Review: ‘Bakemonogatari’ [Anime]

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by Marlan M., staff editor, Inside AX – Anime Expo

I have a confession to make.

I sometimes base what anime I watch on how many syllables are in the title. And with Bakemonogatari coming in at a whopping seven syllables, I knew I was in for a treat!

Seriously though, Bakemonogatari is a great series. It does a fine job of balancing the procedural aspects of curing people of curses, gods, ghosts, and the like, and the overarching story of the budding relationship between main character Koyomi Araragi and Hitagi Senjyogahara (as well as love triangles that blossom).The series focuses on Koyomi, who at one point in his life was almost turned into a vampire, as he helps his friends (more specifically, female friends) with their own supernatural afflictions.

I was surprised at how well the series handled adolescent relationships. Unlike most anime, Bakemonogatari doesn’t focus on the “will they, won’t they” period of the protagonist’s relationship, allowing the series to focus on Koyomi’s actual relationship instead. Not often do you get to see the guy and girl already together somewhat awkwardly figuring each other out and trying to find a balance in their relationship. It was a nice change of pace and one I would welcome more often. It was also nice seeing this relationship from the guy’s point of view.

The demons and gods and what-have-you that Koyomi must contend with are always interesting, and put a new spin on old ideas. One arc, for example, is a new take on the classic idea of a “monkey’s paw” that grants wishes for a price. And the symbolic relationship between the affliction itself and the afflicted character’s problem adds another layer to the story. Mayoi, for example, is a little girl afflicted by a snail that keeps her from ever getting home. Much like the spiral of the snail’s shell, Mayoi constantly goes in circles, always winding up at the beginning of her journey no matter which direction she takes.

There are also these great moments where nothing is really happening and it’s just Koyomi talking to another character in a quick-witted back-and-forth. And when I say nothing’s happening, I mean nothing’s happening. It’s the two characters talking while beautiful scenery and animation is shown of the surrounding area.

Bakemonogatari has a lot going for it. It’s got a somewhat mature grasp of adolescent behavior and relationships, it has supernatural stories reminiscent of X-Files or The Twilight Zone, and some really fantastic dialog. It’s as if the creators watched some of the best paranormal/psychological shows out there, then watched something like My Dinner with Andre (which is literally just two hours of philosophical dialogue) or Waking Life and decided to make a show that took the best of both worlds.  And, you know, sprinkled in a little Boy Meets World or Wonder Years in for good measure. If you’re a fan of supernatural mysteries, then this is definitely one series worth checking out.

Bakemonogatari is now streaming on Hulu and Crunchyroll, and will be available to own on Blu-Ray November 20th.

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