Review : Nisemonogatari


Nisemonogatari is the sequel to Shaft's 2009 hit Bakemonogatari. As I said in my previous review, all my reviews this month are devoted to Monogatari Series. Now, I will be honest, I hold a certain amount of bias for this anime, a bias that leans towards SUPAH positive. I love Bakemonogatari with a passion, and if I seem like I'm just acting out my part to spearhead the opinion of the fanbase, don't hold it against me. I will do my best to be as unbiased as possible. You have been WARNED!

Story

Nisemonogatari is organized into two arcs: “Karen Bee” followed by “Tsukihi Phoenix”. Similar to Bakemonogatari, each arc is about a specific spiritual ailment that affects a character — in this case Koyomi’s two little sisters. Karen and Tsukihi themselves are present enough to barely develop their own stories but absent during the actual climaxes and resolutions of their respective arcs. Both times, Koyomi with his allies goes to square off against the bad guy. This departure from Bakemonogatari’s plot structure came off initially as peculiar, but I’ve come to understand it as a motif the series constructs about family. Koyomi is unflinchingly devoted to protecting his sisters and acts as their proxy in dealing with their curses.

Like in Bakemonogatari, the plot is mostly dialogue-driven. While this may bore those who are used to action-packed stories, I personally found the large number of long conversations, especially their contents, to be really interesting - especially the way they develop characters that, in turn, end up contributing towards the development of the plot. Although I'm certain that I missed many of the implicit meanings behind certain scenes, the fact that the story is still enjoyable is what matters, even if the bare minimum of what was intended is absorbed.


Characters

First off, Araragi Koyomi, he continues showing why he is one of the most interesting and entertaining male protagonists in Anime World. Given the opportunity and situation, the words that come out of his mouth are unbelievably moving, even encouraging and true. One can easily empathize with his beliefs and ideals, which he strongly holds onto even in the toughest of times. Unfortunately, such a solid character is a rarity these days.

While Bakemonogatari dealt with five of his female friends, Nisemonogatari expands on the two characters that are even closer to him: his younger sisters. The combination of Karen and Tsukihi make for an interesting pair; the two are literally the opposites of each other in terms of personality. They both also fill more standard harem archetypes that the first series left unfilled - Karen is the spunky, martial arts loving girl, whilst Tsukihi is something of a yandere. Nonetheless, after having their share of screentime this time around, both sisters were developed well (more so Karen than Tsukihi, in my opinion). 

Other characters also get their moments. First and foremost, Hitagi’s moments near the end of the Karen Bee arc show a vulnerability and depth of emotion to her that works well at complementing the sensitivity shown near the end of the first season. Retreading her weakness provides some much-needed cracks in her cool tsundere. Shinobu gets a similar treatment that has her bounding between violent legendary vampire and lonely little girl. Isin binds the two personalities together using her condescension as glue, which allows her to be aloof, ironic, and earnestly concerned about Araragi without stretching the limits of her characterization.


Evem the anime’s villains were simple yet surprisingly effective. Kaiki Deishu, the first villain introduced. He is heartless and conniving, but plainly candid about it. But he doesn’t come off as cheap or as a thief, but rather as an intelligent and rational con-man. Kaiki’s design is elegant because his cold logic is easily accessible and understood by viewers. As a villain, he has no sense of self-doubt or hesitation — he is completely confident in his worldview, and it justifies everything he does.

Animation and Sound

Anyone who has watched anime for a reasonably long period of time must have come across SHAFT's animation on at least one occasion. Known for their "unique" artwork, SHAFT's approach is often at times a risky "hit or miss". For Nisemonogatari, I felt the artwork matched the overall atmosphere. The often comical expressions of the characters fit in well with the less serious aspects of the series. The usage of rapid scene changes and abstract visuals in the other parts were also able to set the mood with relative effectiveness. While it may take getting used to, the overall animation style is much more than just decent. 


For the sound, It didn't really changed drastically from the first series; the episodes start with a blast of heavily distorted electric guitar, and a catchy pop-song opening, which is reminiscent of Staple Stable, to say the least. But, the lack of background music in Nisemonogatari compared to other series is noticeable, with only the occasional piano melody from the opening or ending slipped in at appropriate moments, but with the amount of dialogue that it has, this is actually a good thing; it would be pointless including any more soundtrack, as it would just either pass completely over our heads or make it incredibly difficult to listen to. The ending is a pop-rock four-chord number which will probably get stuck in your head on an endless loop at some stage, and no amount of purging your memory with your own music collection will dislodge it. If you liked Bakemonogatari’s Staple Stable and Renai Circulation, then this is definitely worth a listen.

Enjoyment

For me, Nisemonogatari or the whole Monogatari Series is more of a intellectual anime, wherein there are lots of debates that will makes me think about my own opinion on the subject. But, it's hard not to enjoy a show like this, as it is more of a comedy so most of the times these debates often lead you to laughter. I really enjoyed it. Of course, there are also some fanservice here and there, although it may not be what you expect! (ever got raped by a toothbrush?)

Arararagi Committee! (I'm sorry, I stuttered. xD)
Overall, Nisemonogatari was a decent watch. In every sense, it was obviously made from Bakemonogatari’s mold. It’s stylistically fascinating and the narrative is quite compelling. When Bakemonogatari aired, it was unlike anything I had seen before; it possessed a distinct tone of originality and experimentalism even by Shinbo’s own standards. And while Nisemonogatari lacks that rare quality of its predecessor, it confidently addresses themes such as the perception of righteousness and the validity of “impostors”. It is an overwhelmingly charming and intriguing series that I would recommend for any fan of the franchise.

4 STAR ANIME.


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