Well hello once again it’ me, M, here to bring you another review. With the podcast still being made, the video stuff still a bit unfinished, I turn my sights to one of my favorite animation studios Shaft, maker of previous reviewed pieces such as MariaHolic and Madoka Magica. However this time I turn my sights to the Shaftyest piece of shaft animation shaft has ever had a hand in. That being the hit success of Bakemonogatari.
Bakemonogatari was a shaft production back in 2009. Based on a series of books about a young man named Koyomi Araragi who, after surviving a vampire attack, runs into a girl by the name Hitagi Senjogahara who has no weight. The Series eventually becomes a series of Araragi walking into, and then solving, a series of supernatural mysteries. All with an extremely unique style and presentation Shaft is most notable for in its recent works.
Bakemonogatari is another case of a series where I have a thousand things to say, but not really the vernacular or wherewithal to say it. I suppose I should start with the given. This is a shaft production, more than that this is THE shaft production as far as some people are concerned. It’s no surprise that Bakemonogatari is gorgeous, its visual design striking and sound design at its worst interesting and at its best flawless. Shaft has always been one to put most of their efforts in presentation and style, this is something Shaft projects of late all have and something that probably is the truest with Bakemonogatari.
On the flip side unlike its more modern counterpart madoka magica, bakemonogatari doesn’t know when to calm down a bit. It’s not exactly like it’s trying too hard more like a small child you can’t get to calm down for one moment. Though this became easier in later episodes, the first two constantly are jerking around changing shots and angles so rapidly its physically difficult to sit through multiple episodes without feeling a little motion
sick. I would equate it to the feeling of after being punched in the face, that kind of hazy dizziness. I myself had to take a break every episode early on, just to keep from the headaches, but that doesn’t disregard that what I was seeing was breath taking, just uncontrolled and simply too much. Something that I see they learned in madoka which while sharing a lot of the design and look simply remains calm enough for it to be more enjoyed for the wonderful work it is.
Headache inducing in the beginning, but I must say it gets easier to deal with and enjoy for its stylish masterful design. Shaft likes to make art simple as that and every shot in it is art. The understanding of contrasting colors and appropriate usage of CG; simple things like the main character being outlined in red instead of black bring things to life. However, with this trade shaft has always had one very big weakness. Historically as a studio Shaft has always lacked in the story department. Not so much in story premise,
just execution, specifically on the characters. While most characters look and act cool, they often either don't make too much sense or never act in a way real human beings act. This can range from Pani Pani Dash which the story is nonsense, to mariaholic where the characters are nothing, but tropes. Bakemonogatari does suffer through a lot of the same illness in unnatural dialogue, conversations that mean nothing, or too often ending in a circler discussion over, again, nothing. While this is true some of the time the characters have a shocking and pretty incredible amount of depth. Perhaps it has more to do with the original source material, but the MC his girlfriend and the monkey girl all specifically have so many layers of personality that are very normal and human it actually got me choked up from time to time. However, most of the others are just spouting shaft insanity, meaningful and insightful, but so are the ramblings of the insane from time to time.
It’s got some great actiony bits as well as a fine taste in music and design. Looks great and has some very interesting characters with good depth, the MC most of all who seems like a honest to goodness good guy. I don’t like harem set ups, but at least with this the MC it makes sense. He’s a charming good guy who while he has his own temptations always and I mean always does what best for everyone else. All while being modest about it. He strikes me as someone who anyone could like and aspire to be as a person making the fact that quite a few girls like him unsurprising. It helps the harem from being annoying that he has a strong commitment to one girl as apposed to being constantly indecisive. Bonus points as well with being a story that didn’t beat around the bush with its romantic subplot, it progresses appropriately. Something anime needs to do more often.I’ve got a bit more to say about Bakemonogatari, but I’ve reached about where my review length limit is. All in all Bakemonogatari is really cool and really worth just a look even if only watched in parts. While my favorite shaft piece is still madoka this is very much peer to peer with it. Something that’s hard to reach. It’s the type of show that puts a genuine smile on my face. All in all here goes Bakemonogatari with 4 staplers out of 5. Later vice I’m off to check out its sequel, but it sounds like it might be a bit of a disappointment.