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Bakemonogatari and the Reaction Guys (Gaijin 4Koma)

The Wiz of a ROSSMAN

I had already gotten a new "scary and creepy and bloody" anime series watched and fully reviewed in time for my Halloween update, but then this past weekend I started (and soon completed) a 12-episode show called Bakamononogitiri.... Bakemakenogatrou.... Bakemonogatari, and I had to change my plans. Only once in a blue moon does a show like Bakemonogatararari come along... Well, not a show "like" Bakemonotone (there is no such thing), but a show that blows my tiny mind like Bakemonogatari did. And yes, my mind is BLOWN; it's leaking out my ears, but I am still smiling about the whole thing days after the experience. Watching it for the first time with no preconceived notions was like watching Luc Besson's Fifth Element for the first time back in 1911 (those primitives were completely on information overload, and just stared at the screen for a half an hour after it was done when Bob From the Future and I showed it to them): storytelling and characters one's never seen before; editing like you never imagined was possible; and visuals that you thought were all but unimaginable to even conceive, let alone achieve. Mind-blowing shit.

"Okay!" you blast at me with Cheetos mist blowing off your fat and bloated lips, "That's all well and good *Munch Munch!*, but what is it about?! *BUUUURP*" You fat, fat disgusting excuse for a neanderthal... I'm getting to that — just settle down, tuck your dick back into your XXXXL sweatpants and relax. Drink another liter of Coke if that helps.

Okay, so things start off with a high school boy (Araragi-kun) catching a girl who seems to have fallen angelically from the top of a tall spiral staircase; Senjougahara (the girl in question) is light as a feather (not in a bulimic supermodel sense — with yellow teeth, sunken eyes and everything — but really and truly, in like she weighs only 5kg) and absolutely gorgeous, and Araragi immediately realizes she's one of his classmates. He becomes infatuated with her (and her weight issues) and after school that day, while planning for the school festival, Araragi begins questioning the class president about Senjougahara's past and what she's like (since Hanekawa, the prez, knows everything — though she always insists that she only knows what she knows). As soon as Araragi leaves the classroom though he bumps into the beautiful Senjougahara... Well, technically she shoves him against a wall, sticks an unretracted box-cutter into his agape mouth — against his cheek — and proceeds to tell him (like an Italian Mafioso) to stop asking so many questions about her. When he tries to ask why she's doing this she takes the opportunity to stick a stapler against his other cheek.

After promising he'll stop being so nosey, Senjougahara seems pleased, but still staples his cheek before walking away. Araragi's too nice a fellow though, and is determined to help the girl, so he chases after her and tells her that whatever caused her body to lose all its weight, he knows somebody who can fix it. At first she's ready to go to battle against him (with protractors, mechanical pencils, compasses, and rulers protruding from her sleeves like Mousse in Ranma), but he stops her and shows her the inside of his just-stapled cheek so that she can clearly see it's all healed. With that Araragi tells the surprised Senjougahara that he was recently turned into a vampire and that a wandering (homeless) spiritualist/exorcist named Oshino Meme saved him (though he still has some after effects of his ordeal, like his healing factor).

Oshino's pretty bad-ass, but a little off in the noggin, though he does seem to know what the problem is with Senjougahara and her non-weight issue that she's suffered for 2 years: she has a bad case of the crabs... giant SPIRIT crabs. But that's alright seeing as Oshino has just the perfect thing to cure her. Oooooooh yeah! Well, if his plan went according to his design things would have been perfect, but kind of boring, but you know how it goes. It's one of those bizarre, but beautifully fucked-up shows.

Bakemonogatari 2That's just the first couple of episodes there. The rest of Bakemongoosietardy series covers other individual (and really strange) ghostly/demonic circumstances that begin haunting persons around Araragi and his posse: There's the Snail Girl chapter; the Junior Monkey saga; the Snake Student narrative; and the Cat Girl tale. I know, that doesn't make this show seem all that new, but words simply cannot express how fresh these stories are made to be during the course of their telling — and therein lies my greatest surprise of this show... But I'll get to that in a minute. First I'll do my best to describe the (mindfucking) insane tone of Bakemonogatari.

The first thing that completely grabbed my attention was the very strong artistic look of the series. It's not hyperly stylistic (like One Piece or Soul Eater) or anything, but it feels very fresh and is gorgeous to look at. Well, okay, it does go all "Hideaki Anno-wannabe" with its animation form sometimes (some cuts to exaggerated live-action shots, and paper-cut-out animation), but not aggravatingly so. The animation budget must have been astronomical too — so smooth, always on design, and screen-filling on a good many occasions. But there are tons (TONS, motherfucker!) of small cuts to odd angles and close-ups all the time. They're not random cuts (at least they don't feel that way), but with them, and with the shitload of dialogue in this thing, you really have to pay attention to the entire episode that you're watching, from beginning to end. I'm talking about "finger on the pause button" extreme of paying attention. Each episode starts out with a bunch of quick flash cards with a whole lot of information concerning the current plot upon them — they are impossible to read at 24 frames per second. Also you're going to want to rewind several scenes in each episode too, either right after they happen, or after seeing how the whole chapter unfolds.

If you can watch the first two episodes and you like — or at least don't mind — the insane camera angles, quick takes, and bizarre mood of this thing, you're going to love the hell out of the rest of it. If you watch the first two episodes and can't stand it, well, what the fuck are you watching anime for in the first place? You should be enjoying it for new ways of telling stories and for strong characters. Bakemonotomobe has that shit in spades. And diamonds and hearts. Just not clubs. I fucking hate clubs... Anyway, if you hate new shit that experiments with style (and substance) like this, Jesus, you fruitfucker, just go back to your Naruto and Bleach circle jerks and leave the real narratives to the big boys.

Anyway, the big surprise for me came about near the end of the second episode. I knew it. I KNEW that I'd seen something similar to the way this story was being told before... I KNEW that I'd seen pacing in another show I'd come across in the not too distant past that eerily resembled this series. That show, as it turned out, was the abysmal Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. Once I looked them up on the ANN and found out that both projects shared the same director I tried my best to mentally loathe Bakemonogatari. I really did.

Bakemonogatari 3: monkey handsSZS scarred me so bad with its non-humor and terrible attempts at jokes, and most importantly with its giant cast that contained NO likeable personalities whatsoever, that I was willing to hate anything and everything that this director did out of pure spite. However, Mr. Director fails to bring Bakemono down to SZS's despondent level, and because of that I couldn't help but love it. I loved every one of the fully fleshed out characters here; I loved the surreal artistry of the whole thing; and I loved the more serious (and sometimes horrific and vicious) nature of this beast. The source material here is so much better than his Sayonara too, and maybe that made all the difference. I'm just very glad that he learned to tone his work down some and not try and blast the viewer with a constant shit-shower of unfunny jokes every 3 to 4 seconds. This show has insane situations, but they're unique and actually interesting, and they last for more than a 12 second back-and-forth volley a piece. So THIS is what happens when that director uses his crazy powers for good, lessens the stupidity, and focuses on characters and interesting storylines. Honestly, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is the goddamn devil.

There are so many little things that make Bakamogackatami so great (beyond the large bits I just talked about above). For example, whenever a new sub-character is introduced they get an opening animation and song all their own — a fancy, well animated one. Also, Senjougahara is refreshingly honest to the point of being brutal. When she calmly says things that sound like exaggerations or big lies they're always true. It's strange how I kept assuming she was making everything up. I also absolutely and completely fell in love with Senjougahara after her speech at the end of episode 12. "Being able to help you study; a cute junior; a brusque father; and this starry sky...." The lyrics to the end song made perfect sense after all that too. It's the little things like this that make this series so much goddamn fun.

Random thoughts before I wrap up: My favorite scene had to be when Araragi had the no-holds-barred fight with that lost grade school girl, Hachikuji. I must have rewound that bit 7 times before being able to continue. My second favorite was Araragi checking the door handle in the car in episode 12. The suckiest part came when episode 12 ended and I found out that the last three episodes would be released at a later date online or on the Blu-Rays for the series. The coolest thing I heard about this production is that there are episode commentaries on the discs by the voice actors while in character, with their scripts written by the author of the novels. Goddamn I love this show.

So, what'd I think of the TV anime known as Bakemonogatari? It has bizarre situations, funny dialogue, really strange takes and camera shots, creepy undertones, plots that don't take themselves too seriously, but still feel dangerous... so in a word, "ABSOLUTEGENIUS." One of the most unique programs I've ever had the privilege to watch. 5 Thumbs Up.

I am still just in fucking shock... How could one man create one of my most HATED and LOATHED shows (SZS), and yet also give me one of my most loved?! I hope he's not another Imagawa-sensei and only has one good series in him. In fact, I hope he's a REVERSE Imagawa, and he only had one BAD show in him. Yes, Bakemonogrami may be one of the greatest series of all time, but I'll be super pissed if he used it all up in one go (like Imagawa with Giant Robo).

Oh, and you'll definitely want to rewatch the first 3 minutes of the 1st episode again after finishing these 12 episodes. Just saying.


WOLFMAN Eats Cats.

Monkey girls, cat chicks, vampire womens... But no werewolves. Bullshit. What the fuck, man?! Too "Western" for them? They have a Western vampire chick in this thing, and a fucking cat-girl (a FUCKING CAT-GIRL!!), but no lycans. I just find that shit disrespectful. Fuck cat-girls.

Not that this cartoon was all that bad or nothin' — The Wolfman did enjoy all the times that Aragon kid got the living and bleeding shit kicked out of him — but it was just weird. There was a whole ton to read, which I hate.

Yes, the Wolfman can read, you fuckholes, but if the Wolfman's watching a movie or somethin' he just wants to watch the damn movie, and not stare at the bottom of the screen the whole time reading a book. Readin' is for bookin'.

Normally these subtitled shows aren't that bad, and the Wolfman can concentrate on the action on the screen, but this time... Holy hell-fuck! There was so much going on text-wise the whole damn time! And so fast! By the end of it the Wolfman wasn't bothering to catch half the shit on the screen, and he ended up just taking a nice, long, much-needed nap.

That was a good nap.


CAT-GIRLS

Neow! Fuck you, Wolfman! Cat-girls need love too!

Bakemonogatari was teh AW3S0ME!!! Four thumbs up from us! Neow!