Feb 27, 2020
AztechDan (All reviews)
What can I say about Bakemonogatari that hasn't already been said? So much has already been put out there, and this is a rather famous series at this point in time, so I'll try to keep it succinct and limit this review to my most positive and most negative takeaways.

*NOTE: This is a review of Bakemonogatari as a standalone series*

POSITIVE - Bakemonogatari contains 5 short stories about 5 different girls who all meet or already know the protagonist, Araragi. Story beats are clear and easy to follow, while still offering depth to the world. From episode 1 you immediately get what kind of world this is, and while some of the finer details are obscured in the culture, you can basically always tell what's going on.
NEGATIVE - While stories are a little thin (focus is put on character development), the real issue with this series as a standalone is that it frequently references past events in the Monogatari series. This is a conscious decision that I assume will pay off in the future, but starting out it can be jarring. This is especially true in the first episode as it starts almost immediately with a quickly flashing montage of events presumably from Kizumonogatari and possibly Nekomonogatari. There's very little to be gleaned from this montage and it just feels strange. I think the feeling does eventually wear off, though.

POSITIVE - This is the strength of this adaptation, in my opinion. The art is excellent. Bakemonogatari makes great use of minimalist gradient backgrounds, fantastic scenes to put focus on certain characters, humorous art style changes, and splicing in live action scenes (static or animatic) during opportune moments. Each one invokes a different feeling that is appropriate to the moment.
NEGATIVE - I think this is to the story's benefit, but I don't like some of the cuts. It's a minor gripe, but Bakemonogatari has frequent moments where text flashes on screen with a blank or occasionally stylized background before quickly cutting away. I just wanna read it!! You could pause it, but that's somewhat difficult depending on the speed of the cut(s). In the end, it adds to mood of the scenes so I won't dock it points.

POSITIVE - The OPs and ED are all great. They lend more to the story while also being fairly catchy. The sound design during scenes is also played quite well. BGM frequently adds to the mood of the scene, I especially enjoy the little piano jingles during casual/light hearted moments.
NEGATIVE - So I don't have much to say here. I'm easy to please when it comes to most things, but sound/music especially. Nothing feels out of place and there's never an ear-wrenching moment.

POSITIVE - The crown jewel of Bakemonogatari. The characters are all great and fairly likable. While I don't dislike the over-the-top personalities frequently found in anime, I always enjoy seeing interpretations of real people in a fantastic world. Some characters are more quirky than others, but outside of some outlandish moments mostly played for laughs, the characters tend to feel quite realistic, given the world they live in. Of course, with very few characters outside of the ones focused on in each story, the character development should be excellent and it is.
NEGATIVE - If you don't already know from memes, Araragi is an ecchi boy that gets himself into some questionable situations. I don't typically have a big issue with lolis, but there are some scenes that would preclude me from sharing this anime with non-otaku. That is obviously a great shame since this is an excellent series and these scenes typically feel unnecessary.

EXTRA: I did the research on where to start and what to watch in what order, and also that the chronological order can make for a fun rewatch. While the chronology is mostly plotted out already, it is a little extra fun to try and determine on my own when the events are occurring. Certain episodes give clear indication, aside from the year (which is probably 2006, though).

OVERALL: If you're unsure about jumping into Monogatari, this is an excellent story that doesn't take long to work through and figure out if it's something you want to dig deeper into. The main issue is accessibility. As of this writing, episodes 1-12 are readily available on CrunchyRoll, and while episode 12 feels like a season's end, there is 13th, 14th, and 15th episode you'll likely be sailing the high seas to find.