When an anime does not meet expectations, it is frequently portrayed as a negative on the series rather than on the individual’s expectations. Regardless of how unrealistic or grandiose the initial expectations are, the unfortunate outcome usually places the blame on the anime, often times summarized as, “it wasn’t as good as I expected.” While that method is certainly fair and appropriate for some anime, it isn’t for others or anime in general. Evaluating Nisemonogatari based off my expectations alone, which is what I did after watching this finale, is a misstep I took in properly judging this anime.
For me, I based my expectations and impressions for Nisemonogatari off misinterpreted information and a lack of proper research or verification, so it’s only natural that the series did not meet my formulated expectations. However, rather than campaigning that the anime was bad or wrong as I would have in the past, I’ll do what I should do in this situation and compare how it was different than what I expected.
My initial expectations for Nisemonogatari were lofty. I predicted that this series would surpass its original, Bakemonogatari, for a number of reasons which dominated my first post for the series. After a quick skimming of the post, you can immediately see where some of my expectations completely missed. For one, I expected the series to take view from the perspective of the sisters, Karen and Tsukihi, rather than from the protagonist, Koyomi. This fatal mistake was based off some incorrect information I read about the series and we never got to see the series through their point of view, not even the confrontation between Karen and Kaiki which was told through Koyomi in the third person. While I would normally point to this example as something that did not meet my expectations and therefore lessen the series, it was wrong to believe that and completely ignores the fact that the storytelling, all from Koyomi’s perspective like Bakemonogatari, was still intriguing and engaging and lead to some magnificently crafted dialogue and exchanges. It really wasn’t worse, it was simply not what I anticipated for this series.
Another example was the character development which fell short of my expectations for everyone except for Shinobu and Kaiki. Again, this is a point where I would usually criticize the anime but these points were not really the focus of the anime, so it never really had the opportunity to match my expectations given the amount of time I thought we’d see on character development. It is also worth noting that I did disclaim that the series not matching these benchmarks would indicate that the series has slipped with me for failing to meet my expectations. It’s true it did not meet expectations but it’s hardly a fault that the series took a different but acceptable path in telling its story. The list continues with numerous other points but I believe you have the idea of why I felt my initial judgment of Nisemonogatari was unfair. This is partially the reason why I am writing the post on this subject and why I was wrong to believe that at the beginning of the series.
It is easy to evaluate a series based off how they performed compared to expectations since one already has the criteria to assess a series but it leaves room to ignore certain specific areas that are integral to the series overall. By formulating specific thoughts or ideas on a series and focusing on those entities, entire areas, concepts, or themes can be overlooked or misinterpreted and the judgment on the series can be incomplete. For example, I never really considered the ecchi content or constant sex themes in the series before the anime began but it certainly was prevalent and important throughout. By evaluating the series based solely off my expectations, this significant feature would merely be a footnote that could or could not be on topic at best. Rather, by taking a placing these expectations to the side and considering the series as a whole, one can create a more complete and appropriate evaluation for the series that can be understood by more than one based off personal expectations. It isn’t fair to an anime to only specify specific areas and base a judgment on those alone without considering everything together as a whole.
However, when expectations and actual material do not match, it is not a free pass for the anime to escape criticism though it should not solely be based off expectations alone. For example, Nisemonogatari had pacing issues throughout the series which resulted in the final arc, Tsukihi Phoenix, being constricted to just three speedy episodes while the rest of the series felt like a lazy summer afternoon. That fault with the series had little to do with my expectations for the series, so it’s fair to highlight and explain this issue. Of course the defense for the series would be, ‘didn’t you expect the series would have decent pacing and therefore, wouldn’t this be going against what you wrote about earlier in the post?’ only for me to rebut, ‘it isn’t something explicitly expected and something that should be assumed across all anime. You don’t expect an anime to be paced poorly only to be surprised and delighted when it’s a mediocre product.’ I do have faults with Nisemonogatari which clarifies why I don’t think the series was the best it could be but that’s not the point of this post nor really in my interests at this moment. It is also important not to completely ignore expectations or to dismiss making them altogether either. For now, however, I will try to be more fair with anime and try not to evaluate them based off my expectations but rather on the product we’re given. It may turn out to be challenging or nearly impossible but it is worth a try and perhaps could lead to some new enjoyment in anime that I create false or unreachable expectations of.
Earlier this week, when I returned to my hotel in Tokyo after a lengthy day of sightseeing and experiencing Japan, I flipped on the TV to see what anime were on. I had already watched a few minutes of Nichijou when I arrived at the hotel around 6 but I was curious if I’d find any anime there were airing their finales or see what reruns are currently airing and still popular from previous seasons. Turns out this episode of Nisemonogatari was airing, so I spent a few minutes watching it before ultimately muting it and reading the most recent chapter of Needless (which was 100 as well as the 4-koma special). What’s significant about this is that this was the first time I really watched anime broadcast on a TV in a number of years, probably since watching stuff on Cartoon Network in high school. And even then, I never watched anything new though I realized this aired a week after the finale aired in Japan. It felt special to me, watching a new anime on TV, in Japan, complete with all those random anime ads that we seem to never get outside of Japan. It was an amazing experience. Afterwards, I watched a bit of Fate/Zero despite still the fact I am waiting to start it after I finish Fate/Stay Night (which I need to start or play soon) and some Hidamari Sketch and High School DxD after that (two other anime I don’t or haven’t watched). It was an enjoyable experience, one that I will not soon forget.