This post is my final thoughts on Bakemonogatari, the longest 15 episode anime I’ve ever watched. It’s been so long between episodes that I don’t remember a lot of the details anymore, so I don’t really have to much to say. Below are the thoughts I managed to put together.
To refresh everyone’s memory, Bakemonogatari, animated by Shaft and directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, is based on a series of light novels by Nisio Isin. The anime started in the summer 2009 season, but due to the last three episodes being released on the web and various delays, the last episode was released around three weeks ago. Bakemonogatari is the story of… wait, what was about again? Oh yeah, the anime is about Koyomi Araragi, a perverted guy with an ahoge who helps out girls with problems of the paranormal nature and builds a harem in the process.
The series contained five story arcs, each of them focused on a single female character that Koyomi has to help. All the girls all afflicted by different paranormal problems, but their problems all stem from personal issues and thus the arcs follow a similar formula. At least the girls in distress are of different varieties: we have Hitagi (beautiful, sharp-tongued, lethal, tsun-tsun female lead), Mayoi (pedo bait), Suruga (sporty, tomboyish lesbian), Nadeko (bigger pedo-bait of the more peaceful variety), and Tsubasa (busty glasses-girl who has a secret crush on the main character). The good thing about these girls is that they all have a bit of back story to them and there is depth to their personalities. Hitagi obviously stands out as she is main female lead and she is indeed fascinating. She is the kind of girl that guys can fantasize with but never actually want to be with because she might stab your eyes with a pen any moment. Koyomi can be with her because he can regenerate and is hard to kill. It’s amusing to see Hitagi (and the other girls as well) make fun of, tease, and belittle Koyomi during their conversations. The conversations do get a little too lengthy though, especially for people who don’t have a good understanding of Japanese (like myself). As for our protagonist Koyomi, he seems like a typical harem lead. He is a little perverted, but he does genuinely care for the other girls and sincerely wants to help them. Koyomi is not all that interesting during the series, especially since his own arc hasn’t been told yet, but it’s fun to see him get owned in a battle of words or fists and claws.
The animation quality of Bakemonogatari is best described as inconsistent. The environmental design on the show is very clean and appealing, and in those somewhat rare action scenes (like the times when Koyomi gets tossed around), the animations were actually quite fluid and stylish. There is actually plenty of gore during the fight scenes, but the multi-colored blood was a nice choice in lessening urge to look away and regurgitate. On the other hand, due to budget problems we are frequently treated to still shots of text and various other objects. The budget problems wasn’t too noticeable during the abundant conversation scenes, but it was really apparent during the climax of the Nadeko Snake arc. Bakemonogatari could have easily been a better series if their animation quality was consistent.
Despite the delays and budget problems, Bakemonogatari appears to be quite popular and a lot of people seem to be love the show. As for myself, I thought the show was interesting, but not that great. Other than the budget problems, I’m a not a huge fan of long conversations that take up half of an episode. I’m sure the dialogue is witty and fun to read in novel form, but I’m more of an action fan it’s harder to follow those conversations when watching subs. On the plus side, I like the characters, and I liked the animation during the action sequences (when Shaft had the money to animate them). I’m not going to make any conclusions on the story as the light novels are not over yet. Given the show’s popularity, I’m sure we’ll see another season of Bakemonogatari. Hopefully the next season will be animated without a bunch of text stills filling in for climactic scenes.