Bakemonogatari: an anime review

So I finally got around to watching this series. I have been in the anime community for a little over 2 years now and I have read a lot of forums and watched a lot of YouTube videos referencing this show and others in the franchise. I always told myself that I’ll eventually get to watching it. But I never did. I started it about a month ago and watched the first arc. I didn’t really pick it back up until about a week ago. As you can tell already, I loved it so much I finished it pretty fast. It also was the first anime I have finished this year. Kinda sad really but this marks my return to watching anime almost religiously now that I’ve caught up to all of my classes and I actually have time to.

Bakemonogatari is a 15 episode anime, it is part of the monogatari series. The monogatari series has several anime adaptations. Produced by Aniplex with studio Shaft and directed by akiyuki shinbo, it aired in the summer 2009 anime season. It’s one of the most popular anime franchises to date.

The story revolves around Araragi helping different girls with their apparition (spirits that inhabit the host and cause a lot of misery for them) problems. This story has many arcs. Each arc revolves around a different girl and the struggle that girl is going through, subplots are ongoing throughout the whole anime as well. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a show structured like this, it’s rather refreshing. huge_crab

The first arc involves Senjougahara, she has a crab (I can’t be the only one who first thought of an std right?) inhabiting her body, causing her to be weightless. This sounds nice but she does say that wearing clothes causes a lot of pain because of how heavy they are on her body.

Arc 2 involves an apparition known as a snail. You learn the key to destroying this apparition is to leave it alone, walk away from it. The snail appears when someone doesn’t want to go home. It acts as a form of distraction to keep you away from going home. The snail’s name is Mayoi.

Bakemonogatari Mayoi Hachikuji
You always need a little loli action

Arc 3 brings in the athletic underclassmen. She is in love with her upperclassmen and wishes upon a monkey hand to make that happen. But the wish does not go without a price. After three wishes, Suruga’s forearm is engulfed with fur. Much like a monkey. This arc focuses on the pain of idolizing someone and loving them to only have them snatched away by someone else. This arc goes in depth into the darkness that people hold inside of them and how monstrous it can be to let it out. It shows how much anger one can truly hold in before they eventually burst and how little people lead on about how much pain they are in.

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That’s pretty damn brutal

In arc 4 we encounter the weirdest apparition yet. A snake, I’ll get to the weird part momentarily. The apparition appears from a girl, Nadeko, being cursed by both a boy (who likes Nadeko) and a girl (who likes the boy and hates the he confessed to Nadeko and not her). Nadeko tried to lift the curse herself, only making it worse. So here comes Araragi to save the day. The weird part is once he is lifting the curse, things go bad. The snake doesn’t want to leave and tries to re-attach to nadeko, in the way of slithering down her throat. yeah… not so cool.

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staph! please, no more. she had potential to be a good character!

The 5th and final arc is the Tsubasa cat. This was my favorite arc out of this season. So much was discussed in terms of subplots during this arc, it is also the longest arc of the season. Tsubasa, the smartest girl in the class, has a lot of demons. The cat appears and wreaks havoc to those around her when her stress levels become more than she can handle. This arc was the realest anime has been to me since neon genesis evangelion. Between the romance development and massive pain the characters are going through made me feel like the author of the original story had some seriously dark past experiences. It’s the first time I’ve felt sadness for a character in quite some time.

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perfection personified

I love dark story telling. That being said, how this story went about telling you things was beautiful. Each arc had a new girl and each girl had her own mental scars. Without giving out too much information, the backstory and development for each character was refreshing. Most shows barely dedicate an episode to a character, whereas in this show, each girl gets at least 2 episodes exclusively to set up the character and give the viewer an inside look into each character. That was a major plus! Another thing I like about this show was how the romance was handled. A girl goes for the main character and the start dating. Let me repeat, they start dating. None of this harem, main character never picks a girl bullshit. I’m not saying harems are bad but I want a conclusion to the romance, not an open ending.

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Who’s gonna win the coveted title of best girl?

So like any series that has a bunch of girls in it. We have the best girl contest. You’ve got Mayoi for loli lovers, Suruga for that underclassmen crush fantasy, Nadeko for the “onii-chan” stereotype, Senjougahara for tsundere lovers, and Tsubasa for that upperclassmen, shy, intellegent feel. Who do you like the most? My favorite is probably Tsubasa, throughout the entire anime I wanted to know how her development would go and boy was I not disappointed. Finding out her feelings for Araragi was super sad and seeing how much pain she was in from how her past was, was by far the best. Having her arc at the end of the anime was smart too. They build up her character so much throughout the season and everything you see her do and say finally comes full circle once you understand her back story. Another nice part of this anime is that not everything is always resolved completely. Compromises are made and plans change, this gives the show a sense of unpredictability which is hard to do in anime nowadays.

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Heads shouldn’t be able to tilt that far!

The animation was strange in a good way, other than the textbook shaft studio head tilts, I have few gripes about the animation. It was done quite well with few hiccups at all. It was very smooth and the transitions in the story felt very natural. The backgrounds in the show were also magnificent.

The music in the story was fine with a fantastic ending theme. the opening theme and song were different for every arc which is a nice touch to the show. One thing to keep in mind, the show is a very dialogue heavy show. So if you have trouble reading subtitles fast enough, you are gonna have hard time watching this. There were times at the beginning of the show where I had to pause the episode to read what a character said.

Overall, this show is exactly what I wanted and needed. My favorite genre of anime is and always will be, romance. I don’t know why but there is something about romance that I enjoy. This show did a very good job portraying the romance, it was also very creative how they did it as well. So with all that I give the first season of Bakemonogatari a final score of 9/10. It is true what I read in the forums, that this show is one that every anime fan needs to watch.

I hope you all enjoyed! Have a wonderful day!

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