So, I tried to watch Bakemonogatari.. but I couldn't get into it.
The first thing you see is a panty shot in the first 30 seconds of the first episode; as someone who does not like women like that, or female ecchi. That was a "Really?!" moment. I was going to be open minded and watch the rest of the episode regardless of the fact.
I got up to episode 3 and I just could not watch it anymore.. but not because of the ecchi or the fact that the main character is a heterosexual perverted creep like the rest of the characters in other anime.. but I just found the entire show incredibly boring.. sometimes the characters go on and on about nothing.. and I am completely daydreaming while watching the show.. it's just a snoozefest for me, so I gave it a 3 out of 10... I just don't get the hype at all and the only reason why I tried it out was because I read it was like Mekakucity Actors, which I had recently finished and thought it was amazing.
NOTICE: This review covers both the Nisemonogatari sequel, as well as the upcoming Kizumonogatari movie, since there is no difference amongst them to deserve separate analysis.
Bakemonogatari (directly translated to English as Monstory) is a combination of so many themes and genres that individually it seems to be pure win. Yet eventually is just a big mess of good ideas without much effort to tell a story as much as pandering the audience (ie making money). So if you want to fully enjoy it, see it as fan service with artsy touches and not as an amazing concept with fan service for garnish. At best it can be seen as an interesting series of smart gags and wordplays in a psychedelic setting of artistic expression. At worse it can be seen as a big pile of weirdness that never seems to get anywhere other than throwing excuses for erotic foreplay.
But let’s not stick to this sort of dried up explaination so I’m just going to say it with a straight face. Most viewers will easily be mesmerized by Nishio Ishin’s playful writing and Shimbo Akiyuki’s artistic directing to the point they won’t even notice or care about the lack of plot. SHAFT comedies are always about style over substence but it’s not like they lack the later. It’s just that they go very easy with importan issues to the point the themes become background noise and you end up watching this for the wacky visuals and the funny dialogues.
ART SECTION: 9/10
General Artwork 2/2: Artistic as hell. Every second of it is a blend of real life images, pasted cardboards, 3D images, walls of Kataganas, plain character designs, major deformities, parody references to other anime and lots of high quality fan service. The designers gave their best to create a series that is making your mind think like it’s on LSD. A wonderful work of fiction that is set apart by the rest just by looking at it.
Sure, it ain’t unique if you have watched other comedies by the same studio, such as Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei and Maria: Holic. Still, it is a style you will love at first sight no matter if you have seen it before… or at least hate for being so damn multilayered. Every scene is a symbolism to something around Japanese tradition or way of life or a cultural reference in general. And it even makes fun of this by presenting clichés in a way they look funny for being like that. For example, every few episodes, the intro changes to something that has nothing to do with the series. It just presents the current girl in the show in slice of life situations, as if the series is some moe school romance or comedy. It is just a joke as you never get to see all that. It is just an intro to the character’s supposed normal life. Playing around with such things creates a mindstorm of emotions and thoughts. And it works.
Character Figures 2/2: The characters are generally drawn simple and most of the time they get deformed or turn to weird references to some other anime or cultural symbol. Yet, there is also high budget in between but it is all reserved for fan service. For you see, the only moments it looks highly detailed is when some girl undresses or shows off her underwear or the camera zooms to her moe face. Thus it combines the abstract with the mainstream; it aims to make you feel weird but still does not forget to offer you the stuff you find in run of the mill ecchi shows. Although I always found fan service to be distracting you from the real quality of the series and generally lowering its credibility, over here it is just some extra before the next joke jumps in. So, I didn’t found all this simplicity or focused erotism as bad or unneeded. It’s just that as the episodes go by the plot becomes slower and the fan service increases tenfold in Nisemonogatari, to the point you stop watching it for the context and just have fun with the high quality sofporn. This tends to make it seem silly after awhile.
Backgrounds and Visual Effects 4/4: It is almost impossible to separate backgrounds from visual effects as they both serve as symbolisms and cinematics at the same time. They are used intellectually to transmit ideas and emotions to the viewer so I consider them far more successful than just dry pictures that just fill the background with colors. Of course, there are so many references and Japanese texts flashing by that you will miss most of the meanings if you are not very well informed of Japanese tradition and the history of animation in general. Still, they are both marvelous to stare just for their weirdness alone.
Motion Fluidity 1/2: Well, if I can detract points, this is the place to do so. Motion is rather scarse in this series as the characters mostly stand still and flap their mouths allowing the backgrounds to transmit the rest. Although that does not seem as a bad thing, they still feel like everything is rolling or sliding and not walking with 18 frames per second. It kinda gets to your nerves after awhile. Even the few action scenes in this series appear as random attacks and throws thus they have little to none realism. Not that this series is realistic but it feels way too much like a picture book story. Also, the general quality drops a lot in the final episodes (budget ran out and screwed the series again) so even that leaves you with the impression that everything in this series is cartons and Playmobils sliding by without joint movements. Of course it is not awful and it does have smooth motions when fan service in involved. It’s just that it doesn’t happen very often.
SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Voice Acting 3/3: Ah, great dialogues full of phrases that you will remember for a life time. The talking is sarcastic and highly symbolical, turning even the most mundane topic to a spiritual insight, a wordplay, an arousing erotic remark or a shout of human angst… Or plain trolling just for the lulz. You will love them even if you don’t get them.
Music Themes 2/4: Nothing memorable. Unlike the animation the music themes are either average silly pop songs or repetitive monotonic background music. Nothing to remember in the longrun.
Sound Effects 3/3: Just like the visuals, the sound effects are blending along with cinematics and backgrounds and timing with character reactions to something, thus becoming very pleasing to listen to.
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Premise 1/2: Although it begins very mysteriously, it soon turns to some episodic formula of “help girl A and then head for girl B”. It is supposed to be about the lead being surrounded by pretty girls (token loli included) that have something supernatural about them and need his help to get rid of their curse. Think of Mushishi gone haywire to get the basic idea. Well, it is not that serious as down to it they just talk, make jokes, show bare skin for a couple of episodes and then get healed and leave from the center of the story. In fact, the story is closer to a run by the mill harem anime ala Air, where the lead helps one pretty girl at the time before moving to the next and practically never seeing the previous one again. Or even closer to xxxHolic for being too focused on aesthetics rather than plot or development. Nothing much but an excuse in all.
Complexity 0/2: Being episodic, means there is little to no relation of one arc to another. Some characters return as cameos but in all don’t aid in the plot in any serious way. Thus, it is a generally linear scenario made of stand alone arcs.
Pacing 0/2: The pace was ok in the first half. It was still weird and was giving off the idea of a solid plot. Sadly, towards the end it becomes very erratic, with events running in fast forward and missions feeling uninspired. Thus, it ends up being another series that went under the pressure of time and lack of money. Even when they made Nisemonogatari later on with even higher budget than the first series, the speed of progression was close to zero. There is in all very little plot in it.
Plausibility 1/2: Well, everything mentioned makes sense, no matter how much extreme it sounds. The plot is the thing that suffers as battles and looking for answers just doesn’t mean anything to the story other than making you laugh or arousing you with spicy talking.
Conclusion 1/2: Meh, there was never much of a story in it and the one that was there was left incomplete. The vampire girl was not even dealt with in the first season. They did make three extra episodes to wrap the story later on but the series itself has no ending at all. And even the one provided by the extras was again nothing you wouldn’t guess anyway. As for Nisemonogatari, they are fooling around until a stupid Phoenix thing happens in the end that is resolved in a boring way.
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 2/2: Sure, they are all very attractive and funny and erotic and crazy enough to pay attention to them. By the way, the lead is voiced by the same person who voices Zetsubo Sensei, and the production team is the same so he will probably pass to you like a spin off from that cast. If not the show entirely that is.
Personality 2/2: Just like in Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei or Maria: Holic, the characters behave almost entirely as caricatures. Stereotypes being made fun of and plot elements to an otherwise simple story. SHAFT seems to make only such kinds of characters and they feel too similar in behaviors and too unrealistic as personalities to actually care about them as entities and not comic reliefs or ero archetypes. Still, as far as caricatures go, they offer the best of their archetypes through dialogues that practically troll the male lead into hilarious reactions. The verbal abuse everyone uses on him is more than enough to not ask for more.
Backdrop - Development - Catharsis 3/6: Eh, half their backdrop is presented in an ironic intro for each girl individually and the other half comes from monologues. Sure, it works. But not like they end up as different people. They hardly ever affect other arcs. And the fact that the series ends suddenly, leaving at least one girl overlooked hardly meant they ended their development. But even the later episodes had nothing to add to their personas so who cares. Nisemonogatari continues in the same way by adding the protagonist’s horny sisters to the lot but that is pretty much all of it.
VALUE SECTION: 9/10
Analysis: Historical Value 3/3, Rewatchability 2/3, Memorability 4/4
It is a very easy show to remember or rewatch as it has most of the things casual viewers love in anime.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10
Nah, I half liked it. Unlike Zetsubo Sensei, Bekemonogatari (and any other similar series like Maria: Holic) have a very specific story and setting which end up outliving their interest from the viewer after awhile. They are supposed to head for something but end up being nothing other than trolling monologues just to make you laugh and fan service to make you horny. Stopping suddenly because the money ran out or having stupid resolutions to important issues also damaged its image. So, it is a good idea as far as presentation goes but in practice it fails to deliver any closure or even a believable plot that doesn’t repeat itself to the point of saturation. This drops the chance to watch it again or even finish it with good impressions. Personally, I think the chances to rewatch it are fifty-fifty as you will either don’t like the craziness; or will like and rewatch just to remember all those arrays of bullet trolling and smart dialogue.
Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei
Bakemonogatari is one of the very first anime I've ever watched online in 2011, initially it didn't have a good impression on me because the many walls of text and the 3D'ish backgrounds were a bit annoying, but the dialogues are so funny and interesting that everything else doesn't really matter anymore, the first episode was enough to get me hooked in the whole series.
About the animation I like the details they put in faces/all characters in general, also there're different openings for each arc (I love Hachikuji's so much) and the ending changes slightly every time, not to mention the awesomeness of the theme songs (Supercell, nuff said).
Regarding the walls of text, I highly recommend to pause the video and take your time to read them because sometimes there're written important details. If you're new to this series, even though Bakemonogatari was the first anime adaption, I think would be better to start watching from the prequel (Nekomonogatari: Black - or Kuro), but this is just my personal preference for any anime series in general, I watched Bakemonogatari first and I don't regret it!
Okay, so I read the 5 star review and I've read the one star reviews.
-I've got very little to add, read one or two of each, and I must remind you the confusing series order is Bakemonogatari>Nisemonogatari>Nekomonogatari>Bakemonogatari second season.
Alright, but I should add in quick summary, this particular series (because that's what this review is posted on) is visually beautiful but CONCEPTUALLY ANIMATED, so not necessarily to everyone's taste.
The scene cuts are fast pace and there's a lot of wit in the animation (not ideal for us poor sods who can't understand Japanese) BUT - THIS SHOULD NOT TAKE AWAY FROM IT.
In fact, it's a good thing, if you can't read the subs quick enough, practice skim reading, it'll help in school as well. It takes a couple of episodes to get your mind to catch up, and is nearly impossible to watch while half asleep (you'll miss absolutely everything). But I won't accept the statement 'it doesn't make sense'. It really does make sense, and when it doesn't, it's nonsensical humour (and doesn't impact any further than the gag at hand).
There is a lingering greater depth to the characters than they reveal in this series, all the same, you know everything you need to know in order to relate.
-Also, when watching this show, just accept spirits and animal Gods are real, they don't plan to explain that to you here, it's not about that. It's about (this is a little opinionated I apologise) the complicated bonds that form between the appearing characters and the protagonist due to the mingling of spirits and Gods in the world humans (and obviously Senjougahara, which you'll understand better when you watch, but I only think she's on the cover of this series because she's a totally hot school girl sadist, and the Japanese love that jazz)
I can accept that a conceptually animated, complicated and verbally heavy anime like this really isn't to everyone's taste, but it's totally worth a shot.
-Please don't give up because it's hard to keep up, the conversation is fast and full of pretty much only witty banter but read between the lines and there's always a second layer to each conversation that reveals the plot and it's surprisingly slow paced I think! (The key plot that is, they talk back like it's a damn jerk reaction)
Lastly, (warning - opinion fast approaching) I like the protagonists decisions in this show. You get the feeling he genuinely cares about everyone around him, and when he and 'her' get a little more 'intricate' (trying to avoid spoilers), you don't feel like he's being a two timing asshole. Which I believe is an all too common problem with male protagonists in love triangles. Like, come on, who wants to spend 24 minutes a week watching an asshole being an asshole? It's just bad form. (Sorry, mini rant over)
P.S. I hear crunchy roll hasn't got the last couple episodes or so? Bummer, there SHOULD BE 15 EPISODES. But only 12 were aired on television! (That's why, the licensing is totally different to most of the anime you see on CR) DO FIND THESE MISSING EPISODES. Guys, you've done your part by paying your subscription to cr, don't wuss out and become al 'holier than thou'. Just find them online, and if you REALLY want to support this show or any show you like, buy the box sets. That's where their real money is once it leaves television.
-I don't have this show on CR in the UK, I just watched it illegally then bought the box set. (I really liked this show, it's my kind of thing)
Oh my God, I meant for this to be a 2 liner review.. I'm so sorry, but I think I aired out any potentially harmful statements you'll see in other reviews, and covered important pointers I really needed to know before I dove in! Now, dive in yourselves!!
This is a CR review of mine, but I love this show so I wanted to put it in too.
Honestly, I knew from the start this anime was not going to impress me. I kept on watching for the sake of hoping it would get better. This was a really strange anime.
For one, most of the episodes bored me. I felt like I was watching someone talk and talk for ages. I didn't even laugh that much with what witty comments were thrown in there. The WORST episode had to be the one where the whole time they were in a playground it appeared to be. There was no change in scenery hardly and I think for half the episode they were conversating about his being a virgin and how she can pay him back. It was horrible and the dialogue did not capture my interest at all...
I also thought this anime could have captivated more monsters. With what few stories there were in the series, they had some interesting points but they dragged on forever. I was craving more monsters or more curses, whatever you wanna call it.
Something akward I thought to myself, was always the weird breaks between scenes. They would pop up with weird pictures and dialog 'not even long enough for you to read of course' (red....black...weird pictures that were photographs of real life). UGG another example of boredom was the scene where she was talking on her phone for ages and after she would talk it's go to the little 'break' between scenes.
Next is the ecchi, I felt like that was thrown in there randomly to actually create some type of interest after the horrendous boredom this anime created. It was really unnecessary and disgusting when I think about it, one of them was what a kid?? There was a lot of pervertedness thrown in there for the most part, but it didn't really capture my interest. I'm not against it either because some perverted animes make me ROFL copter.
One thing I can give props for was the introductions of each episode. They changed it to the character the story was about in that episode. I particularly loved how it showed a sense of who each character was. (The basketball girl's intro kind of explained some of my confusion, since there was a lot during this anime). The music was great too, it suited every scene and intro.
Anyways...I think I'm done complaining for now, I know maybe some will disagree since this anime has such a high rating, but this anime did disappoint me. I will go along with someone else's review and recommend not watching episode after episode as I have done.