Bakemonogatari Ep. 7-10

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Oh Bakemonogatari, I’m not mad. I’m just…disappointed.

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Remember this, Bakemonogatari? How you promised us this wasn’t going to be a shitty nerd dating fantasy?

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I trusted you because I thought you were mature enough to handle the responsibility of a story with a ton of girls. And for a while there you did ok. I thought it was very grown-up, the way you had Araragi and Senjougahara decide to go steady and start thinking about their future. I mean the whole moral of the Mayoi Snail arc may as well have been “communication is the foundation of a good relationship”. A little cliche, but for an anime it was downright thought-provoking.

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Then again, it’s not like you didn’t give us plenty of hints about what you were up to, Bakemonogatari, right from the beginning. There was even an eyeful of poor, innocent Hanekawa less than a minute into the first episode. But I was so in love with your art that I believed you when you said your intentions were pure.

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And this is how you repay my faith in you. Loli stripshows, bloomers, school swimsuits, 2chan memes…are there no depths to your depravity, Bakemonogatari?

All jokes aside, fanservice is sucking everything good out of this show and it’s downright depressing to watch it happen. I complained about Hachikuji, but she was ten times the character that whiny imouto Sengoku is. And her tussles with Araragi were nowhere near as annoying as Sengoku’s ‘onii-chan~’ bullshit. Meanwhile Kanbaru has just been embarrasing since her introduction, I liked her better when she was tearing Araragi’s guts out. And what on earth was up with Hanekawa’s sudden attack? Bakemonogatari‘s fanservice was tolerable when it was a distraction, but now each new character is falling head-over-heels for Araragi and making a mockery out of his relationship with Senjougahara, which was one of the series’ strong points.

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Episode 10 has its own problems. The art and animation are way down compared to previous weeks, and most of Araragi’s fight with the invisible serpent is just plain gone, replaced by the ubiquitous ‘scene missing’ cards. What started off as a stylistic eyecatch has ironically become exactly what it was meant to parody. Sankaku reports that SHAFT is missing deadlines and in desperate need of animators, and that 2ch posters are hopeful that the episode will be repaired in the DVD release. I just hope that Bakemonogatari is still worth watching when it gets its shit together. The story is finally moving beyond the short arcs in this latest episode, but at the same time the show seems to be shooting itself in the foot with retarded harem antics. There’s still one arc left for the series to redeem itself, but as it stands things look grim.

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9 Replies to “Bakemonogatari Ep. 7-10”

  1. I’m not so surprised. Akiyuki Shinbo is the one in charge, and he seems to have low-budget fetishization down to a laser-focused art form. Pity about Shaft being desperate for hands, though.

    I find opposition to the show’s “haremization” interesting. People really do seem to prefer the relationship between Senjougahara and Araragi above all, but she’s so impossible as a human being, all that class and razor wit and apparent sociopathy in a beautiful and well-dressed package. It’s not like having a bunch of girls all over Araragi is any more ridiculous than the baseline. We’ve just seen it many times before.

    Which isn’t to say that I disagree with you. I think you’re absolutely right. I’m also darkly amused by the fact that anime teenagers, much like the ones in real life, go crazy over an uninteresting (ex-)vampire with a hero complex. Even if Araragi doesn’t sparkle.

    1. Oh man, a Twilight comparison. That’s when you know the show has hit bottom.

      Shinbo does have a knack for making do with cheap effects, but this time it really does look like he’s working with gum and shoestring; reusing frames ten times as often as in previous episodes and completely omitting the majority of the action. I really hope it gets fixed for the DVDs because honestly up until about halfway through episode 10 Bakemonogatari was the best-looking TV anime I’ve ever seen.

      You’re right that harems are par for the anime course, but I had such high godamn hopes for Bakemonogatari. Apart from Senjougahara’s violent outbursts what was endearing about her relationship with Araragi was that they could speak plainly or joke around without breaking down into blushes and stammered denials or melodrama. I can’t think of a single other TV anime with such low-key but meaningful dialogue between lovers, usually the show is almost over by the time someone even gets around to confessing. I don’t want to make it out as the perfect relationship or even an especially realistic one, but it was a damn sight more interesting than usual boy-meets-tsundere tripe. That the show is breaking down into pandering with the flimsier moe characters is a shame because it had potential to be something pretty unique.

      Of course I’m assuming that they even finish animating the rest of the episodes. Maybe it would actually be for the best for Bakemonogatari to die now, with some dignity, with its best days behind it, before it sinks into mediocrity.

  2. I’ve also found the show increasingly, well, rubbish, but I really don’t know how far to blame Shinbo & co and how far it’s Nissio Issin’s fault for introducing progressively less interesting female characters and failing to come up with new spins of his shtick.

    I don’t think the fanservice is bad in and of itself – the early Senjougahra stuff was blatant, but it was also amusingly insincere (if ecchi can be sincere?). Right now the show seems to operate on some kind of higher plane of parody where comment or humour is no longer strictly necessary. On the whole I think I’d have found the fun in the ever more obvious faux-harem set up if there were more good lines and a more consistent visual standard.

    1. Bakemonogatari’s self-awareness can only defend it so much, I wouldn’t say it’s on such a higher level that it entirely escapes comment. Like obviously the frank references to Senjougahara being a tsundere and Kanbaru’s frank appraisal of herself as a sporty exhibitionist are meant to be funny fourth wall violations. But Araragi’s relationship with Senjougahara and the tone of the story segments so far has been much more serious than you’d expect from a show that was purely comedy (i.e. Pani Poni, Zetsubou Sensei). I think it’s easiest to take the show at face value most of the time, and judge it accordingly; and on that standard it is starting to break down.

      As for a consistent visual standard, well, it’s a Shinbo show so you are probably barking up the wrong tree. Half the fun is the wild changes in perspective and style. Whatever’s gone wrong with Bakemonogatari’s story, I will defend Shinbo to the death, and this show has been his prettiest yet (assuming that there is any actual animation in the remaining episodes, and that it wasn’t all cut due to budget issues).

      Well with any luck this week will give us a little perspective on the show’s festering, cancerous harem, whenever [gg] finishes the subs.

        1. Applications due for internships got me busy till I pass out trying to pad my resume. I’ll rally soon and take a look at the first season of Bakemonogatari as a whole and the new stuff that just started, plus maybe a big thing about Touhou. Decent of you to inquire!

          1. Oh, lovely. I’ve been wanting to write about Touhou myself, so let’s see if we can get some inter-blog discussion going. Glad to know you’re all right.

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