I have never heard of Monogatari series before (this month) and never actually knew a cult existed where Monogatari is considered as savior of anime, but hell, you would be surprised, at certain point, I also kinda thought the same, but a few moments later, I did laugh at myself.
Welcome to Monogatari Series review where I will be discussing the first two seasons of Monogatari Series, Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari.
Monogatari is a straight up harem-comedy-fantasy/mystery show which sounds like, meh, it’s one of those hundreds, but trust me, it is not, it is a genre of its own and there is no other show out there, with which I can compare this show with. There is a hidden charm in this show which unless you are really interested in Monogatari Series, you won’t be able to feel it. Let’s start with the basics, The series focuses on an 18 years high school student (ffs) Araragi Koyomi, who was a human before turning into a vampire, and was turned back into human again. Although the story starts with him as a Human, he retained some vampiric powers like healing wounds at a faster rate. Confused? Good, get ready to be more confused. The series like any other Harem shows features the main protagonist Araragi dealing with problems of other girls and each girl having an arc of their own, sounds simplistic, but, I promise it is not. Most of harems I know of rewards the male protagonist with the girls affection and sometimes, with girls revealing their love for protagonist as he was their savior from their doomed fate *cough…Kirito kun..cough*, in this show, although Araragi definitely manages to solve the problems of all the girls with or without the help of his own savior Oshino, he is instead most of the time rewarded with, nothing. Like really, nothing but a thanks at max. I liked the fact that Monogatari took a step aside from regular harem and showed that, not everyone blindly falls for the guy, but then again, it was not that girls did not fall for him at all, they did. The first girl that is featured in the show was Hitagi Senjougahara who accidentally meets Araragi (I wont tell what the accident was cause that would be spoiler;) and Araragi realizing, there is something wrong with this girl. Araragi offers his help to Hitagi and this is the point where the show starts its course. As I said, girls did fall for him and primary one is her, Senjougahara who declared she loves her at the end of first arc and they remain a couple for rest of the show. The others who fell for him would probably be Hanekawa and Karen whom I cannot discuss the details as it would be spoiler, but signifying, that, the show might be a bit different from other Harems, but girls did fall for him in the show like other harems.
What makes the show unique, (aside from visuals and sound design) is, the main protagonist Araragi Koyomi, I mean, this guy is as flexible as a person can get (literally!), he can be stretched into so many roles that I lost my count. At times, he was this loving boyfriend, caring friend, responsible brother; and other times, he was a verbally sexual harasser/teaser (xD), unfaithful boyfriend, unpredictable friend and lastly a fuckin Lolicon! yep you heard it right, straight up Lolicon! Like he was so many in one that what will he do next was beyond my prediction. At first you would be like, aww so cute he cares deeply about his girlfriend and they are on a date, but 20 seconds later he would beat a 10 year Loli proudly just because she misspelled his name, yah.. that happens.. Araragi is the character who held the show so high, he was funny, he was unpredictable, he was always on the verge of helping others no matter what the cost is, but at the same time, he would do something suddenly that none of you could ever predict. This guy is the charm of the series which kept me hooked with the chair for hours as I finished one episode after another; and I will admit, that was one hell of a ride. The other mentionable male character of this show will be Oshino who is a specialist in supernatural matters; and is the reason Araragi was able to return back to normal human after being bitten by a vampire. He helps Araragi in solving the problems of the girls in Bakemonogatari but is completely absent in the Nisemonogatari, although his influence played a great role in Nisemonogatari. The rest other characters are all girls, like all of them. Bakemonogatari features 5 arcs with each arc dedicated to each girl at a time and Nisemonogatari features 2 arcs which are dedicated to both of Araragi’s sisters.
Each characters are individual with their individual attitude and behaviour and I am glad that none represents the other. Although discussing all of them would take ages, the one character who takes the cake is Senjougahara Hitagi, she was featured in the first Arc and after her arc she becomes Araragi’s girlfriend for rest of the show. I was surprised regarding how well the character was written. She called herself a Tsundere which I doubted at first, but the violent attitude that she portrayed throughout the show was surprisingly good and she definitely retained her title skillfully. The rest characters I would leave for the viewers to discover, but know that, in Bakemonogatari, most of them may not have been well developed as they didn’t get screen time more than 3-4 episodes, they were nevertheless fun to watch though. Each character was with a mystery their own and was unpredictable. One of the honorable mention would be Tsubasa Hanekawa, Araragi’s classmate who was sweet and friendly on the outside, but when shit hits the fan, she turns into something that was beyond anything I have ever imagined; and that, I call a proper surprise! In Nisemonogatari though, the entire season featured 2 girls, Karen and Tsukihi, both of them happens to be Araragi’s sisters, the refreshing part of this season is that, both of the sisters are individual characters of their own. Karen is a tomboy who is a martial art expert elsewhere Tsukihi is more the feminine type. Fortunately, they got enough screen time of their own in Nisemonogatari which was enough to develop them thoroughly.
The best girl, Senjougahara Hitagi #Crab Arc
Hanekawa Tsubasa #Cat Arc
Kanbaru Suruga #Devil Monkey Arc
Hachikuji Mayoi #Lost Snail Arc
Sengoku Nadeko #Snake Arc
Araragi Karen #Bee Arc
Araragi Tsukihi #Phoenix Arc
The animation for this show was done by studio Shaft which did its job perfectly in this series. The characters look amazing if you couldn’t tell by now, specially characters like Senjougahara and Hanekawa. My criticism towards the art is that, well, they may have drawn the characters to perfection, the world looks weird as fuck. No seriously, trees painted nothing but black! Distant buildings, houses painted nothing but white, at times I even wondered, if they put any effort in the details of the environment. The work on the environment especially in Bakemonogatari may have been one of the laziest artwork I have ever seen. Other than that, the show looks really pretty in indoor shots, for eg inside Araragi’s house in Nisemonogatari.
The sound design is a masterpiece though, at times it would play comedic music, at times it would play slow mo piano covers of the opening, at times when there was action sequences, it would turn into punk rock in no time. The openings though, are the real mvp. The first opening of Bakemonogatari felt really great, titled, ‘Staple Staple’, the second opening ‘Kaerimichi’ was horrible, the third opening ‘Ambivalent World’ was, meh; the third opening ‘Renai Circulation’ is pretty famous as most of you may have heard this in some meme’s, but the last opening of Bakemonogatari, ‘Suger Sweet Nightmare’ was simply eargasmic.
Nisemonogatari features 3 openings, the first one ‘Futaokmotome’ tried to be like the first op of Bakemonogatari, but didnt really catch my attention, I still like ‘Staple Staple’ more, the second opening ‘Marshmallow Justice’ fits Karens style perfectly imo, but the best opening of both season might be the last one of Nisemonogatari, “Platinum Disco”; omg the song is sang in such an adorable voice, and its so catchy, the best op imo. Not to mention the catchy dance that Tsukihi does while the song is played in the background, gets me every time.
Monogatari is not everyone’s cake, it’s nothing like a regular rom com harem anime but it has all the elements a rom com or a harem does, jokes and teasing-check, fan service-check, suggestive incestuous theme-check. Still there are many who might not like this anime. If you are expecting actions or romance from this anime, although it features a little, you will be disappointed, as the series barely features them, rather, it does whatever it wishes. The mysteries didn’t make any sense and I couldn’t care less about the monsters that were featured on the show and their back story. The part that might annoy you the most is the dialogues, the show is most of the time nothing but people talking. I mean really, they would often start a conversation and some even lasted for 16 minutes straight.
It is not a romance anime, it is not a pure comedy or mystery anime, neither its perfect as a harem, but guess what, as I said in the beginning of this review, it is a genre of its own, and that is what makes this anime unique and fun to watch. Considering all of the information above, I would definitely recommend this show as a ‘Must Watch’ and would rate it a 9.5/10 as although its bizarre environmental art and background story didn’t make any sense, the show in total was simply a masterpiece its own. Do check the following warnings though, if you have epilepsy, I would suggest you to stay the hell out as it might cause you seizure as it has a habit of showing blank screens (with text in it) which changes color instantly and repeatedly. If you are not epileptic, if you are not bored with heavy dialogues and if you are not annoyed with harem genre, you’re good to go, I promise you, you will definitely enjoy this anime series. Thanks for your patience.
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