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.

Eden of the East Review

eden of the east title

Animation Production Production I.G.

Director/CreatorKenji Kamiyama

Eden of the East is the latest project by the team of Production I.G. and Kenji Kamiyama who most notably directed the critically acclaimed Ghost in the Shell T.V series. It is so far an 11 episode series with 2 movies planned, the first “The King of Eden” is due out in Japan on the 28th November 2009.

Set in current day Japan the show involves a game surrounding a select group of individuals, “Selecao”, who have been chosen to save Japan. The founder of this game believes Japan is in stagnation and needs a revolution and he has charged 11 individual with 10 billion yen and a phone that will execute any requests. The show revolves around Akira Takizawa who is one of the Selecao and Saki Morimi who is a member of a group called Eden of The East. If you want further information about the plot take a look at my previous episode summaries.

This is the kind of show that entirely appeals to my tastes, I love the mix of mystery and believable science fiction set in modern day Japan. The technology involved in this show is not as crazy as what we have seen in something like Ghost in the Shell but has more to do with the internet and applications surrounding it. Eden of the East is a group who have developed an image recognition software and utilise the public to effectively tag people and objects. It is accessible on mobile phones and puts into focus possibilities for real life application. This aspect is not a main focus but gives it some depth along with the mystery elements surrounding the premise of the show.

One of the main underlying themes is the societal problems in Japan surrounding the NEET’s. But this isn’t a show like Welcome the the NHK, it has some upbeat attitudes towards them and they are involved at various points in the series. Akira utilises the strengths of theses NEET’s as a collective to try and save Japan. Other Selecao have different ideas on how to save Japan such as missile attacks on the elderly and NEET’s. Some buckle under the pressure or the greed overtakes them with 10 billion yen to spend. The actions of the Selecao sum up the different views on the current state of the society in Japan.

Go out of your way and watch this show, there needs to be more like this.

Rating A-

Genre – Mystery, Science Fiction Length – 11 Episode series Year – 2009

Moyashimon (Tales of Agriculture) Review

Moyashimon

Director – Yuchiro Yano

Animation Production – Shirogumi Inc.

This is the type of show that I very much enjoy,  it is the definition of a niche show that takes a concept and builds an anime around it. The director Yuchiro Yano it not very well known but one of the other shows he has directed (Mujin Wakusei Survive) has me interested.

Moyashimon microbe

The show involves science/micro biology set in an agriculture university in Tokyo. The focus of the show is centered around a young man who can see microbes. This ability makes him a wanted man as others want to utilize it for various scientific and monetary gains. However it is a light hearted show with plenty of comedy while making the science aspects interesting.

 Other notable points about this show is the exploration of university life in Japan and what an agriculture university would be like. It manages to throw in the theme of  choices in life which is relevant to almost all the characters in the anime. 

It is a short show leaving plenty of questions unanswered while there is no second season announced. They go so far as to say that after the 11th episode that it was the final episode of the series. The problem with a short episode count with these sort of shows (slice of life) is that there isn’t enough time to develop characters. But the comedic and bizarre elements of the show along with the science aspect are what I enjoy about it.  I can’t recommend this to everyone but if what you have read so far interests you it is a must watch.

Side note Shirogumi is a animation and special effects studio. Only other previous anime work has been on Antique Bakery. They have worked on movies and game cut scenes such as in Soul Calibur 3, Baten Kaitos and FF7 Dirge of Cerberus.

Rating – B+

Genre – Comedy, Slice of Life Episodes – 11 Year – 2007

Currently not licensed in the U.S.