Nothing beats this series on my list. I might be an outsider in the filming or animate industry but I love the way the storytelling of this Monogatari series. I am so addicted to the storytelling without alphabetical sequence thus the methodology played by the author and anime team pushed me to a stage that I bought all the novels and DVD to save some time without rewatching the anime online again. (Not even one piece able to attract me to buy its DVD and manga) In the end, I watched the tv-series watched multiple times. I did enjoy the role given by the author to me while watching through the series as I need to link the events according to the timeline and figure the roots or relation between the events happen around the main protagonist by myself after finishing the series. At the same time, Rearrangement of the events sequence has to be done by the audience unless you watch the recap. Monogatari is a masterpiece that not many people will consider to watch and it is not a hot pick for the newcomer to anime. People who watched it might understand my point of view aside from the harem element. I would take this opportunity to thank shaft, the novel author, the amination team, the voice authors and especially the other fans who gave them the financial support on continuing to make this tv-series come true in my life. This masterpiece is worth more than just 10.
There's really only one reason why you should watch Monogatari Series: Second Season (Monogatari II).
Figure 1: Mai waifu
In all seriousness, Monogatari II has catapulted the franchise to new heights in terms of its legacy as a post-modern anime. In my opinion, Bakemonogatari on its own was simply an intriguing experiment, an anime that featured unique animation, a quirky set of characters, and way too much dialogue for its own good. I thought it was about on par with other experimental anime such as Cat Soup or FLCL, which, while very good, seemed too inconsistent to place among my favorite anime of all time. Monogatari II, on the other hand, brings a consistency in quality that its predecessor did not. Having a much bigger budget due to the success of the previous series and a certain magical girl franchise doesn't hurt either.
The animation is a step up even from the improvements of the side stories Nisemonogatari and Nekomonogatari. There is a definitive identity to the animation, which seem to take its influences from western modern art as well as Akiyuki Shinbo's personal style. However, the anime continues to experiment with its cinematography, providing angles to shots and stylizing settings like I've never seen before (sometimes for fanservice but usually not). And of course, it doesn't run out of budget at the end, which makes the finale of the series a spectacularly fun watch. It's not my favorite style of animation ever, and it's certainly not for everyone, but I can't deny its creativity.
Figure 2: Mai waifu
The consistent quality that Monogatari II brings is with the story arcs and the development of the characters. The characters that we know and love already are given a chance to grow and show a more rounded side of themselves. Some characters narrate their own arcs, which allows for a more intimate connection with them. However, not all the characters who tell the stories are heroes. In the final arc with Kaiki, who has grown to be one of my favorite villain/anti-heroes I've ever seen in anime, he flat out admits that he's unreliable, and plays games with the viewer as you try to guess just how genuine his intentions are. No character is acting completely morally; most realize that even if they are firm in their principles, sometimes their principles are wrong and they have to change. Other times they have to weigh whether or not abiding by their principles is worth missing an opportunity for some other gain. Still again there are stories that involve characters having to choose between two seemingly equally valuable principles. These are all tropes that have obviously been explored before in media, but I hardly see them tackled with this level of detail (and dare I say maturity) in anime, and the Monogatari series does have its own lessons to teach on the human condition.
Figure 3: Mai waifu
I would love to go into detail about why I enjoyed each and every decision regarding character development in this anime, but it can really be summarized in two ideas. The writing of the second season makes the characters you love even more lovable and turns the characters you hate into characters you love. Since the anime is 26 episodes (minus a few for recaps), the pace doesn't seem rushed, and since the arcs are focused on a certain character's story, the pace doesn't drag at all. The all star cast of seiyus put on their best show yet. Chiwa Saito, Maaya Sakamoto, Yui Horie, Emiri Katou, and Kana Hanazawa are absolutely superb (seriously, look at their pages, these people are all-star veterans of the industry and it shows). When the script calls for a big emotional moment, they deliver, but they also do an excellent job of just speaking the normal dialogue (which, again, there's a lot of) while maintaining their characters.
Figure 4: Mai waifu
After all my gushing, what could possibly be wrong with this anime? Two major things come to mind. First, Araragi seems to be left behind by the character development train (so does Kanbaru, but she's getting her own arc soon in an OVA so that's excusable). As a lead character in the series, he seems relatively weak compared to in the previous season and spin offs. He spends significant portions of the series off screen and in those arcs where he just has to show up at the last minute, it's more of a disappointment than anything. One should expect more from the lead male character, especially after the new role he assumed at the end of the previous season. To be fair, this did allow for more focus on the other characters, but I was disappointed with how Araragi developed during the screen time he had. Second, the story can be all over the place at times. While each arc definitely has its focus, there are moments that seem to have no context, characters introduced that seem out of sequence, and of course, plenty of things that happen and were never explained. I presume a lot of this is due to the asequential format of the Monogatari series, but there were many holes left at the end of the season (hopefully indicating a season 3, especially by the ending) which blemish the storytelling.
I would call the Monogatari series the “Clannad After Story” of the franchise. It knew how to take advantage of already established characters. It improved the anime overall in almost every area. I'd go so far as to say that it makes watching the first series worth it for those who didn't really love the first season. Sure, if you can't get past its overall style Monogatari II isn't going to give you something completely different, but it realizes the potential that I believe the first season was trying to reach.
Figure 5: Mai Waifu
I personally believe that you can't take other people's word for what is good anime, so keep that in mind when I say that this season was SO GOOD. I mean it was SO GOOD. Usually after a successful first season all you can really hope for is some okay episodes to go back into their world, and you get to find out some new things. I thought it was like that for Nisemonogatari; it was good, but just not really "fresh." Nekomonogatari surprised me with how good it was as a continuation, and then THIS...
We aren't introduced to many new characters, and they only come in as the story unfolds. This is significant because usually with anime new characters come and go quickly, and we don't connect with the main characters as much.
The plot for this whole season (including Nekomonogatari Black) had an overriding arc told from beginning to end, as opposed to stretching simple plot points with filler episodes. In this way Second Season is also different from the first season, which was split into 2-3 episode arcs. Second Season has arcs, but they are more part of an underlying story being told across the whole season.
Cliches are usually a problem for me, and I don't believe any TV or movies are free of them. In this series, the cliches are somehow a parody of themselves, and somehow they don't bother me. They're self-referential in some way, and honestly I can't understand how they manage to pull it off.
In short, this season as a whole has engaging character development and a well-paced, interesting plot. It even has elements of mystery. This series is refreshing for anyone who's watched a lot of anime and is jaded by how typical they seem to become. Good character development and plot pacing are hard to come by.
I realize that a full rave is pretty much a useless review, but I can't help liking it all the way around. I don't recommend going into it expecting the best thing ever; I recommend watching it without any expectations at all because it has the effect of making you wonder what's going to happen next. That said, this review is a bad idea for anyone who hasn't seen this yet. I just wanted to put this out there.
If you've made it to this point in the anime, congrats. You're going to be rewarded. Bake and Nise were hit and miss when it came to plot and pacing, but this season perfected those flaws.
I was blown away by how complex and engaging this season's story became. The character development in this season is hardly matched by any anime I've seen. The animation is as wacky and unique as always. The OPs don't disappoint. The end of this season is your reward for sticking it out through the underage fanservice.
My main complaint about this season or the series in general is a lack of screentime for Hitagi Senjougahara. She's painted as a main character since the beginning, but is hardly utilized as a character outside of the episodes dedicated to her arc. It seems like a waste to create such an intricate, unique and unpredictable character just to put her on a shelf over half of the time.
This season was a love/hate relationship. Much like the first season, the first chapter is so slow and uneventful, it will test your ability to sit there and watch. Almost entire episodes take place in a single setting. That first chapter is a Hanekawa chapter, which might explain it as she has been in the spotlight a fair amount, with getting her own 4 episode piece. Afterwards though, most of the chapters are far more interesting and show the other characters far more, as well as some new. Later on there is another rather slow bit, and then another boring chapter right before the final chapter of the season. Compared to the first season, effectively making the season a mix of bad and good. The themes are a bit more dark and sad, but we see a lot in terms of Hachikuji, Kaiki, Nadeko, and Shinobu. Their chapters make the season good, but the slow chapters prevent the season from being great, it definitely does not match the rank #40 it currently has on AP.
One of the biggest things missing compared to the prior seasons is comedy & ecchi. This season was no where near as funny, or had much of that ecchi themed humor and content. The focus is more on progression of characters and the underlying story. As interesting as most of those characters were, it doesn't make up for the lack of comedy.
Episode 6, 11, 16 are recap eps, so you can skip those, effectively making this a 23 episode series. Why they felt the need to place recaps after just a few eps is silly.
The most interesting aspect this season is the eventful turns. For better or worse, there are a lot of unexpected changes that make most of the chapters quite interesting. You can expect at to see a major turn for at least 3 characters. To top that off, there is hints at an unknown character that will surely lead the story for the following season.
Overall a decent season, but the comedy and ecchi aspects felt missing, compared to what all the previous seasons/chapters have provided. There are several boring chapters/episodes that just feel overly slow. The good parts outweigh the bad, but it is definitely not top 50 anime of all time quality if you see it as a whole.