Nisemonogatari Review: Can an Impostor Have Value?
Just finished Nisemonogatari today, and just like Bakemono it was quite the watch. I’d heard many people say that Nisemono is inferior to Bakemono, but now that I’ve finished it I would say that the two are about equal to me. Obviously with them being the same series, they’re very much similar in style, but it’s interesting to note that there are actually some differences in regard to execution. Bakemono had stronger character development overall, but the themes Nisemono presented really helped it stand out to me.
Nisemonogatari is the direct sequel to Bakemonogatari. However, Nisemono opts to focus more on Araragi’s two sisters, Karen and Tsukihi, as opposed to the rest of the cast featured in Bakemono. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing, as the two sisters received almost no screen time in Bakemono and get good development here, but many of the quirky characters of the first season don’t get nearly as much time to shine as they had before. In any case, the story starts off by focusing on events surrounding a very unusual individual named Deishu Kaiki. Kaiki is one of the con men who had originally swindled Senjougahara, and he returns with far from honest plans. Araragi’s two sisters, Karen more so than Tsukihi, aim to stop Kaiki from carrying out his business, though this leads to quite a bit of trouble in itself. Other mysteries and complications serve to complicate Araragi’s life even further as a number of unusual reveals come into play throughout the story.
Just as with Bakemono, Nisemono has a good but not necessarily fantastic story. Nisemono does have what feels more like a central plot, namely because there are only two arcs as opposed to the five of Bakemono. There are quite a few interesting twists, though they’re more relevant to the characters than to glorious plot developments, which is to be expected with the Monogatari series. That said, the story itself is relatively straightforward and events can pretty much be taken as they are given that what happens isn’t too hard to follow. It may not be the strongest plot out there, but it does fit for a series such as this.
With this in mind, it’s important to mention that just as in the previous season, the characters are truly what make this anime shine. In this case, Karen and Tsukihi take much of the screentime as the two arcs revolve around them. Much is revealed about the personality of the two and their relationship with Araragi is finally given greater attention as the story primarily revolves around how Araragi deals with trouble that his sisters are involved with. Just as in the previous situation, dialogue is very important and the exchanges between the characters are truly what help make this series enjoyable. Character interactions are very important and this is crucial to understanding and appreciating the cast. That said, however, I feel that Bakemono was stronger overall in terms of character interactions and development, in part because a wider cast got a good share of development in the first season and also because there wasn’t necessarily a lot of growth as far as the characters themselves went in Nisemono. This is not to say that character development was absent, but there were definitely more profound developments as the characters changed through the story during the first season.
Bakemono and Nisemono obviously have quite a few similarities, though I think it’s important to give some mention to what separates Nisemono from its predecessor. As mentioned before, Bakemono has stronger character dynamics, though Nisemono has more central themes to motivate its plot. The English translation of Nisemonogatari is something to the effect of Impostory, and the word “impostor” is indeed very crucial to the story of Nisemono. One of the main ideas of this anime is the question of whether or not an impostor can have true value in spite of being, well, an impostor. This question manifests itself in multiple ways throughout the story and the characters express a number of responses to the idea of an “impostor” and how it compares to the real deal. Whether an impostor can truly be as valuable as its real counterpart, whether or not an impostor can be an adequate substitute, even what an impostor can really be defined as are all touched on in some form during this anime and it’s quite interesting to see how the series presents this idea, and in this way I would say that Nisemono does in fact have at least one advantage over Bakemono. But another thing I feel I should mention is that Nisemono does have quite a bit of fanservice, and this might be one of the bigger reasons why people feel it is inferior to Bakemono. While it’s true that Bakemono has quite a bit of its own, Nisemono in fact has even more so, to the point where some of it feels unnecessary and perhaps even a bit awkward. Now, I think it’s important to point out that the fanservice alone does not by any means ruin the story, but it was a tad excessive and this might not sit well with some viewers.
In any case, regardless of its shortcomings and some of its controversy, I felt Nisemono was a fantastic watch. It was short but it did very well with the little airing time it had and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that in the end I truly enjoyed it about as much as I did Bakemono. So with that in mind, I’d give Nisemonogatari an 8/10, but it’s a very high 8/10. Just like Bakemono, I’m fairly confident that a rewatch will convince me to raise it to a 9/10, as it did quite a bit well and only a few minor things kept me from bumping the rating up. With Nekomonogatari: Kuro, Monogatari season 2, and eventually Kizumonogatari, it’s clear that the series still has a lot to offer and I eagerly await the rest of the installments ahead and I’m sure I’ll enjoy those quite a bit as well.