Hello and welcome to the G-Views, where creativity is respected and Dokuro-chan is rejected…and IT;S THE 100TH EPISODE!
Corny, yes but I love classical music, deal with it.
Anyway, on with the review. As my fans and those who follow my reviews know, I’m a big fan of SHAFT and have enjoyed most of their work. The only one I think is the least popular is Negima?!, which I’ll probably sometime in the future. For now it’s time to talk about the show I’ve chosen for the 100th episode. What better show than one of Shaft’s strangest, yet epic works, Bakemonogatari.
Genres: action, comedy, mystery, psychological, romance, slice of life, supernatural
Themes: dark comedy, fanservice, harem, magic and occult, spirits, vampires
Number of episodes: 12 + 3 ONAs
Plot Summary: Although there are still traces of the brief period he became a vampire, third year high school student Koyomi Araragi is human again. He happens upon others with their own supernatural problems and finds that he can empathize. Koyomi becomes involved in their lives, seeking to help them and occasionally asking for advice from Meme Oshino, the homeless man who helped him become human again.
The series tends to introduce only one new heroine per chapter, each involved with a different “apparition”. Most of them have an item which symbolizes their specters, such as Hitagi’s stapler – the claw of a crab.
These apparitions are associated with different myths, legends and written literature. If you’re interested, look them up after watching each separate case.
The series primarily focuses on conversations between characters; it contains a fair number of parodies of other series, as well as Nisio Isin’s trademark word play and metahumor. This is Shaft’s specialty as many of their more popular shows use this style of comedy while adding important conversations with some sort of punchline at the end. Let’s put it this way, if you watched Zetsubou-sensei and enjoyed it, then you should have no problem watching this show. If you haven’t and are completely new to this kind of comedy, then perhaps the supernatural elements and the way each character deals with the apparitions plaguing their lives should entice you to keep watching. If neither of these work, then I guess this show isn’t for you.
Now like I described above, this is basically a show about one guy who goes around and helps solve the problems of different girls who have had troubled or tragic pasts. These have affected the girls’ personality in a negative manner, causing them to naturally react in a hostile manner toward our “hero” (emphasis on the word hero). These problems have to do with for example, family issues, personal struggles or painful experiences. It’s up to the male lead to endure the perils he gets himself into while convincing the girls to accept his assistance, eventually discovering the root of the problem and how to remove said root. This review will focus on minor tidbits about each girl’s personality and a little bit about their problem without spoiling too much. After all, where’s the fun in ruining the excitement of discovering the source and solution?
To describe this person would be quite simple: a bitch with a sharp tongue during her troubled period, who becomes a less troubled girl with a sharp tongue. The funny thing is that it’s not her personality but her sharp tongue that makes her so popular. This very fact will follow her throughout the entire series as she manipulates all with her sharp tongue and “puppet strings”. Heck even when she’s not around and someone else delivers a message from her, Araragi and the viewer can still feel her “evil” from miles away. I would label her as the “embodiment of evil” and a diabolical woman who is well aware of her human abilities and will stop at nothing to unleash them on her victim(s) and that’s what makes her so awesome. Oh and in her debut she comes equipped with an assortment of office utensils inside her clothing which of course includes her trademark stapler.
As for her problem: She is nearly weightless because of her encounter with a Crab-like god who took away all her weight. Why the crab appeared in front of her has to do with a certain issue involving a cult…
2nd customer: Mayoi Hachikuji
Difficulty: EasyCatchphrase: “Sorry, I stuttered.” Usually followed after saying Araragi wrong.
Her problem involves finding her way to mom’s house. The mystery lies in why she can’t find it and Araragi himself.
3rd Customer: Suruga Kanbaru
An athletic young lady who’s chipper, positive but can quickly change her mood to a more serious tone. She holds a secret that involves a certain someone. 2nd favorite character on the show because of her mood swings. you can never tell when she will switch from a fun and energetic young lady to an intense being. there are…other reasons why I like her a lot as a character but I’ll leave that to the audience to find out.
Her problem involves difficulties fitting in, inner conflicts and unrequited love. Oh, and a monkey’s paw.
4th Customer: Nadako Sengoku
Her problem involves a curse, snakes and past social issues.
Catchphrase: Araragi;”You sure do know everything.”
Hanekawa; “I don’t know everything, I just know what I know.”
This one is a rather special case which I don’t exactly intend to say anything about her. you have to see her to understand her. It might seem quite simple at first but it gets more interesting as it develops. After all, her case is the longest of all the girls, spanning 5 episodes including the 3 bonus OVAs.
Animation: Like most of Shaft’s work for example, Zetsubou-sensei, Soredomo, Arekawa etc. BMG’s art style might seem low budget to some (Because it kind of is at first glance) but its variation and usage of multiple screens with different meanings, text referencing the light novels, flashback dialogues, Araragi’s thoughts, telephone discussions, symbolic messages and other things thrown here and there is what makes it endearing to watch. In short, “In short, surreal imagery, typographic art, and frequent cuts to text and photographs.” One thing that both amuses and confuses me is why certain Shaft shows have a tendency of having their characters’ necks on the side as if they’re pondering something? Maybe that’s the point but it’s just nitpicking on my part. Other things you’ll notice are multiple close-up shots of the characters. the fanservice aspect comes from the camera often starting from the bottom to the middle and sometimes the top when focusing on the women.
As mentioned in the themes, this show can get pretty violent in some occasions so take heed before watching. It can get pretty gruesome sometimes.
Music: 5 different OPs for each customer. you pick which ones you like best. As for the show’s own soundtrack, it’s varied enough to both amuse during conversations, calm down when there’s important conversations going on and set the mood for an ominous event when the tension rises.
Koyomi Araragi: The main protagonist of the show. If it weren’t for the fact that he’s voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya (One of my all time fav male seiyuus) there’s really not much noteworthy about this guy. He’s your basic reckless, nosy, half-witted guy who wants to help others because he can’t ignore something fishy when it arises. He’s like a combination of Ash Ketchup and Naruto Uzumaki in his early years. He’s not a bad guy but there’s really not much that impresses the viewer other than his sense of justice I suppose. He’s not bad, just not that interesting.
However, the prequel may shed some light as to the events that took place during Spring when Araragi had to face many dangers and perils in order to survive a war against a vampire that he encountered and is referenced in the 1st episode and periodically during the rest of the series.
Meme is a middle-aged man who lives in an abandoned building. Koyomi calls him “psychedelic aloha guy”. Being an expert in the apparitions field, he solves Koyomi and others’ problems, although with compensation. His catchphrase is “You are really energetic, did something good happen?”
This guy’s awesome because of the fact that he can easily solve all the problems without ever raising a finger to resort to violence unless the situation is much more dire than expected.
Shinobu is a girl who lives with Meme in the abandoned building. She appears to be an eight year old girl, but she was originally a beautiful vampire who had lived for more than 500 years. Not much is revealed about her other than she is the “nobody” of the vampire whom Araragi fought during that fateful Spring, except that she looks at men and women differently. Apparently Araragi gains a power boost once he lets her suck his blood. According to sources, her past along with Araragi’s will be revealed in the upcoming prequel.
The cool thing about most of the characters is that putting the supernatural, fanservice, wordplay and metahumor elements aside, the troubles these girls went going through are quite realistic. Not once did I feel like the burden they were carrying was a fabricated dingy that could be easily solved by themselves, well they could but it would be quite difficult to do so. The mixed emotions that go through some of them and the time it takes to completely heal their inner and outer wounds is believable. That gets major bonus points from me. Why I didn’t give this show a higher rating, because I feel that it could have been superior had it received more episodes because some characters feel like they shouldn’t be there in the 1st place or were merely added for the fans and nothing more.
In conclusion: If you like Shaft’s animation, humor and are intrigued by supernatural occurrences and fascinating ladies, then give this a try. For those who aren’t into this form of humor and the plot isn’t enough to keep you watching, then you know where the exit is located.
Keep in mind that this is far from being the last G-View I’ll ever write. There are many more currently in the works and ready to be uploaded for all my fans and others to read. Be on the lookout for I’ll definitely look up some of the ongoing shows and the good ones I missed last year and further back.
Also, I have a special one year anniversary G-View planned for this August. It’s a classic and one of my personal favs in anime history. Look forward to it as well. Thank you all for your comments, criticisms and opinions and until the next G-View, this is the OG-Man, signing off.