Bakemonogatari Review (TV)

DirectorTatsuya Oishi

Animation ProductionShaft

Bakemonogatari is a spectacularly stylish and eerie series similar in tone to other atmospheric shows such as Ghost Hound and Paranoia Agent.

Based on the light novel by Nisio Isin, Bakemonogatari (lit. ghost story) is about Koyomi Araragi, a final year high school student, who deals with supernatural beings. After recovering from an undead state as a result of a vampire attack, Araragi has retained the ability to quickly recover from any physical harm. He now works with Oshino Meme an expert on vanquishing the supernatural. The 12 episodes involve Araragi’s encounter with different spirits that have inhabited other humans.

The supernatural spirits manifest in people as a result of some deep emotion problems, for example we first are introduced to Hitagi Senjougahara, who has become nearly weightless. Araragi discovers this when he catches her while she is falling down stairs at school (some really long, winding abstract looking stairs). Senjougahara for some reason is also able to hide a multitude of stationary which she uses aggressively to keep her secret and to make her point she jams a staple onto Araragi’s mouth. This serves as an introduction to the supernatural elements of the show and the recovery power of Araragi. The great thing about Senjougahara’s character is that there are many layers to her and as the series progress we learn that she is an emotionally scarred but independent girl lacking social interaction until meeting Araragi.

The animation style of the show is very interesting as it uses a range of different colours, frames of view and abstractions. It is very artistic in the way all of this is brought together as it keeps the viewer engaged since the show is mostly conversations. Something that is distinct in the show is that during the conversations, a frame of animation with text on a single colour background will pop up sometimes related to the emotions going on or something seemingly unrelated and random. Eerie real life footage also shows up, cementing its attempt to be abstract and adhere to a modern art style. Some episodes like the first use black and white, shadows and a sepia tone while others are colourful. The show rarely seems bland animation wise and this is probably due to the fact that you rarely see other characters except those you are introduced to. It is very clear that a lot of care went into the animation to the extent that every frame tries to do something intriguing.

One of the few problems I had with the show involved the moe characters in a few of the episodes. They might have tried to be humorous and ironic but it was painful to watch. The other attempts at humour were more successful making use of awkward pauses, weird situations, bending cliché’s (usually by adding over the top violence), and unexpected turns in conversations. One final thing to mention is how well it ends, the final episode is surreal for 3/4 of the episode and then ends in an absolutely heart warming conclusion. Shows rarely pull off a satisfying pleasant ending but Bakemonogatari does.

Rating – A

Year – 2009 Length – 12 episodes

Genres – Mystery, Supernatural, Romance, Action, Dark Comedy

Note: There are an additional 3 web only episodes that I haven’t seen yet.