Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Bakemonogatari - Episode 1

Generally speaking, making a start with 'Blogging a new series is pretty easy - Just cover the basic points of the plot and concept, discuss what you thought of the episode et voila, you're off on your merry way. However, occasionally a series comes along that isn't quite so easy to succinctly sum up, and judging by the blank canvas that is my brain right now I get the feeling that Bakemonogatari is just such a show.

Really, where do you start with a series like this? Mere seconds into the episode we get some particularly intricate fan service, before being whisked off on a fantastic and brutally surreal opening title sequence which pretty much sets the tone for what is to come. From here we meet Koyokmi Araragi, who we first see running up a flight of stairs before having to catch a falling girl... a girl who turns out to be almost weightless despite falling from such a great height.


We soon learn that this girl is Hitagi Senjougahara, a smart girl with a weak body... or so the story amongst her classmates goes. In fact, she's a rather violent girl with a penchant for stationary and a weight problem caused by a mysterious crab. Oh, and Araragi isn't exactly a normal, run-of-the-mill human either, while also keeping the company of some decidedly odd friends. See, this is why I'm having trouble putting together a coherent explanation of this stuff...

Anyhow, surreal and bizarre or not, this opening episode of Bakemonogatari grabbed my attention in all of the right ways. As you'd expect from a SHAFT series, it's a visual tour de force which is artistically more Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei than Natsu no Arashi, although to be honest it goes of in its own direction in terms of animation, with lots of CG and clean lines. It really is sumptuous in its own way, and if the animation quality can keep to this level for the remainder of the series then I'm hooked already. These qualities extend to the direction of the show, with some great use of first-person perspective to put us into Araragi's body at times coupled with some of the more traditional SHAFT-esque visual devices to keep things interesting.

Beyond mere aesthetics I'm equally drawn in by the first episode however - The dialogue is razor sharp (and not to mention funny when it wants to be, with a great little sarcastic take on Fullmetal Alchemist later in the episode), the characters are instantly both fascinating and endearing as required, and the entire production oozes quality from beginning to end. How the series will progress (given its source material's gestation as a number of short stories) I have no idea, but as of right now Bakemonogatari is absolutely dripping with potential to be my favourite show of the season. Roll on episode two!

5 comments:

lametasic said...

Supercell isn't doing the animation. The theme song for the show is done by Supercell, and that's the song at the end of the episode, Kimi no shiranai monogatari.

anime2kuk said...

Akiyuki Shinbo does it again!
Can't wait for episode 2.

Raul J Peña said...

Thank you for posting this! I have found a new series to look forward to this season! After Eden of East ended, this comes at the RIGHT time!

Yuki Yubari said...

I really hope Senjogahara continues using stationery items as weapons. That was a lovely touch! Come to think of it, there seems to be a lot of stationery imagery in this show, pens, notebooks, flashes of text, etc. I wonder if that's going to develop any relevance as the show goes. Anyhow, I'll definitely be watching!

EmilyFalcon said...

Actually, that "brutal title sequence" isn't a preview of what's to come, it's a flashback to the prequel story. I guess you'd need to read the manga in order to understand it, but it has to do with Araragi being a vampire.