Bakemonogatari – Retro Review

Disclaimer: The following is a review that I did way back in 2014, I thought I’d repost them on my own site now. Hence it may not be at the quality and standard I hold today.

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Bakemonogatari is a light novel series turned into anime which focuses on our main character, Araragi Koyomi, who survives a vampire attack; through a series of multiple interactions, he winds up having himself involved in a number of cases with various females and their oddities.This anime is not one for those who like to leave anime playing in the background and listen the characters converse, as this is a very dialogue heavy show. It focuses mainly on the interactions between the characters through the use of clever dialog and a quirky sense of humor which you would find yourself to love. This show is both a visual treat and brain food for those who so desire, so let’s step into the world of Arararagi-kun. Sorry, I bwit my twongue.

It’s not that I know everything. I just know what I know. — Hanekawa Tsubasa

Overview:

Bakemonogatari is a combination of these things:

  • Unrivaled visuals and animation provided by Studio SHAFT.
  • Dialogue heavy scenes with brutal action scenes at the climax of each arc.
  • Each character has their own distinguishable personalities and values
  • A well-suited soundtrack for the series

 

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Bakemonogatari is the first novel in the Monogatari series by Nisio Isin in 2006 and by 2009 an anime was released. As noted before, it follows eighteen year old Araragi Koyomi who somehow survives a vampire attack and soon after serves as the one who would cure various females which cross his path from their oddities.

The story is divided into various arcs, one for each female. It’s understandable why they would do things this way since it’s easier to follow and it keeps the light novel feel intact. I should say relatively easy however as most of the tidbits of information is contained in the show’s stills. It’s up to you whether you want to pause and read or not so this can be a turn off to many. In order to give you an idea of what I’m talking about is, say an average anime episode may have 200 lines of dialogue whereas an average Bakemonogatari episode may have 400/500 lines (counting the stills). However, this isn’t to say the show is a complete snooze fest, the dialogue in Bakemonogatari is some of the best written I’ve seen in comparison to many anime. It will keep you engaged and totally in love with what is going on; sometimes you may find yourself cracking up at the quirky jokes. The wordplay is among the best in the anime world especially with the way the words are exchanged and twisted into different meanings. There is no dub for Bakemonogatari but this is actually to the benefit of the viewer since most of these jokes wouldn’t even work when translated into English.

In terms of pacing, the plot doesn’t drag along, it moves at a perfect pace so it’s left to you, the viewer to keep up. I’m hoping this isn’t a problem for you cause boy, did Bakemonogatari keep my attention. Each passing episode kept me wanting more and I ended up doing a marathon for the entire series in one go. I’ll have to make a comment that as this is an adaption, I’d say it was adapted excellently. The adaptation is handled perfectly by Shaft who animated this but more on that in the next section.

Just this once I’ll fulfill whatever your wish is. Whether it is world conquest, eternal life, or to defeat the Saiyans that are coming to earth. — Hitagi Senjougahara

 

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I can say one of Bakemonogatari’s biggest strengths has to be its magnificent animation quality. Animated by SHAFT, Bakemonogatari pierced the heavens and passed every one of expectations with exceedingly flying colors. Even to this day, there is not a whole lot of anime that could triumph or even match up to 2009’s Bakemonogatari. The animation style is some of the most vibrant and aesthetically pleasing works you can come across. As a reviewer, I highly recommend watching a high definition release of Bakemonogatari to fully enjoy it in all its splendor. The few battles that occur in the show is always worth the wait. They are quite the visual spectacle, you won’t be disappointed. As mentioned before, there are various stills that appear throughout the show and all this is part of the show’s signature style and it shouldn’t be allowed to take away from the show’s overall appeal and lasting impression. When last have you come across an oddball like this with such a style and quality to portray its message? I’d wager there isn’t a whole lot like that swimming around but this animation quality is a masterful example of what can of hard work and dedication to produce a work of art. Fan service is present in the show but I’m happy to say most of the fan service is so tastefully done and so irregular at times, you wouldn’t even notice. If in fact there is fan service, it’s recognized in the show. It has a knack for breaking the fourth wall at times and this kind of humor is well received.

The soundtrack is on par with it’s stellar animation quality. The spontaneous nature of the show also houses various sound effects for what is going on in the various scenes and for the most part they all are used appropriately and in all the right places. The soundtrack is something you’d expect of something so whimsical in its nature and at the same time mysterious. The opening theme also has the habit of changing from arc to arc but these are all catchy upbeat songs which will have your head bumping and bwiting your twongue in no time!

Although my life hasn’t been very fortunate until now, I’m glad if I caught your eye because of that misfortune. — Hitagi Senjougahara

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For a show that heavily depends on character development, Bakemonogatari does not disappoint. Araragi is our eighteen year old protagonist who is thrust into the world of the supernatural after being attacked by a vampire. Soon after, a number of strange events occur surrounding the lives of 5 girls he encounters which he strives to get to the bottom of, even if it kills him. Araragi is not a weak or shallow character by any means, this much is apparent when you listen in on the conversations he’s involved in. On top of that, he’s also a former vampire so he retains his superhuman healing ability which is essentially his saving grace when faced with the oddities. I found his character to be quite refreshing as he was not one of those typical heart of gold main characters floating around in the anime universe.

The girls in the show are by no means shallow either. They all have some deep problem which serves as the root to the reason for their possession.tumblr_mt6g6qgwSQ1sogk1do1_500 I’m talking about abuse, sexuality and malice are some of these things. Each girl all have their own distinct personality which made for very interesting combos when they got to interact. I especially loved Senjougahara Hitagi because of her tsundere-ish personality. No show apparently is complete without a little tsundere service and she definitely delivers in all sadistic glory. Another character of note is know-it-all Tsubasa Hanekawa, she made a great impression on me for her angelic persona. However, no matter how good a person may seem, they all have skeletons in their clawset~nya.

Bakemonogatari is one of those shows you’ll be glad to invest your time and love in its characters. There is little use of asspulls and deus ex machina as most things are all explained to the fullest degree so you are always up to date.

Did you know every time you sigh, a little bit of happiness escapes?— Senjougahara Hitagi

 

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Wordplay and delicious visuals are what keeps me coming back to Bakemonogatari for me. There is always something in Bakemonogatari for you to like and enjoy. If it’s comedy you want, there is that in here, if it’s romance you want, there are romance elements present to satisfy your needs. If you need fast paced and visually appealing action scenes, all here in one juicy package. It’s something that won’t go stale for years to come and I especially won’t forget what it tried to do. It became one of my all time favorites, it made my blood boil to dangerous temperatures for each episode that passed. It’s dialogue heavy scenes might be a turn off for you but I’m sure there is something there to appeal to you. It’s an anime that stands as one of the best anime in that decade. Who knows how much more of Araragi’s tale we will get to see in the future? I guess we’ll just have to see.

Bakemonogatari scores a full score of 10/10.

 

It’s not enough to just understand, though. You have to put into action. — Hanekawa Tsubasa

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