Bakemonogatari | The Monogatari Series – Part 1

Hi! Today, we begin our talk on the Monogatari Series. Yes, the Anime series that seems to never have an end. Now just a quick disclaimer, I know there is a particular order to the whole series, but I will be doing my parts based on the year the Anime aired. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Also, since I have many seasons to over, I will just be typing everything and anything that comes to mind. So do not expect the different parts to be broken down by the normal categories of Character, Art, Sound and story. Expect loads of text – you have been warned. Without further ado, let’s begin!

Bakemonogatari is a broken into individual arcs, each focusing a certain character dealing with a supernatural “Oddity.” There is an overarching plot that is delicately threaded throughout each arc. Every character is related to one another either directly or indirectly. Throughout each arc, we learn more about each girl and their specific affliction. In other shows, this would mean long, drawn-out expository dialogue that lacks personality and charisma. However, Bakemonogatari is unlike other anime. Every interaction is interesting due to how well the visuals compliment the dialogue. Although the dialogue seems to meander from time to time, the interactions between characters are always at the very least entertaining. And through these seemingly meaningless conversations, we learn more about their personalities, motivations and personal beliefs. It is all done in a very subtle way so it may take some close attention to catch some of the nuances of the characterization. Bakemonogatari does not try to baby the viewer; it tells you only what you need to know and lets your imagination fill in the gaps.

The quality of writing remains consistent throughout each arc but the show takes a bit of a downward spiral during the Nadeko Snake arc. Not that it is a bad arc as much as it is underwhelming. Sengoku Nadeko is easily the most uninteresting female in the cast. She is timid, shy and cute. She does not have any stand out traits or eccentricities like the other members of the cast. It seems her sole purpose in this arc is to appease fetishists due to her being placed in many compromising positions. She wears school swimsuits and her affliction is the most sexual in nature. The conclusion to this arc also leaves much to be desired but it is only a minor dip in the overall quality of the narrative.

Studio SHAFT has become synonymous with eccentric art and whacky animation, and Bakemonogatari really benefits from SHAFT adapting it. It is a true visual spectacle, using a mixture of different art styles to make conversations much more interesting. Most scenes are vibrant and full of colour and unusual geometric shapes which breathe life into the show. It also uses an interesting blend of typography and simple black and white scenes that really support the tone of the conversations. You could argue that Bakemonogatari’s success is due to the visuals. It truly is a feast for the eyes.

Bakemonogatari features of one of the most intriguing casts of characters I have had the pleasure to watch. However, the crowning achievement of the show has to be Hitagi Senjougahara, the protagonist Araragi’s girlfriend. She is cruel and cynical and never ceases to make Araragi her whipping boy. But that is all a part of her indelible charm. Past her ice-cold exterior, lays a really gooey and lovable center. Her change is gradual but very apparent by the end of the series.

The relationship dynamic between Araragi and Senjougahara is simply a joy to behold. It is free of all usual issues that plague romantic anime: awkward confessions, a melodramatic backstory and a general lack of believability. The development of their relationship is set at a slow but realistic pace. Think of it as a flower in bloom, when it blossoms you can truly appreciate it in all its beauty. Throughout the course of the series, Senjougahara’s presence makes itself known even she is not on-screen. Araragi’s relationship has actively changed his character and influences what decisions he makes. Each encounter also builds upon their relationship and builds an unspoken bond of trust and affection.

The supporting cast of females also serves to facilitate the development of Araragi’s relationship with Senjougahara. While each arc deals with a specific heroine, it very subtly also tackles aspects and issues within any romantic relationship such as miscommunication, jealousy, and infidelity. Every obstacle they face reinforces the strength of their bond.

The supporting cast is not only mere catalysts for the development of Araragi and Senjougahara, but they stand strong by themselves. The cast is composed of the usual harem archetypes: the little sister, the class representative, the loli, and the energetic girl but they are given distinguishable traits that separate them from any other character. For example, take Kanbaru Suruga. Although she falls into the energetic girl archetype, she completely betrays our expectations of what that character should be like. She is not only athletic, but she freely embraces her sexuality by making jokes about it and making advances towards Araragi if only in jest. 

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  1. I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as I have. I have watched the Monogarati franchise 3 times now and each time something sneaks up on me. I’d suggest watching Kizu first as it sets up the entire series in many ways. It is the first in actual anime chronology. I would save Hana for last. Hana is last in chronology, just before Araragi leaves for college. Otherwise, I stick to the broadcast order. There is an official chronology out there but it is much too complicated for this ape’s brain to sort out.

  2. I agree that Nadeko Snake was the least interesting of the characters. OTOH, the same arc makes Kaiki a far more interesting person. He changes from his own version of a snake in the grass to a complex anti-hero. I would prefer to rename this arc Kaikimonogatari with a Snake on the Side. It is really about him.

    The Araragi – Hitagi romance is one of the best-realized love stores I have ever seen in anime and ep. 12 is the very best confession of love ever made.

    Kanbaru is second only to Hitagi in making me fall in love with her. Her character arc is a wonder to behold. From when she is first introduced as an incomplete worshiper and wanna-be lover of Hitagi to the end of Hanamonogatari she literally changes from girl to woman.

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