Bakemonogatari was an anime I just picked up randomly and I’m kind of glad I did. Though this show is hard for me to describe, it’s very eclectic, avant garde and surreal. There are so many aspects to this show that if I went through every nuance, this review would be a mile long.
Koyomi Araragi is the center of the show, a third year high school student who has recently was recently cured of his vampirism. He finds himself mixed up with all kinds of apparitions, ghosts, myths, and spirits of the female persuasion. Koyomi ends up being the one to help them with their issues inside themselves from emotional issues to passing on to the other side.
The characters might be the low point in this show and it’s mainly because they follow their character tropes with very little deviation. While people do have their personalities that may fall into a category, they still have things that make them different in most cases. Here the characters kind of just sit in their trope happily and don’t change lanes at all. Koyomi is the high school kid clueless about girls, Hitagi is a tsundere, Hanekawa is the smart kuudere, Koyomi’s sisters are a yandere and a chunni with little changes in their characters.
There are many references and homages to other anime, some will make you laugh and some are so obscure that even the characters say they’re obscure references. The first one that really made me laugh was in episode 3.
Hitagi: I’ll fulfill whatever your wish is. Whether it’s world conquest, or eternal life, or to defeat the Saiyans that are coming to earth.
Koyomi: Are you saying you’re more powerful than Shen Long?!
Then you have Koyomi riding a bike like in Akira and other spots that you’ll notice and some that they just make blatantly clear by Koyomi’s reaction to some of those moments.
The show also breaks the 4th wall on several occasions.
Hanekawa: “Am I imagining things, or does it feel like the careful description of my skirt was spanning about four pages?”
Koyomi: “It is, it is, it’s all just your imagination. Up until now I have been describing quite emotional, beautiful scenery.”
The artwork is very good and consistent but it really does go in a different style. One of the oddest things is the cinemascope screens, they are EVERYWHERE. Every single scene seems to have one and sometimes there are hard to read because of how fast they move. Sometimes they’re used for inner monologues and thoughts too but I guess those count as scene changes.
Another cinematic thing you’ll see is a lot of crosscut scenes and jump scenes. Some of the jump scenes even include actual real life still shots mixed in and other styles of drawing that are from other shows. The camerawork part of the equation will always keep you guessing. There are a lot of close-ups and pan shots too. It really does look more like they were trying to make art and not anime but it works to keep with the surreal nature of the show.
They even took their time crafting the music numbers. When the show switches between arcs and main characters you get a new opening and closing scene with different music for each. Each one fitting of the character who will get the spotlight on them.
This show is not for everyone, it’s quirky for lack of a better term. It seems more like an art form than an anime show, using parts that probably don’t really work together yet they were able to piece it together in a way that’s coherent and different.
I’m actually sitting through the whole series as I’m writing this. I’m in season 2 so there are more posts coming.