Shaft has been on a pretty good run for the last few years churning out some extremely popular and perhaps over-hyped series. Now they have brought us Nisemonogatari, a show that I was looking forward to quite a bit. This is partly because I just generally find their work interesting but also because I did enjoy its predecessor. Now while I would not classify myself as a huge fan of the original show I did enjoy the characters, quirky story, and fabulous artwork. However Nisemonogatari is a pointless and directionless mess that feels more like a cash grab that takes everything good about the original and turns it to crap.
I am sure people will accuse me of being excessively harsh when I say Nise's story... is one of the five worst things I have ever seen. Maybe that’s because there isn’t any story to speak of. What this series promised us was a story about Araragi's younger sisters and their encounter with the black swindler. It also promised some fill in the blanks of some of some of the other story arcs from Bakemono. I was particularly interested in seeing more on how Senjougahara ended up cursed. What we got instead is what I would consider to be a full length DVD extra putting the various girls in the cast in compromising situations and in assorted states of undress. The anime plods along aimlessly, taking us nowhere substantive. When they do finally get around to something other than panties or erotic tooth brushing, it is crammed in to an episode and a half and then quickly buried to get back to what’s really important. What’s too bad is that when they do bother to tell some story I do find myself interested in it. But also I was pissed off that it was all I got. To be honest the entire "story" could have been more productively told with a 2 episode OVA than an entire TV season. (cough: money grab)
Now I am not going to sit here and rail against service in anime, what’s the point? I am not even offended by it and I find it pretty amusing most of the time. Bakemono certainly had its pervy undertones but it didn't revolve around them or beat you over the head with them either. Nise seems to have just taken those elements and decided to make an anime around them. Frankly what offends me the most about the way the service is presented is that it takes itself way to seriously. It’s like somebody at Shaft just discovered you can put this kind of thing in anime and just completely lost their heads. Then have the nerve to act like it’s somehow smarter than anything we have ever seen before. Just because you inserted some witty dialogue and clever puns in between the breast fondling and skirt flipping doesn't turn it into high art.
Second only to the horrible story is what they did to the series cast of characters. Say what you will about Araragi's but for a harem lead (yes fanboys, Bakemono was a harem anime. Deal with it. It’s not a bad word), he managed to be a pretty interesting and compelling character. Well you can throw all of that out the window after viewing this series. He is a shell of his former self as he has been relegated to an immature perverted lolicon and pedophile who would be a registered sex offender in every developed nation in the world. His world view is that of a 10 year old boy, not a high school senior who is a borderline adult. People might try to say he is being ironic or sarcastic or maybe he's just a bully or a clown. But seriously who in high school, particularly a senior still goes around flipping the skirts of elementary school girls?
The rest of the cast fairs no better. The girls get little in the way of character development and are only treated as objects and tools for service. While you may initially feel some nostalgia as the previous cast is reintroduced and it feels like reacquainting yourself with old friends. However, if you went into this show like I did, wanting to see and learn more about Araragi's two sisters Karen and Tsukihi, then you’re in for a rude awakening. (Unless that is you wanted to learn more about their bust size and figures) For a series that was supposedly based around the two of them they have shockingly little actual screen time.
Well it’s not all bad. As expected from Shaft, the shows artwork and animation is absolutely fabulous. As is customary of their productions the screen is full visual overload of information with innumerable references and puns if you’re able to catch or comprehend them. The styling of the show is very much like its predecessor and has a very unique original feeling about the entire production. Even though the artwork is undeniably stunning, I did not always care for it. Another annoyance would be why they decided to cut the hair of every girl in the show. By the end of the series everyone looks the same. I mean... why? If they had changed their hair colors I wouldn't have even known who some of them were. But if you’re just a general fan of art and animation there is a whole lot to love about this show.
The music and voice acting is also equally brilliant. I honestly think this is the one thing Shaft almost never fails at, is picking appropriate music and animation to open and close their anime titles. Like Bakemono, Nise uses the voice cast to sing the various OP songs but it was the show's ED song which stands out the most. ClariS' "Naisho no Hanashi" is by far the duo's best single to date. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because it meant the episode was over?
Overall only the most ardent Bakemono and Shaft fanboys need apply when it comes to watching this show. Though if you were truly a fan of Bakemono I don’t know how you could not end up being disappointed. The lack of any kind of coherent story mars any sensory satisfaction you may get out of the shows artwork and audio track. You can pour and entire bottle of perfume on a pile of crap but in the end its still, crap.