Bakemonogatari Review: Apparition Issues and Dialogue
A few days ago I finished watching Bakemonogatari, and it was quite the interesting experience. With lots of interesting dialogue, great character dynamics, and a style truly of its own, Bakemono was very much worth it and certainly entertaining. It’s unlike any other anime I’ve seen, and this uniqueness definitely helps it to stand out.
Bakemono revolves around Koyomi Araragi, a high school student who goes out of his way to help others and is surrounded by very unusual circumstances. Araragi’s world is one with apparitions and many supernatural occurrences, and such things have a major impact on the events of the story. There are five major heroines, all of which have arcs dedicated to them in which they and Araragi work together to deal with whatever apparition is causing problems at the time. At the same time, however, Bakemono is also a story about relationships of many sorts, as many of the conflicts presented are generated from relationship dysfunction, and one of the central aspects of the story is the relationship between Araragi and the female lead, Hitagi Senjougahara.
The plot for Bakemonogatari is pretty straightforward overall. To put it simply, all there really is to the story is Araragi helping out the different girls with their problems, and while leaving it simply at that would be a disservice, this is essentially what everything comes down to. There are some events that make these situations more interesting and the personal conflicts of each of the characters plays a major role in shaping these arcs as well as how everything plays out, but the story is hardly complex by any means. Of course, Bakemono only covers but a portion of the Monogatari series, and I’m almost certain that there is even more to the story that I’ll discover upon viewing the other series, so it wouldn’t be fair to criticize Bakemono solely on its story.
Of course, the plot is not the strongest aspect of Bakemono, as more than anything it’s the characters that make this show. In particular, Senjougahara is a fan favorite and a big part of why Bakemono is so unique. Senjougahara is a very unusual character that cannot be described easily. Though some might label her as a tsundere (and the show itself does play on this by making note of it directly), the reality is that Senjougahara is by no means a typical tsundere and has so many dimensions to her character and a personality that is not static by any means. The other characters are also very important due to their interactions with both Araragi and Senjougahara and how they influence the development of those two characters. Though Araragi and Senjougahara have the spotlight, the side cast is important not only because of the different personalities they provide but also what they reveal about the two lead characters and their backstories.
Speaking of character interactions, Bakemono utilizes dialogue as a major component of storytelling and in a way that I have not seen from many other series. More than almost any other anime, dialogue drives Bakemono and propels the story and character development. Dialogue is the source of comedy with jokes and puns (a decent amount of which are based around Japanese wording and are sadly difficult if not impossible for Westerners to pick up on), but also the most common way the series expresses the thoughts and feelings of each of the characters. In particular, the dialogue between Araragi and Senjougahara is one of the areas where the series shines, and this peaks in the touching and meaningful events of episode 12, which is one of my personal favorites. That said, the entirety of the Tsubasa Cat arc (episodes 11-15) is my favorite not only because of that episode, but also because of how much it connects back to the past of Araragi and Hanekawa while at the same time displaying some of their development and thoughts in a way none of the previous arcs had. Of course, each arc provides something different, and it’s because of some of the previous arcs that Tsubasa Cat arc was as fascinating as it was.
Bakemonogatari was a very entertaining anime on the whole. The character relationships were treated very well and I liked the anime’s unusual style. Interestingly enough, the closest thing I could think of stylewise was Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, and yet this is mostly because of the studio I’m sure, as these two series are almost nothing alike otherwise. My only issues with Bakemono were the somewhat weak story and the fact that I personally wasn’t particularly attached to any of the characters, both of which I’m sure will be addressed as I watch the other seasons and perhaps rewatch Bakemono. Ultimately I’d give Bakemonogatari an 8/10, although with a rewatch after finishing the other seasons, I’m actually fairly certain it’s possible for it to receive a 9/10. Before I can continue with the Monogatari series, however, I’ll need to finish watching Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo and start playing Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward.