Category Archives: Reviews
And so it seems, at least to me, that four episodes of this show can in fact be much more entertaining and effective than twelve episodes of Nisemonogatari. The tone is a lot more consistent overall, and it felt a lot more focused, though obviously that’s probably just due to the length of the series. Although it could be argued that the pacing issues with Nisemonogatari are due to the novel, they could have easily put another one in and trimmed the fat off so it wouldn’t drag on so much. I mean, hell, they’re already doing that with the next series, so surely they could have done it the first time around. Also, this time around they did a much better job with some of the exposition, because before, it’s been a little hard to follow exactly what they’re talking about in some of the faster dialogue-driven scenes. It could be the director and screenwriters are learning how to fit everything in better, or maybe people are just getting better at subbing this crazy-ass show, who knows?
I think that one of the main reasons this series worked so well for me is because when everything is said and done, Hanekawa is just a much more important and interesting character than most of the other girls. While the other arcs with Sengoku, Kanbaru, etc., are entertaining and all, in the end they don’t really have too much effect on the overall storyline or Araragi himself. Even in Nisemonogatari Hachikuji, Kanbaru, and Sengoku served very little purpose other than plot devices. Hanekawa, on the other hand, has been involved with Araragi from the very beggining of the series, and has a much larger influence on him and the story as a whole.
The scene about the moral ambiguity of Hanekawa’s situation at home was certainly rather different, because usually, you’re supposed to assume that any harm done to a supposedly kind character is completely wrong and unjustified. Oshino did a fairly good job at explaining how even things that would be considered horrible are never really black and white, and that there are always different perspectives to see the situation from. But obviously Araragi, didn’t even consider that Hanekawa could be in the wrong, which while may seem closed minded, I see it as more of him saying that to him it doesn’t really mater is she deserved anything that happened to her – that he would automatically side with her no matter what.
While I was kind of expecting some big fight (what, with the eight foot tall katana and everything) on par with the one at the end of Nisemonogatari or the fight with Kanbaru, I wasn’t too disappointed about how it actually played out. I also really liked the somewhat bittersweet ending here. Even though Araragi (well, actually Shinobu) exorcised the Cat from Hanekawa, like Araragi said, everything that’s wrong with Hanekawa’s life will continue to go on, and there isn’t really anything she can do about it. And obviously, she knew it too, due to her willingness to take the Cat back even after dealing with her parents. The entire conversation during this sequence was really interesting, if only for the fact that there is no cut and dry “good ending” to arrive at after it’s all over. Hanekawa will still have to deal with her parents and Araragi’s feelings for her are still a little shaky and unclear. Given that most of the other segments in the Monogatari series end fairly smoothly with everything solved, it was really nice to see something kind of different.
Probably the thing I liked most about this entire series was the expansion on Hanekawa’s and Araragi’s relationship. Considering that they’re technically the two main human characters for the most part, there hasn’t been a whole lot of interaction between them as of yet. It’s very obvious that they both have somewhat of a mutual need for each other, seeing as how at this point, there isn’t really another human they can connect with about the things that have happened to them or their personal problems. Hanekawa, as Oshino said, likely wanted Araragi’s help all along, but wouldn’t ask it do to her nature and personality. In the same way, it took Araragi a while to work out his actual feelings for her and why he had such a strong desire to help her in the first place.
Now, why couldn’t all of Nisemonogatari have been like this, why couldn’t it have been this serious and focused? I know it’s probably due to the source material being like that – after all, none of the major conflicts are really resolved in any way – but still, I felt that a lot of Nisemonogatari was just a little too lighthearted in some parts and didn’t really have as many dark moments as the original series had. Apparently, the director heard my complaints, because this is exactly what I had envisioned the series to be like for the most part. Thankfully the show also kept with a darker tone this episode, and will it’ll probably carry over to the last one as well.
This episode (and this entire series) did a lot to help develop the character of Hanekawa, surprisingly enough, with her even actually being in it. The explanation about her home life was kind of vague and abstract, but it did a good enough job at explaining that it obviously isn’t very good. Although last episode I complained about the show hardly ever actually explaining what the hell the Oddities actually are, what they do, and how they come to exist, this episode actually gave a surprising amount of backstory and depth to what the Curse Cat actually is, how it works, and all that. Also, the “Duality of Man” aspect that it incorporated was actually pretty interesting, as you wouldn’t normally expect someone with the personality of Hanekawa to be a candidate for exploration of that theme. Under most circumstances, she should be to very obvious and noticeable example of the good that exists in people, but as Oshino said, there is no human who is only good. In addition, it makes Hanekawa seem like a much more interesting character now that she isn’t the unshakeable pillar of morality that Araragi clings to most of the time.
Like I said, the scene with Oshino explaining exactly what the Cat is was very well done, and for the first time helped me to fully understand one of the monsters in this series. Also, coming from Kizumonogatari and Bakemonogatari, you kind of picture Oshino as this all-knowing unstoppable force that can pretty much bail Araragi and his friends out of any bad situation, but that obviously isn’t the case here. I think knowing that Oshino can’t really do anything more than Araragi can makes this series feel a lot more serious and pressing, because with pretty much every other problem he’s faced, Araragi has either had him or Shinobu to kind of be a deus ex machina and save the day when he can’t quite pull it off. Now that he can’t do that, the show seems much more interesting.
The final scene in which Araragi talks with the Cat was fine enough, but it seemed like a lot of it went back over what Oshino had already told Araragi before. I feel that this scene in particular, as well as the entirety of the series, if focused a lot more on Araragi’s relationship and attitude towards Hanekawa. Obviously, considering the events of Kizumonogatari and this series, it should normally be fairly obvious that they would be love interests, but the Monogatari series is very odd about the way it goes back and forth on this. The fact that Senjougahara is introduced into the series later doesn’t simplify things, but it would seem at this point that Araragi has much stronger romantic feelings for Hanekawa at this point than he does later on in the series. Also, to it seems that throughout the series Araragi justifies his fondness of Hanekawa to the fact that he feels indebted to her for pretty much saving his life, but I still don’t really know if that’s how he really feels, or if he’s just using that as a way to cover up something deeper.
Well, that didn’t take too long, but after all, it’s probably only going to be another day at the most until the last two episodes are subbed and all that, so expect these rather quickly I guess. Also, just a PSA, if you haven’t read Kizumonogatari, you really probably should do that in order to help you understand some of the stuff that’s going to happen in this series.
With this episode, we actually get into the main story of the show and get to see Hanekawa in all of her catgirl hotness. As I’m sure I’ve said before, the story for this series feels a lot more like Kizumonogatari due to the lack of the other main characters, such as Senjougahara, Kanbaru, etc., and it’s focus on mainly Hanekawa and Araragi (and to an extent Shinobu). This episode also had a decidedly different feel and atmosphere to it than the previous one. This episode was much darker in tone and felt a lot like some of the darker episodes of Bakemonogatari.
Beyond getting to see a small scene explaining Shinobu’s affection for doughnuts, there’s also a bit of explanation about his attitude towards her at the current time. It’s only been a few weeks since everything that happened in Kizumonogatari took place, so this would have obviously been when Shinobu was still not talking to Araragi. But regardless of that (and seeing that she’s one of the only actual characters in the show) they do make an attempt to still let her show some emotion and characterization in this episode and hopefully the rest of the series as well. In my opinion, Shinobu is definitely the best character in the whole Monogatari series, so I’m always up for seeing her get to do some more stuff besides sit around moping the whole time.
The scene with the Cat version of Hanekawa was also done very well, and was obviously very reminiscent of the last few episodes of Bakemonogatari. However, one of the things that kind of irritated me about it (and I guess the whole collective series itself) is that there’s never much of an explanation to exactly what the hell is wrong with Hanekawa. I suppose it could be because of the insane Japaneseness of this show, and these creatures are perfectly normal in the folklore there, but still not really having much of an explanation for some of these things other than “They’re monsters, they do this” is kind of annoying at some times. It’s not as if all things in the series are a complete mystery, as I thought that Kanbaru’s arm and Sengoku’s curse were explained relatively well, but some of the others really leave me scratching my head.
Anyway, I thought the dark nature and tension of the scene worked very well and just got me even more excited for Kizumonogatari as that’s pretty much all that movie could have in it. I do however think that “censoring”, I guess you could call it, of the bodies of Hanekawa’s parents was kind of odd, and took away from the violent nature of the rest of the scene. But I guess never showing a person who isn’t a main character or villian is kind of a staple of the series, so I probably shouldn’t be too surprised by it. It’s also been a long time since I saw some actual gore in anime, so that was definitely and entertaining scene to me.
I guess this is really the first anime series of the new year, so happy 2013 to all. While this technically isn’t really a series, the other three episodes haven’t been subbed yet, so I suppose I’ll just go ahead and do a normal episodic review of the series. But, before too much more, let me attempt to explain this shit show of a chronology this entire series has in an attempt to help those who may not know too much about it, understand exactly what’s going on with all this.
Okay, well the main problem with this is that, if you’re just watching the anime, you still don’t know what the fuck happened in Kizumonogatari, all because Shaft just had to make those Madoka Magica movies first. The way the novels were released makes perfect sense, because you really need to know what happened in Kizumonogatari to completely understand what’s going on in Nise and Neko, or at least actually know who Shinobu and Hanekawa are, respectively. But the anime just really fucked all that up, especially since there still is no definite release date for Kizu.
Anyway, this series takes place between Kizumonogatari and Bakemonogatari, and deals with Hanekawa’s whole cat-demon-spirit thing. Along with Kizumonogatari this is one of the only ones in the series that has a regular linear plot, which is the reason I think that Kizu is the best in the series. There wasn’t a whole lot of that in this episode, but it was a lot better than Nisemonogatari since they don’t have twelve episodes to screw around with this time. Also I guess it’s to be expected, considering that this series was directed by the guy that directed Nisemonogatari (but not Bakemonogatari), but there’s probably going to be a lot of fan-service stuff put in to chew up time and sell more DVD’s.
The first conversation with Tsukihi was all fine and good, considering that most of it actually dealt with the plot of the series instead of just rambling on about nothing and was fairly entertaining for the most part. Also the only fan-servicy part was played up more for humor than to be sexual. The scene with Karen was a lot more…. eh. It obviously had little purpose other than to have some more boobs and ass thrown on the screen for a little while, and the idea of a 15 year old girl coming home and getting naked in the kitchen in front of her brother was pretty unrealistic to say the least (though not a whole lot in this series is realistic, so whatever). The last part of episode, dealing with Hanekawa and her family situation, also deals with the main plot of the series, and if you’ve seen Bakemonogatari, you probably know how that relates to what’s going to happen. However, the seriousness of that part was cut short in a fairly humorous way, which I suppose is to be expected of the Monogatari series.
As you would expect, it’s absurdly obvious that this show was made by Shaft, and at this point you’ll either love that or want to stay as far away from it as possible. Because this is a much shorter series, and in a way is more like a movie, the plot has (hopefully) been streamlined and is so far focusing much more on the main story of the series which is definitely a good thing. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about this show, because by now, you know if you like Monogatari shows or not, and you pretty much know what to expect from most of it.
Hey, remember when you were 14 and you thought you were some cursed magic warrior from another realm sent here to defeat the evil Shadow-Somethings by the Ruler of Where-Ever-The-Hell? Yeah, neither do I, probably because I’m not a complete loser, or it might just be because I didn’t spend my childhood in Japan, and who knows what living in a place like that could do to you. Regardless, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! is about just such a thing, and on a rather severe level at that. Apparently, it’s some form of “illness” that causes young Japanese teenagers to act really weird and crazy and have delusions of being some superhero thing. But I mean, come on, it’s Japan, I’m sure that’s not restricted to just kids.
The show is about Yuuta, a former victim of the “disease” known as Chuunibyou, also known as “Being a Weird-ass”. However, he’s put all that behind him in the hopes of making it through his entire high school life without people willing to saw their own arm off just not to be seated next to him in class. He’s completely done away with his childhood persona “The Dark Flame Master” in exchange for being a normal everyday kid. But because this is an anime, things aren’t really allowed to go easily for the main character. He meets a girl named Rikka, who seems convinced that her right eye is in the possession of some magic powers from another dimension or something, and she wants Yuuta, or rather, The Dark Flame Master, to aid her in achieving whatever non-existent goal her magic eye requires of her.
In a lot of ways, the first half of this show is basically The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, only if Haruhi wasn’t actually God or whatever, and none of the stuff she thought existed actually did. And the fact that the series was done by the same animation studio doesn’t help either. You have a girl obsessed with weird magic stuff, her level-headed male sidekick, a club dedicated to the sole purpose of indulging the girl’s strange interests, and a bunch of other odd characters that come along for the ride. The second half, however is decidedly different from the first, and diverges itself from a standard “quirky kids doing quirky things” storyline while dealing with themes of growing up as well as the importance of always being young at heart. It never gets terribly dramatic and serious, but there’s a decent amount of emotion in the last few episodes that give story and characters a bit more meaning. The ending is also somewhat cheesy, but you pretty much come to expect it from shows like this so it didn’t bother me too much.
The show continues from Yuuta and Rikka’s first meeting in a rather episodic way for the most part, and spends most of it’s time establishing the two main characters and their relationship. This is where the show really excels in my opinion. To begin with, the relationship that Rikka and Yuuta inevitably develop is very believable and natural, which is something that can’t be said for plenty of anime in the same category. More often than not, anime romances develop due to nothing more than the demands of the plot, but here it’s enjoyable and easy to see how their relationship changes as the story goes on. While Yuuta acts as the standard straight-faced male, he seems to stand out from his archetype due to his natural interactions with Rikka. He isn’t the same overly-nice, bland and forgettable male lead that pretty much every shounen romance in existence seems to be stuck with, and he’s a much more believable character because of it. In the same way, Rikka is a tremendously enjoyable female lead, and it’s not just because by most people’s standards she’d be legally insane. It’s primarily because the show is about her, why she acts the way she does, and the way she changes over it’s course, though saying too much would spoil some things. The way she interacts with Yuuta and the rest of the characters is also very entertaining, and adds a lot of enjoyment to what would otherwise be a rather normal school slice-of-life show.
The supporting characters are somewhat hit and miss in my opinion, or maybe it’s because that Yuuta and Rikka are such strong leads that the rest of the cast seems kind of ho-hum. Kumin is all but a body to take up space and is literally asleep through most of her screen time. In the same way, Isshiki is only there to give Kumin something to do, to have the standard best male friend, and to give another small subplot to the story. I also found Dekomori pretty annoying and useless for the most part (her “catchphrase” didn’t help matters a whole lot either), until the end when she was actually given something to contribute to the plot. Nibutani was the only other character that I actually liked, which is odd, considering that I don’t thing you’re really supposed to like her all that much. From the first few seconds you see her you expect her to play the archetype that her character and personality are obviously meant to play, but I absolutely loved the complete 180 she takes later on, and by the end of the show it’s pretty hard to see her as you originally did.
Because the show was one by Kyoto Animation, it’s no surprise that the animation is very good and surprisingly consistent in quality throughout the course of the show. There isn’t really thing all too spectacular about the art style, but because of all the small details and quality of animation they put into it, it really makes it enjoyable to watch. Another thing worth mentioning is the refreshing lack of ecchi and over-sexualized scenes in the show. As far as I can remember there isn’t a single ecchi scene in the entire series (though it’s hinted at in the very first scene) and the scenes containing any kind of sexual innuendo are few and far between. Oh, and the anime-standard beach episode? Only about thirty seconds of it are actually on the beach, and none of it is spent going “Ooh look at the girls in their swimsuits! This is for you, hentai artists!”. Absolutely glorious. The last thing to say about this show is a kind of hard thing to put into words, and that is: it’s just fun to watch. I guess it’s kind of the same for shows like Clannad and Haruhi, in that, nothing really important every happens, but they’re still really enjoyable and memorable shows. The show utilizes so many of the good qualities that exist in anime while simultaneously getting rid of the bad ones, and simply gives an overall enjoyable experience.
While this is kind of an… odd… concept for an episode, it still is actually pretty funny and entertaining, although I’m not quite sure what this actually has to do with the decline and death of the human race. Normally when I think about the human race dying out, I don’t instantly jump to a group of people trapped inside of a manga that they have to make a best-seller in order to escape, but I guess that’s just what you get with this show. But like I said, even though it doesn’t really make much sense, and it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the series (though I guess there isn’t really much that could) it’s still entertaining and fun to watch. And that Chess scene was fucking awesome. Hilariously awesome to the utmost degree.
So, like last week’s episode, this one is also a heavy satire of the manga industry, it’s fandom and what it takes to sell manga, although it could really apply to any form of entertainment. This time our almost unnamed heroes have to find a way to make the manga they’re trapped in become the number one selling manga in the world so they can conclude the series, thus escaping the manga they’re trapped in. Yeah, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me either, but thankfully Pink Girl can’t make too much sense out of the whole thing either, but goes with it anyway because they have to get out. As she’s been so far, she stands as the voice of reason in such a ridiculous and crazy situation. Her and Y are also really funny together in my opinion, because they’re different and play off each other, but they aren’t complete and total opposites like most comedy pairs in anime. And since these people obviously know what they’re doing when it comes to crazy stuff like this, they have some pretty good jokes along the way of their ridiculous adventure. Although it may be sad to admit, there’s a lot of truth to what’s said in this episode. Like most long running manga, as they go on, they make their plot increasingly ridiculous and more complex in order to keep the three second attention span of the average reader. I also thought the whole twist thing was pretty clever, seeing as how when a series or manga starts to do that, that’s usually a good jumping off point, because it’s a definite sign the creator has run out of ideas to do.
Although it is pretty entertaining, it’s just so out of left field that it doesn’t really make any sense. With the episode last week, the reintroduction of manga into society made sense because it could happen in the context of a world that hasn’t had those things in a long time. It made sense because it was just a clever way to retell the history of the growth of manga and it’s fandom all while poking fun at how ridiculous most of it is. But here, it just felt like they wanted to make fun of manga more, but didn’t have any real way to do so, so in the end they just said, “Fuck it, let’s put them in some random blank manga”. Well, yeah sure, I guess you could do that but it doesn’t really make a lot of sense… “Well, it’ll be a dream for fucks sake, we’re making fun of manga, goddammit!”. And I’m sure that’s how that creative meeting went. And although I’m bringing up this point about how crazily random the plot device for this episode was, it’s probably not very fair to hold it to such a high level of scrutiny, seeing as how batshit insane the show’s been so far. I really do hope that this series can have a bit more of a focus next week or at the very least take some time to explain what exactly is going on in this crazy world. I still enjoy it and find it funny, but I still want to hold out hope that there’s some type of underlying story that’s coming eventually.
You know, for I long time I’ve held to the idea that if you’re going to be a fan of something, you have to be able to make fun of it. And so, I’m proud to report that the writers of this show obviously feel the same way. I do have to say though, this is kind of an odd third episode, though I can’t say what I would call “normal” in a show where the first two episodes were about a group of sentient plucked chickens that take over a food factory owned by fairies so they can take over the world. Well, I guess an episode about yaoi fangirls makes about as much sense as anything else they could have put in this episode. Plus most of it’s really funny, and it feels good to see the creators of an anime sit back and say, “Look, sometimes… you guys are just fucking crazy”.
This episode is basically a social satire about the world of manga and manga fandom, although it more specifically focuses on everybody’s favorite subdivision of anime and manga culture: yaoi fangirls. The pseudo-feminists of today often propagate the idea that all men are sex-obsessed rapists or some shit and that all girls are helpless, innocent victims of the iron-dicked patriarchy of the modern world. However, this episode (and yaoi fangirls in general) are out to prove that women can be just as, if not more, crazy when it comes to stuff like that than men. Hell, look at Fifty Shades of Gray; it’s a shitty sex book that a hefty majority of women have deemed as one of the best works of literature of the past decade. I also just saw Magic Mike (make your gay jokes if you want, but my friend saw Moonrise Kingdom with me, so I had to return the favor) and every woman in that strip club (and the theater) lost their shit when Channing Tatum was stripping. I also told one my friends moms I saw it, and she corroborated that women do indeed go crazy at male strip clubs, and yes that was awkward.
The episode essentially retracing the history of things like dojinshi and conventions came into existence, though by a completely different means. And by the way, why the hell did that old rich guy have a basement full of yaoi manga? Whatever, to each his own. The new character who barely even has a name (but hey, one letter is at least a step up from all the other characters with NO letters in their names) seemed really random. I don’t mean her character was random, I mean she just kind of showed up out of nowhere and said, “Hey, I’m doing this thing” with next to no explanation. There seems to be a substantial amount of stuff going on in this place, such as the UN, a race of fairy people, and some kind of Human History Preservation thing, but they seem to brush over all of this stuff as if it’s not that important. I’d kind of like to know more about what the hell is going on in this world, like the current state of technology and whatnot, so hopefully they get to that eventually.
Like last episode, this one was also pretty funny, although having a whole episode essentially parodying a single idea did seem kind of odd. Pink/Sensei/Moderator/Girl or whatever you want to call her was also once again one of the best parts of the show. I don’t really know how, but she somehow manages to be sarcastic and cynical without coming off as a really obnoxious, condescending bitch. Maybe it’s because her pink hair just makes you want to like her. Speaking of her hair, isn’t it alive or something? Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t recall it moving a single time on it’s own this episode. That seems kind of odd, seeing as how they kind of left that as a cliffhanger last episode. Well, I guess I can only hope that will be explained a little bit more in the next that will apparently take place inside of some blank manga. Yeah… I’m not really sure how that’s going to work, but from what I’ve seen so far, I’m sure this show will make it work somehow.
Well, I’m late on this for two reasons; one, I completely missed the first episode of this somehow, and two, this show is just… odd. I mean, there’s a big food shortage, and apparently (or at least according to the MAL synopsis) the human race is in a state of decline due to low birthrates, which would normally translate to some Mad Max wasteland apocalypse type stuff, but I guess not here. Everything seems abnormally bright, happy and cheerful, kind of like playing Fallout in Pyro-vision or something like that. People may starve to death, but just look at the cute little Fairies! A bread robot rips itself apart and dies, but sentient chickens are running the factory. I really don’t know what’s going on here. And the fact that the ending sounds a lot like the Azumanga Daioh OP doesn’t help matters much. The main thing I’m trying to figure out is whether or not this is going to be a straight up comedy or if it’s actually going to be somewhat serious, although after the second episode, I’m leaning much more towards the comedy side of the spectrum. But even then there were just some parts that seemed really serious for no real reason, such as the town meeting in the first episode, or The Assistants story in the second. The whole plot of the show just seems a little to macabre to be the setup for a straight-up comedy, but it somehow actually does work. The first episode felt really random and kind of incoherent, but the second episode was actually pretty funny in my opinion.
Now, on the off chance that this series is actually going to be a serious series, then it’s off to a pretty odd start. There hasn’t really been too much explanation of what’s going on or what the whole deal with the fairies is. That’s probably the one thing that’s keeping me from admitting to myself that this is just some big screwball, random comedy; there’s just too much stuff going on. There’s a food shortage for humans, who themselves are in decline, there’s now a race of sentient doll-things that inhabit the earth, the main character girl is a member of some type of organization for human-fairy relationships and acts as a mediator between them. It just seems like a lot of back-story and lore to throw into something that’s just meant for a few laughs. Also, none of the main characters actually have names, which is, at least in movies, a sure sign of some avant-garde, artsy stuff going on here. The Girl hasn’t been given a name, The Assistant doesn’t have a name, The Grandfather doesn’t have a name, the only thing that was given so far was that ginger fairy with the Hitler ‘stache, and the bread robot, Loaf. So we have a vibrant an colorful world of dying people with a food shortage where the main characters have no names… is this a Japanese stoner’s version of The Road, or something?
As stated before, I find this show to actually be pretty funny, which is obviously what they intended for a lot of it. For me, the main source of most of the humor was from The Girl and some of her one-liner responses to the ridiculousness going on around her. If indeed this is more than just a comedy, then I don’t have any problem with her a main character. In most anime if you have a female lead you have about a 50 percent chance that they’re going to be a complete bimbo, but if you have a female lead with pink hair, that percentage goes up to about 99. Thankfully, Pink Haired Main Character Girl actually seems to have a head on her shoulders, and also isn’t a bitch. That also seems to be a theme in anime; if the girl isn’t a complete and total dumb-blonde dipshit, then she’s usually a haughty prick, and there usually isn’t a lot of middle ground. Pink Floyd over here has thankfully been able to find it and actually provide some humor for us that isn’t dependent on how stupid she is.