Note: The following review will talk about not only the recap special, but also the episodes it covers.
Bakemonogatari - recap special, shows the past events that circle around episodes 1 -5.
The tale revolves around Koyomi Araragi, who has just recently survived a vampire attack, and under certain circumstances gets involved with many things regarding the supernatural (ghosts, spirits and the like). A mysterious girl falls from the sky one day, and his life is never the same afterward. Now if you have never watched the series up until this point then you’re probably thinking there isn’t a
whole lot of reason to check this version out, as it only recaps the first five episodes. However, I feel that it could in fact serve a good purpose to both fans of the series, and those who may still be debating on picking it up or not. These recap episodes don’t really contain too much in the way of spoilers, at least not any that are very relevant to the overall plot as of yet. People who have never seen it might be thinking to themselves that a story revolving around ghosts, vampires and other supernatural things, has been run into the ground too much to be of interest. However, every couple of years a company finds a way of doing it differently. And I am happy to say that "Bakemonogatari" is one of these anime titles. Being that the story does revolve around the supernatural, you might think things up to this point were all about action. But no, you would be wrong. The episodes are VERY dialog heavy, and wouldn’t be something you would want to watch without subs (unless you understand Japanese that is). In many of the episodes it all comes down to character discussions. They range from relationship talk, to spirits and creatures, to even talking about one’s personal situation and grief. Most of the inner turmoil and problems that the cast have, have some kind of relation to spiritual creatures, who represent said character's problem. When a form is actually located, it comes down more to a mentality at stopping it, and not with actual brute force. The script writing in this series is very well done, but that isn’t exactly what makes "Bakemonogatari" so special--as it’s not what the story is about, so much as how they present it. Both the plot and dialog are very artistic, even when it comes down to the characters simply talking about things that don’t really have a solid purpose to the storyline. If you have ever seen the "ef" series, then you will feel right at home with this title. Which is fitting, since both are made by the same producers (SHAFT). Even so, it does have it’s faults too, some of the conversations between the characters can feel bloated at times, without a solid purpose in mind. And because of it’s somewhat trippy style in telling a tale, some might also find it to be a bit too drawn out and weird at times. Still, if you are looking for a story that adds a unique twist on how it tells it, then you will enjoy these episodes.
The art in this is really something special, the main focus of the animation is not with the overall picture, as it is so much with the characters themselves. Many times the backgrounds will be quite plain, and many times they won’t stand out much at all. As mentioned before this is a very "artsy" anime, and it tends to not stay on one animation scene for very long. This might annoy some viewers, as it does tend to change its scenery a lot. Many of the scene changes will only show a colored screen with a word or symbol on it, or will have a still image representing what the characters are talking about, or events taking place. It's a "mind over matter" art style.
Soundtrack to this title is really good, it’s the same music that derives from the series. Most of them come in the form of creepy style bleeps and bloops, and really do great at setting the tone for the atmosphere. The opening and closing themes are more on the brighter side than the actual background music. The music in this series does good at complimenting the mood that the company wanted you to feel. Even so though, I wouldn’t really consider it to be a memorable soundtrack, and once you’re done with this recap (and the series), you’ll most likely forget about it. The voice acting is top notch, and all characters match well with their voice actors.
I would say that the characters are pretty deep in their personalities, you really are able to get into their head as the episodes progress. Many of them are not who you think they would be right off the bat. With the exception of Mayoi, most of the main characters talk very seriously in their tone, even when a joke is being played out. Some might find them a bit too calm (or even sleepy) at times, but once again, it fits with the eerie style of the show.
Even for a recap special, I really enjoyed this. It marked all the key points to the story so far, and will keep you entertained. If you are thinking about picking up the series still, this special is a nice taste of how the anime works, without spoiling too much for the viewer. And if you have already seen the episodes up to this point, it’s still a nice refresher course, and could point out something you may have missed before.