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Nisemonogatari Episode 6 – Let’s Slow it Down

This show is really starting to feel like a two-episode arc of Bakemonogatari being drawn out to eleven episodes.  I think I should go ahead and give up on any delusions of this show moving faster than a crippled slug, then maybe I wouldn’t be as frustrated with it’s pacing.  At this point, I’m also seeing almost no point to that three episode long character reintroduction, which slowed down the show’s progression even more.  Neither of Hachikuji’s appearances have really had anything to do with the story, and Kanbaru and Sengoku’s appearances only provided very minute details to the plot.  Sure, they’re all enjoyable, but if they aren’t going to serve a purpose then why include them in this series?  Say, for instance, some random character was introduced in Sengoku’s arc during Bakemonogatari, served no purpose during that time and then disappeared as soon as it was over; what would the point of it be?

There is some plot progression, if you could call it that, in this episode, though it basically boils down to Karen being gone and Senjougahara wanting to go find Kaiki.  We don’t even get to see the conclusion to the cliffhanger from last week; all we get is Araragi summarizing that he did indeed kiss his sister, but it only took some of the poison away.  That’s such bullshit, what a giant middle finger to everybody.  I mean, it’s not as if they’re rushed for time and they just had to skip over that to get to Araragi and Hachikuji walking around and talking.  It’s not like it was due to censorship either; this show has already had a naked eight-year-old girl taking a bath with a teenage boy.  Finally Senjougahara had a little more screen-time this episode, and thankfully didn’t occupy it by kidnapping Araragi.  Though her motives are understandable, it seems like she’s being just as reckless as Karen.  I don’t really understand exactly what she plans to do to Kaiki, or how she plans to stop him, seeing as how she has no supernatural powers of her own.  She even admitted herself that, although he is a con man, he may be more powerful than what he’s supposed to be impersonating, so what does she plan to do without Araragi?

Karen’s motives are equally idiotic.  Kaiki has already cursed her, yet she continues to go out after him even though she’s sick and may or may not know where he is?  I know being reckless is in her character, but that’s pretty damn stupid.  At least her being an idiot gave Shinobu a reason to come back out again and get back into the show.  Though with her being as large a character as she has been, it seems as if Araragi will eventually have to explain to his sisters about his vampirism, and her as well (but it would probably be a good a good idea to not tell Tsukihi about her).

Though I’ve already said it, the progression of this series is getting very annoying.  I know that Bakemonogatari never really had a straight linear story-line, but there was still always something happening in that series.  Even conversations that didn’t really have any purpose were only fillers in between the separate arcs of the show.  Seeing as how the novel only contains Karen and Tsukihi’s arcs, it’s understandable why this series is moving so slow, but I haven’t read enough of it to know if all of these other random seemingly pointless scenes actually serve as little purpose as I think they do.  I really hope that the second half of the show picks up, because it’s actually more than halfway through right now, and almost nothing has happened at present.  How about this, let’s look at the official generic copy-pasta plot summary of this series.

“The black swindler Kaiki Deishu, who once deceived Hitagi, returns to town and spreads the incantation which cursed Nadeko before.  Koyomi’s sisters Karen and Tsukihi try to capture Deishu but…”  (Plot summary from MAL)

You could literally add the line “… he curses Karen” to the end of that and it would be the summary for the entire show thus far.  That’s what you call a slow-as-Christmas show if I’ve ever seen one.  The show is halfway finished, it has five episodes left, step it up a little.  What about Tsukihi?  Please, God, don’t tell me we’re going to have to wait for months and months on end to see the end of her arc too.  If we do, it better be ten thousand times as awesome as the end of Hanekawa’s arc, which is a pretty tall order to fill.


Nisemonogatari Episode 4 – Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade

Oh, Shaft, you and your head tilts.  Although after last week’s episode it seemed that the story was going to start to pick up, that wasn’t the case this week.  The beginning had a small amount of explanation about the overarching story, but most of the episode, as it has been in this series, was heavy on dialogue.  However, I couldn’t care less about the story in this episode, because Shinobu is still a fucking badass.

At least this episode did manage to finally introduce all of the characters from the original series.  Hanekawa returns in a rather odd way (she doesn’t really appear, she’s just kind of … there), now with short hair, which Shinobu jokes about later.  It also seems that this show is going to make a habit out of starting episodes off with scenes that don’t really make sense at the time.  Araragi is arguing with his sisters about… something… and Hanekawa is also there for… some reason or another.  Most of their conversation consists of Araragi attempting to find out what Karen and Tsukihi are doing and how it involves Hanekawa, but it ends up with Araragi telling them not to get involved with things that they can’t handle (probably supernatural things) in a roundabout way.  Hanekawa finally gives some explanation about what Araragi’s sisters are doing and confirms that it does involve the snake curse which Sengoku mentioned before.  Apparently, Hanekawa had discovered that Kaiki was spreading the snake curse and told Karen about it, and when Karen went to stop him, he did “something” (the fire bee) to her.  And that’s about all we get plot-wise this week.

Hanekawa and Araragi’s conversation was mainly focused on the plot, but it did have some points about their relationship.  She brings up how he treats her differently than any of the other characters in the show, which is really due to how much he feels he owes his life to her, but she doesn’t seem to pick up on that.  Their relationship does seem like it would be pretty awkward for Araragi, considering the events of the last arc of Bakemonogatari, and that she doesn’t remember it, but it doesn’t look like it bothers him too much.  She also tells him about her conversation on the phone and that she told Senjougahara that she would ask Araragi to be her boyfriend if she didn’t let him go.  Even though she’s joking about it, that would have really pushed the awkward level in that bedroom up a few bars.  I guess Senjougahara also really sees her as a threat to her relationship with Araragi, because she sounded pretty depressed during that phone call.

But really, who cares about any of that, we have some Shinobu to see.  Well… all of Shinobu to see.  Finally, after waiting for a month for her to make her appearance, she does so, in the most awkward place she could possibly have chosen.  I mean, both of them are naked and bathing together during the entire scene, and her body is in it’s eight-year-old form right now, so it’s kind of… yeah.  It doesn’t seem like she’s changed at all through her months of pouting, because the very fist thing she says to Araragi is a joke about what he said to Kanbaru when he saw her naked.  She’s also as haughty as ever, considering how easily she converses with him after all her time spent silent.  But goddamn, she’s just as awesome and just as funny as she used to be; their conversation is by far the best of the entire series, and it manages to stay interesting, even though it takes up more than half of the episode.  During this time, Shinobu explains about the wreathe-fire bee that is now afflicting Araragi’s sister, Karen.  So it seems that she’s going to be the Oshino for this series, so much so that her knowledge on the subject comes from her having to listen to Oshino constantly ramble on about oddities when she stayed with him at the cram school.  She also says that she can’t “eat” the disease like she did with Hanekawa, due to Karen’s illness being a result of the sting, and not actually the bee itself.

So, with this being the first time that they’ve talked to each other since the end of Kizumonogatari, a good portion of their talk is spent on their relationship, as strange as it may be.  She still claims that she hasn’t and won’t forgive Araragi for what he did, and that she expects the same from him.  Though I don’t really think that he is as upset with her as she is with him, he probably agrees with it just so he can have a reason not to kill her.  Again, she tells him that his best option is to kill her, so that he can return to being fully human, and even brings up how he will likely continue to live long after everyone he knows is dead.  But if Araragi is willing to forgive Kanbaru after she tried to murder him, do you really think that he’d kill Shinobu, especially after the lengths he went to to NOT kill her in the first place?  It seems like she’d know that it’s a long stretch to think that he’d go along with her plan, but I think that she’s more or less accepted her current state, and that she’ll more than likely be stuck like that and be bound to Araragi until one of them dies.  After all, that’s really what she wanted in the first place, but because of how much Araragi wanted to be a human again she was willing to die to allow him to do so.  At the end of Kizumonogatari, she even offers him a chance to remain a vampire with her, since he was the first person she had found in 400 years who was kind to her.  God, she is the best character in the whole franchise, and I really hope she gets some more development after spending the entirety of Bakemonogatari in silence.

And so, like last week, we’re left still with a very small idea about what the plot is, but instead with good dialogue and Shaft being Shaft.  I guess the creators knew that they could take their time with this show, considering that it only contains two arcs spread over eleven episodes.  I imagine the next episode or two will focus on curing Karen’s illness, but after that, I’m not really sure if it will move towards the real conflict of the series or just straight to Tsukihi’s arc. either way this was the best episode so far.  Why?  Because Shinobu is fucking awesome.  Oh, and what was up with that scene at 18:32?  Why in the hell does Shaft pick the most random things possible to animate well?

Nisemonogatari – Concerns and Expectations

Okay, I’m sorry that I’ve been so obsessed with the Monogatari series on here for about a week, and since the first episode of this will be airing tomorrow, and I’ll be talking about the show then as well.  Now that I think about it, I probably should have done this a while ago… whatever.

So, if you’ve been following this show at all, then you know that it was recently announced to be simulcast on Crunchyroll, much to everyone’s surprise.  It’s not really any big deal to me that a show gets picked up by Crunchyroll, because there’s no way I’m going to pay them $120 dollars a year to watch the one, maybe two shows per season they pick up that I actually want to watch.  Especially when I can just download the show for free (Have a problem with piracy? Click here).  Now, when I first heard about this the only thing I think was “Oh, shit, that means that no fansub groups are going to do this”.  Now, I don’t really have a problem with Crunchyroll’s subs or anything, but we’re talking about Nisemonogatari here; it isn’t exactly going to be any easy thing to subtitle.  I don’t know if the same “Put text everywhere” mentality carried over to this show, but I think it’s safe to assume that it’ll probably be like it’s prequel.  So, I have no idea how Crunchyroll plans to do all of that, or how well they’ll do at the actual dialogue either.  It’s kind of a shame, because GG Subs did an amazing job with the original series but obviously they won’t do this now.  We can only hope that either Crunchyroll doesn’t screw the translation up, or that GG will swoop in and save the day if they do.

It’s also supposedly been sub-licensed by Aniplex USA (They have a page up about it, but it just says to watch it on Crunchyroll), so we can only pray that this means a state-side home release, but hopefully not some bullshit $400 import box – fuck that shit.  Who knows? Maybe if this has been licensed, they’re also working on the rights to Bakemonogatari, or maybe even already have them.

But among all these concerns I have, there was one thing I discovered about five days ago that shot my excitement for this show up about ten times what it already was.  So I was looking it up on MAL one day, and I see this.

Needless to say, I instantly had to change my pants.

In case you were not aware, Shinobu is a fucking boss.  And not only is she a main character, but she’s fucking talking again (that’s the reason I circled the VA, I don’t even know who that is).  So, finally, Shinobu is going to stop pouting and being a bitch to Araragi and do something again, and be a badass while doing it.  I could only guess that she’s going to kind of take over Oshino’s role and help Araragi figure out what to do with all of his “patients”, or she could just have finally forgiven him for what he did to her.  Either way, she’s fucking back, she’s fucking talking, it’s going to be fucking awesome.

Bakemonogatari – Review

Since Nisemonogatari will be airing in about a week, I figured that now would be as a good a time as any to talk about Bakemonogatari.  I generally assume that everyone and their mother has seen this show, because of how ridiculously popular it was (and still is); just last week the blu-ray box for it was released in Japan and outsold pretty much every other show and movie, airing or otherwise.  And of course Japan loves to milk anime franchises, so it’s no surprise that both the prequel and sequel novels have been adapted into anime as well.  But if Shaft wants to animate the entire Monogatari series, I wouldn’t even dream about complaining.

Bakemonogatari is about Koyomi Araragi, a vampire, or rather, he was a vampire.  One day at school he catches a girl falling from the sky and discovers that she weighs almost nothing.  Later, the girl, Hitagi Senjougahara, confronts him about how he knows that she is weightless, and threatens him, telling him to remain silent about it and to never come near her.  However, Araragi claims that he can help her and takes her to see Meme Oshino, the man who cured him of his vampirism.  Together they cure Senjougahara of her condition; now wash, rinse, and repeat with four different people.

So in a sense, the show is basically the same as something like Mushishi, or even YuYu Hakusho; it’s just a string of episodic events dealing with a bunch of supernatural problems in the real world.  In shows such as these, the story itself is never really the main focus of the show, but rather the individual arcs themselves.  The entire Monogatari series is (for the most part) fashioned in this way, except for Kizumonogatari, which follows more of a linear plot.  And Kizumonogatari is definitely superior to any of the other works, in my opinion, because it’s plot and characters are much more developed than in any of Monogatari novels.  However, this show isn’t really about the “supernatural problem” aspect that lies at it’s core, but is definitely more about the characters and their interactions.

It’s been said by many people that reading anything by Nisio Isin is similar to “listening to people talk for hours, yet saying nothing”, and in a sense this is true.  No one can overlook that a vast majority of his works are very heavy on dialogue, and even then a vast majority of that is kind of pointless, even in an action series like Katanagatari.  While it is true a good portion of the dialogue in this show has absolutely nothing to do with the plot, the writing and dialogue are two of the best things about it.  There are numerous scenes in the series where two characters talk for lengthy periods of time about things that aren’t really relevant to what’s going on in the story at the moment, yet these are what makes Bakemonogatati what it is.  It’s really very similar to the dialogue and writing in  Pulp Fiction or other films by Tarantino, in the way that so much of what is talked about has nothing to do with what little story there is.  But this is why so many people love the movie; the dialogue between Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, and all of the cast is hilarious and actually makes them seem like real people.  For example, what is the significance of Jackson and Travolta talking about how a foot massage either is or is not intimate, or Travolta and Thurman talking about the Fox Force Five pilot?  Nothing- absolutely nothing. There isn’t a message behind any of it, there aren’t any plot points revealed, and there sure as hell isn’t any abstract meaning behind any of it; it’s just entertaining, plain and simple.  The exact same thing can be said about this show.  Why do we need to see Araragi and Senjougahara talking on and on about pointless things for such a huge portion of several of the episodes?  You don’t, there is almost never any plot development in these types of scenes, but that’s because there aren’t meant to be, it’s there to make them interesting.  This is what sets the show apart from any other similar in basic plot to this show; the fact that the writing is done so well.

Even with all of it’s great writing, the show wouldn’t be too much without it’s characters.  Although most of the minor characters aren’t all that developed, it makes sense given the episodic nature of the show.  However, each of the three minor girls (Hachikuji, Kanbaru, and Sengoku) are still entertaining, even if they don’t really matter all that much in the end.  Each have their own quirks and personality different from the archetype that they loosely embody.  They all somewhat tie in to the other arcs in the show, so they aren’t one time characters like you would expect from this type of show.  Of course since Araragi and Senjougahara are the main characters, the most time is spent on their interactions and development than any other two people.  

However, although it may not seem like it to most people, the two most important and realistic characters are Hanekawa and Shinobu, and if you say otherwise, it’s probably because you haven’t read Kizumonogatari.  The only problem is that nothing really happens with these two until the last arc (the ONA segment).  I don’t really want to say too much about it, but given that you have read the first novel, the entire last episode is one of the best scenes in the entire series.  And yes, it’s all a single scene because literally eighty percent of it takes place in the same location with Araragi and Hanekawa barely moving at all.  Now, I like Senjougahara and everything, but Hanekawa’s feeling are completely understandable, especially after all that shit that she went through with Araragi back when he had no friends at all; I actually felt kind of bad for her.  Without a doubt, my favorite character in the whole series is Shinobu, or rather Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade.  Once again, judging strictly from this series, saying that would just make me seem like a pederass, but really, she’s awesome; yet, explaining why has to be saved for Kizumonogatari.  Even though she’s pissed off at Araragi throughout the entire show and never says a word to him, that twenty or so seconds where she actually does something is fuckin’ badass.  And I really hope that it means that she’s actually somewhat forgiven him for what he did, because she obviously still cares about him.  Of course it could be that she still hates Hanekawa for screwing up her plan in the first place, and would never turn down the opportunity to beat her ass.  Still, I hope it’s the first one.

And obviously, no review of this show is complete without complementing on the artwork and how awesome Shaft is.  If you’ve ever heard anything about this show before there’s damn good chance that it was about the art style of it.  It’s kind of hard to categorize how this show looks other than “It’s Shaft”.  The art style is surreal, yet realistic at the same time; you never see any other people besides the main characters, there’s odd lighting and coloring throughout the series, odd camera angles, and that’s not even half of the style this show.  People often complain about the random text and other things that constantly flash onto the screen, claiming that it’s just an excuse to avoid animation in a show that is already pretty lax in that category.  However, I don’t see it that way at all, it’s just a characteristic of the series; after all, it’s not as constant as everyone makes it out to be.  I will concede that there isn’t really too much in terms of animation, but there can’t really be too much, with so much of the show being just people talking.  That’s not to say that the majority of the animation is bad or anything, it’s just decent.  But when Shaft actually decides to really animate a scene, it’s pretty amazing, especially during the fight in episode eight.  It seems like more of the work was put into the overall style of the show than the animation itself, which is somewhat disappointing, but with how beautiful everything is and the constant dialogue, you never truly miss it.  One thing to note, if you really want to get the most out of this series, download the episodes (720 or 1080, doesn’t really matter that much), don’t watch them on an anime site.  Watching this series in anything below 720p simply does injustice to the show.

There really aren’t too many anime like Bakemonogatari.  Not only does this series have amazing artwork, but the sheer amount of style that is has is almost impossible to describe.  It also has what so many anime completely ignore: good writing and great dialogue.  It’s truly an anime art house film, with thought put into every single random thing that’s put into it.  And so, here’s hoping that Nisemonogatari will continue it’s predecessor’s tradition of awesomeness.

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