Warning: this will probably the most confusing review ever >_<
Bakemonogatari for me is like an old friend that you’ve known for as long as you can remember. It’s the kind of a friend whom you love and can hang out with at any time, but you do KNOW him. It’s not like the two of you have to sit there and talk about yourselves and get all interested in one another, and it’s not like a cute girl who you’re flirting with for the first time. In many ways, I may want to hang out with this friend more than anyone else. Sometimes, meeting new people and making new impressions is stressful and difficult, so it’s always good to have friends you can fall back on and know they’ll be good to you. A lot of the times, that’s what you do when you are rewatching a show you love, but for me, Bakemonogatari was that all along.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Bakemonogatari was in any way a cliche or unoriginal or boring show. That is simply not true. Rather, the show was exactly what I expected it to be. Do I mean it had no surprises? No. Do I mean I predicted the events? No. On the contrary, the show was a constant roller-coaster of interesting and cool things… it’s just that I knew it would be. I was ‘expecting the unexpected’. I more or less explained this in my halftime review of the series. This show is a collaboration of forces I am extremely familiar with – NISIOISIN, Akiyuki Shinbo, SHAFT, Vofam, Supercell, Ueda Hajime… I’ve been a fan of all of them for quite a while, and while none of them ceases to amaze me, they certainly don’t surprise me anymore. I expect the very best from them, so when they deliver something great, it’s less like I am blown away and more like it had to be that way to please me.
But once again, there’s nothing wrong with that. Obviously, if I’m a big fan of everyone involved in this show, then I was quite excited for it, and when it lived up to my expectations, I was quite happy about it. However, Bakemonogatari was so quintessentially ‘the usual’ for these artists that it wasn’t like I could be awed by the series. It wasn’t the best by anyone involved (just to sort that out, “Zaregoto”, “Petit Cossette’, “Hidamari Sketch”, “Faust shorts”, “Black Rock Shooter”, and “Q-Ko-Chan” respectively) but it makes me sit there and know that if this had been the first thing I’d seen by any of them, it would have easily been one of my favorite anime ever. It’s only because I know them that I know what else they can do.
Enough about that, though. I want to talk about my actual feelings for the show. I obviously loved how it was directed and presented – everything about the series under the ‘visual’ umbrella was astounding, with the distinct exception of episode 10. I’ve always supported SHAFT’s ability to mask crappy animation with style, but episode 10 was just fucking embarrassing. SHAFT has apologized though and I’m sure they’re fixing it on the DVDs as always, so I forgive them. Anyway, I was very impressed by Shinbo managing to set most of episodes 3-5 in a single location without it getting uninteresting to look at, and the action scene in episode 8 was fucking cool. Of course, my biggest props goes to the character art which was out of this world, especially in the nude scenes with Senjougahara and Nadeko in eps 2 and 9 respectively. Fucking glorious stuff.
But of course, the most important factors of Bakemonogatari are the characters and the interactions they bring. I’d like to talk about each of them, so I guess I’ll start off with The Big One, Senjougahara, and do them in order.
Senjougahara: I’m at a quandry with Hitagi-chan because she was my least favorite person in the show. As a matter of fact, she was my least favorite part of the show. Now, understand, I think she’s a GREAT character. I think she’s written profoundly, believably, and to be quite fun. I think she makes up for her flaws as a person with things that make her cool, and yet, I just can’t get along with her. I feel like if I knew her in the meat, we’d have some troubles – but at the same time, there are such odd circumstances surrounding how I’d feel about her, that I’m not sure. Which takes me to Araragi.
Araragi: Is a character who I relate to more than most. Which is funny, because he’s one of what I think are Nisioisin’s falsely relatable mains. Nisi loves to write guys who act somewhat like the intelligent, laid-back types we’re used to, but also have something that makes them completely out there and really don’t take the actions that you could see a nerdy guy taking at all. Araragi was just recently a vampire. He reacts quickly to danger and bad situations and has a serious hero complex. Araragi is not just ‘some guy’ who happens to get surrounded by girls and supernatural happenings like so many other male leads. He doesn’t get ‘dragged’ into anything, but ‘dives’ into it. He could have easily walked away from every single one of the girls in the series, but he deliberately stuck around them to figure out their problems and help them.
Now, I’m not going to pretend I’m quite as valiant and helpful as Araragi, but I will say that I am not just some passerby type of guy. I take action, I talk to people I’m interested in, and I’m good at talking and forcing my involvement. My friends will tell you that I am an incredibly nosy guy. I get in everyone’s business and I try to offer everyone guidance, to the point that I’m honestly surprised that my friends don’t use the phrase ‘that’s none of your business’ more (I guess that’s why they’re my friends, though, lol.) I can’t leave people alone, and I’m awfully stubborn. And the biggest reason I feel like I can help everyone is because I have experience and sources. I’ve always got the advice people need to hear (not what they want, usually, but what actually helps) partly because I’ve been through problems, but also largely because I’ve spectated a lot of conflicts and researched a lot of them.
Like Araragi, I’m see-through, and I’m honest without second thought. Like him, I’m good at talking to girls, even though they can practically smell the virgin on me (that sounds more obvious looking at me now, but I used to be much, much prettier!) I make friends easily and can hold conversation with all kinds of different people. I’m also good with kids, like he is, from having two younger siblings (though swap his sisters for my brothers). Some of my favorite scenes are watching Araragi talking to Hachikuji and Nadeko, because I feel like I would have reacted the same ways to them.
Which brings me back to Senjougahara. Can I still compare myself to Araragi if I don’t much like Senjougahara? Well, yes, because of how things play out in the series. It’s not like Araragi was immediately in love with Senjougahara, and likewise, it’s not like I wouldn’t be able to make friends with Senjougahara. What propels Araragi’s feelings for Senjougahara is her own feelings for him. It is only because she will open up to him and eventually love him that he finds something in her to love. I could say ‘he loves about her the way she is in love with him.’ And if that were the case, I would fall in love with Senjougahara. She’s a person I could love – not my first choice or type, not someone I’d start out with a crush on, but if she fell in love with me, I would be able to fall in love with her as well.
And I want to say, that means things would work out. If I am Araragi, then logically, if I met a Senjougahara and acted the same way around her Araragi does (which I can see myself doing) then she would logically fall in love with me, eventually leading me to fall in love with her. However, that can’t make me like her as it is, because it’s not as though she is currently in love with me – I’m just watching her be in love with Araragi, and while I can still love her as what she is in the story, I can’t love her character like I would love a ‘mai waifu’ or something. I told you this would be confusing.
Hachikuji: Is adorable. I can’t really arrange my feelings towards Hachikuji, because it is once again a place where my relating to Araragi is thrown into question by my not necessarily being him in the meat. My point is, I find Hachikuji criminally attractive. She’s everything I like a loli to be, and I had doujins of her long before I finished this show. Araragi doesn’t like her that way, but that doesn’t mean we are different, because in the real world, I wouldn’t like Hachikuji like that. I am not a lolicon in the meat – as someone who has a little brother who looks 100% like a cute little girl (if you saw a picture of him, there’s no way you’d assume it was boy unless I told you) I literally cannot like little girls. It’s impossible. So I stand by that I only like Hachikuji that way because she is an anime character. Moving on…
Kanbaru: is the lesbian friend I’ve wanted my whole life! Kanbaru was easily my favorite part of this show. Both hers and Nadeko’s arcs were my favorites in the series because of her involvement in both. She was so much fun and energy and cool, and she was the kind of friend you can be completely close to without it being sexual. I’ve always wanted a friend like that. Most of my friends are dudes, so it’s kind of hard to get too close to them (I am an extremely touchy-feely guy. No Name doesn’t mind this and some of my friends can handle it a bit, but some want me the fuck back from them.) I’ve always wanted the kind of friend who could hang on my arm and not have to be my girlfriend or gay partner anything. Maybe that’s part of why I’m so obsessed with feminity and lesbians? In any case, Kanbaru was the embodiment of why I like tomboys and why I like lesbians to begin with. Seriously, after watching this show, I was sitting there thinking how I wanted to go out and make some friends just because I want a friend like Kanbaru. I think my life would be complete then. And I wouldn’t have to become gay.
Nadeko: there wasn’t really much to her, in terms of character development and all that. She was a really, really cute girl (and at that age, I actually am not sure I can use the earlier defense. And neither can Araragi apparently, so our comparison is safe. Although admittedly, I don’t have a thing for school swimsuits. I’ve been more of a gothloli guy long as I can remember.) Aside from her fanservice vehicle, not much to say.
Tsubasa: Was excellent, and she’s the kind of female friend I’m more used to having (though I think I’m a little meaner to girls like this than Araragi, though I also haven’t been as close to one as he is.) I liked Tsubasa because she is the kind of friend I think you can just talk to and get real, solid thoughts from. I mentioned earlier that I have ‘the experience and the sources’ to help people in need. Araragi has his own knowledge, but he gets help from Oshino and Tsubasa – I think it’s similar to my getting help from No Name and (for example) my father, who can help me with VERY different things respectively, but nonetheless have the necessary experience in their respective areas that I can always get what I need to know from them. I can’t tell if Tsubasa does or doesn’t like Araragi, but I want to think that she doesn’t. It makes it easier to appreciate the relationship that way.
Oshino and Shinobu: Made of just win and awesome. I loved Oshino, he was as cool a mothafucka as you get. If I ever have an underground contact, it needs to be a guy like this. And Shinobu was, in my opinion, probably the most attractive character in the series. Even though she is essentially nothing after what happened between her and Araragi. I have to say, the scene where she sucks Araragi’s blood while in his lap in episode 9 was probably my single favorite moment in the show. It was just like something I wanted to see so bad, and her pose… *boi-oi-oi-oing*
And now, I must mention the voice acting. All of it was spot-on. My favorites were Hiroshi Kamiya as Araragi and of course, the magical Miyuki Sawashiro as Kanbaru. That is all.
Anyway, that’s everyone, and this post is now fucknormous. I want to say before I shut up (and so I don’t have to do as many follow-up posts) that my favorite element of this show is how the characters all kind of jumped right into the various situations and had a history predating the series that is referenced throughout. Some of it is done in a more backstory-exposition fashion as happens in each girl’s arc, but I especially loved how Araragi had his own history that is more talked about than explained. I also think that the entire backstory being recapped in the amazing first opening video was one of the biggest strokes of genius offered up by this show.
In any case, it was a lot of fun. I can’t see myself putting it on my favorites list but it also isn’t quite in the ‘uncanny valley’ belonging to shows that I really liked but not enough to be a favorite. It’s more of an ‘honorable mention’ (a section I’m planning to re-add to my favorites list when I’ve rewatched more of the applicable shows.) I know that I will buy this show if it is released, that I will rewatch it, and that in the end it will rank higher up on my list than I would have thought. So I guess… good on it!