Bakemonogatari: a celebration of life with ghosts and spirits

I have been highly productive with regard to anime. After waiting about a day reflecting on the second season of Gundam 00, I decided to start viewing (on just a whim) Bakemonogatari. I could not stop watching it, and I realized that it was among the best anime this year has offer. I loved it not because it was trailblazing or totally original like Mononoke; I loved it because aside from its story (which was entertaining enough) it was also stylistically both unique and pleasant. While it borrowed concepts from Mononoke (I thought this was evident enough as I went through the series), xxxHolic and Requiem from the Darkness, it still was original and witty enough to be an excellent watch for this year.

I also loved how the subplots (the different oddities encountered and the person suffering them) contributed to the development of the characters. One can see how Hitagi grows from a callous and totally cold woman to someone who has learned to care for another, but it is a testament to the greatness of the series that Hitagi does not become perfect: she is still verbally abusive and offensive at times, but she usually more than makes up for it with her kind words. There is a similar development among the others featured in the series, with Mayoi, Kanbaru, and Nadeko, who have changed directly or tangentially because of Koyomi’s involvement with them.

Unlike Mononoke, however, the series is of a lighter tone. It still got bloody quite a few times, but the presence of the amusing wordplay, the allusions to memes and other series (the one I found most notable were allusions to Doraemon and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei) contributed to a more jocular series.

I laughed out loud when I saw this. This is quintessential 4chan.

I laughed out loud when I saw this. This is quintessential 4chan.

Finally, the TV ending of the series (of course one knows that there are still three episodes left) was a great culmination of the series. It could be seen that Hitagi has finally opened herself up not merely because she was rid of the oddity that befell her, but because she has truly fallen in love for the first time with our lovable and heroic protagonist. Even if one ended with the 12th episode, one could see that the series has come full circle: it started with Hitagi, and it ended with her as well. From an ice queen she has become transformed into a human, and she has become (despite all her quirks and idiosyncrasies) a woman who loved with all her heart. The emotional aspect of Bakemonogatari (aside from its interesting stories) gives it humanity. It does not dwell on man’s evil but cherishes life, love, and forgiveness, and this gives it an advantage other horror series don’t really possess. 🙂

It hasn’t been the best anime I have ever seen, but I can say that it ranks among the best. In my own, personal ranking it’s probably a 9.25/10.

What did you guys think of Bakemonogatari? Is it utter pretension, or a work of art?

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7 Responses to “Bakemonogatari: a celebration of life with ghosts and spirits”

  1. Ruby Says:

    It was alright, I wouldn’t say it was the best. I had no idea there’s still 3 episodes left xD The storyline and artwork was definitely interesting and good. I just wished they showed more of Hitagi. These type of shows just aren’t my thing, I found it to be boring for some parts. I just don’t like shows with a lot of talking. But I loved the TV ending of it 😀 (except there’s still 3 eps left) ^^

  2. Ryan A Says:

    utter pretension, or a work of art

    XD wide range thar.

    I agree Michael that it’s one of the best this year, though I’m not sure what that mean in overall retrospect. The blend offered much to enjoy, but there was also an interesting, more serious layer (albeit thin) which yielded enough depth to make it reasonably convincing.

    Top 5 of 09 is likely ^^

  3. Baka-Raptor Says:

    Dude, you know I usually like your titles, but you can’t put ghosts and spirits in the same category.

  4. Kairu Says:

    http://animeotaku.animeblogger.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/bakemono_reactionimage-590×331.jpg
    I’m so ashamed when I watched this part because I didn’t laugh. and I don’t know what it was referring to that time. But I do 4chan and I just realized after watching that episode that it was referring to some of /a/’s memes. ;_;

  5. Angelus Says:

    No matter what you thing about Bakemonogatari, it surely stands out as one of the most visually striking works of recent years. I know it has received much criticism for its mainly static artwork (prompting jibes such as “slide-show anime”), and even though this may originally have been, at least in part, driven by the necessities of timescales and budgets, it lets the viewer concentrate on the character interactions. When there is action, the screen explodes with a riot of color like an anarchist’s bomb at a Constructivist art exhibition. And what action – never before have I seen someone disemboweled and swung round by their intestines! But ultimately it’s the meticulously-crafted character development that drives it.

    Pretentious? Perhaps, but that’s a criticism often leveled at things attempting to be new and fresh. I think I’ll reserve judgement until the DVDs are out, because then we’ll see it more the way it was intended to be in the first place, rather than how it was forced to be by circumstance. Regardless of that, though, Bakemonogatari is a brave attempt to use animation the way it should be used.

    (BTW, the meme is 2ch’s “gaijin 4koma”, but of course adopted by 4chan)

  6. Michael Says:

    Angelus:

    Yeah, it is one of my most aesthetically avant-garde among recent anime I’ve seen. It takes a lot from Mononoke, but it remains to be visually unique. It has a lot of static artwork, but I’ve accepted that as a limitation of budget. Nevertheless, it remains to be an excellent show even with a lot of that, which I believe is a testament of its ingenuity. The character interactions are also very well done, which is why I love it.

    I thought ef was pretentious because it was bathetic. There is, in my humble opinion, no bathos in this series. There is just emotion, kindness and pathos.

    Thanks for that heads-up. 😉

    Kairu:

    Well, we miss things sometimes. I’m sure people more versed with the current memes of 2ch and 4chan got a lot more from the show than I did.

    Baka-Raptor:

    My bad, I guess?

    Ryan A:

    For the time being it’s among my top three. 😀 (But I haven’t watched much, haha!)

    Ruby:

    I like shows which focus on dialogue and character development. But it still had enough action as it was. I can’t wait for the three episodes left! 😀

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