Posted by: Dante Sangria | July 10, 2009

Bakemonogatari Episode 1 Review

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Before you continue: This is a must-watch. Impressive on every level.

Firstly, the intro. Or OP. It was… interesting. I don’t know if it was the opening or not since it didn’t have an OP song or any typical stuff, but it did it’s job: it was a good taste of things to come. Violence, obscurity, action, and subliminal color and kanji messages.

The school clock chimes, and a schoolboy (Araragi, our hero) races up a giant spiral staircase.

Suddenly we see with a surprised expression, a girl falling through the air – through the sky. This boy watches intensely and catches her. Her body is extremely light, weightless. She looks at him, shocked. Her name is "Senjogahara."

We next find Araragi in a classroom, alone with Hanekawa Tsubasa, the class chairman. They’re planning for the culture festival, despite their busy third year. Araragi is the vice chairman, thus is obligated to help. Araragi asks about a "Senjogahara Hitagi" in the class, who he seems concerned about due to her poor health and ability to participate. He then asks her more about Senjogahara, and her personality – who, despite their 3 years in the same class he doesn’t know anything about.

Despite this, Tsubasa went to middle school with Senjogahara and reports that she used to be healthier, full of life and the star of the school’s track club.

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However, after an excuse to leave promptly Araragi steps outside the classroom. A voice from behind him asks what he was discussing in the classroom. Turning around, a blade is shoved into his mouth but without hurting him – it’s Senjogahara…! She threatens him not to let the secret of her weightlessness out. Apparently, it was because of a banana peel that she slipped. (How Mario Kart…?!)

She wasn’t always weightless – it wasn’t until after middle school, when she met a single crab, her weight was taken. After a frightening threat he agrees to keep his mouth shut and swears silence.

She leaves, after stapling the inside of his cheek. Soon thereafter he runs after to catch up with her.

Senjogahara misinterprets his following as a request to fight with her, and she gets prepared – suddenly dozens of school supplies such as pens, scissors, and paintbrushes appear in both hands. She whipped them out of nowhere, where does she keep them?! Assuring her he didn’t come to fight, he proposes that he can help her. Disbelieving, Araragi shows Senjogahara the inside of his cheek – no wound was left by the staple!

Convincing her, they head off to see Oshino Meme, the man that helped Araragi turn from a vampire back into a human (with a few side-effects of immortality remaining). Oshino is a very eccentric character, with a lax attitude and an open Hawaiian shirt, an upside-down cross hung around his neck. In that place they see a little girl sitting in the corner, newly-named Shinobu Oshino by Oshino Meme – this apparently formless and shadowless girl that has been living there.

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Oshino takes Araragi and Senjogahara aside to discuss Senjogahara’s situation. He tells her about the "weight crab," a legendary crab who is both a weight crab and a "heavy" god. It arises when the situation calls for it.

He describes how gods are omnipresent, rather than being in a particular place. So the god was always around her, even before she was weightless – it was only her outlook that changed. He assures her he can help her out. She asks him if he can, indeed, save her. (But, me, I’d want to be weightless – imagine falling from heights!)

The camera focuses on a window wherein we see the full and glowing moon, and the ending theme starts. (A strangely-lyriced song, yet very catchy. )

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This episode left a great impression in overall presentation.

The art is fantastic. The visuals, anyway. I can’t really name a style to compare to. It’s just so effective, so different. Think Lain, if you want to think different. But better, I daresay. It’s quite simple, nothing extremely detailed a la Kara no Kyoukai, and uses kanji everywhere in almost subliminal flashes (if you can understand them). The subtleties in the art and presentation in this anime is what really sets it apart as so fantastic. It’s so obscure. (Such as the brain-stuffing scene, and the walking-through-the-building scene.)

The subtleties in color, the almost film noir sense at times (such as the intro), the blaring red signs, the angles of the scene when Araragi gets up in the hallway creates the illusion as if he’s regaining balance. Even the use of stark white over a dark background, to create such interesting contrast. I think they use color and like psychologically affecting symbols to create more impacting imagery – if that is their intention as I think it is, it’s very effective and well-executed.

The story seems to follow a group of people with supernatural abilities, and a magician-type guy with the ability to deal with such things. It seems like the object so far is to help this weightless girl overcome this curse-like affliction placed upon her. It seems different and frankly I don’t know where it’s going, but it should be good. It’s not your typical magical-user anime, either.

Overall, it’ll definitely be worth checking out in the future. I don’t know what it holds in store, but it’s different, and if you want to check out something different and interesting (yet, at this point, slightly confusing – potential depth, here!), definitely give this a go.

I’m about as enthusiastic with this as CANAAN, but this is a much more different formula than CANAAN with its good story and sharp graphics, and it really grabs your attention.


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