Bakemonogatari – a decent way to end the entire series? Chemistry and characterization

My eyes just catch on / Just to these little details / I have no idea.

Bakemonogatari 15 reveals that the cause of Hanekawa’s stress is none other than our protagonist, Araragi. Apparently, she fell in love with him after seeing his vampiric powers in action, and if I’m not mistaken, how he saved her once, convincing her that the feeling was love. While the Cat attempts to get him to break up with Hitagi for Hanekawa, he doesn’t. Being the dumbfuck he is, he follows her instructions to stand under the spotlight -where his shadow could have been seen  – after which, he gets attacked.

Tsubasa Cat figures that if she killed him, Hanekawa’s problems would go away. Being the self-sacrificial gentleman he is, Araragi braces for death, only to realise that if he died, Hitagi would kill her. In the end, he awakens his senses and calls for help from the missing Shinobu, who was hiding all that time in his own shadow. Shinobu subdues Hanekawa, and the series ends with an all-together happy ending.

What Bakemonogatari succeeds at is characterization, chemistry and communication. In Bakemonogatari, there were 5 arcs,so to speak. We have Hitagi Crab, Hachikuji Snail, Suruga Monkey, Nadeko Snake and of course, Tsubasa Cat. Each arc focuses on one girl, so to speak. Hitagi could have been mistaken to be your typical tsundere lead at first sight, but of course, she’s not that simple. Instead of being this, submissive, moe girl who does nothing but fret over how to get her often-impressive and stupid male lead. No. She’s a tsundere who is smart, self-conscious and often, the domineering one in their relationship. She may tell all the dry jokes, sure, but she’s often right.  Not to mention, she’s always the one who decides everything in their relationship , from being a cock-tease to ordering Araragi around.

Mayoi and Nadeko, to be frank, might have been cheap ways to include moe and loli fan-service in the plot. As much as I liked the two characters, who couldn’t agree that Nadeko’s arc had not much bearing on the story at all? Now don’t get me wrong – I like her- but really. However, both of them received sufficient characterization in my opinion. Mayoi’s story was sad and entertaining, which admittedly , helped set the stage for why she’s kind of clingy to Araragi. Nadeko was sort of in love with Araragi from a long time ago – perhaps due to his vampiric charisma, as explained by Tsubasa Cat. Hanekawa was well-done as well – for being multi-dimensional, other than your typical glasses-girl. She has actual feelings (gasp) and she turns out to be a very complex character. Without its characters, Bakemonogatari would be nothing, really.

So what does Bakemonogatari do with its characters?

Chemistry. Each character is dynamic in his or her own special way. Like what I said for Hitagi, the other characters are closely related as well. Especially at the end. You can tell that they wanted to emphasize on Hanekawa, Suruga, Hitagi and Araragi. The ending has them cast their shells of foolish childishness away, in the light of their beliefs rediscovered, Araragi ends the series with a sweet footnote. All the characters had interloping arcs, so to speak. Hitagi told Araragi that Mayoi could not be seen -literally. Mayoi kept appearing throughout to help him – or tease him – from time to time. Suruga and Nadeko help out in the other arcs as well. As such, a character web is built. However, Araragi’s sisters, being side characters, were kind of one-dimensional, which is understandable if you look at Bakem0nogatari for what it is – but it isn’t. Each of these ‘side characters’ gets developed as well . As such, we feel close to them. We feel as though we actually know them ;as such we enjoy their relationships and chemistry.

Lastly, communication. Not just between characters, but visually as well. Communication takes up a large amount of screen-time in Bakemonogatari. From seeing them converse, to seeing just monochromatic dialogue screens – you still are kept in the plot, waiting for it to advance. No, not from the wait of yet another episode, but for the episode itself.  You want to know what they are going to say. As such, SHAFT’s visuals come into play. With its dynamic visuals, SHAFT conveys these ideas nicely,leaving a lasting impact on the audience. Its art is well-directed as well, being of high quality and proof of the effort behind each episode.

All in all, the series had its ups and downs, but the show turned out to be utterly dynamic and entertaining. Each episode has its own unique style, each seeming to bring a new dynamic into the show. I hope there aren’t any more seasons , actually – this season was good enough, and second seasons often ruin everything…..

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12 Responses to Bakemonogatari – a decent way to end the entire series? Chemistry and characterization

  1. Lenneth says:

    too bad they not doing arcs on other characters in the novel as well…hope they have an OVA which still maintains the standard of the series

  2. Lenneth says:

    you should talk about BRS ova…and how it disappoints many…

  3. ScorchNRoses says:

    SHAFT was planning to do the other characters’ arcs in Nisemonogatari, but for some reason they canceled it. Most probably Nisemonogatari is a winter anime.

    I didn’t have high hopes for BRS ova ’cause the story isn’t even by huke. So even though the ova turned out average, I enjoyed it as I’ve expected something like this :3

    • Valence says:

      They already screwed up this season by airing times and whatnot, I expect them to have made some losses. If there is gonna be a Nisemonogatari anime, or even a Kizumonogatari anime, for ages to come.

      Haven’t gotten around to watching BRS yet, gonna download it first.

  4. trewdys says:

    So…nothing to say about the filler frames? Not even trying to make them look ‘purposeful for the communication’?

  5. deaky says:

    > Being the self-sacrificial gentleman he is, Araragi braces for death, only to realise that if he died, Hitagi would kill her.

    Yeah, this was why it was the weakest of the arcs for me. With such an interesting antagonist, and after all that he’s supposed to have learned, it all came down to him repeating his mistakes and proving that he really is a simple-minded moron. The characters turned out to be horribly simplistic despite all that “dialogue”.

    However, I still feel that Shaft did an ok job of bringing the show to life.. it’s really not that marvellous a story to begin with (though I can see why people eat it up in a Twilight world). Needed more “ghost story” and less emo kids.

    Shaft really over-did the “communication”, though. It was cute at first, then slowly became annoyingly pretentious.. like they were saying “yeah, we know we suck and will never properly animate this, so we’ll just make it obvious and try to write it off as an art project”. The delays certainly didn’t help matters.

    • Valence says:

      I suppose you’re right in the sense that he’s this reckless, stupidly self-sacrificial character who always ends up being in danger of death, like in Suruga Monkey. However, I felt that while Araragi, Mayoi and Nadeko might have been more simplistic, Hitagi and Hanekawa shone for me.

      SHAFT really likes using these totally unrelated animation styles in its work, so I can’t complain that that they “will never properly animate this”. SHAFT excels in art, although I suppose the delays were too unaccounted for.

      • deaky says:

        Actually, I dig Shaft’s art style and a fair bit of their direction (Shinbo’s iris fetish notwithstanding). And this show did have some rather nice setting backdrops. It’s just stuff like the gratuitous use of the kanji on animation stop-gap frames that really got to me. It made a slow anime seem even slower to me. For me, that sort of thing works well in moderation.. not when it feels like 50% of the episode.

        But yeah, I guess it all comes down to sense of taste, especially when it comes to the last arc. I was just mostly bored out of my mind. There wasn’t even a decent twist. Just lots of “you suck, Araragi-nyan”, Shinobu randomly saves the day, everyone finally notices Oshino’s left, and bam! End of series. It all felt anticlimactic.

        • Valence says:

          Guess so. The ending might have summed up the series nicely, but it could have been much better,given the huge disparity in releases. I suppose if the series was released regularly, the scenes might have worked better.

          Hope SHAFT can improve if there ever is some kind of a sequel somewhere.

  6. Nopy says:

    You’re right about Nadeko. She’s my favourite character, but when I look at it objectively, she didn’t contribute much to the story. On the other hand, if characters like Hitagi and Tsubasa were gone, it would be a completely different series.

    • Valence says:

      It would be like a less-ecchi version of Kodomo no Jikan , what with the entire ‘harem’ consisting of lolis and fanservice.

      But then again, Nadeko could have done more instead of being pure loli-service.

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