|Nisemonogatari: The Harem Genre Revisisted… Revisited||2 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
Disclaimer: This review is written by someone who has not read the light novels. Of course there are nuances that only those who are aware of can appreciate.
Covered in a thin veil of short stories about the supernatural is a non-traditional harem. Branching off its predecessor, “Bakemonogatari,” this season starts with main character Araragi Koyomi and his interaction with the same cast of “more than normal” girls. The plot of this series mainly deals with the main character’s two younger sisters, Tsukihi and Karen, and how the supernatural affects their brother-sister relationships. However, the series does little to advance the narrative between Araragi (main character) and the rest of the female cast (aside from the numerous bouts of implied sexual activity). In a way, the series' devotion to fan-service is one of the only things that Nisemonogatari and other harems share in common.
I have always suggested that art direction and art quality are great barometers for the freshness of an anime series. A series that has dedication to style does not come often. Nisemonogatari borrows most of its radical design and cinematography from Bakemonogatari, that is to say: physics defying buildings, avant-garde house décor, and a unique attention to detail on character design. Whenever a character goes on for a brief monologue, you can expect your eyes to be bombarded with whatever the artists have facetiously inserted into the filler gaps. While indeed it is a beautiful way of expressing tone, it is not necessary. Rather, my main complaint is that it is distracting if anything, but I understand that this hyperbolic set design is a key feature in this anime and it is still one of few reasons why you should watch this.
I have said above that the series mainly focuses on Araragi’s two sisters. It is not only me that finds it a little guilty to admit that one of the most electric scenes of the series is between the main character and his bigger, younger sister. It is this unabashed and brazen courage to discuss the intricacies of a brother-sister relationship that has been generating a healthy buzz amongst viewers. Tackling these difficult to explain emotions is what separates this series from its comtemporaries. Usagi Drop, a recent anime that had decided omit such topics from its source material altogether, is an example of "playing it safe," something that publisher, Shaft, has probably forgotten how to do. The fan service is as boundary defying as the romance troupes, with a large emphasis on feet, teeth, and hair.
All 11 episodes feel inspired. Everyone inside is a unique and special, supernatural phenomenon—what an egalitarian thought. This series asks a tough question in one of the episodes: Which is worth more: the real thing or the indistinguishable fake? It is thoughts and questions such as these that make Nisemonogatari is not only beautiful, but also intelligent.
As much as this anime harps on the imperfect and the fake, there is something that is seemingly missing from this series. That is to say, It can be boring and drag unnecessarily long at times. You can say that this is a product of Nisemonogatari ’s characterization and the fact that many of the characters speak in these flat and lifeless metaphors. But by the end of the day, this monotony it is a problem that cannot be fixed with pretty pictures. A lot of the times I would find myself not enjoying it, even though there is a lot in this series to love. For this reason alone, it is hard to justify a 4/5, where I would really put this series between 3.5 and 4.
I rounded up the score because I think that while Nisemonogatari has forgotten important things such as cohesiveness and discretion, it more than makes up for it with an unrivaled devotion to story-telling.