Gee, I wonder.
Note: This is not a hate post. It’s a post about extreme doubt and ambivalence.
So, um, confession time. I don’t like Bakemonogatari. It is not a show that agrees with me.
Even so, I wanted to write about it. I don’t normally feel compelled to write about something I actively dislike, but in Bakemonogatari’s case, the whole package intrigues me. It intrigues me enough that I would watch every single season and still be caught up deciding whether it’s worthwhile or not. I don’t like any of the characters and the art strikes me as gimmicky and only occasionally brilliant. But there is something about this anime that keeps me coming back to it.
Mostly, I’m baffled: how can a story that is so self-serving and pretentious – that goes out of its way to exclude its audience – become such a mainstream hit?
I mean, sure you might answer that with “It’s the fanservice” or “It’s because of Senjougahara” or something like that, and while that’s fair enough, I am convinced there must be deeper reasons that I cannot get my head around yet.
Is it because it’s deep? Because it’s artistic?
If that is the case, then I cannot say that I agree with that.
Fundamentally, I see Bakemonogatari as a story full of lies. It pretends to be something that it’s not. Oh yes, that’s the point of fiction, but for a show that’s carried by dialogue, the characters talk a whole load of nothing. It’s self-aware, but a story that builds itself entirely around being self-referential lacks its own soul. I find this all difficult to reconcile with in my head. It’s hollow, bullshit art – lies feigning at truth.
As a writer, I think I can understand the appeal in something like this, though. Bakemonogatari is every author’s little pet project, whether you write it in your head or on paper. There is a certain amount of cleverness and wit in it, and I can sense the fun Nisio Isin must have had in coming up with this. But on those same terms, I would never want a story like this published. For me, at least, it’s too personalised, the conflicts too unrelatable, despite the characters having understandable problems.
I’m struggling because, well, I want to like this show. If I dissect the different elements, it’s an anime that should work for me. But the way these aspects work together in unison makes the atmosphere feel detached, clinical even, and I find it difficult to care about what’s happening. I have no qualms about liking harems and even some deeply sexist stories (often in spite of themselves), but Bakemonogatari is a work that wants to be taken seriously, and I just can’t approach it on its own terms. It’s frustrating. I come up against roadblocks every time I try to work out an interpretation that can help me enjoy it for what it is.
There’s only one angle that I think comes close to working for me. Perhaps the point of Bakemonogatari is that it is a smug, pretentious, “classy” fanservice show. You can ogle hot anime chicks and feel smart for doing so. I understand this. It’s not a bad thing. After all, while I too am driven by my lower half, I like to think I have a brain and I have often been frustrated by fanservice shows treating me like an idiot. So I suppose I am not that different from Arararagi or whatever kind of author/audience stand-in he is meant to represent.
But is this it, though? Am I still missing something? I know I’m not the only person who dislikes Monogatari, but could it also be that I’m not giving the show a fair chance? If I can’t bring myself to respect this show as “art”, where does that leave me? Probably the most fascinating thing about it is that it does challenge the line between high and low art, even if it does make itself terribly inaccessible.
So we come back to the popularity question. Why do people like Bakemonogatari? While I don’t think popularity is ever an accurate measure of quality, it does tell me that this series has really resonated with some people, and I’m directing the question of this post to those fans. I’m not going to look down or diss your reasoning if you like it. I’m genuinely curious; I just want to come to grips with this series a little better.
How do you feel about Bakemonogatari? Whether you like it or not, what do you think makes it so popular?
Serious answer: Never bothered questioning why people like Cock-o-monogatari b/c it’s all taste at the end of the day. As long as they don’t deny it’s a wish fulfillment harem with waaaaaaayyyyy too much meandering dialogue, that’s fine. Plus I burned myself out with Valvrave.
Non-serious answer: Cock-o-monogatari has a special power to blind most people to awesomeness. Fuck current-day Shinbo and his pedophilic bullcrap. Why do people like you?
Personally, I think claiming “It’s just taste” really kills a discussion. Even if it is “just taste”, I always find myself curious to learn about what sort of values/observations go into that taste, you know?
Your non-serious answer made me laugh out loud :P
Hey don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge hater of that awful “it’s fun. Isn’t that enough?’ bullcrap that people use as a defense. I don’t mean you can just say “it’s just taste” and call it a day. However, I’ve seen a lot of people say they love the girls, the animation style, the dialogue, etc. As long as they don’t deny what I see, then I could care less. On the flipside, I’m really not a fan of people going “I hate this. Why don’t you?” and all that jazz.
‘Course, that’s mostly because my taste exists in some outlier that people without my brain damage can’t understand. And I pity them :P
whats with the cussing dude? Senjougahara is overrated. I mean the character is so freaking dull. Nearly throughout the entire anime, the character shows no emotion in her voice or her expression. I mean this is the dullest anime character I have ever seen. And even the other characters show no change in their expression or voice.
I agree with what you said a thousand times over. While I can kinda see her allure, Senjougahara is way overrated.
It is just a matter of taste. I love bakemonogatari because i love the characters, especially Arararagi, I love the unusual gimmicky art style and I have no problems with the meandering dialogue and the quirky girls. The show isn’t particularly deep but it does have a lot more substance than the typical harem show and even when it does use cliches and tropes it does it in style. I was surprised that the show turned out to be largely about Arararagi and that he had such a strong personality because normally harem leads are so bland you barely know they exist and the girls are the ones who make the show while they inexplicably fall all over the harem lead. It is different with Arararagi. I could see why the girls would like or hate him or like and hate him and I enjoyed the subtle changes in his outlook over the course of the show.
I am not even remotely interested in the sequel. I don’t think there is anything more that can be done with his character and the girls don’t interest me on their own. However I am very much interested in the stories that fill in the story holes in Bakemonogatari like Nekomonogatari black and Kizumonogatari. I see Nisemonogatari as fanservice, sort of like a DVD only OVA to thank the fans. It has that unfocused rambling fanservicey feel. Although I think I could do with a short OVA starring Deishuu KAIKI, that was a fun villain.
You shouldn’t struggle to like a show. You shouldn’t try to force it. Either you like a show or you don’t. It bothers me that I don’t like popular shows like Attack on Titan or Future Diary or shows that would normally be right up my alley like Shin Seki Yori or Psychopass but in the end I don’t like them. Forcing it will only make me and whoever is listening to my rant miserable.
11 episodes seems like an awfully long allotment for that kind of thing ;)
Makes me wonder if my rant in this post made people miserable!
But really, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t think I’ll ever love Bakemonogatari. It doesn’t mean I can’t come to understand it or learn something about it, though. So thank you for the honest, thorough response. Your answer was very enlightening!
I feel pretty much the same way you do. There are parts of this show that facinate me (the art style, the dialogue that can say so much without getting anywhere at all) which is why I’m still watching, yet as a whole I’m pretty ambivelent on it. There’s also the fact that I’m a straight female, so the fanservice does nothing for me (except for the rare Araragi manservice). With the recent shower scene, I just raised an eyebrow and hit fast-forward.
Question for you: as a straight female, how do you see Araragi as a potential boyfriend? If, say, he was going out with one of your friends, would you approve of him? Personally, he strikes me as a bit of a creep, but I’m curious to know what a real girl thinks of him.
In the first season, where the perviness was mostly coming from the camera, I saw him as a dedicated, nice guy whose primary concern was keeping the people important to him safe, so I saw him as a good boyfriend then. From Nisemonogatari on, he’s shown himself to be a closet pedophile and a creep, so my opinion of him has greatly diminished. But I did marathon Bake and Nise back-to-back when I first saw them, so that particular change stuck out more to me.
I find the Monogatari series to be one of the most deeply frustrating pieces of fiction I have ever encountered. I have never felt quite so ambivalent to something as I do with this franchise. I’ll give a proper comment explaining why later, but right now it’s 3 am where I am and I’m barely functioning, so I’ll save that for when I can think straight.
So for now, I’ll just say cool post, I dig the idea behind it.
It’s okay, I did the next best thing and read your blog. For other people who may be browsing through the comments of this post, here’s a handy link: http://anotherbloodyanimeblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/authentically-inauthentic-or-inauthentically-authentic-everything-i-love-and-hate-about-nisemonogatari/
Ah, proactive as ever, froggykun. My feelings towards the Monogatari series evolve with each iteration. To be honest, despite my misgivings with parts of Bake, I’m happy such an unusual, clever anime exists, and would defend it to the end. The iterations of the franchise since Bake tend to be where things really get unstuck for me, as the undesirable elements often outweigh the parts I really like.
It often lets its penchant for sexual fantasy obstruct, or actively hurt the deeper thematic elements. I guess for me it largely comes down to whether or not a piece of fiction can be good despite debasing its female characters (and, for that matter, protagonist). Normally my answer to that question would be an overwhelming “NO”, but Bake may be the only exception to this rule.
To really zero in on why I like it, I guess more than anything it gvies us something we can’t get anywhere else. Its method of presenting personal stories and philosophical/social musings in the form of fantastical encounters is probably closest to, of all things, Kino’s Journey. There’s layer upon layer of thematic interpretation for each arc (well, most of them), and the characters are similarly complex and multi-faceted in their motivations. For this reason I loved reading ghostlightning’s analyses of Bake: http://ghostlightning.wordpress.com/category/analysis/bakemonogatari-analysis-2/
and Nise: http://ghostlightning.wordpress.com/category/analysis/nisemonogatari/
Shaft’s art style and direction just compound this unique, layered feel. I honestly find the Monogatari franchise to be the most aesthetic in all of anime, and yeah, the split-second cuts to pieces of written narration get tedious at points, but it really concentrates the content, making each episode a lot more dense than they would otherwise be. Oh, the soundtrack’s absolutely fantastic too, that never hurts.
How did you find the show’s sense of humor?
The one thing that sticks with me about this show, or at least Bakemonogatari, is that Isin chose to use manzai to drive the meandering dialogue. At the time I watched it back in 2009, I didn’t know what manzai was, much less the meanings of boke and tsukkomi. I figured that all of the jokes being tossed around represented not the author’s misuse of characterization but instead the characters’ sharp wit. “Oh my,” I thought. “This show is incredibly witty.” The visuals managed to emulate a manzai routine’s fickle, rapid-fire nature to the point of being scary. Nevermind that I hadn’t realized this show was a harem in disguise, nor did I ever predict it would go as far as to start sexualizing lolis and imoutos, but what I saw in Bakemonogatari back then was well-established characterization, even though each episode was nothing more than long conversations chock-full with the kind of humor that clicked with me.
Maybe what I’m saying is that I came into this show without realizing that there were a shitload of typical harem tropes being exploited “ironically”, and I ended up coming out of the experience for the better. I’m sure there are people who still like this show despite being aware of this, but my impression of people who don’t like this show is that they clearly see the characters and art style, yet they’re so familiar with the story elements that it ruins immersion, If anything, you might dislike this show because you’re too familiar with everything about it.
Let’s go hypothetical. Say that you like macaroni and cheese. Say that you also like oysters, mustard, and hot chocolate. Now mix them together and consume it. Did you like it? Was there anything in there you could appreciate? In your case, of course not! Cheese rarely goes well with seafood, much less oysters! Why the hell would you put mustard in hot chocolate? What’s with all these macaroni bits in something you’re supposed to drink? In fact, are you supposed to drink it or chew on it?
That’s basically the impression I have from your post, and your impression of people who like Bakemonogatari. The story elements conflict with the presentation at a gut level because you feel they shouldn’t be put together. However, for people unaware (or aware) of this discrepency and consume the product and enjoy it, that thing becomes an ideal.
Do people like Senjougahara because she’s smart and witty while being playfully sadistic at times? Or do people like her for being a glorified sexy kuudere haremette manzai routine that’s also sexy?
You see how that can get in the way of enjoying things?
This is actually perfect (or at least I agree with you 100%).
In your example, I’d say that the people who enjoy the show boil down to two types of people. Those who don’t realize you aren’t supposed to eat macaroni and cheese with oysters, mustard, and hot chocolate (or that the other elements are included), or those who don’t mind the strange mix (and instead really enjoy it!). I’d classify myself in the latter category, but it’s a fantastic example of the weirdness that is Bakemonogatari.
I certainly hope it is. Because…
…it’s a matter of taste.
Good question. There were chuckle-worthy moments in the dialogue. Scenes driven by Araragi’s perverseness made me laugh or cringe, but mostly both.
Gonna have to agree with joshspeagle here and say that your analogy was absolutely perfect. It may indeed be my own self-awareness that has been dragging my whole experience down.
Another thing, on a related note. While Nisemonogatari’s release has caused fans to get more critical, when Bakemonogatari first came out, it really was completely original. The changing views on Monogatari might well be related to the changing fandom expectations in general. I did watch Bakemonogatari in 2012, after Nisemonogatari had aired and after I’d seen a good deal of “meta” light novel adaptation anime. So perhaps if I’d seen it at the right time in my life, it would have had a more positive impact on me. Who knows?
Concerning Nisemonogatari, I personally felt that it was more lecherous/exploitative and lest earnest (which is ironic) than Bake, like the insane success had gone to Shinobo’s head, and that put a damper on my experience. Although that may be Nisio Isin’s fault, or perhaps I’m just imagining things.
I do find it interesting that Nisemonogatari is coming off as less “earnest”, seeing as one of the main takeaways of the show seemed to be a discussion over that exact concept, the focus of the power/genericness of fetishization, and the ideas of simulacra.
Or maybe I’m just being meta about the meta-fandom’s reaction to the show being meta about it’s meta-awareness, just to justify liking THAT toothbrush scene (and consequently the entire anime, of course).
This comment said a lot of what I wanted to say about why I love the Bakemonogatari series. I think that there is a lot of misunderstanding that comes from a series like this, that is targeted towards a Japanese audience, in a way that Western viewers who don’t have any experience with those aspects of Japanese culture may find irritating and/or incomprehensible.
The Japanese language has a very different construction than Western languages (most of which are Germanic- or Latin- descended, or like English, an unapologetic mutt); it has a lack of clarity built into it by nature, to a point where if you don’t understand the context (sometimes even requiring the speaker to make their intended words explicit, often by drawing the intended kanji in the air for the viewer to understand), you won’t understand what is being said.
A lot of Japanese humor focuses on this fact, that it’s very easy to make puns, double entendres, and even leave your listener confused accidentally, which is what the ‘manzai’ comedy form capitalizes on… if you read seriously about traditional geisha, you will learn that there is a disconnect there for Westerners, most of whom assume they are just well-dressed and exotically made-up prostitutes — however, a huge part of a geisha’s training was witty and clever banter, which few Westerner’s could even grasp, not knowing the language or understanding the culture, but for Japanese men, part of the appeal was having a place where they could go and relax and have entertaining conversation with a woman (which was a rarity in their culture in the heyday of the geisha); anyways, if you don’t understand or appreciate this, you won’t understand much of the humor of Bakemonogatari, and it will leave you thinking of it as ‘smug and pretentious’.
Another interesting article I read about appreciating the fanservice in Nisemonogatari is here:http://wrongeverytime.com/2013/04/14/nisemonogatari-and-the-nature-of-fanservice/ , for anyone interested.
I was going to make a comment but this is so goddamned genius. :/
You, sir, have earned yourself a blog follower.
It’s the dialog, it’s fun. I think it’s fun at least, but I know that not everyone can get into it the way I do. I think Shinbo is a big part of why it’s become so popular. The directing for the series is fantastic, but it is still a dialog and sometimes inner monologue driven thing. If you don’t like those things then this probably isn’t the show for you.
Should I or shouldn’t I comment on art… fuck it I will.(Hopefully this won’t come across as super pretentious) Personally I think it’s a bad idea to base the notion of good or bad art around your personal feelings on something.(which I think you may already agree with from what I’ve read of your blog) If I stop and think about it a moment I could start calling classical art bad art just because it doesn’t mean anything to me. That logic falls apart fast.
I think asking is Monogatari good art or bad art is somewhat of a misguided question. The only way to give a measured answer to that question is to ask how successful it was and even then that has many different subjective meanings that don’t really benefit what you are looking for here.
Why do people like Monogatari? I know from the debates I’ve had with people on this subject that many of the reasons I like the series are the same reasons other people hate it. What I’ve heard people call “meandering dialogue” is often what makes me love the show so much. What some people find offensive I find amusing.
Maybe you are simply thinking about it too hard? For what it’s worth I’ve never really understood why people have such a hard time with this show.(short of being offended by it which is a decent amount of the people who don’t like it I guess) It’s a good show because it has fun dialog, amusing characters and amazing directing. It never was deep despite what some people have said about it.
I will attempt to answer your question: I think that Monogatari is popular because it’s clever, creative and titillating and I think that is a is a far more accurate way to describe what Monogatari is than calling it deep or thought-provoking. Things like being deep and thought-provoking are really more reactions to the show that some people have than what the show itself is all about. If you don’t feel that way about it yourself then you shouldn’t try to figure it out by watching the show. I can understand your frustration as what you seem to be looking for isn’t really there, but in my opinion that’s not a fault in the illusion or art, it’s a mirror of the fandom.
Hmmm, interesting. My take is that the distinctions between high and low art do exist and they’re there to be played with. Perhaps my problem was that it was presented to me – through the fandom or through its own artsy style or whatever – as ‘high art’ and I had difficulty reconciling that image with what I saw. I then had difficulty figuring out what it was really trying to be. Although the assumption of ‘high art’ in itself doesn’t necessarily mean the assumption of quality – you are right. I guess I was more angry at having my basic expectations toyed with more than anything.
I’m thinking this could well be the case. The reaction one has to this series is purely visceral. So no matter how much I want to understand it, I don’t think it will ever “click” with me. Which is disappointing! But in the end, at least I managed to still get a lot out of this, so no harm done :)
I came to the conclusion that Bakemonogatari is something like the Quentin Tarantino of anime. Most people would think of Baccano when they hear Tarantino, but let me explain: I think Nisio Isin, pretty much like Quentin, likes to write characters and dialogs which are very self-aware and like to break the fourth wall. Basically, the characters in Bakemonogatari feel like anime characters who know themself that they are just anime characters (in a meta way). While I like such an approach to writing, it can alienate some viewers who prefer their characters more down to earth and somewhat realistic. However, the problems start when the anime takes itself seriously and I think this is exactly what this show makes it a bit odd (maybe unbalanced is a better term ?). I don’t think the show is pretentious, just very eccentric and that’s why I keep on watching. In defense of Bakemonogatari, I think the show does a way better job at this than Medaka Box. Makes me wonder if you have tried Katanagatari ?
I’ve tried Medaka Box and Katanagatari. Neither of them sat well with me either. Oh dear, maybe I just have something against Nisio Isin’s writing in general? :)
Also, interesting comparison you have there. I think Guardian Enzo said something very similar about Shinbo.
“Also, interesting comparison you have there. I think Guardian Enzo said something very similar about Shinbo.”
– Not kidding. When I saw Nisemonogatari for the first time, it reminded me so much of Quentin’s DeathProof: A lot of hot chicks, trivial dialogs about everything and a lot of style. I think it’s a valid comparison.
I’ve learned a long time ago that everyone have different sensibilities.
Bakemonogatari draws out that point very clearly.
you see a self serving story full of its self but honestly, I see a story full of whimsy. It’s drowning in conversation, never endless distractions and misleads yet its still able to present a compelling story founded by supernatural elements. it’s unique and well thought out albeit confusing but confusing to a certain degree that its actually a part of the charm. I never even considered the fan service. The supernatural stories by themselves excites me. :)
A really interesting point! I have to admit that the way the supernatural elements come together in the plot can be very elegant.
I still haven’t gotten around to watching Bakemonogatari, although it’s been on my ever-growing must-watch list for quite some time now. (I’ll get there… eventually.) While I know they have no relation in terms of story, I have seen Nisio’s Katanagatari and very much enjoyed it – that alone is probably enough to ensure I see Bakemonogatari at some point – although the amount of discussion and debate that the latter has sparked within the anime fandom certainly doesn’t hurt my curiosity.
Maybe it’s got that Seinfield appeal? Sometimes people just like to watch a show about nothing.
Not that Bake is nothing, things happen and progress but…yeah, dialogue-wise, I guess.
Personally I just like the entire cast and the dialogue makes me laugh at how ridiculous it is.
Oh, and the head tilts. Those are good too.
dem head tilts. Best part of the show. ;)
I only saw half of Bakemonogatari before stopping, why? Because it’s silly visual style was wasn’t enough to keep my interest in a series with unbelievably dull stretches. Finding out that the show was never going to conform to my tastes gave me the feeling that there was really nothing left to see, besides weird fan-service.
Heheh, fair enough ;)
(Once again, sorry for the late reply. You write so many posts I want to read and respond to but I usually don’t have time when I first see them and want to wait until I do have time so I don’t have to do a rush job =P)
I actually feel about the same as you do towards the Monogatari series. I don’t particularly like it and yet I keep watching it. I wrote a post a while back about Nisemonogatari and how I felt it was too ambiguous in everything it did for me to really get invested. I said something to the affect that the Monogatari series plays out like someone’s bizarre (and often “wet”) dream. The kinds of things the characters say to each other and even how they relate to each other just comes off as so strange and unrealistic to me, like I could never imagine conversations in real life ever going like that. And when they’re not being overly pretentious, they’re usually being perverted, LOL. But there have been a few instances in the series where I really liked it and got invested; even though it’s been 4 years since I watched Bakemonogatari, I remember absolutely loving episode 12 and how the relationship between Araragi and Senjougahara was depicted. I also liked the last episode of Tsubasa Tiger in this current season and how her character was resolved. So I can’t say nothing in the show resonated with me. But most of it is just weird, uncomfortable, or it’s trying to be too artsy and deep that I can’t even relate. And yet I still watch it…well, it’s not so bad that watching it is a chore more than fun, so it’s just a mix of wanting to keep up with the popular shows and, hopefully, find more scenes in the series that just happen to click with me.
Senjougahara?….Least favorite heroine actually, I prefer when Saitou Chiwa voices catgirls (when she’s in Neko Mimi Mode?)
Pretentiousness in an anime about pretension?….¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Headtilts, cutouts, and flashcards?…. By now, I don’t even bat an eyelash (I’d probably miss one if I did)
Excessive wordplay?…. There ain’t no such thing as too much wordplay! Pun at me bro! http://imgflip.com/i/3ihza
But enough of Shinbo this, NisioIsin that. Those two are ridiculously polarizing and have been discussed to death. Even assuming you confidently like their directing and writing styles, you can get more of the same from various other venues, so Bakemonogatari is not exactly unique in that aspect. Same goes for the voices. Talented, big-name seiyuu, everyone of them, but because of that we can enjoy all their voices without ever coming near the Monogatari series. But there is one rare commodity this series carries that makes it an instant sell for me, and that is the animation of Watanabe Akio. Few enough works feature Watanabe Akio’s vivid character designs, and even fewer show off his own animation, an underappreciated treasure. The best you can find elsewhere are in tantalizing short glimpses from eroge OPs, and in the pre-Shaft Shinbo work SoulTaker (yes, they’ve worked together way back before, and if it can be believed, Bakemonogatari is the tamer work visually). There’s no way I’m going to be able to put into words what makes Watanabe Akio’s art and animation so entrancing, but let it be said that I have yet to witness any complaints on his part, and PLEASE PLEASE PUT HIM IN CHARGE OF ANIMATING THE GRISAIA NO KAJITSU ADAPTATION THAT WOULD BE SO AWESOME KTHXBYE
I feel like such a terrible person for not knowing who Watanabe Akio is :(
… But about Bakemonogatari, you are probably right. It’s overly discussed. By this stage, everyone already has an opinion which I doubt would budge.
Short summary about why I liked Bakemonogatari:
-I liked the conversations being had.
-I liked the “vintage SHAFT” animation style and I always will.
-The girls were hot (The tall ones anyway).
-I liked how the show balanced both breasts and supernatural exploration.
-I loved seeing Araragi get his ass kicked every time he was “helping” the girls combat their demons as I enjoy seeing male leads suffer. It has nothing to do with personal issues. I just like seeing men (Both Real and fictional) get beat up in creative ways. It’s like going on youtube and looking up a old school “Bad Guy” Triple H WWF championship match and seeing the “good guy” beat him to a pulp.
Short summary why I disliked Nisemonogatari and put the franchise on hiatus:
-95% of the show was all about which girl wanted to suck Araragi’s dick the most. By the time the show decided to get back to the supernatural, I lost interest. I also don’t care that the franchise is supposedly a “geek’s guide to sex-ed” now.
I’ve never liked Monogatari, my man. Aside from the fact the show has some absolute babes in there (Senjougahara, for one), the pretentiousness turned me off. Then again, Nisio Ishi tends to write tryhard pretentious crap that screams “HEY LOOK AT ME I’M BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL AND I’M PARODYING STUFF AREN’T I FUNNY YET?”. The only good thing I’ve seen him do is the JoJo light novel about Dio Brando. While I didn’t watch much of the series, it’s always fun to tease my friends by joining the Monogatari hate train.
Bet you watched the toothbrush scene, tho
We came for the toothbrush.
Btw, did you watch/read Medaka Box? I felt Nisio Ishi’s flaws really came out with that, especially with how he tried so hard to retcon it into a parody, but it fell flat on its face, imo.
I watched the Medaka Box anime but didn’t like it at all. I put it down more to a bland adaptation than to poor quality writing. All in all, it felt pretty cliche, even the famous genre shift. If the manga’s like that too, I probably won’t get around to reading it.
Yeah, the genre shift is nothing but a gimmick, really, and it tries so hard to parody and mock shonen tropes, but Gintama did it far better. Maybe Nisio Isin was held back by Jump, but given Bakemonogatari is basically his baby… maybe he’s just a poor writer. Then again, Over Heaven shows he has SOME talent….
[…] Froggy-kun, who is a beast, already wrote about his confusion. […]
[…] That said, let’s talk about some the show itself. The concept here looks cool, with the ideas of Spirit Warriors and youmu. The plot looks like it’s going to move at a decent pace, given the progression of the episode. Plus the fight scenes look like they’re going to be really good. Finally, the central conflict over heritage, bloodlines, tradition, and all that is a really interesting one, especially considering the Japanes obsession with blood types and whatnot, plus many of the class differences (which essentially amount to the same thing) that permeate our society today. It also does some cool meta-stuff and involves the supernatural, which might inevitably lead to comparisons with a certain other show. […]
“I would probably punch this guy in the face if I knew him, though.”
I am a female, and I finde him a bit ambiguos. But, yes, I would punch him in the face too.
This analysis made me think of why I actually liked this series (1st season anyway). I’m not a big fan of fan-service, the animation didn’t hook me and it’s plot is very choose your character archetype, choose your trauma, choose your solution.
It was variety of traumas and the fact that none of solutions were conclusive that made me relate to it. I’ve worked at a mental asylum for 2 years and the one thing you learn is that there is no complete solution to traumatic memories and psychological issues, it’s always an on going process of situations in the outside world and their reactions to them and for me the plot of Bakemonogatari really showed visually the stigma those things can leave.
Though I’m probably over analyzing why the ending just clicked for me despite it’s otherwise blatant sexual content.
Oh, I absolutely get what you’re saying. In fact, my opinion on this franchise in general was really enhanced by the second series that came out last year. At its best, the Monogatari franchise manages to capture the neurotic tendencies of self-important youths in visually arresting ways. It’s a pity that it rarely manages to reach those heights, though. Thanks for pitching in with your thoughts!
Great critique of the series. It’s somewhat clever and has nice art and designs, but at the core it’s a pandering, pretentious piece of crap. Style over substance is the SHAFT mantra, it seems.
[…] Post Script: You might consider this a belated response of sorts to Froggy-Kun’s somewhat polemic question. […]
This is probably going to be a pretty late response to this blog post, but oh well. When I watched the first 5 or so episodes of Bakemonogatari, I thought it was okay. It was enjoyable, but the text cards were aggravating. Then I saw something talking about how, visually, it was using a character lens. After watching all of Bakemonogatari with that in mind, along with the various character arcs that I thought were pretty interesting and laid the groundwork for some very interesting characters, I really liked it.
Then I watched Nisemonogatari. That was when I started to really love the series. It was because of episode 7 alone. Between the two confrontations that happen in that episode, I was a bit confused about what was actually being said. So, I thought on it. A lot. What I realized after all of that was that the Monogatari series is incredibly human and down to earth in the way that it deals with the characters’ problems, and in the way that it deals with actions and their consequences, taking into account how a person’s actions affect not only themselves, but the people close to them (and sometimes the ripples go even further), even though the interactions and events themselves are often not realistic. Nekomonogatari: Kuro and the 2nd season really expanded on the characters in what I thought was a great way. The 2nd season in particular shifted the character lens away from Koyomi at points, which I thought was really intriguing.
There’s a lot thematically that I still haven’t grasped, as evidenced by a post I just read about how the Monogatari series is about lies which blew my mind. I also haven’t fully grasped all of the characterization and character development. Every time I think I’ve attained a better understanding of what it’s all about and what it’s saying, I turn around and read something that shows me I only have half the picture at best. It’s frustrating but invigorating at the same time.
To sum it up as best I can at this point, I love the Monogatari series because it feels human and real in a very thorough way, and for whatever reason that really resonated with me and grabbed me.
Thanks for the heartfelt response! I can tell that Monogatari is a very special series to you. It’s interesting how a series that presents itself in such an inauthentic way actually is genuinely authentic where it counts. Monogatari is a story of contradictions, and I’m starting to see why people are so drawn to it.
… I still can’t bring myself to quite like it, but I feel as if I should really give it another shot down the track, eh? :)
Despite all the flack it gets for various reasons (the most common ones I’ve seen are the visuals and the fanservice), I think the Monogatari series does have a really big heart in multiple ways, due to the wide variety of characters, how they interact with each other, and how their own perspectives influence and shape that interaction.
Yes! Saying it’s full of contradictions is a great way to put it! I think that’s a lot of what makes it feel so human to me. Humans can be very contradictory, but at the same time we try to reconcile our contradictions if we’re aware of them, with varying levels of thoroughness depending on how important it is to reconcile a particular contradiction.
Being someone who loves the Monogatari series, I’m initially tempted to suggest that you give it another shot. But, I realize that everyone has their own preferences. I do think that, if you feel it’s something you could get something worthwhile out of, even if you don’t come to like it yourself, then it would be worth giving another shot, just taking it as you go and seeing if you want to keep going with it. In general, I’m of the opinion that we can get just as much out of many things we dislike or don’t necessarily want to do as we can out of pursuing things we already know we like. Haha I guess that’s my rather roundabout way of saying that I think you should give it another shot and see what happens. And if you still don’t like it, then you don’t like it. It’s not good or bad, it just is.
You like Infinite Stratos, but you don’t like Bakemonogatari. Well, that’s weird.
Infinite Stratos is unpretentious, dumb fun, while Monogatari strikes me as too smug and self-aware for its own good. Not weird at all, really.
So, what would you choose: Maou Mayu Yuusha (the anime), or Date a Live.
And how exactly is a smart harem, if there is a dumb one? Does it mean everything is kind of blurry (not focused and overlap to the plot), like Chrome Shelled Regios, the love process make sense, or simply as the harem act with brain, like Gakuen Toshi Asterick?
I dropped both series so yeah… I’d probably pick Date a Live if you pointed a gun at my head, though.
I’m not sure what the difference is between a smart harem and a dumb one, to be honest. At its heart, the entire concept of an anime harem is pretty dumb, so I’d rather not take it seriously. I suppose a smart harem is one that is aware that a harem (at least as it’s portrayed in anime) isn’t a good idea and very out of touch with reality. I’d say The World God Only Knows is very successful at portraying that.
I suppose this is too late to reply, eh? Just finished catching the series 2 days ago.
The first season was okay. The first 5 episodes of Bakemonogatari made me attempt to watch all of them. Bakemonogatari has several fanservice but not bad enough to rant about… Until Nisemonogatari. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a fan of fanservices. Bakemonogatari is good. But Nisemonogatari has made many people to turn down the series.
Nekomonogatari Kuro is a response after Nisemonogatari’s failure. It raises an excitement for the Second Season..
After watching Monogatari Second Season, I’ve realized that the quality is considerably increased than the first season. This is when the series start to shine. The story got darker than before. As for the Second Season’s enjoyment factor, it’s like Bakemonogatari again, but is improved. Every ending of an episode made me want to watch more.
There’s one major downside of the anime worth to note, you need to pause constantly to read the texts, otherwise you’ll miss something in the story.
IMO, like Keroro, after toning down the fan service, it is more enjoyable.
To sum it up, I like the series because of the great plot with nice touches of reality and fiction. While the series is overrated, the plot is the one that managed to grab me.
While it certainly isn’t for everyone (as you may know), after the Second Season, it ended up being one of my favorite franchise.
Thanks for sharing your experience watching Monogatari. It’s funny that you claim it’s overrated despite liking it. I personally thought the fanservice in Bakemonogatari was unpalatable, and this isn’t even mentioning Nisemonogatari. It’s not really the presence of sexualised females that made me uncomfortable but Araragi’s extremely creepy attitude. It was already bad in the beginning, but it just kept getting worse. I did think Second Season was a step up over the previous seasons by leaving Araragi out of it for good chunks of the time. So it wasn’t the fanservice I hated, just Araragi’s sleazy gaze and his commentary and just… ugh. Everything about him.
I agree with you on Senjougahara, funnily enough. She’s a well-written character in her own right but the shallow copycats she’s inspired are uniformly terrible.
Well yeah, Araragi’s perverted gaze make me want to punch him in the face. Funnily it kept being made as a running gag. Still, Araragi is still in the acceptable degree. At least he is not as bad as Kintaro from Golden Boy.
Just read from a forum, some people view Araragi is kinda lame. He kept being saved by Shinobu or Senjougahara.
Forgot to mention that while not being the main reason I like the series, the jokes and the BGM are good too.
Senjoughara is overrated. However, her unique type of Tsundere is what makes her a great and well-written character. What’s not great about it? Senjougahara clones. ‘Nuff said.
In my opinion, the series is what’s going on in the author’s perverted fantasy while trying to be all witty and intellectual and serious. Why do people like the show? Because of the dialouge.
I thrive on banter. The show for me is all dialogue. Nothing else, art, story, matters. I focus on the subtitles, and the rest is just colors to keep it more interesting. It’s quite like the conversations I have with the very unique friends I have, and it’s my favorite aspect of my life, so to see it happen on-screen makes me stupidly happy. Most of the other people I know are too emotionally sensitive to keep up with that kind of conversation, and I find that depressing in a personality (especially my women friends, and despite that fact I greatly prefer them over my male friends). So it’s ok that you don’t get understand the appeal, it just means you aren’t a sarcastic and cynical jerk like I am.
I think the main thing that murdered the experience for me with bakemonogatari was the animation. There’s next to none. I can name a lot of cartoons where characters mostly talking, and there is decent animation to bring life to them. The voice acting also felt dull.
I wanted to try the Monogatari series but the Seinfeldian dialogue tends to put me off as they most talk about virtually nothing whole implementing subtext that flies past me. I only saw a few clips of the series and from what I read in blogs. I am mostly into action show myself.
Uhhh yeah. Anyway, Monogatari’s witty dialogue kind of goes nowhere and it is only used to flesh out the characters and their motivations. The visuals are only there to complement the dialogue but the visuals are really good considering the budget the series has. It just very good job at building up the plot arcs but at the same time I really hate how the endings are anticlimatic even if it ends in a logical manner. Monogatari is a good series but it really isn’t for me.
Ya this show is fucking fucked and more importantly boring as fuck!
Nothing makes sense and nothing is interesting causing me to not give a fuck about anything going on in the show. I’ve seen a lot of stupid shit but this show has to be one of worst. Oh and no offence to anyone else. I’m supposed to say that right? Right!?
I actually don’t watch the show for the characters. I watch it because of how clever the stories can be and how its mythology with the supernatural. The only three characters that I like are Shinobu, Oshino, and Kaiki. Seriously, Kaiki reminds me of an Edgar Allen Poe poem, with the music, the crows, and even his name! The dude’s creepy.
[…] my English copy of Kizumonogatari. Unfortunately, as soon as I began to read it, I was reminded why I dislike Nisio Isin’s writing. It’s personal taste, but I find the smugness in his writing style off-putting. I do plan to […]
This post is really old (“really old” being 3 years) so I will only focus on Bakemonogatari as to try to be a bit more fair in case their opinion has changed with the new content.
I find the show incredibly deep and meaningful alongside having many amazing quirks inside it. Each character has an insane amount of symbolism in everything from the clothes they wear to the way they speak. All of Bakemonogatari can be dissected so that the aberrations do not even exist. Senjougahara just refused to face her feelings about her mother and seemed weightless since she denied carrying around the emotional weight of what happened. Hanekawa has a large amount of frustration due to her oppressive home life and her inability to control her hormones so the cat girl just represented her expressing sexuality. Sengoku Nadeko was a mistake in Bakemonogatari (admitted by the author) but later became an incredibly complex character that deserves pages to be written about. Kanbaru Suruga represents someone that became jealous after getting kicked out of a close friend’s life. And she showed this through her desire for revenge expressed as a “demon” where she attacked Araragi with the rage and power of one. As well as Mayoi Hachikuji was unable to rest due to her being unable to reach her family and showed how Araragi and Hanekawa (that is why she could see Hachikuji when Senjougahara could not) did not want to return to their homes.
I am also a huge fan of word play and banter. I cannot speak to someone without making a jab about either my use of words or theirs. So I will be incredibly biased on Bakemonogatari’s sense of humor. “Mayoi Snail” was an incredibly funny and clever name choice due to how she could also be a “lost cow” with a joke about how the text itself looks. The radio show about how the radio host was listening to a maid at a bar talk about how service staff never get a break… I was busting up from something as simple as that. There is also a lot of physical humor through examples such as how Araragi would start fighting or grope a young ghost of a girl and then go on a casual walk. The humor in the anime for sure fits my tastes but there are many people that do not admire this sort of humor. I myself am a very sarcastic person so this anime just fits the bill perfectly.
The art style is also genius in the nature of it within itself. The story is told through Araragi Koyomi’s point of view. And when you tell a story how many details do you add? Do you mention how each house looked, the difference between every other bike and yours, the people just walking around and what they look like, or do you talk about where the other people are going? Most people do not add all those details, it is important to talk about the houses that hold large parts of the story so that should be added, Araragi’s bike is special to him so he will remember the color perfectly. And the fan-service is explained in such a perfect manor I cannot give enough credit to the people that thought of it. Araragi is an incredibly perverted high school boy, so what will he focus on whenever he comes within distance enough to see Hanekawa Tsubasa? Of course her physical features, what highschool boy would not? Getting Kicked in the gut really hurts, how much would getting kicked in the gut by a demon feel? It would hurt like hell, blood would be incredibly profuse and if probably felt like he was kicked in half, not to mention it looked cool as hell. Whenever the characters were talking and the “black frame” or “blank frame” would appear I thought it was intentionally a part of the art. Apparently that was just them not finishing all the art and just putting in blank frames to increase run-time. But it was so great with the art style of everything just flashing around into the most seemingly random things during their banterous conversations I thought it was intentional. The seemingly random things they add like when Araragi was talking to Senjougahara during the Mayoi Snail episode and they were on the playground just worked for me. By doing things like that you can try to find greater definition about what is going on in the story even if it was just for comedic effect.
The show itself just makes fun of otaku culture since the author is a huge otaku and finds a lot of the tropes hilarious. That is part of the reason Senjougahara has her “tsundere service” even though she is a play on a tsundere. Senjougahara repressed her emotions/had them taken for years so she now struggles with the ability to express herself like a tsundere. A tsundere does not know how to express their emotions so they act sort of hateful even though they like the person. Senjougahara does not know how to properly express herself which is why she does not seem to have a lot of emotion. So instead of being a tsundere in constantly getting angry at Araragi she just does not know how to express herself. Araragi sees the world as though he is an Otaku in many ways. His little sisters are sort of loli’s and are supposed to be “pure” in the form of them being single so Araragi just does not see their boyfriends.
This anime just inspires critical thinking, if I had to do a highschool report/critical thinking analysis on Bakemonogatari alone that thing probably would be 15+ pages long. The anime has so much to offer in just thinking about the world. People see different things on a religious and spiritual level. Many people have had experiences with things such as angels but many others do not. Some see demons which others call entities and others call them ghosts, but of course there are people who have never seen such a thing and do not believe in them. Bakemonogatari helps show off this ideology of things like Aberrations only existing because people think they do. If vampires were never thought of Araragi could not see one. If Nadeko did not know she was cursed or that the shrine was that of a snake god then it is possible she may not have been affected by a snake. Then of course people can also make the assumption that the aberrations were never real. That Araragi could have just added all of these aberrations in order to make the story more interesting. The anime can get so incredibly deep. It sort of confused me when you thought it was simple (no offense intended, re-reading that it sounds a bit rude.), the ways to interpret the story are almost infinite. And it has only given more to consider about with the other seasons being added. A lot of people dislike Nisemonogatari due to it being so sexualized but I can still find meaning, symbolism, and a lot of humor behind it. The author did not even like Nisemonogatari, it was never meant to be published. It is Nisemono (nothing)-monogatari (story) so he titled it as not a story. Even excluding things such as that Bakemonogatari has a lot of things behind it that can make a lot of people love it.
I got more entertainment out of fucking Guilty Crown than I did any Monogatari installment, which is pretty sad.
personally i don’t like it, but nice article, by the way i like solo leveling manga it’s fire go read it and tell me what you think