Honestly, I try to keep this column a surprise to Arleigh. I hate when the owner of this site knows exactly what I’m going to post. However, with the recent announcement from Aniplex USA that they will be releasing this title on BluRay, I can’t very well ignore this awesome title any longer.
The problem with this title is, it’s very hard to talk about without spoiling things. Every girl here has a very important story to tell. The overarching story here is how our protagonist, Koyomi Araragi, interacts with the various girls in the series. The thing is, every girl has her own problem that he must solve. Since I hate spoilers as much as the next guy or girl I’ll refrain from going too in depth to what everyone has to overcome. The best parts would have to be Mayoi Hachikuji and Suruga Kanbaru. Luckily for all, the BluRay of this series will be available later on this year from Aniplex America. Really, nothing else could do this series justice than a BluRay release, so I cannot help but be thrilled for this. What I can say about this is that you need to be prepared to do a lot of reading. People say that this is a very wordy title, and while I don’t necessarily agree with them in the fact that they think the dialog comes fast and furious, I do agree that the dialog is the most important aspect of the show. There is a lot of Japanese puns and wordplay involved, and this title is not for the newly initiated to the anime scene. Those that are used to reading subtitles won’t have too much trouble keeping up, but this is certainly not a title one can passively watch and expect to fully understand.
The thing to keep in mind is that if this show seems strange, by anime standards, it probably has a lot to do with the director. It’s directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, who also directed the very unconventional Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and his influence is easily seen in both. There’s not a lot of action in Bakemonogatari but the visual imagery is classic Shinbo. He makes full use of a lot of surreal backgrounds during long conversations, so instead of letting things get stale with long stretches of just the characters standing around talking, which as I said before they do a lot, he’ll at least have the background flashing by and changing often during those times. On one hand, it’s certainly a cost saving measure since they didn’t have to animate the characters, but more importantly it makes it seem like something is actually happening, even when it’s really not. In a visual medium like anime, nothing bores people more than just staring at the same thing for long periods of time, so this helps keep any feelings of boredom from setting in. For a show without a lot of action, to be able to keep it from feeling dull is where you need a talented director, and Shinbo truly shines in this case.
So what worked with this anime? Well, it has attractive and interesting characters. Each story draws you in and makes you want to see what happens next. While you assume that each girl will have her problem solved, this is a Shinbo show, so there are no guarantees that the problem will be solved, or even if it is that it won’t create further problems. And that’s part of the fun of this series, expecting the unexpected.
What didn’t work? Well, if you want lots of action and explosions in your anime, you’ll find little to none of that here. This is a very character driven show, so if you find you dislike or don’t care about some or even all of the characters, then you won’t find much here of value.
All in all this was a pleasant surprise to me when I watched it. The light novels it was based on have been very popular, but since I don’t follow the light novel scene very closely, this was unexpectedly good. If you want an anime that draws you in and keeps you hooked with a compelling story, then look no further than Bakemonogatari.