How the hell did I miss Bakemonogatari? The main reason I passed it over, if I remember right, is there was blood in the first episode - as a general rule, if an anime series has comedy/romance I'll watch it, but if I see any kind of blood/gore I avoid it like the plague. I think seeing the stapler scene in the first episode on other blogs turned me off, but in Bakemonogatari's case I did myself a disservice with that rule. I guess the moral is that sometimes you really should try the first episode even if a series seems like it's not your cup of tea, and you might be surprised. You'd think after three decades of anime watching I'd have learned that a long time ago, but I'm glad that belatedly I decided to check this out.
There's a million blogs out there that have far better reviews of this than I'd be able to write, so I'll keep it short - having just finished marathoning the 13 episodes that are out so far, I'll post a few random thoughts:
- Hitagi. In a world filled with stereotypical characters, Hitagi is nothing if not unique. Their first date in episode 12 was just classic. She's just a very complex character, and that's not something you find in, well, anime like Kampfer.
- Zetsubou-sensei/Koyomi. Just a great lead, he's not perfect but he genuinely does his best to help people, which makes him easy to root for. That and I'm glad he seems dedicated to Hitagi and isn't going for the Masaki Tenchi school of indecisiveness.
- Mayoi saying 'Ararararagi-kun' and blaming it on stuttering.
- Iincho, and Hocchan voicing her. Looking forward to more neko-mode iincho whenever episode 14 airs.
- Atmosphere. Some series have it, some don't, and I think this one does a good job - from the underground tunnel lined by torii gates, to Oshino's place, to the impossibly long spiral staircase in the first episode.
- All of episode 12. One of the best anime episodes I've seen in a long time, Koyomi and Hitagi's first date.
- Koyomi keeps reminding me of Zetsubou-sensei (same seiyuu), especially when he tsukkomis, which is all the time. Not really a bad thing as much as it's hard to picture it's not Nozomu talking.
- Shinbou's predilection for still shots, distance shots, real-life pictures, anything to avoid having to actually animate something. I know, it's artsy, blah blah blah, and maybe I'm just cynical, but to me it's just an obvious way to save budget. Yes, when two characters are talking I'd like to see their facial expressions and not extreme closeups of their eyes or a viewpoint from a half-mile away where I can't even see their lips moving.
- Fanservice. I don't mind fanservice in general, but this is the kind of anime I'd like to show other people in my family, and I think the service would get in the way. It really wasn't necessary to the story to have Tsubasa's pantsu show up a tenth of a second into the first episode, although I'm sure service helps sell shiny discs by the crateload.
Overall, I'm trying to say although I'm very, very late to the party, I loved watching Bakemonogatari - I'd highly recommend it, and more generally I learned it's good to give anime you think you might not like a chance, because you could be pleasantly surprised.