on 11 October 2013
While I loved the style in the first half the series I was slightly less charmed by the story. I certainly enjoyed the story and wanted to see more of it but it fell into a slightly repetitious cycle of Araragi finding a girl with a supernatural problem, an episode or two of banter and then Oshino solves the problem. Oshino is basically a less drinky, sweary and generally marginally less anti-social John Constantine, in a Hawaiian shirt. As much fun as the bantering is at times it is kind like following around Constantine's teenage sidekick.
What pushes the closing run of this opening series above and beyond the previous is the closing arc which focuses on the more central characters and finally pays off on the repetitive structure. Instead of introducing new characters or an external problem characters which have been present from the first episode become the centre of events. Monogatari is a really focused on the characters and their interactions and it's in the final arc of this series that the momentum has built enough for that to drive the story forward.
Bakemonogatari's unique style works extremely well here, the minimal use of characters lets the episodes really focus down on what is important. The series is in many ways on ground which is overly familiar in anime but the fourth wall breaking elements are actually reassuring. They're not played tongue in cheek but they promise despite the familiar aspects they have something interesting to say. While many of these twists on the presentation may be inspired by budget constraints it's a fantastic achievement to turn that limitation into an advantage by making such beautifully show with a unique style that enhances the story.
While this is just the opening season of a series that has a long way to go it has a surprisingly satisfying conclusion. Even so this series left me itching to see more. It was clear from the first part of this season that this this was a show with an exciting and unique aesthetic and from this final half that this isn't just a novelty. These episodes elevate the series from being a well made curiosity to truly great show.