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.
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?