This was my third attempt to watch Bakemonogatari and I’m glad to announce that it does get better. In a world of fast paced anime, it can be hard to slow down and watch a show that spends fifteen minutes of a twenty-four minute episode in the back of a car. When I say that Bakemonogatari is slow, I mean it moves at a pace slower than molasses. Characters spend whole episodes sitting around and discussing thoughts, feelings, ideologies, and plot-centric things. For some, this can be too much, but I found that the series strange directing, cinematography, and surprisingly solid script all made for excellent watching.
Koyomi Araragi is a vampire who spends the series meeting with a variety of strange girls who are afflicted by aberrations, animal spirits who react to the girls emotions. Five story arcs follow Koyomi’s exploits as he tries to help the girls through their spirit possessions and lead them back to normal lives.
Bakemonogatari is, inevitably, a harem anime. But an intelligent harem anime that presents typical characters in very different ways and the romance in a strange and interesting enough way to keep you watching and stay refreshing.
Reasonably, the series has some weaker arcs (*cough* Snake *cough*) but they all balance out in the end and I didn’t find one that ever felt completely generic. There is a love triangle later on that did detract a bit, but Hanekawa is too damn cute to complain about.
Despite the slow pace, the dialogue comes at breakneck speed. Most of it doesn’t matter, but a lot of it is hilarious and some heartwarming. The romance between Koyomi and Senjougahara is…interesting to say the least.
The story is good, different, and presented strangely enough to make any of the genericism feel fresh and fun.
The most unique feature of Bakemonogatari is its’ animation. While characters can sometimes look silly, they’re overall very distinctive looking, as are the beautiful environments that can be hypnotizing at points. The series is chock full of visual humor and metaphor, which bulks the title up even more. It also cuts in with cue cards and quotes from the light novels, which help give a better perspective on dialogue or character’s inner thoughts. This can make the show really heavy if you’re unable to pause. Thankfully, none of the cards are necessary to the plot so if you are unable to pause, you’re not missing too much.
Pretty good music overall with an emphasis on character, especially the unique openings for each story arc. The ending songs aren’t too bad and the music during the show is good. As far as voices go, Black Hanekawa has the cutest voice ever. No lie.
Despite the seemingly generic cast, Bakemonogatari, as I’ve said, makes them fresh and interesting through the use of spirits and also, through lots and lots of talking. Koyomi is an alright character; he’s just that boring lead that we’ve all gotten used to. He’s a vampire, a pervert, and can’t do any wrong. Well, except for beat the shit out of a nine year old and then fondle her in the creepiest and most sadistic part of the entire series. It’s sad that the most sexually and physically assaulted character in the show is a fucking loli.
His female companions are a little more exciting, and in the interest of following along with popular reviewing, I’m going to play Best Girl, because this series is nothing more than a Best Girl game.
6. Shinobu Oshino- Shinobu doesn’t have enough character to even count her in the Best Girl game for this season. I understand she becomes the best girl later or something, but this season doesn’t give you much reason to love her.
5. Nadeko Sengoku- Here is the “not really your little sister so it’s okay to fuck her” character that, in the end, is the least compelling girl of them all. Her character is pretty much nothing more than a love for Koyomi that lasts way longer than it should and a willingness to be perverted that is a little too much to handle.
4. Mayoi Hachikuji- The obligatory loli. She’s cute and all that but really doesn’t offer much in the character department. The only reason you feel for her is because of how creepy and abusive Koyomi is to her.
3. Hitagi Senjougahara- A tsundere of the highest degree. She’s abusive, strange, and ultimately a great character. Her worst features are mostly how she borders on yandere at some points. But overall, her development with Koyomi is good and I can see that their relationship could become much stronger as the series continues.
2. Suruga Kanbaru- Despite having a hairy demon’s arm and being a completely perverted lesbian, Suruga is absolutely hilarious and adorable. Her story arc also contains an intestine swinging scene that is beyond awesome. Aside from that, she’s athletic and into yaoi. She’s pretty freaking awesome, but not as awesome as…
1. Tsubasa Hanekawa- Even before I found out she was a cat girl I loved her. She’s so sweet and innocent with her silly catch phrase, “I just know what I know”. And then you find out she’s a ridiculously hot cat girl with a ridiculously cute lisp who is madly in love with Koyomi. She’s basically two extremes of complete adorable in one and I love her for it. She is, officially, the best girl of Bakemonogatari.
If you can sit through the first few episodes and get used to the plodding pace and dialogue-heavy scenes, you’ll be hooked. The intelligent script, unique style, and great use of comedy all add up to a hefty package with enough merits to keep you watching well into the night. Bakemonogatari definitely has some problems, but it’s an overall great example of how to make a unique, stylish, and memorable harem anime.