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 Post subject: Bakemonogatari
PostPosted: January 2nd, 2010, 9:45 am 
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Location: Trier, Germany
Blown away. That's a proper way to describe my impression after the first season.
Featuring characters in highschool and younger, the show is about Araragi Koyomi, a former vampire who has been healed and returned to being a normal human. Almost. He still recovers from injuries at an impressive speed.

Enter Senjôgahara Hitagi. Araragi saves her from falling down a pretty Utena-esque staircase, in a very Utena-esque situation to boot, as she slipped on a banana peel.
Araragi discovers that Senjôgahara has almost no weight despite looking very normal. Turns out that she had a traumatic childhood experience and asked an unworldly entity to take that weight from her - the wordplay being that "omoi" can mean "heavy" or "thought/memory", depending what Kanji you use... just to give you an idea about what kind of screenplay we're looking at. Araragi then helps Senjôgahara overcome her problem by introducing her to the hip mystic who helped him.

The story goes on introducing the odd people and paranormal oddities that Araragi encounters and the problems he solves - and his developing relationship to Senjôgahara. Bakemonogatari is not a comedic try at the horror genre as some people describe it. It has mystery, yes, it has some horror (ever seen someone hurled around by his intestines?), it has humor, it has a pinch of eroticism (loliloliloliloliloliloliloliloli...), and it has romance. But: All in a very balanced and comfortable mix. It would be unfair to the concept to describe it as a horror comedy.
I find the romance aspects well done. Araragi encounters other girls and one might find Kanbaru suitable as well, but whenever Senjôgahara returns to the screen and has a few dialogue lines I am reassured that she's perfect. Character depiction is another strength of this title.

Maybe you have already seen better graphic designs. But the overall presentation is pure genius, in a way similar to Utena, concerning cuts and meta-elements like written information and pictorial metaphors.
The dialogues are very sophisticated and full of wordplay. I think there is no unnecessary line in there, everything seems to bear a meaning.
The soundtrack imho is fitting like a perfect puzzle piece. Some episodes have a special opening song to highlight a certain character (along with an according opening animation), and even if the musical style seems to betray the general mood of the series it's still fitting in a way. Someone gave this a good thought.

What I am still thinking about are the characters', some characters', names.
Take Senjôgahara (戦場ヶ原). "Senjô" (戦場) alone means "battlefield", it's also in the name's Kanji. And the most famous (premodern) battlefield in Japan is Sekigahara - where Tokugawa defeated the Toyotomi in 1603 and thus became the Shôgun.
Kanbaru (神原) also has a field/plain () in her name.
There's a girl named Sengoku. It's written like "a thousand stones" (千石), which superficially makes it look like a perfectly normal placename near Tokyo, but the word "Sengoku" also denotes "a country at war", if written 戦国, and "Sengoku-jidai" is the term used to described the era of warring feudal states that ended with the battle at Sekigahara.
Said mystic is named Oshino, which consists of "Shinobi" (, "assassin") and a different but yet another "field", .
From media analysis I know that there is no such thing as a coincidence in media products, but I have yet to see the secret behind this.

The voice acting, especially in comparison to other works of the staff, made me stand in awe. Well, only by looking at ANN did I find out that Shinobu, the little vampire girl, was spoken by Hirano Aya. Or, did she speak at all? I don't remember. But I guess if she had spoken a line I might have recognized Hirano Aya!?
Horie Yui as Hanekawa Tsubasa - that was easy to spot.
Kamiya Hiroshi does great as Araragi. His performance as Peganosuke in Damekko Dôbutsu was average and would never have tempted me to look up his name, but this time he was outstanding.
But my eyes grew big when I saw the name of Saitô Chiwa on the screen - as the voice of Senjôgahara. Senjôgahara!? The last time I heard Saitô she did a great job giving her voice to Rebecca Miyamoto... in PaniPoni Dash. I am impressed. The difference in pitch and mood is almost as wide as Mizuhara Kaoru's Misa-chan (Lucky Star) and Yomi (GaRei Zero). I am damn impressed.
Honorary mention: Sawashiro Miyuki. Her Kanbaru interpretation is just great.

The last episode leaves something unsettled. Of course this is a teaser. I heard that one or two more seasons would be published and broadcast via the internet in the more or less near future. Well, that's what I heard. I'm lacking an official source that tells me so and I was not able to retrieve such information from the official Bakemonogari website. I'll admit that I'm not a patient researcher, though.
But be that as it may - Bakemonogatari is a must-see for anyone who likes entertainment beyond the mainstream.


 Post subject: Re: Bakemonogatari
PostPosted: January 4th, 2010, 5:18 am 
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Joined: March 15th, 2007, 11:57 pm
Posts: 755
Definitely a great show. Although it does throw a lot of random stills at you, which is actually a source of complaints from some people saying that it was lacking animation... the constant conversations and deep topics keeps you on your feet. The DVD releases does remove some of the stills and adds in more animation along with touching up certain scenes however.

There are to be three more net broadcast episodes if I'm correct, and one has already been aired. The broadcasted version does have some degree of closure, but the Tsubasa Cat story is left open and is to be resolved in the net episodes along with another OP.

The series is divided into several story arcs, each focusing upon a certain heroine and comes along with its own unique OP. These OPs are all pretty nice and catchy songs, and also function as character image songs for the heroines as well.

At any rate, it is one of the must watch type of shows if you are tired of the usual stuff that is hanging around.

I do hope that SHAFT adapts more of the -monogatari series. Bakemonogatari is based upon a series of novels by NisiOisin, and there is more than just Bakemonogatari. There is Kizumonogatari which focuses upon the events before Bakemonogatari, namely Araragi and his encounter with Shinobu and how he met Oshino and all that. There is also Nisemonogatariwhich follows after Bakemonogatari, including stories about Araragi's sisters. And more to be released -monogatari stories.

That said, Katanagatari, an unrelated novel series by the same novelist is being adapted into an anime series this coming season. Which I dare say could be an interesting watch depending on how capable the studio handling it is.

The contents of a deranged mind.

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