Turambar (Level 10)

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Bakemonogatari is a very visually unique show. Like many other works by Akiyuki Shinobu, it frantically injects different and purposefully jarring animation styles together, making every moment chocked full of fan service goodness not just of the sexual kind. More than simply to look pretty however, there is a common theme of isolation and sparseness to the aesthetics of the show in every facet imaginable. It is appearant in its environment design, its cast, and even the opening and ending songs. All of this helps given the show a very lonely and empty feel that helps make the story told a far more intimate one.

The most obvious things are the environment designs, so lets take a look at that first. Bakemonogatari takes place in a city, one that we can expect to be full of people going about their daily lives. However, the show negates that expectation by rarely if ever showing its inhabitants. The streets are devoid of traffic. No bikes and pedestrians are never seen while the number of cars passing by through out the entire series can be counted on the fingers of on hand. Yet more distinct is the school setting it self. The school: one the biggest concentrations of people in an area is devoid of other students. Shots of Araragi's classroom is always of only him and the class rep Tsubasa Hanekawa. Even in the first episode, during a conversation between them that one can only assume takes place after school given the state of the classroom, even as the camera drifts between shots of the other areas of the school like the athletic field and the swimming pool, they are all still eerily devoid of people.

Shots like the above, that slow panning of empty terrain from the first episode, further emphasizes its emptiness and isolation by adding the background noise of a regular school filled with conversation and movement. It sounds nearby and all encompassing, but the scenery is devoid of any beings. The show wants you to feel the isolation the characters feel: that their problems with apparitions are not something anyone else can deal with. It does so marvelously.

Just like the environments are devoid of people, the same can be said for the cast of characters. There are 11 characters in total that have both faces and voices. 3 of them are minor and have mere minutes of screen time. The rest are composed of Araragi and those that find themselves wrapped up in the business of apparitions. Every scene gives full attention to only the cast at hand and neither they nor the viewer is given a chance to be distracted by those that can be called normal.

The opening song sequences lend even more to the focus. The episodes drift between characters whose issues Araragi help resolve and the OP changes, each one custom made in both song and animation for that character. Senjougahara has the OP with the dancing staplers and...well, I won't spoil the rest for those following along with Nick Robinson's write-ups.

Though I can't say the rest can match up to the hot saucy stapler on stapler action that Senjougahara's theme offers.

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