Review: Bakemonogatari

Greetings Audience,

I have finally gotten around to watching Bakemonogatari. It wasn’t as if I was in anyway turned off by the premise of the show or any notion of what it was portraying: I have been prioritising reading manga over watching anime for a while, primarily because of time. However, after depriving myself of sleep to watch one of my favourite anime series – Gosick – I have my anime spirit back and what better way to start than with Bakemonogatari.

Jump for anime joy!

Call me crazy, but I don’t really like to watch things as soon as they come out, no matter how thrilled I am by the promise of the series – Fate/Zero is a perfect example of this. As much as I enjoyed Fate Stay Night, I neglected to watch this as soon as I heard of the anime adaption and even now I have not watched it. My main reason for this is that I hate cliffhangers, and waiting for episodes to come out. I find it strange in that with manga, I know it is further ahead in terms of story a lot of the time so I feel more relaxed in waiting for the next update to come out, as opposed to anime where it just bugs me a lot more. When it comes to final episodes of series, I am more relaxed because I have at least had my fill with episodes. I find it much easier to pause in reading manga than to pause in watching anime, for any given reason, I think the moving quality has something to do with it.

So obviously Bakemonogatari has been out for a while, and the follow up series Nisemonogatari had been released earlier this year which was the reason I decided to watch Bakemonogatari as soon as I had the time and was in the mood to watch anime and not just read manga. My dear friend Roosa showed me what I like to refer to as the “infamous toothbrush scene” of Nisemonogatari that freaked me out and gauged my attention enough for me to pursue watching the series. I remember when it first came out and it seemed like an interesting premise, but circumstances meant that I hadn’t got around to it and it had been waiting on my list with lots of various other awesome anime, just begging to be watched. As much as I would like to be a professional reviewer of anime and manga, sadly I am not and only can watch anime when I have the time. Moving on, I will look at story, characters, animation, opening/ending themes and enjoyment, similar to that of the manga review. I’ll start with the story.

Looks very beautiful

Bakemonogatari is centred around Koyomi Araragi, a third year high school student who has almost become human again after being turned into a vampire over spring break. He encounters various others who have had similar issues and side effects from encountering supernatural phenomenon and helps them out by introducing them to, or seeking advice from, a middle aged man who lives in an abandoned cram school called Meme Oshino. The story occurs through arcs which focus on the new person in which Koyomi is attempting to help, all which contain a helping of violence, playful banter and harsh truths. I have to admit that at first, I wasn’t all that interested in continuing watching this after the first episode. It had slightly peaked my interest but it was rather wordy, not much happened and there is a certain style to the anime in which lots of words appear on the screen and it flashes away too fast to be able to read it all. That always bothers me regardless, so I was a little turned off by how much I had to concentrate by watching this. I had to pause it just to pick up my glass to drink or to briefly lean over to turn my light on because it was easy to miss what the characters were saying if you are like me and prefer to watch anime in the original Japanese with subtitles over the dubs. However, I am glad that I stuck with it because I actually found it very interesting to watch. Sure enough, it was wordy and fast paced in conversation over action but I genuinely enjoyed the arc stories all being unique and well thought out. The animal attributed to each character’s apparition, crab for Hitagi, snail for Mayoi etc, was cleverly symbolised in subtle ways, such as the backpack for Mayoi to resemble the snail’s shell, and the conversation was playful and meaningful in each context. The relationships between the characters depicted were not overly cliche, and seemed genuine. There aren’t many characters involved in the series which I think really gave time to flesh out the characters that were important – I developed attachments to several and at least felt emotionally involved in the turmoil experienced by the others. Again, in the hope of not giving too much away, the stories themselves, the reasons why the people had experienced these situations seemed very human to me; not elaborate, over the top stories that could only be seen in anime series, but experiences you could expect to see in real life. This made the supernatural phenomenon stand out greater and enhanced the experience to watch.

Moving on to the characters, I’ll start with Koyomi Araragi who I thought was really fun to watch. Voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya who has one of my favourite unique voices as a seiyu, I began to connect with him on that basis first. The voice really suited the character’s exaggerated responses to certain elements of jokes, the inner voice as he debated the surroundings around him and was also very good at showing concern during the serious moments. Another aspect I enjoyed about him is the kindness he has: he is not shown as being perfect, which is a good start. His grades suck, he doesn’t get too close to many people, he is easily made fun of, but he enjoys helping others as his expense regardless and that is a really nice characteristic to have. His appearance is fairly generic except for the strand of hair that sticks up and reacts to his emotions, standing upright when seemingly aroused, and flopping down when insulted – even going as far as changing colour to fit his mood. Other supporting characters include all the people he has helped, who assist him after each in arc in some way or another and do not ever disappear entirely. The book smart President, Tsubasa Hanekawa, with the internal issues of conflict is always around to offer her advice, never arrogant, with her signature catchphrase, “I don’t know everything, I just know what I know”, brings a smile to my face as much as it does to her own. She contrasts nicely with Hitagi Senjougahara, who is also smart, pretty, yet has a sharp tongue and smooth insults, yet a kind nature towards Araragi who helped solve her problem at the very start of the series, which had been plaguing her for years. She provides a lot of the entertainment. All the other characters also fill the gaps in any way, all intriguing, all fun and all emotionally connectable. I would say I connected with Araragi the most, I like kind boys like him.

*Judging*

The animation looks really damn awesome in this series; everything is clean, coloured well and very intriguing to look at. There is a good contrast between ordinary scenes such as this one with Araragi in it, to the one further up in which he catches Hitagi as she falls, and both are executed really well, even when the styles are different. The lines are sharp, it is really believable in tone and contrast and I think it is really well done – it at least looks like the animators definitely got to play with a budget! The cutaways which play on different animated styles also are very ingenious and fit in well with the story and the animation. Albeit a short paragraph and my lack of knowledge on the subject, I really didn’t have a problem with the animation style at all – in fact, it was the first hook in me to continue beyond the first episode!

Just a little bit about the opening and ending themes: they weren’t particularly grabbing to me, I was more interested in the story itself. I would have more than likely skipped them had the series not been as erratic enough to place them in different time slots each episode. There was also a live action one: I am generally not a fan of live action stuff in any anime, even if it is just opening and ending themes. I think because I am watching anime, I really don’t want to see anything remotely lifelike to my eyes feature in something that I am trying to get away from. Anime, to me, is a way to get out of the real world and into something much more interesting – even if the genre happens to be slice of life. The opening and ending themes, I enjoyed listening to the songs, but I wasn’t dedicated enough to them to look them up outside of the series, or download them to listen to them again.

I enjoyed this series more than I thought I would, if the first episode was anything to go on. I’m glad I stuck with it and am looking forward to watching Nisemonogatari in the next few days. It had just enough violence to keep me entertained, enough banter to keep me laughing, enough plot to keep me enthralled and enjoyable characters to keep me stuck to it. I give this anime 8/10 overall, which is a good score! And I am very glad to be back watching anime again, after spending so many months apart.

I’ll look like this soon if I keep denying myself anime to watch!

Well, anyone who wants to give their opinion, comment away, I like hearing other people’s thoughts on anime series. And on my reviewing skills, since I am new to putting my opinion somewhere others can see.

Signing out now,

AmyFe