Bakemonogatari

Bakemonogatari

Bakemonogatari anime cover art featuring Hitagi Senjougahara
Bakemonogatari Cover Art

Overview

Although I’ve already written about the Monogatari series as a whole and included it in my Top 10 Anime post, I’ve decided to also write about each part individually. These posts will probably be done in release order starting with this one, Bakemonogatari.

Bakemonogatari includes five arcs and is made up of 15 episodes. As with all the other parts of the series, Bakemonogatari is animated by Shaft, the same studio that made Madoka Magica.

I’ll mention now that these individual part reviews will most likely contain more spoilers than the review of the overall series or the entry in my Top 10 post.

Hitagi Crab

The first arc, Hitagi Crab, contains the first two episodes of Bakemonogatari. As the start of the series, this is where we’re introduced to our main character, Koyomi Araragi and the first of what I’ll refer to as the “Monogatari girls,” Hitagi Senjougahara.

Each arc typically centers around a girl who has had a run-in with an apparition, and Koyomi is typically the one who helps them. While Senjougahara is one of the main characters of the series going forward, I wouldn’t go so far as to say she’s the female lead; that would be Shinobu Oshino.

While this arc is short, it sets up the general idea of the rest of the series. When someone is affected by an apparition, it’s typically caused by their own mindset about something.

In Senjougahara’s case, she wanted to forget about the emotional weight she was carrying, so she ended up losing her physical weight too.

The OP song for the Hitagi Crab arc is “Staple Stable.”

Mayoi Snail

The second arc of Bakemonogatari introduces my favorite character of the series, Mayoi Hachikuji. The Mayoi Snail arc is slightly different from the other arcs in Bakemonogatari in that Mayoi isn’t the one affected by an apparition, she is the apparition.

While this arc isn’t really anything special on its own, Mayoi‘s character is one of the best reoccurring characters of the series. She fills many different roles as the series goes on, one of which is bringing comedy into the anime.

However, she isn’t simply there for comedic effect. Despite still being a child, she serves as a mentor character for our protagonist, Koyomi. Technically, if she were still alive she would be older than he is so she has more experience with how the world works.

Out of all the characters in the series, I’d argue that Mayoi is the one Koyomi can depend upon the most. Senjougahara, Hanekawa, Kanbaru, and Shinobu are all good choices as well, but Mayoi is always around at the right time with the right piece of information. She’s like Koyomi’s personal informant.

The OP song for the Mayoi Snail arc is “Kaerimichi.”

Mayoi Hachikuji telling you she hates you from the anime Bakemonogatari
Mayoi Hachikuji

Suruga Monkey

The third arc, Suruga Monkey, introduces the character Suruga Kanbaru. Kanbaru is Koyomi and Senjougahara’s junior who’s the star of the girl’s basketball team.

Kanbaru’s apparition issue is one of mistaken identity. While it appears she’s originally being affected by a monkey’s paw, it turns out to be something much more severe that works in a similar manner.

While a monkey’s paw grants wishes in a way contradictory to how the wisher wanted, the rainy devil grants the dark wishes that people normally keep suppressed. The outcomes of these dark wishes tend to look like the outcomes of wishes made on monkeys’ paws.

This arc introduces what I believe is the first action scene of the series. The bloody and over-the-top fight between Koyomi and the rainy devil (pictured below) is typical of the kinds of action scenes we get throughout the rest of the Monogatari series.

The OP song for the Suruga Monkey arc is “Ambivalent World.”

Koyomi Araragi vs. The Rainy Devil from the Suruga Monkey arc of the anime Bakemonogatari
Koyomi vs. The Rainy Devil

Nadeko Snake

The Nadeko Snake arc introduces one of the most underrated characters of the whole series, Nadeko Sengoku. Nadeko is the friend of Koyomi’s younger sisters who has a crush on Koyomi.

At this point in the series I can understand why not many people like Nadeko. She’s a pretty boring girl who just wants to be noticed by the boy she likes. However, I do think her character becomes a lot more interesting as the series progresses such as in the Nadeko Medusa arc later on.

This arc looks at what happens to those who attempt to get rid of an apparition in the wrong way. Nadeko has a snake curse placed on her by some of her classmates and she attempted to lift it herself.

Unfortunately for her, the place where she attempted to lift the curse has become somewhat cursed itself and so this just made her curse even more severe.

At the end of this arc one of the two snake apparitions that was affecting Nadeko escapes and will return to affect the person who originally planted the curse. This knowledge is something that Koyomi struggles with, but we don’t necessarily know why he’s so upset about this until a later part, Kizumonogatari, which is a prequel to Bakemonogatari.

With the exception of the first arc, Hitagi Crab, not fully explaining Koyomi’s background, this is the first instance I can think of where Koyomi’s character traits don’t fully make sense until a later part of the series. The fact that the different parts and even the arcs within them aren’t in chronological order is an important storytelling device used in the series.

The OP song for the Nadeko Snake arc is “Renai Circulation.”

Tsubasa Cat

Unfortunately for Bakemonogatari, it ends on a low note. Tsubasa Cat is my least favorite arc of Bakemonogatari in part because it’s centered around one of my least favorite characters of the series, Tsubasa Hanekawa.

A further issue with this arc is that in many cases only the first two of the five episodes are included since the third through fifth episodes are ONA’s rather than being broadcast with the rest of Bakemonogatari.

Hanekawa as a character has been around since the first arc and her relationship with Koyomi is one that takes a long time to be fully explained. Other than this arc, Hanekawa’s story is also told in Nekomonogatari Black and White and begins in Kizumonogatari.

Tsubasa Cat, like the other Tsubasa arcs mainly focuses on apparitions dealing with stress due to family issues and issues at home. The issues at the Hanekawa household are first hinted at in the Mayoi Snail arc when Hanekawa is able to see Mayoi, who can only be seen by those who don’t want to return home.

This intertwining of various arcs is fairly common throughout the rest of the series. Some arcs are going on simultaneously and so we see things from multiple perspectives, while others simply foreshadow or reference other parts of the series.

The OP song for the Tsubasa Cat arc is “Sugar Sweet Nightmare.”

Conclusion

In the end, Bakemonogatari is a 10/10, as is the Monogatari series as a whole. Next time we’ll be looking at the second part of the series, Nisemonogatari, which includes the arcs Karen Bee and Tsukihi Phoenix.

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