I have high hopes for Nisemonogatari. What leads me to believe in these high hopes is not for the mere fact that this is the sequel to the beautiful Bakemonogatari, a favorite for both art and dialogue, but that this series can improve upon the lofty accomplishments from its predecessor. And if the first episode is any indication, it seems we’re already on the road to improvement.
Bakemonogatari was a celebrated success when it aired over the Summer of 2009. With its visual delicacies and dazzling dialogue, the anime became an instant favorite and a popular topic for discussion and debate. The anime remains well-received and relevant even today, evident with the current excitement and anticipation behind the launch of Nisemonogatari, which is more than you can say of most anime that debuted almost 3 years ago. Probably what is driving most of the energy behind the sequel are fans eager to be reunited with cherished characters, an eccentric art style, brilliant directing, and more of the same that made its precursor such an acclaimed anime. That is, people are expecting this to be as good as Bakemonogatari. Of course, it’s unfair to lump everyone in this pool when a simple Gaussian distribution would indicate otherwise and I take heed to that generalization that assumes we’re all in that chunk of fanbase that I assume is the majority. Rather, I’m excited for Nisemonogatari because I believe it will be better than Bakemonogatari.
Don’t misunderstand my position on Bakemonogatari because it is a 10/10 on my anime list. I was blown away by the remarkable aesthetics and the inspiring and emotional dialogue that every exchange between characters felt like some form of a masterpiece, both visually and aurally. Senjougahara became an instant favorite, largely due to how she presented her personality and conducted herself around others, and the entire cast proved enjoyable either through entertainment or their individual stories. It was almost flawless. Almost. What irked me the most about Bakemonogatari was the lack of a coherent story throughout the series leaving each arc feeling isolated from one another and lacking order. Perhaps worst of this was that the arcs began to feel repetitive with new girl, new condition, and same victory like that’s all the series knew how to do. The harem aspect of the original series irritated me, not due to the sexualization of the characters, but because it felt superfluous, especially when it happens five or six times. Lastly, with the cyclic pattern of the series, it felt like some of the characters were underdeveloped (not that kind of underdeveloped…) only providing introductions before moving onto their cure and then the background. These blemishes weren’t enough to weigh down Bakemonogatari into the highly acceptable 9/10 but they’re enough to make it the lowest 10/10 on my list.
Enter Nisemonogatari, the champion of my hopes and dreams for a version of Bakemonogatari superior to the original. What Nisemonogatari can do that would improve off of Bakemonogatari are actually not modest corrections to the flaws listed above, although some do count, but rather do what most two season anime do and improve upon what made them lovable in the first place. Most noticeably in the first episode is the improved art and animation, something the original struggled with from episode to episode. Probably most notable were the lack of text-heavy blank screens that were used to transition from scene to scene or shot to shot. Second, the sequel can spend time progressing the characters and highlighting their strengths and chemistry. Again, we saw an example in this episode with Nadeko and Hachikuji, two of the more underdeveloped (still not that meaning) characters from the original interacting with Koyomi outside major problems. A continuation of the masterful dialogue helps, especially the exchanges with Senjougahara and the discussion with Hachikuji, and change of perspective will provide a fresh lens to view this world and its characters, assuming the point of view changes from Araragi Koyomi to Araragis Karen and Tsukihi. Actually, that last bit is what I’m looking forward to the most with Nisemonogatari.
You don’t know how eager I am to see all the characters of Bakemonogatari through the eyes and mind of Karen and Tsukihi. Not only to see how differently they behave themselves around others but I’m excited to see how these interactions affect the story. Watching Koyomi solve these mysteries were all fine and dandy but to see his sisters perform these duties, especially if it to save Koyomi as the preseason synopsis suggests. Add in the fact that our reintroduction of Tsukihi showed how brilliant, natural, and complex her character is (or only to the degree you can in only a handful of minutes), I can hardly contain my enthusiasm and feel distort that these words might not be enough to communicate my feelings here. I’ll provide a bit of explanation here to perhaps help clarify why this means so much. I love, applaud, and praise a series whenever the perspective changes from one character to another for an extended duration of time. Even with a drop in quality, interest, or improper storytelling, I can’t help but feel positive about a change such as that. At the very worst, I’ll compliment a series for trying something new to expand the world outside of one character’s eyes. But if the perspective never changes in Nisemonogatari and this entire series is seen through Koyomi, then this section can be completely disregarded. These are all dependent upon the perspective transitioning to Karen and Tsukihi which I beg happens sooner rather than later. And, of course, it doesn’t have to be limited to those two characters either…
Combine these four constituents together and there will be no doubt that this anime will be better than its original. However, the opposite is equally valid and the lack of these improvements would indicate this anime has regressed from my perspective. But the first episode presented the first three ingredients (improved art, developed characters, beautiful dialogue) and although the final one was absent, it has been hinted at. To what degree these elements are implemented and whatever happens to the other aspects not mentioned or not foreseen will prove whether this anime is better than the original or not. But my hopes of an improved Bakemonogatari have been partially confirmed and I’m elated with the first episode of Nisemonogatari.
I believe this is the first extended look inside the Araragi household unless my memory is foggy or I never appreciated the home of these kids before. The home is stunning and is quite expressive of the characters. The main room where Tsukihi and Koyomi have their interaction has only a small number of colors with the dominate ones being white, yellow, and red. I’m not going to assign meanings behind the colors but just comment on how striking they are and how there are three colors (damn, I said I wasn’t going to assign meaning to them). The windows allow the room to be brightly lit and the opposite side has some wacky artwork that appear to be family photos only taken through another medium of art. The house itself, quite sizeable (at least 3 stories) and open, indicates that the Araragis are especially wealthy and the kids are brought up in a well-off manner. The girls are doing well at school and are somewhat restless given their position while Koyomi spends his days worrying about his sisters and his friends. And all that from a simple room in their home. It’s nothing terribly important but something I love to do with anime like this that put so much detail into their color, light, and architecture. And I recall doing the exact same thing the last time I blogged a Shaft anime with Madoka. Maybe I just love the way Shaft portrays characters’ homes? Or maybe I’m just a sucker to seeing where people live in general. Probably some combination of the two actually.