Bakemonogatari

Alt titles: A Monster Story

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roriconfan's avatar By roriconfan on Apr 4, 2012

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.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

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.


SPECIFICS


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.


FINAL THOUGHTS


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.


SUGGESTION LIST
Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei
Maria: Holic
Mushishi
xxxHolic

3/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
6.5/10 overall
kenikki's avatar By kenikki on Oct 19, 2009

Story: 4/10

This is basicly a harem show (Clanned or Air or somthing similar) mixed with xxxHOLiC. Although it takes Bakemonogatari around 3 episodes to do what xxxHOLiC does in one, and xxxHOLiC still does it better. I know I shouldn’t compare them, but I just can’t help it here since it REALLY reminds of xxxHOLiC all the time.

Also, it’s not exactly like most harems since most females don’t pursue him in a romantic way (even though it’s hinted at it with some/most of them), but it’s definitely set up like a harem. It’s one guy that helps out girls one by one in their own specific arc and is in the end surrounded by them.

If you ask me, the unique art directing is most probably used to hide that the show itself in fact isn’t unique at all.

If I wouldn’t be so interested in these kinds of supernatural stories to begin with the score would be MUCH lower.

Animation/Artwork/Visual Effects: 8/10

This part of the show is good in itself, but it isn’t used very well most of the time. There are plenty of unnecessary movements used throughout the series. Like the classic “shaking-ones-head-to-make-the-said-statement-appear-more-dramatic”, although, if you ask me, it does the exact opposite. It just ridiculous.Then we have the general directing which is very similar to an opening from “Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei” series. I’m comparing it to an opening and not the actual show because it’s much “wilder” than the actual SZS series and it doesn’t even fit with this show like it does with SZS.

That said, it does have some great shots here and there, and the fight scene with the “monkey” looks absolutely great.

The OP/ED had great animation

Sound: 6/10

The voice actors all did a good job, nothing real to complain about, even though I don’t think that Hiroshi Kamiya (Nozomu Itoshiki from SZS) really fits as Araragi. But I do think that Chiwa Saitō did a great job as Senjoughara.

The BGM is very inconsistent. Sometimes it’s great music, but it doesn’t fit with what’s going on, other times the music is just lame. But there are a few times when it works great. So overall it’s quite avarage.

The OP songs were never particularly good, but I liked the ED song.

Characters: 4/10

Araragi is alot like any other harem male lead. He’s a bit better than most though since he has some special background story which makes him more than the faceless male lead that usually inhabits harems. But his behaviour is very close to the usual type. Araragi is also one of the reasons why I keep thinking of Clannad and Air because those shows also have male leads with slightly special background stories that act pretty much like the usual male harem lead. They’re all still below avarage as characters though. Mayoi is the incredibly common yelling and fighting tsundere loli and Nadeko is the shy and helpless loli. Both incredibly cliché and uninteresting. We also have the “dignified” class-rep, Hanekawa, and the cheery sports girl, Kanbaru. Although thanks to some pretty nice and unexpected character development Hanekawa isn’t completely uninteresting and Kanbaru turns out pretty nice. Unfortunately, they’re still not all that good and I actually felt that Hanekawa could’ve been more fleshed out. Then we have the little sisters. We can’t have a harem set-up without some cute younger sisters now, can we? They didn’t even need them in the show. They used them as a way for Araragi to have some backstory with the snake girl, but that could’ve easily been done in another way. Senjoughara on the other hand is a pretty well crafted character, even if I didn’t like her personally. She was too much of a bitch for me, even if we got a good reason for why she acted the way she did. One thing I didn’t understand was why she carried arround all that hidden stuff in the beginning. Wouldn’t the staple be enough? I do gotta say that the staple thing was something I really found interesting though. That and the other characters personal objects which identified them with their “hidden nature”. Hitagi's staple - the claw of a crab, Mayoi's back pack - the shell of a snail, Kanbaru's leggings - Sarumata ('Saru' means monkey), and Nadeko's big hat and baggy jacket - the head and skin of a snake. Althought to be honest, I got this information after I finished this show and the previous information comes directly from Wikipedia. That doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting thing, even if it didn’t add any enjoyment to the show seeing as how I didn't see it when I watched the show.

Anyway, Senjoughara is pretty good, kanbaru is pretty entertaining in some aspects, Hanekawa has some redeeming facts even though she is close to the bottom, Araragi isn’t completely worthless as a character, but he isn’t far off either, Nadeko is very uninteresting but isn’t THAT annoying, Mayoi is incredibly annoying, cliché and generally uninteresting and the sisters are useless except for crappy fanservice although not for anything ecchi, just as imagination stereotypes.

Oh, I forgot about two characters; Shinobu and Oshino. Well, Shinobu is just used for backstories, she’s a bit interesting, but just as a mystery. She’s basicly nothing seeing as how she gets no character development. Oshino was just a very inferior version of Yuuko from xxxHOLiC.

The characters faults annoyed me much more than their positive sides entertained me. The only reason this didn’t get a bottom score is because of the personal object thing and the slight enjoyment from Kanbaru and Senjoughara. Although, even if Senjoughara is the most entertaining character, shouldn’t Araragi be the person on most of the posters and stuff, seeing as he is in fact the main character – not Senjoughara.

But I gotta say that if I did like the show for some reason I would probably try to think more of their good sider than their bad sides. But as it is, this is the only way I can view these characters.

Overall: 4.5/10

I didn’t like it at all. Like I’ve stated before, alot from this show reminded me of xxxHOLiC and this show is inferior in every aspect except for the quality of the A/A/V. The fact that I dislike harem shows deals another great blow to this series. The dialogue wasn’t the least bit witty to me and it irritated me much more than it entertained me with lines like “Hey Ararararagi.” “Wait, you added 2 extra ra to my name.” I mean, what the hell is that. They even use the same kind of joke several times. But they then did it like; “wait, you removed a ra from my name”. It was just sad.

If it weren’t for my love of supernatural shows this would get a bottom score.

4/10 story
8/10 animation
6/10 sound
4/10 characters
4.5/10 overall
meowmixgypsy's avatar By meowmixgypsy on Feb 28, 2013

     Bakemonogatari is either amazing or a let down depending on what you start the anime looking for. If you're looking for a creepy supernatural anime with heavy plot and adventure, you will probably find this anime to be very dull. However, if you start this anime looking for moe girls and cuteness, you will likely be thrilled by the supernatural sub-plot and gorgeous animation.

Story (Not the worst)
The story is broken up into five arcs, each focusing on an individual character. As you would expect, there are some sub-plots more interesting then others. The stories told behind all abnormalities affecting the girls are fascinating and add a layer of character development. While this show is moe-harem thinly masked by it's supernatural atmosphere, it erases alot of the genres cliches. The protagonist is not a pathetic wimp, and he picks a girl right away, while there is flirtation bewteen him and the others, you know where his heart lies. Bakemonogatari also has much more plot and substance then most harem anime. My biggest complaint story wise, is in such a short series, having filler episodes with the characters doing nothing but talking is frustrating. Especially because most of these conversations, while funny at times, are not very memorable and feel like a waste of an episode.


Animation (Eyegasm)
Some people complain about studio Shaft being "cheap" and taking shortcuts, by using cuts and using live-action bits, and how static talking scenes are. However, I say poo-poo to them, because those factors added to the already gorgeous art work. The character designs were gorgeous, the lighting and coloration added to the atmosphere, and the few fight scene that were in there were beautiful. And the scenery made you wish you were there. This anime is an AMV makers wet dream. This is the type of anime you can pause at random parts and you will not find the hilariously awkward stretched out pieces of characters and badly drawn facial expressions. Every frame of this show is art.

Sound (Delicious)
This anime has five openings, one for each heroine. Me being the sucker for girly music I am, fell madly in love with the second opening "Kaerimichi" and even moreso for the danceable "Renai Circulation" while the others are good, I don't find them as catchy as the other OPS. I also thought the ED sounded very pretty.
The background music wasn't particularily wowing aside from a couple songs and seeing as the show was mostly talking, the background music wasn't relied on heavily.
I can't think of a seeiyu I didn't like in this show, I also liked the lack of extras. There is never any speaking roles aside the main characters, which added an oddly intimate atmosphere.

Characters (Likeable)
I absolutely loved all the characters until I wrote a review. Why? All the characters are likeable, they are cute and all have personality quirks that make you fawn over them. Not to mention all their designs are gorgeous. However, if you look at this show analytically, all the shows are moe-moe cliches. A tsundere, a loli, a tomboy, a moe blob, the unlucky friend, and the imouto-chans, inspite of the cliches, the character still managed to be semi-unique. The supernatural feel and their own tales of suffering make them seem well developed, and some of them are. But most fell flat in the depth department. Regardless, they all had interesting stories and magnetic personalities, and I like them, even if they aren't all the best developed characters.

Over-all
While this anime had its flaws (their biggest crime were the fillers), it's still one of my all time favorite. I personally give it 9.5/10, however, in an unbiased review I give it 8/10, the art and sound do not disappoint, the characters are all pretty likeable, and a fascinating premise if you can handle the slow pace.

7/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
7/10 characters
8/10 overall
Zonda96's avatar By Zonda96 on Jul 21, 2011

This was a pretty good anime that I have recently have finished watching. I felt that the characters were somewhat bland and 2 dimensional. I felt that the told us nothing about the main character and how be became a vampire they should have made it longer and went into detail about that. I think they should have expanded upon the relationship between the main character and his girlfriend so that it would have made it feel more completed. I also think they should have expanded and finished the subplots they started such as the main character finding a college. Overall this was enjoyable and funny anime but its just too bland and loose to become a great or good anime. I recommend this anime as a good time waster it may not be the best anime but it could have been better if they just extended the series a bit.

6/10 story
8/10 animation
9/10 sound
6/10 characters
7/10 overall
Quizap's avatar By Quizap on Aug 18, 2010

Awesome story arcs. Senjougahara is awesome. Araragi’s thoughts and comments are hilarious along with his actions and reactions to various things throughout the series. A lot was left unanswered but I’m hoping the 3 internet episodes answer most of them. Kanbaru is indeed a very kinky individual, she’s very honest with everything. Hanekawa and her “meowhahaha” was great, I can’t get enough of it. The last 3 episodes were by far the best of the bunch. Love Hanekawa quite a bit <3. Overall, a great anime.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
8.5/10 overall