. It is a true visual spectacle, using a mixture of different art styles to make conversations much more interesting. Most scenes are vibrant and full of color and unusual geometric shapes which breathe life into the show. It also uses an interesting blend of typography and simple black and white scenes that really support the tone of the conversations. You could argue that Bakemonogatari’s success is due to the visuals. It truly is a feast for the eyes.
Character- Bakemonogatari features of one of the most intriguing cast of characters I have had the pleasure to watch. However, the crowning achievement of the show has to be Hitagi Senjougahara, the protagonist Araragi’s girlfriend. She is cruel and cynical and never ceases to make Araragi her whipping boy. But that is all a part of her indelible charm. Past her ice cold exterior, lays a really gooey and lovable center. Her change is gradual but very apparent by the end of the series.
The relationship dynamic between Araragi and Senjougahara is simply a joy to behold. It is free of all usual issues that plague romantic anime: awkward confessions, a melodramatic backstory and a general lack of believability. The development of their relationship is set at a slow but realistic pace. Think of it as a flower in bloom, when it blossoms you can truly appreciate it in all its beauty. Throughout the course of the series, Senjougahara’s presence makes itself known even she is not on screen. Araragi’s relationship has actively changes his character and influences what decisions he makes. Each encounter also builds upon their relationship and builds an unspoken bond of trust and affection.
The supporting cast of females also serves to facilitate the development of Araragi’s relationship with Senjougahara. While each arc deals with a specific heroine, it very subtly also tackles aspects and issues within any romantic relationship such as: miscommunication, jealously, and infidelity. Every obstacle they face reinforces the strength of their bond.
The supporting cast are not only mere catalysts for the development of Araragi and Senjougahara, but they stand strong by themselves. The cast is comprised of the usual harem archetypes: the little sister, the class representative, the loli, and the energetic girl but they are given distinguishable traits that separate them from any other character. For example, take Kanbaru Suruga. Although she falls into the energetic girl archetype, she completely betrays our expectations of what that character should be like. She is not only athletic, but she freely embraces her sexuality by making jokes about it and making advances towards Araragi if only in jest.
Bakemonogatari is a tour de force of visual storytelling. It represents the best of the medium as it completely defies all storytelling conventions of anime. It is wordy but never ceases to captivate the viewer with its beautiful imagery and wit. Bakemonogatari popularity and acclaim is well deserved as it will likely linger in your mind, whether you liked it or not, for a long time.
Finally giving in to the hype, I picked up Bakemonogatari, the most discussed anime of '09, on the very first day of this year. The show's appeal was lost on me during the first few episodes, but after a while the reasons for this anime's charm on so many became apparent. As to whether that charm worked on me as well, that's something I'm going to explain a bit more thoroughly further on.
The story of Bakemonogatari may at first seem confusing with the odd events of the show's beginning. Soon, however, the plot's structure comes clear enough as new characters (all female) are introduced, with
each of them having their own arc consisting of a few episodes at a time. Amidst the weirdness of Bakemonogatari's characters, artwork and animation, a simple storyline like that is a welcome asset. Of course, on the occasion you're not one to enjoy a storyline based on a few episode-arcs, it'll be exactly the other way around for you.
Despite each story arc concentrating on a new character each time, the story of our main couple, Araragi and Senjougahara, flows along nicely as well. The relationship between the two is somewhat the core of the entire show, with the story-arcs functioning either as a means to deepen their chemistry as they go about solving the encountered mysteries together, introduce new characters, or bring more depth to our main hero, Araragi. This I have no qualms of, for I quite like the way a clearly harem-esque series has the most prominent love interest set in stone instead of the guy tinkering on edge until the very end about who it is that he loves.
Be not completely turned off yet, all you who despise everything which has the word "harem" attached to it, for even though I dubbed Monstory as "a clearly harem-esque series", this show isn't an average one in that category in the least. Yes, it's yet again a series where a single guy is surrounded by attractive females (sans the loli character), and yes, all of them are expressing more or less of an interest in him. But they're not brainlessly-unconditionally-helplessly or otherwise idiotically in love in him, nope. In fact some, if not most of them are having open and cheeky banters with him _AND_, unlike in most of your typical harems, the guy isn't actually an utter retard with no redeeming qualities.
This brings us to what I believe is commonly praised as Bakemonogatari's greatest strength, which namely is the wonderfully wicked and excellent character chemistry. As I stated before the characters actually have more intricate interaction between them than your usual scenario of a bunch of chicks loving on an idiot with an attraction level somewhere around -9000. The verbal battles between Araragi and co. (and especially with Senjougahara) are indeed the shows most prominent and refreshing aspect.
But whereas "a bunch of chicks loving on an idiot" can be seen as one frustrating extreme of character interaction, at times I felt as though Bakemonogatari presented a polar opposite no less frustrating. All too often it seemed like the heavy dialogue was there just to accentuate the girls' excellency over Araragi as the poor fellow always appeared to get the short end of the stick in their interactions. A feature meant to be humorous for sure, and I do remember smiling at times, but I certainly wasn't as entertained as I guessed I should've been.
Another fracture burdening on the show's enjoyability is the usage of still-images with text which I suppose were there to support the story. I can't remember if there was a single episode where there wouldn't have been a series of stills flashing on the screen so fast it was impossible to read the sentences on them without stopping your media player to read them. You can guess if I myself cared much for doing so. A hint: I didn't. Surely I didn't miss anything of importance when I opted to roll my eyes in annoyance instead of stopping to read each time when a still featuring either a sentence or a meaningless word like "red" or "black" appeared on the screen, but it certainly didn't add to my viewing pleasure either.
That's about it from me this time, really. Other factors you'd usually pay attention to while watching, like the music and art, fell into the vast category of "alright". The theme songs let alone the rest of the soundtrack left no impression on me whatsoever, and just like everybody else, I did notice the artstyle in this show was a bit funny at times. Surely nothing which folks familiar with Gankutsuou, Zetsubou-sensei, and SHAFT in general can't handle. Characterization, relationships, and intriguing story are the plusses, somewhat questionable humour and stupid stills the minuses. Sounds like yer cup of tea? Then drink up. It doesn't? Then go look for another one - but not before sampling this.
ENGLISH IS NOT MY FIRST LANGUAGE, SORRY IF I WRITE SOMETHING WRONG
✧ Introduction/the story
Bakemonogatari, A story of a guy that casually meets different types of girls throughout the episodes. Coincidentally, all of those girls are possessed by a curse that resembles an animal.
✧ The characters
The protagonist is a guy that wants to help every single girl he meets, even if he met her only 5 minutes ago, just like your typical self-insert protagonist. Like a male lead in every harem out there he is bland, boring, and doesn't know what to do with his life.
The story just introduces female characters that are all very
archetypal, but they want to "hide" this fact through the pseudo-intellectual dialogue. Most of the time, their role is diminished to flirting with the protagonist, adding nothing to the typical formula.
I might add that the "jokes" between the protagonist and the little girl, Mayoi, are very disgusting and uncomfortable. I'm not going to describe all of the girls because they are forgettable due to their lack of charisma and originality. You can describe them in one sentence, except for the protagonist's girlfriend, Senjougahara. She's kind of memorable thanks to her attitude towards the protagonist and because she has the most screen time out of all the females. But she is not an important character after all.
✧ The script
Unless the dialogue is made with a bit of effort, it feels pretentious and unrealistic. It's not intellectual, it's not deep, it only tries to make you think that they are saying something smart, but if you analyze it properly, it makes no sense at all and most of the time it doesn't add anything to what's going on. This is just an attempt to "not to be like the other harems with empty dialogue and bland characters", but it ends up being almost the same at the end. Why? I'm going to explain it.
The story is divided in mini-arcs in which the protagonist meets and interacts with every cursed girl, conveniently, every girl ends up having a "crush" on the protagonist, so the show becomes a harem really fast, but there is no plot, there is no sense of progression, there is not a specific goal that would drive the plot.
✧ Production values
The art is amazing and very versatile, but most of the time it feels like an ornament more than an element that would complement the actual story. Sometimes the art has nothing to do with the story or the characters at all. This, plus the dialogue, which is not as smart as everyone says, are the most recognizable elements about this anime, and that's why it's loved so much.
The seiyuus are very good, they fit the characteres very well. The music is not that memorable and sometimes it feels repetitive, but it's apreciated how they made one opening for each arc.
The ecchi shots sometimes feel completely out of place, ruining the atmosphere, and the same goes for the jokes. One moment they are trying to sound smart (and failing miserably) and after two seconds the conversation changes its focus to panties or "touches". This all happens without a proper transition and I can't take what they are saying seriously because the fast change in tone overwhelmes me.
Bakemonogatari is try-hard slice of life harem that wasted all its potential to be meaningfully different by staying in its comfort zone and the show ended up being mediocre.
'People save themselves on their own. Nobody can ever save anyone else'
- Araragi Koyomi
To begin this review, I shall say that while there were always disagreements whether a certain show was good or not, no series was ever able to split the community like the Monogatari series does. And there will always be the ones saying that it is the best of the best in the anime world, and the ones that will see it as just a pretentious over-the top harem show. Now, before you cast of my review thinking that I'm just going to praise the show, I'll have to ask you to
stay until the end, since I started this anime just so I could drop it because, I too, thought that it was just a philosophy for horny weebs. Let me show you what made me change my mind. I'll try my best to keep the review spoiler-free for all the people who haven't yet seen the show.
Lets begin with what I think is the reason Bakemonogatari excels more than most of the anime you'll run into: the characters. Now, if you ask any qwasy-elitist about the Bakemonogatari characters, he/she will probably tell you that the characters fall very well into the defined tropes of the anime: unassuming/confused lead protagonist, a female tsundere lead constantly insulting the MC, a bratty loli, a shy and innocent imouto trope, and so on. And on the surface, they are right. But as each of the characters develop, they restrain themselves of these labels to the point that it almost reaches the deconstruction of the certain anime character tropes. And what Bakemonogatari does so good, is the connection it constantly makes by bonding the story with the characters, making them equally progress.
So, to further explain the characters, I will base myself on the actual story. Bakemonogatari follows a 18 years-old Araragi Koyomi, who is 1/10 vampire, as he encounters various number of girls. Each of them comes with their own unique story, and a complete arc primary focusing on one specific character. Each of the characters is followed by an apparition (supernatural being) AKA aberration (unusual, unwelcome entity). They are phenomenons of supernatural nature, in which a person is involved, both as a cause and a victim. To be precise, apparitions are the supernatural creations of ones own mind, possessing the host. The story mainly focuses Araragi, with a help of Oshino Meme, the balancer, attempting to help and save those who suffer from such spiritual illness. But then why did I choose that specific quote to begin my review if it now seems incorrect?
And so we come across with what makes Bakemonogatari one of the best shows of all time: it is a metaphorical battle with one's own inner self. Each of the apparitions is carefully presented as a specific animal or a monster symbolizing the ones problem. And it is no coincidence that it turns out that each of the monsters turned out to be projected by humans. Or rather, they all seem to resemble the problems of one's own personality, the parts they try to deny and hide from the others by burying them deep inside, and metaphorically constructing a false reality and projecting them into a harsh enemy: a soul-sucking demons, apparitions. And so the only way to solve the problem is to confront them as what they truly are. the show smartly illustrates the struggle it takes to overcome your own inner pain. And no, that's not pretentious. You need to learn to separate the edginess from the actual depth.
And to explain that, lets move on to the various elements that make the series work, and how they interact. So, storytelling. Through each well-defined arc, we slowly dig deeper into the character, ripping apart the trope, and revealing what lies beneath. This compelling introspection of the characters is what drives the story. Even tho the show contains some nice well-combined comedy and few action sequences, it primarily revolves around dialogues. A well-packed, meaningful and thought-provoking dialogue, with various use. Whether it is used to serve some good laughs, develop the character or advance the plot, conversation is never there just to fill the 23-minutes of free space, which is expected from the Godlike-writer NisioisiN, who's wordplay transcends beyond just a simple rebuses.
But it doesn't just end there. The visual aspect in Bakemonogatari isn't just there for the aesthetic value. Director Tatsuya Oishi takes the whole media into his advantage, making surrealistic and abstractly symbolic visual storytelling. Using the first-person perspective through Araragi's narration, his world remains without the people he has no interest in, whether it'd be an empty street in the middle of the day, or an empty classroom. Every camera angle is focused primarily on what he is interesting in and what he wants us to see, or pay attention to. Otherwise, there is a fantastically fluent animation, incredible use of colors and a regular SHAFT's head tilt.
The music is there just to keep things alive. It never fails to bring a character motion to life and to project the certain emotion, whether it is making you be at the edge of your sit with eyes wide open as the mystery gets unraveled, or it is making your heart break apart from the sadness of the moment. Boosted with various number of melodies and instruments in soundtrack, the enjoyment is guaranteed.
Personally, this show has in itself everything I ever wanted an anime to have. Philosophy, abstract symbolism, depth, fast pacing, interesting and well-written characters, emotional and slightly tearjerking elements, creativity and innovation, and a weird, but unique way of storytelling. All together, an anime that everyone should see, but not everyone will like. It is not a story that will destroy your brain with lots of mindfucks, nor is it one that will ask you questions and make you wonder about the answer. This is not a show that knows everything, but it knows what it knows. It will tell you everything it can and it has the knowledge to.
But what you will do with it
is up to you.
Bakemonogatari is based on a series of light novels by Nisio Isin, and is later produced by Shaft. It features different short stories all related to the main character, Araragi Koyomi. Bakemonogatari is now known for its superb art and animation, and the unique way the story was presented to us. Adding to that, Bakemonogatari surprised many due to its weekly ranking sales and how well it sold across Japan. This was clearly evident in the field of BD sales, where it made history, selling 29,000 units of Bakemonogatari Vol.1, beating out the previous record holder of Macross Frontier, which sold at 22,000 units. It
also took first place in DVD sales in Oct 26 - Nov 11, beating other titles such as Gintama, Haruhi and Eden of the East. Volume 3 of Bakemonogatari also sold a lot, getting 1st place again in terms of DVD and Blu Ray sales, the margin between 1st place and 2nd place (Detective Conan Movie) being around 5 million. Volume 4 will be delayed a little while and will be released in January 27th, hoping to take the title of 1st place again.
It is clear at why Bakemonogatari sold so well over the time. Bakemono is a collection of short stories, all with their unique characteristics and aspects that makes a show great. It showcased different supernatural cases such as the Hitagi Crab, Mayoi Snail and Tsubasa Cat. Plotwise, Bakemono surely delivered and made it an entertaining show to watch. These different stories usually panned out in 3-4 episodes, where we see some character development and background story on some of the characters. Although each story shows a different heroine, one can still say that these stories are connected together, and this becomes evident in the later stages of the light novel, which has yet to be animated. The stories are engaging, and keeps the viewers interested with new materials to showcase each time. This allows endless opportunities for OVAs and even a second season due to its numerous heroines with each a unique background and even later chapters in the light novels which have yet to be shown in the animated version.
As already stated before, Bakemonogatari has its fair share of characters. Although 4 heroines is typical in a generic romantic comedy show, Bakemonogatari is somewhat different, as each heroine has their own story that can be deeply developed and shown more insight to in the future. The characters are well thought out, and what makes the show shine is their mindless rantings and they way they interact. Hitagi, being the central heroine of the show is aware of her "tsundere" status and is possessed by a crab who takes all of her weight. Then, we have a loli girl who gets her "first touch" taken away by Koyomi, and has entertaining fight sequences with Koyomi. Not only that, we have a smart and well mannered girl who you would consider as the clumsy one in all anime. However, she is anything but ordinary, and has a completely different persona which is because of a cat! These characters are a unique touch and strives to break out of the ordinary. Bakemonogatari offers us a distinct range of characters that are all unique in its own way, and tries to enhance the show even more with the interactions between the cast.
Bakemonogatari is definitely a true highlight due to its plot and characters, but it doesn't stop there. Bakemono offers us a unique art style and animation that is just as good as its story and cast. From the moment it started, Bakemono offered us a visual treat unlike any other, and the use of lighting and colours truly brought the world of Bakemonogatari to life. The art is high quality, and the characters are drawn exceptionally well. the background is unique and uses different techniques that you don't see in a regular anime. The fight scenes are also choreographed really well, and the animation is smooth. I mean, what more is there to not like? I was absolutely blown away by Shaft's effort in the new art direction it gave us and it certainly created a visual masterpiece. It was consistent all throughout the entire season, and although some may say that the Nadeko arc was a bit rough on the edges, it didn't mind me at all. Overall, the art and animation of Bakemono was another highlight to the series, and is just perfect.
Bakemonogatari also offered us different new openings for each heroine. My favourite would probably be Nadeko's and Hachikugi's openings as they were upbeat, and the animation sequence it provided was spectacular. The musical score of Bakemono were great too, and each track was done well. The seiyuu's did a good job too, especially Chiwa Saito as the voice of Senjougahara Hitagi.
Bakemonogatari is by far one of the best animes I have ever seen. Combined with a great plot and entertaining characters, every minute was truly enjoyable. It didn't stop there, as it also presented a visually stunning work, filled with vibrant colours and the animation being generally smooth. The different openings were great, and were always a blast to listen to. Bakemonogatari is definitely something you should watch - and make sure to download it in the highest quality possible to truly enjoy this new anime by SHAFT.
Pros: A great story and overall entertaining to watch. The characters were all unique in their own way and the character interactions were nice. The art and animation was absolutely spectacular; a visual masterpiece.
There’s some debate about whether or not Bakemonogatari (pr. bah-keh-moh-no-gah-tah-re) is an ecchi-harem. A mere six seconds into the first episode, one of the female leads is introduced with a panty shot, and several shots of panties, boobs, and butts are dispersed throughout the series. Aside from two characters that appear in a few episodes, Araragi, the main character, is the only male, and he’s usually surrounded by females who’ve developed a fondness for him after he helped them in some way.
Is it an ecchi? Most likely. Is it a harem? Probably. Nevertheless, what distinguishes this series from other ecchi and harem anime is that
this one could still be entertaining without the ecchi and harem elements. It’s not an ecchi with some story, but a story with some ecchi.
Bakemonogatari, part one of the Monogatari Series, is essentially a metaphor for the way problems grow beyond our control when we aren’t aware of them, or try to ignore them. In this story, unsolved problems culminate into apparitions that can handicap, possess, and even attack people. This metaphor was likely derived from the Buddhist concept of the āsavā, which is defined as an influence or mental bias that binds people to their desires and attachments; various types of mental binds are illustrated in this story through the lives and interactions of the characters.
This series was headed by veteran director and animator Akiyuki Shinbou, whose style has become synonymous with the Shaft animation studio. His distinctive use of lines, shadows, minimalism, and off-centered shot compositions are in full effect here. There are some scenes that are likely just meant to look cool, but generally the visuals have purpose, and avoid garishness. They’re motivated by clear ideas that establish tension, isolation, and other emotional tones.
The highlight of Bakemonogatari is the Tarantino-esque dialog written by Isin Nisio. When the characters converse, they’re not simply saying things that’ll move the plot forward. They’re having in-depth conversations, free of restraints, that seamlessly transition between topics as conversations do in real life. However, that’s not to imply that the characters take themselves seriously. It’s quite the contrary. The characters often tease and challenge each other, and sometimes break through the fourth wall to make the viewer apart of an exchange.
The Monogatari Series would be appreciated by most anime fans who enjoy sleek art, witty dialog, and the supernatural, and don't mind some fanservice. If you decide to pick it up, I suggest watching it in the order that it was adapted: Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari, Nekomonogatari: Kuro, Monogatari Series: Second Season, Hanamonogatari, Tsukimonogatari, Owarimonogatari, Kizumonogatari.
If you're looking for an adrenaline-pumping, anxiety-giving anime for your hot, red-blooded selves...
Then Bakemonogatari is not for you.
I disliked this series. I prefer action and suspense and Bakemonogatari did not invoke any feeling in me.
I simply clicked an episode and as soon as it started my mind would wander due to sheer boredom.
The story was very poor to me, I didn't know what was going on 99% of the time and there are a lot of pointless scenes (fanservice included, I guess). They repeatedly jumped around scenes and there was some skipping here and there... Not that I really cared.
The art was alright. It was
fine to look at, but wasn't great or "different" or anything. You could say the random shots of random things are creative, but they were nuances to me and weren't particularly thought-provoking. They were just random and just, well... There.
The sound, I could bear. It wasn't inspiring and didn't enhance the scenes for me. Sometimes the sound didn't match with scenes. Very confusing.
Character development was poor. The characters seemed very one-dimensional. Plastic. I found myself asking the screen "really...?" as I watched this series.
I definitely did not enjoy this. At all.
Overall I give BAKEMONOGATARI a 4.
It came out to 3.4 on my calculator but I will give it some credit to trying.
Trying too hard.
To be serious, if you want to watch something to get your heart hammering then
I do not recommend this series!
The monogatari series currently consists of 6 different seasons, Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari, Nekomonogatari:Kuro, Monogatari Series Second Season, Hanamonogatari, Tsukimonogatari and Owarimonogatari (Kizumonogatari will be released in 3 different parts later on in the next year).
Bakemonogatari at first was confusing, I had no idea what was going on and I could not keep up with all of the talking but in a couple of episodes everything started making sense.
Story: Araragi Koyomi is in third year at Naoetsu Private High School, he has two sisters and through out the story he gains a lot of friends. During a day at school he comes across a
mysterious girl by the name of Hitagi Senjougahara and saves her from a crab aberration with the help of a Specialist, Meme Oshino. The story goes on as Araragi saves mulitple girls from different types of abberations.
Art: The art for me gave a satisfying feeling when watching Bake. Shaft has done a wonderful job with animation in Bake and the rest of the monogatari series.
Sound: Bake had 5 different OP themes for a 15 episode series "staple stable" by Chiwa Saito, "Kaerimichi" by Emiri Kauto, "Ambivalent world" by Miyuki Sawashiro, "Renai Circulation" by Kana Hanazawa and "Sugar Sweet Nightmare" by Yui Horie". The openings were all great but I was in love with the ED theme "Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari" by supercell.
Character: I'm not going to go over every character but just to point out the main character "Araragi Koyomi". How he deals with all of the girls and abberation while maintaining a stable relationship is beyond me. He cares for each charater and has a special bond with all of them.
Enjoyment: Once I started I could not stop. Every episode for me was a cliff hanger. I have never had the urge to rewatch an anime before but I'm most likely to with Bake.
Overall: While I find this anime amazing some people may find it boring or just dumb but that won't change my opinion on it. I strongly recommended it for everyone but don't judge it by the first episode, try watch it through.
SHAFT's chaotic experiment is certainly a welcome break in creativity for the industry, and Bakemonogatari has all the right elements to make for a great anime: a promising premise, great character design and a shot of insanity. Yet here is a great example of how deliberate attention to detail can cause directors to miss the mark entirely, resulting in a bigger picture that revels blindly in its mediocrity.
There isn't much of a story. Episodic in nature, Bakemonogatari is driven by an almost Japanese-folklore perspective on loneliness and loss layered beneath the tone of this generation's rebellious youth. Sounds clever enough, but the not-so-subtle hentai subtext
cheapens any semblance of artistic endeavor. Perhaps it was a failed experiment at integrating pop-culture critique within its chaotic fabric, but my guess would lean towards a pathetic attempt to draw a larger audience.
But, well, critics are really going crazy for the art, so I was expecting to be pleasantly surprised. Only to be let down. Hard. Like the unmethodical and distracted camera angles, the artistic choices were made with the most pompous cries for attention. The still-scenes flicker in an epilepsy-inducing fashion, while the gorgeously rendered characters and back drop were drowned in the quickness of the scene-changes and flashes of blank screen with (unreadable) text. Moments that are meant to be mulled over pass too quickly while the more exciting scenes seem to linger with pure apathy. It's almost as if director Akiyuki Shinbo's job stopped pre-cutting-room-floor, leaving the series a chaotic mess with miserable pacing and an unspectacular storyline.
But enough about its fall from grace. Bakemonogatari may still be one of the best series the industry successfully produced in 2009. What SHAFT does well is create a highly entertaining series whose shiny surface can cover its internal flaws. The eclectic feel is enough to draw an audience, while the screenplay and writing remains surprisingly mature despite its rather unfocused story. And while certainly flawed, the artistic expression still garners appreciation for its bold step out of the ordinary. If you are a SHAFT fan, this title is unlikely to disappoint.
So let's imagine for a moment a world where harem anime wasn't susceptible to so many bad tropes, the MC wasn't a complete dolt, and all the female cast were fleshed-out microcosms of pure fun. Now, let's make all the female VA's do openings for the arcs of their characters and then toss in some silly innuendos that are ultimately non-intrusive and part of the ride. Now, multiply it by Mr Bones' Wild Ride (Google it). Ready?
Bakemonogatari is the first in the Monogatari series and unlike the adaptations of the rest of the novels, it aims to bash your brains out with how fun it
is. Each arc seems self-contained at first and like GitS: SaC does contribute to the overall story, but unlike the other it doesn't seem to notice that there is an overarching plot. As if self-aware, the series takes every opportunity to tell you what's what and then turn around and say "Oh, I was lying." before dragging you through another story; and believe me when I say it doesn't need to drag you.
What is wrong with the music? Nothing. Every OST from the high-energy "Iroboke Neko" to the almost creepy "Hyouri" and even soft, melodic "Senjoughara Tare" make each scene they're used in feel all the more authentic. But then there are the openings. "We have a budget? Since when" went one SHAFT employee. "Since forever. Money doesn't just grow on trees." Replied the other. "What is this 'money'? Sounds like some bullshit you just made up." Employee 1 retorted angrily.
But I would be lying if I said the music made the series. While a big factor, you'll end up staying for the art and animation. Each scene is cleverly put together with a combination of posing (sometimes in ways that seem painful) and "cut-ins" of the MC's thoughts in text. Perhaps because the budget was kill on the music ("DAMMIT MAN, I'M THE BOSS! JUST USE CUT-AWAYS TO TEXT AND GET ME MORE MUSIC!") but the stylish method they do this with feels too natural to be anything but a welcome addition. The only issue is our "cut-ins" don't last long enough to read through before returning to the scene and you might feel the need to go back and read it. Personally, it flowed really well.
So why do people enjoy this series so much aside the music and art? The characters. There is a waifu for everyone and no-one and while it is typical "Everyone loves MC" harem style, the personalities feel fresh and the interactions are anything but typical. Sengoku Nadeko is the only character the fanbase can't find it in themselves to like (until Second Season) and it's understandable and at the same time not. The "Fire Sisters" are the MC's siblings and our first shot of them leaves a bad impression that is later fixed. Finally, Tsubasa Hanekawa, Hachikuji Mayoi, Kanbaru Suruga, and Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade Shinobu Oshino are the female cast held in the highest regard for this part of the series. Later on, Karen Araragi and Tsukihi Araragi get their well-deserved spotlights while additions to the female cast only work to freshen things up.
Should you try Bakemonogatari? Not if you have a life and aspirations for it. This series will pull you in and keep you from escaping with a combination of sharpened pencils and duct tape. And the best part is, you'll enjoy it.
Shaft is a studio well known for their weird experimental style, seemingly endless stream of anime in-jokes, and plentiful fan-service. Needless to say their work is an acquired taste and can be hit-or-miss. While this certainly applies to Bakemonogatari, it uses Shaft's signature style very well. Incredibly weird, and at times intentionally obtuse, yet undeniably intriguing and charming (albeit in its own weird way). This is easily one of the studio's best efforts.
The show follows high school student and former vampire (it's complicated), Koyomi Araragi, through a string of bizarre supernatural happenings. Each happening is centered around an individual (all girls, of course) whom somehow
has become involved in the supernatural, and stumble upon our protagonist, who by nature feels the need to aid them. The show is divided into five arcs, each intriguing and creative on their own right, which are loosely tied to each other into a well thought out whole.
Now, this might sound like the show is formulaic, but rest assured, the show's unhinged creativity always keeps things interesting. Every minute feels fresh and engaging, even when a single conversation takes majority of an episode... which happens quite often.
It is really quite astonishing just how entertaining it is to hearing the characters banter amongst each other. Araragi is a winsome oddball with a healthy amount of snark, it is fun just to listen to him all on his lonesome, and it is even more fun to hear him play off the other characters. The insanely guarded and moody; self-proclaimed 'tsudere' Hitagi Senjougahara has a sharp tongue and a warped sense of humor. The fact that it is hard to tell when she is joking and when she is not makes her all the more interesting to watch. In contrast, the class rep Tsubasa playfully teases Araragi (and the audience). Every character has their own distinct way of talking, as well as their own reoccurring gags and catchphrases, which is exactly what makes their conversations so entertaining to listen to; add to that Shaft's usual cleaver word play and anime in-jokes.
Bakemonogatari is just as crafty with the supernatural as it is with its dialogue. The show has an uncanny way to tie the characters' issues with the weird supernatural circumstances that afflict them. Whether it is an inability to cope with reality, family problems, or jealousy; the personal problems of the characters are connected to the supernatural in cleaver, and sometimes surprising, ways. A lot is revealed about the characters through their interaction with the supernatural, fleshing out their already likable personalities. The class rep Tsubasa, in particular, gets great character development in the final arc; revealing insecurities hidden behind her playful demeanor.
Possibly the most important factor to Bakemonogatari's success is the relationship between Araragi and Hitagi. Aside from being the focus of the show's opening arc, their developing relationship add continuity to the loosely connected vignettes. This prevents Bakemonogatari from degrading into a puddle of randomness the way many of Shaft's works often do. Furthermore, their relationship gives the show a nice emotional core for the audience, and it is gratifying to see how their relationship progresses as the show continues.
Aesthetically, this show has Studio Shaft written all over it. The minimalist and bizarre visual style is not unlike what the studio has done before, in fact it is kind of expected. This, however, does not mean it is any less entrancing to watch. The color scheme is constantly being played around with, and there is always something interesting to look at. The odd camera angles and quick editing fit the show's off-beat tone very well. Character designs are well detailed, especially concerning the girls' assets; and while the backgrounds are not the most stunning you will ever see, they give the show an appropriately surreal atmosphere. Like most works form this studio, the show does get a bit carried away with visual gimmickry, but does not ever get jarringly so. The sound design is splendid; it is very successful in setting the tone, and consistently impressive on its own right. The music itself is excellent; it is especially good at sustaining the mystery and mysticism that envelops the series, and does a great job in the more tense or funny moments as well.
With Bakemonogatari, Studio Shaft has crafted a very cleaver and highly effective supernatural romp. At the same time, retaining the off-kilter charm that the studio is so well known for. The show is equal parts deranged and heart-felt, creating an experience that feels unique despite the many similarities it has with other Shaft works. It does get too wrapped up in itself at times, but overall it is still a damn good watch.