Nisemonogatari is the sequel to the most excellent 2009 anime series Bakemonogatari. This means that if you've not yet seen Bakemonogatari I might spoil some of it for you during the course of this review. It also means that if you have seen Bakemonogatari and liked it, you will probably like Nisemonogatari as well. The converse is also true though, and if you have seen Bakemonogatari but did not like it, then you will probably not like Nisemonogatari. And you have issues.
Back in 2009, when Bakemonogatari first appeared on the scene, I was blown away by its style, storytelling, humor, and characters. I was then blown away even more later on (but this time by a harsh, foul wind as blown from a prune-eating elderly man's anus right into my gaping mouth) when I found out that the same director responsible for Bakemonogatari also directed the horrendously unfunny series Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Arakawa Under the Bridge (both of which tried waaaaaay too hard [and failed] to pull off the same level of awesomeness that Bakemonogatari did [and made look easy]).
But back to the Bakemo'. So we as a viewing audience then had to wait close to three years for more tales of Araragi-kun and his ability to get mixed up in the trials of his friends, who in turn get mixed up with supernatural predators or ailments. Bakemonogatari had Araragi battling spirit crabs, monkey and snake curses, lost snail girls, and stressed-out cat girls; Nisemonogatari has him worried about his two younger sisters (older sister, and martial artist Karen; and younger sister, and girly girl Tsukihi) and their troubles with spirit bees and phoenixes.
The first part of Nisemonogatari deals with a "spirit animal curse" placed on Karen (because she tried to stand up for her classmates and stop the rampant hexing that was hitting her school from a certain supernatural source). Since Araragi's exorcist friend (Oshino) is now out of the picture since the end of Bakemonogatari, he's got to take the possessing beastie on himself without any guidance or spiritual assistance. Well, he does have help, once he begins looking in unexpected places... While naked in the bathtub.
The second part of Nisemonogatari is all about Araragi's problems with a supernatural hunter who has Tsukihi in her sights as her next target.... That's all I can really say without ruining the whole thing for you. Sad, but I think you really need to watch this show... After you've seen Bakemonogatari, of course, and only if you can appreciate lots of witty verbal sparring.
It's pretty much the same old, same old as the first series, but with a few new characters and some new situations thrown in for good measure. It doesn't break any new ground (like Bakemonogatari originally did), but honestly, if they didn't keep up the same frantic word play and pace, and the same insane cuts and camera angles (that I've come to love) in order to attempt something new, and possibly "less", I probably would have been severely disappointed. So I'll take more of the same level of incredibleness over anything that might have made this thing less special any day.
Truth be told, I felt that this time things were a little too drawn out in the 'Monogatari universe. While in the original series the separate stories usually ranged from 2 to 3 eps in length, the first tale in Nisemonogatari was 7 episodes long. Now, I never did get bored with this narration, but after certain episodes were over I noticed that the only thing that took place was Araragi had a conversation with the chibi-vampire Shinobu in his bathroom, or joked around with Tsukihi in his family's living room. Nothing of any importance really took place until the Karen Bee's storyline's final episode, when Araragi and Senjougahara confronted the con man who was responsible for half the troubles that surrounded the town (and caused Senjou a buttload of pain in the past). The second (and last) chronicle, Tsukihi Phoenix, had an entire episode that featured Araragi oogling his sister Karen, and then brushing her teeth for 5 minutes. I shit you not.
But I need to repeat myself: I was never bored with the stories as they occurred. I loved the characters and their interactions too much to care that we maybe should have moved past Araragi trying to feel up the snail girl or his sisters for so long in order to get to the meat and potatoes of the tale at hand.
My only real problem with Nisemonogatari though stems from the conclusion to the "Karen Bee" situation. I'm going to get kind of spoilery here, but it really felt.... wrong.
Okay, so after Araragi meets up with all his old friends, finds out that the "Fire Sisters" (his two younger siblings) have taken it upon themselves to track down the creep who's been spreading curses to their classmates (like the snake curse doled out to Sengoku Nadeko in the first series), talks with a startlingly gabby Shinobu about how to help his by-then cursed sister Karen, and goes off with Senjougahara to confront the douchebag spiritual con man responsible for all the shitty dark powers flying around town (who also broke Senjou's family apart after she contracted crabs in Bakemonogatari), in the end, Kaiki (the creepy con man in question) just ends up agreeing to leave town on his own. No final battle, no negotiations needed. When Senjougahara and Araragi meet up with him and the tension level rises as they get ready to pound him, he states that he's bored with this town, and Karen will get better on her own in a few days anyway. So, toodle-loo. Then he just leaves.
It was just so anti-climatic. There wasn't even any giant, powerful, meaningful conversation wherein Araragi and Senjougahara had to verbally beat the asshole down or anything... He was already planning on departing the place. And he states that Karen was never in any real danger anyway. As much as I enjoyed the verbal spats between Araragi and Suruga, or the Snail Girl, or Senjougahara, or Karen, or the Snake Girl, or Tsukihi, or Shinobu, I wanted something more exciting with which to wrap the whole thing up. The Tsukihi Phoenix story ended on a high explosive note though... So at least I had that going for me. Honestly, the Tsukihi Phoenix tale had the best ending of any of the 'Monogatari stories yet, and it really made me eager to see the upcoming Kizumonogatari film; just the small hint of Shinobu Heart-Under-Blade in her full power here was pretty bad ass. But that's a long way off. So for now I'll just finish this review up.
Other than that, I enjoyed the new opening and ending credits songs, and am now waiting extremely impatiently for the remaining 'Monogatari anime series and movies. That's all. Gooooooood night.
Oh no. How terrible. It must be so scary being possessed by a bumble bee. *Yawn*... And a phoenix? Really? That's a terrifying, soul-sucking monster that would need to be eradicated? I always thought phoenixes were cool, goodly, beautiful creatures. Whatever.
You know what would have really spiced this thing up? A girl being possessed by an evil boxing kangaroo. Fuck me yes! Must I always be the one to come up with this shit?!
Wow... So for two entire series now, 26 episodes mind you, one horny boy has rescued, what, SEVEN helpless damsels in distress? Some more than once? Yeah, thanks for the positive role models, Japan. Most of these girls are fairly strong-willed, but can only have their problems solved for them by a vampiric, lolicon, incestuous, horny 17 year-old walking penis. Bravo...
NOTE FROM THE ROSSMAN: I call "dibs" on the band name Vampiric Lolicon Incestuous Horny 17 Year-Old Walking Penis!