I’ve fallen so very hard for this thing. So much so that I wrote this, this and this about it. I also did a three part, four-hour-long podcast about it. So, there has been no shortage of Monogats-related content on this blog this year. But, the thing is, it’s all been of such decent/passable/pseudo-intellectual quality. What I haven’t done is just mindlessly emote about the franchise. So, I think I’ll do that now. Get ready for a shotgun blast of fanboying.
I love Monogats because it’s a talking heads series. I am befuddled when people dismiss this (or Psycho Pass, or GitS, etc.) as “too talky.” It’d be one thing if the stuff being talked about was boring or didn’t add anything to the story or characters. But, that isn’t the case here at all! The dialogue is well-written, funny, jarring, charming, character-building and plot-moving.
The fact that it’s a talking heads anime directly effects the cinematography. Series directors compose wonderful shots because, most of the time, there’s not a ton of character movement. The angles, the scene layout, the “camera” techniques…SHAFT takes such care to produce visually stimulating shot after shot with Monogats.
Visual metaphor is one of my favorite things about anime in general, and Monogatari trades heavily in it. It’s not as boldly abstract as Ikuhara‘s shows, but there are some nice, clean visual metaphors to be had in the Monogats. I describe one such instance here in the section about Hanekawa Tsubasa.
Speaking of folks like Hanekawa…the characters! Omgomgomg. Here is where the strengths of the novels shine through. The characterization is superb. You don’t have to spend much time with Hitagi Senjougahara or Kanbaru Suruga to realize that they have so much depth. Then, there are characters you think you’ve got figured out (I’m looking at you Sengoku Nadeko), but, when you just know they’re going to zig, they zag. I feel like they all continually surprise me but in this way that feels so organic, so them. While there are characters I like less than others, there are no bad characters in this series (up to the point I’ve seen). I love how each of the girls toys with Araragi. Though he helps them take significant steps in their lives, he never quite has a handle on them.
Honestly, I really do love how sprawling the thing has become. I don’t mind getting into long series myself, and I find that the length of this franchise is helping it rather than harming it. Because of the sheer breadth of the story, the writers and directors can weave an increasingly-intricate web of relationships, motivations and histories of these characters I have grown to love. If Bake was all there was, it would be an achievement, but the fact that additional content can be added which is worthwhile on its own but also enhances what has come before…this makes Monogats something quite special.
I really love the music. It’s haunting and beautiful and interesting. I dunno, YouTube that shit.
If I had to choose a favorite moment or scene from the Monogats I’ve seen thus far, it’d be the final portion of episode 12 of Bakemonogatari. The date. We learn so much more about Hitagi. She displays the acerbic humor that we are used to, but she also opens up to her boyfriend in a way we haven’t seen. Hitagi has been forthright and matter-of-factly honest before, but this scene presents her as vulnerable for the first time. It’s very humanizing to her character, and it’s really sweet, actually. That dialogue is just unforgettable, man.
That’s everything. That’s everything that I have. The ability to help you with your studies, my beloved underclassman, and my gruff father. And this starry sky. What I have is no more than this. What I can give you, Araragi, is no more than this. No more than this…and everything. But you know, even though my life till now hasn’t been a happy one, if the reason I was able to catch your eye is precisely because I was unhappy…Then I can be glad.
Merry Christmas, you database animals.