Genre: Mystery, Romance, Vampire, Supernatural
Episodes: 15 + 11 + ??
Personal Rating: 9/10
I think we can all agree on this: after watching more than 100 shows, it gets harder and harder for something to actually surprise us. Yeah sure, there are tons of shows with incredible plot twists, unbelievably epic fights, etc. But something that actually make us "WOOW" isn t that common. Especially with all the Ecchi and plotless shows we see nowadays. However, here is a counter example to what I just said. The Monogatari series is a well-known series written by Nisio isin, and was adapted to a 15 episode season, plus an 11 episode sequel and a third season is airing at the time of this review. Quite impressive, usually we don t get to see more than two seasons for a show. What makes this anime so good? This review is true for both of the completed seasons AND the third season.
Story (8/10): I always say that if a show doesn t have a good story, its pointless to watch it. While Bakemonogatari s story isn t anything impressive by itself (nor is it anything original), for some reason, it has a weird effect on people that leaved them wishing for more. Now, this is kind of difficult to explain, because you have to feel it for yourself, but think about it: why do you call a show "popular"? Because people are always wishing for more. That s why shows like Naruto, Bleach and One Piece are extremely popular: people keep asking for more, so the authors keep writing. The biggest difference in this is that Bakemonogatari is adapted from a Light Novel, while the other three I mentioned were all adapted from a manga.
Anyway, Bakemonogatari starts with our main charatcter, Araragi Koyomi, when he "rescues" a girl that falls from the "sky" (the sky being a school staircase). After that, Araragi tries to get close to that girl, whose name is Senjogahara Hitagi and finds out that she has an "incurable disease". When he rescues her, he realizes she is nearly weightless. Araragi himself, however, also has one of these "incurable diseases", in his case, he is actually a vampire, because he was bitten by one a long time ago. These incurable diseases are actually spirits, and Hitagi s spirit is actually a crab (hence why the first arc is called Hitagi Crab). After they manage to "remove" the said crab from Senjogahara, Araragi finds more girls with spirits haunting them, and its his job to rescue them, with the help of Oshino Meme, a man who claims to be a specialist in spirits. As I said before, the story isn t anything original or superb, but it leaves people asking for more, since the main point of the show seems to be the relationships between the characters.
Bakemonogatari and its sequels are a case of love/hate. Usually, you either love the show or hate it like no other. I am the former, but I know people who hate it, and they actually have good arguments: Unoriginal story, repetitive nature, the randomness of the showSo there isn t much to say about that, its all a matter of opinion.So, I ll rate the story an 8/10.
Art (10/10): Like the anime itself, the art that Shaft uses for this show is a case of love/hate. Now let me say this beforehand: I am a HUGE fan of Shaft. Not only do I think most of the art and animation that their shows use is great, but they can bring out some amazing adaptations. I ve seen most of them (at least one episode of each), and I find the art simply outstanding. Again, there are people who are against both the art and animation. And to be completely fair, I can see why someone would dislike them, they are VERY different from what you are used to. But being so original is what I like about this show. Thats what sets it apart from the others. And that s usually a good thing. The problem is that, while Bakemonogatari definitely has a great animation on some scenes, MOST of the said scenes are still characters talking. This is the main issue people have with the show, along with the fact that, instead of "An image is worth more than 1000 words", this show follows the "A word is worth more than 1000 images".
Yeah, the second problem Bakemonogatari has that makes people complain is the unusually high use of text. Usually, in anime, we learn alot more from the visual scenes rather than the characters dialogue. Bakemonogatari is an exception to this rule. The scenes are repetitive, and it seems they re there just for shits and giggles. What matters about this show is how characters interact, and their dialogues with each other. The symbolism of the show is remarkable, but many people prefer to watch something with touching/epic scenes. If you re one of those people, I don t recommend watching this series. This is all I have to say about the art and the animation, being a great fan of Shaft, I give this no less than a perfect 10/10.
Soundtracks (8/10): I can t say Bakemonogatari has a superb soundtrack list. While there are some good OSTs that I regulary listen to, there aren t really any awesome or unusually good soundtracks here. What I do like is the ending theme of season one. "Kimi no Shiranai" is one of my favorite ending themes of all time, and with good reason. The first season s opening theme is actually quite addicting too, at least for a while. I wouldn t go as far as calling it a masterpiece. What Bakemonogatari DOES have is a wide variety of music. With this, I mean that there is upbeat music, sad music, mystery music, slice-of-life music, etc. This is a very good thing for a show lacking awesome soundtracks, but unfortunately, quantity is never better than quality (at least in my eyesor should I say, my ears).
While this is a matter of opinion, I think that Nisemonogatari (the second season) dropped the quality of the soundtracks even more. The soundtracks that I actually liked from the first season were never used againwhich is kinda sad. The famous "Black Hanekawa" soundtrack from season one was never used again, even when Black Hanekawa shows up. This makes me wonder: is the music director of Nisemonogatari the same person who directed the soundtracks used in Bakemonogatari? I mean, I didn t hate the Nisemonogatari sound collection, but what I can say is that it s nowhere as good as the first season s.All in all, the soundtracks are decent, and they fill a good purpose for the dialogues happening while they play. I give this an 8/10, especially because of the drop in quality that the second season had.
Characters (10/10): Besides the art (because I m biased about Shaft s art), this is the strongest point of the series. Our main character, Araragi Koyomi, is a half human and half vampire. His hair actually mirrors his feelings, when he feels confused, his air sometimes takes the shape of a question sign. That s actually quite fun to watch. As for his personality, he likes to help those who are close to him, but he also believes that people have to save themselves, and that other people can t really "save" anyone but themselves. Of course, this doesn t mean he can t help them. As for our female main lead, we have Senjogahara Hitagi. She is what you d call an Extreme Tsundere. You like Tsundere female characters? Than this show is for you. Not only does she not reveal her true feelings for Koyomi, but she usually calls him garbage and throws him all kinds of insults to his face in order to conceal what she actually thinks of him, instead of the usual "It s not like I care about you or anything, you BAKA!". At least she is an original character, and quite popular with the fans of the show too. Along the way, they meet all kinds of crazy character, including Mayoi, Sengoku, Kanbaru and Hanekawa, each eith their own personal issues. The second season, however, focuses on the relationship between Koyomi and his two little sisters, Karen and Tsukihi, also called the "Fire Sisters". Oshino Meme is the man that helps Araragi with the girl s problems, he has similar ideals to those of Koyomi, but Meme is far more mysterious and serious than him.
Being the strongest point of the series (since, as I said before, the series focuses especially on the interactions and dialogues between the characters), I give the Character Department a strong 10/10. There isn t any particulary annoying character, and I enjoy watching Koyomi s reactions to what others say. Senjogahara is definitely the heart of the series though, and she does have some good non-tsundere moments with Koyomi.
Enjoyment (9/10): A show that s repetitive and manages to keep me entretained deserves praise. Not only do I enjoy watching it, but it s the show in particular that makes me wish for Saturdays to come earlier. I enjoy watching every single episode (except the recaps, they re mostly useless). What also sets this show apart from the rest is that some of the character s thoughts appear on a "black screen", so they sometimes talk about something, but then, as they are talking, a black screen pops up and says what they are actually thinking, or sometimes a recap of what the character said so far in the dialogue. I find it very original and entretaining, but as the soundtracks, I felt a quality drop in the second season. However, this new season that s currently airing has more of a "First Season feeling", at least thats my point-of-view. Maybe they realized that the quality DID drop in the second season, so they realized that people actually prefered the way they handled the first one. As for the enjoyment, I rate it a 9/10, not the most entretaining show ever, but superb nonetheless.
Overall (9/10): I think a 9/10 is a fair rating for this show in particular. While it s completely original in some aspects, the story gets repetitive, and some of the characters may feel a little cliche and overused, but if you manage to look beyond that, you ll see a superb anime with great visuals, decent soundtracks, amazingly written characters and highly enjoyable. Now, to clear things up, this is the chronological order of the series so far:
Kizumonogatari (unaired movie) - Nekomonogatari (Black) - Bakemonogatari - Nisemonogatari - Monogatari Series Second Season
The order in which the series was aired, however, was:
Bakemonogatari - Nisemonogatari - Nekomonogatari (Black) - Monogatari Series Second Season - Kizumonogatari (still unaired at the time of this review)
Whether you like it or not, Bakemonogatari is a completely original show in most aspects, and i highly recommend it to experienced anime fans, but not so much for beginners, since it may seem unappealing to that kind of audience. Also, some of the fan service that the show has might seem a little annoying for some. Even with all this flaws, Bakemonogatari is still among my favorites, and will probably always be.
Thanks for reading this review!