Koyomi Araragi can't stop thinking about Tsubasa Hanekawa, the brilliant-yet-modest class representative who always follows the rules, but what the boy doesn't know is that beneath her facade, Tsubasa harbors an extraordinary amount of pent-up stress. Things change one day for the girl when she encounters a supernatural feline that allows her to break free from her normal self... causing immense chaos in the process! Luckily for Tsubasa, Koyomi will do anything to help a friend and he sets forth on a mission to return her to normal by any means necessary, leading to an unforgettable Golden Week.
Oh Nekomonogatari why do you piss me off so? But let's get back to the beginning. A few years back, my friend lent me his copy of Bakemonogatari singing all kinds of praise about the series. I have to admit I was kind of curious because it was made by studio Shaft and the main character was voiced by Kamiya Hiroshi who did so well in the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series. I've watched the first 2 episodes and though "That was kind of cool, but pointlessly erotic.", but upon reaching the third episode I found myself bored with all the talking. After that I just skimmed through the rest of the episodes and confirmed that there is even more talking and questionable content there, so based on that I decided to drop the series. My anime tastes did change a bit over the time and I decided to give the Bakemonogatari series one more chance, though rather than starting with the first released series, I decided to go for the first series in chronological order that was released, namely Nekomonogatari. Was it good? I guess it was in a way, because I did enjoy watching the thing, but at the same time the series made me feel annoyed. There are 3 main elements that I found annoying. First of all are the dialogues. I know that clever dialogues are suppose to be the selling point of the series and the authors try really hard to make them clever, yet they don't feel clever to me. I enjoyed some dialogue driven series before like Spice and Wolf and The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi (though in case of that series it was more about the sarcastic monologues of the male lead), but the dialogues in the Bakemonogatari series don't seem to work (at least for me). Another annoying element is the animation. I'm not saying it's bad, in fact it's very good, but the pseudo-artistic style cultivated by studio Shaft is starting to get on my nerves. When they introduced it in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei it was all the rage and it really fit the absurd and style of the series. However as the studio started producing more series, the style, which they felt the urge to incorporate in every single one of them, it simply started getting old. So what is wrong with that, you may ask? Anything and everything can happen on the screen at any given time. Characters may have the most boring conversation ever, but will be shown using bizarre camera angles, boards containing nonsense and non-nonsense text will appear for a fraction of a second and you won't be able to read them unless you pause the playback, drastic changes in animation style happen out of blue etc. Similar effects are also often applied to sound, for instance one of the characters will be filtered to sound low quality for no apparent reason while everyone else will sound normal. After a while it becomes tiresome to watch and distracts you from the supposedly clever dialogues. The worlds shown in Shaft anime can also be tiresome. We have some abstract location existing in an abstract space and there we have the characters talking with one another. The problem is, those locations are very empty, there is not another soul there and it feels very unnatural. It's really annoying if you are familiar with the source material, which most often doesn't resemble this style (though I'm not familiar with the Bakemonogatari source material). The last annoying element is an easy one to figure out. As I mentioned before, the Bakemonogatari series (at least in the anime version) is pointlessly erotic. If all the random stuff happening on the screen didn't distract you from the dialogues, the fanservice might do the job. As weird as it may sound, I wouldn't really associate the word "erotic" with fanservice and ecchi, yet it's the word that describes very well what Bakemonogatari (or in this particualr case Nekomonogatari) has to offer in that department. End of rant.
Going backwards, despite coming out a few years later, this is kind of "filler" and goes a bit more into Hanekawa/Meddlecat's story. The first episode is more or less the Araragi family incest based stuff you would have seen in the previous episodes (if you are following the year release order). Very skippable if you aren't too interested in the meddlecat background. Worth it though if you want to see more Ecchi Neko form. You got an idea of the history to some extent from the first season, so not a huge amount is added, this is mostly an extended version of said that meddlecat scenario. I would consider it more of an Ecchi/fan service chapter above all else. Most of the cast is absent, and the prime characters you see are the Araragi's, Hanekawa, and some Shinobu/Oshino. Overall, watched it for completion purposes and it was decent, but you can definitely opt to skip if you aren't into all that into the Ecchi Neko or want to hear more of her story. Review of Season 1 ; Scored 7Review of Season 1.1 ; Scored 8
"Nekomonogatari (Black)" is an intriguing addition to the Monogatari series, known for its unique storytelling and complex characters. Here's my review of this particular installment, breaking down various aspects: Story (6/10): "Nekomonogatari (Black)" offers a more focused narrative compared to other entries in the series. It delves into the backstory of Tsubasa Hanekawa and her encounter with a mysterious cat spirit. The story explores themes of identity, adolescence, and the consequences of repressed emotions. While it may not be as intricate or mind-bending as some other arcs in the Monogatari series, it still manages to captivate with its character-driven storytelling and witty dialogue. Animation (8/10): One of the standout features of the Monogatari series is its visually striking and avant-garde animation style. "Nekomonogatari (Black)" continues this tradition with its unique visual aesthetics. The use of abstract imagery, symbolism, and creative camera angles adds depth to the storytelling. While some may find the animation style polarizing, it undeniably contributes to the series' distinct charm. Sound (8/10): The sound design in "Nekomonogatari (Black)" is exceptional, as is typical of the Monogatari series. The voice acting, particularly the performances of Kana Hanazawa as Tsubasa Hanekawa and Hiroshi Kamiya as Koyomi Araragi, is top-notch. The series' use of music, ambient sounds, and silence to create mood and tension is masterful and enhances the viewing experience. Characters (6/10): Tsubasa Hanekawa takes the spotlight in this arc, and her character development is a central focus. Her internal struggles and the revelation of her hidden emotions are compelling to witness. While some other characters from the series make appearances, this arc primarily revolves around Hanekawa and her complex relationships with others. The Monogatari series has a knack for creating multi-dimensional characters with intricate psychological profiles, and "Nekomonogatari (Black)" is no exception. Overall (6/10): "Nekomonogatari (Black)" is a solid entry in the Monogatari series, offering a more contained and character-driven narrative. While it may not reach the heights of some of the more iconic arcs in the series, it still maintains the series' signature style and thought-provoking storytelling. Regarding a comparison to the manga or novel, it's important to note that "Nekomonogatari (Black)" is originally a light novel written by Nisio Isin and later adapted into anime form. While there may be manga adaptations of certain parts of the Monogatari series, the primary source material for the anime is the light novels. Therefore, for the most authentic experience, I recommend exploring the light novels, which provide deeper insights into the characters and narrative.
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