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Bakemonogatari Episode 1

July 13, 2009

Your call is as good as mine, really.

Through a recommendation by a close friend, I decided to pick up Bakemonogatari without any prior knowledge of the show’s content.

Barely a minute into the video and my mind is already making a number of snapshot conjectures. Something about all of this seems oddly… familiar. The frenetic pacing, the avant-garde art style, and the fiendishly jazzy background music? This feels like a Shaft production.

So I search Wikipedia and, lo and behold, Studio – Shaft.

Once again proving to be the proverbial New Wave of the Japanese animation industry, Shaft produced an opening sequence that is so overwhelmingly enjambed that you can tell right off the bat that this show is going to require a serious leap of faith for viewers, which isn’t unusual for the animation studio in question; the ever-popular EF and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series are both definitely an acquired taste.

It’s hard to slot Bakemonogatari into a certain genre based on the first episode alone.You’d think that it was a supernatural shounen based on the opening sequence and the traits of the characters introduced thus far. After all, Araragi is apparently a vampire-turned human. The extent to how undead he is still murky at this point, but it’s indicated that he can heal from small wounds with ease. But during the latter half of the episode, it teeters into a very incongruously situated slice-of-life-subtextual-romance between Araragi and Senjougahara.

Writing this review is also proving to be troublesome because there really isn’t much to run with from the vague information offered to us. The dialogue is mostly spoken in glittery metaphysical generalities. Frankly, it’s a little cheesy, and makes me feel as if the writers have mistaken obscurity for sophistication.

If anything at all, the show offers strikingly beautiful and consistent animation, as well as highly polished scenery and backgrounds. Shaft seems to have a lot on their plate this season, so hopefully the overexertion on their part doesn’t mar the adaptation. Despite my initial skepticisim, I’ll definitely stick around for this series to the end.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 13, 2009 5:02 am

    It’s also a quintessentially Akiyuki Shinbo production. If nothing else, that man is a genius at making an anime budget sing to the very last yen.

    I hadn’t thought of the opening in terms of visual enjambment, but that’s actually a very useful way of thinking about some typical Shaft techniques. Good looking out.

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