I don't think it's too much of a push to say that Bakemonogatari was one of my favourite shows of 2009 (well, 2010 if you include the seemingly endless wait for the final episodes), so the return of Koyokmi Arararagi (oops, I stuttered) to kick off 2012 is pretty much the most welcome thing I can think of from this year so far.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, this opening gambit of Nisemonogatari begins with Araragi in rather a tight spot - kidnapped and chained to some desks. What sort of nefarious person would do such a thing? When you have a girlfriend like Hitagi Senjougahara, you probably don't have to look too far afield to find your culprit, giving us an early dose of the kind of snappy, sparkling dialogue that makes this franchise so enjoyable as Senjougahara taunts and torments her hapless, helpless boyfriend.
With that done and dusted, we seem to forget all about that scenario for the rest of the instalment, instead finding ourselves filled in with Araragi's plans for summer break - effectively a non-stop cram school hosted by Senjougahara most of the time and by Tsubasa Hanekawa on Saturdays. When Hanekawa has to take a rain check on a session, Araragi finds himself at a loose end - after a chat with younger sister Tsukihi, he opts to spend this spare time with Nadeko Sengoku... at least that's the plan, until he becomes more than a little sidetracked by ghostly grade-school Mayoi Hachikuji.
Let's start with a little honest appraisal here - very little actually happened in this first episode of Nisemonogatari. Aside from some subtle (or perhaps not-so subtle) references to bees from Senjougahara this was almost slice of life, Araragi-style. Thankfully, this isn't exactly a complaint against the episode, because who cares that nothing of much note happens when it's delivered chock-full of fantastic dialogue and self-referential meta-humour, whether it's discussing what dance the end credits should have or making references to Evangelion and Read or Die. It's very much otaku fodder for sure (perhaps even more so than Bakemonogatari thanks to an increased reliance upon sexual humour or situations, which can be a little disturbing if you think too much about Hachikuji's age) but not only does it know its audience, it also knows how to serve it perfectly, and that it does so in an intelligent, quick-fire and dialogue heavy manner while still managing to be visually striking from time to time is worthy of praise aplenty. It'll certainly need to start building upon these bare bones moving forward, but as a reintroduction to its slightly supernatural world I think I've just fallen in love with its characters all over again.