Bakemonogatari: the core of an obsession

So here’s the first of the two ‘biggies’ that I’ve just never really figured out how to write about. One guy, six girls, two little sisters and some rather disturbing animation in the first episode. I really didn’t expect to fall in love with this series.

I love you.

Looking back now, I guess I have to be thankful that I love Sakurai Takahiro, and that I was in a pretty big Kamiya Hiroshi phase at the time, for there is no way I’d have made it to the third episode otherwise. The half-animated, half real world ‘cut-and-past’ shots in that old cram school were just weird – the first thought that crossed my mind was probably about whether I’d ever want to eat spaghetti ever again, and the first thing I’d ask Shinbo would probably be ‘er…why…?’ After that, I was rather taken aback by a certain scene at Hitagi’s house… Oh, I’ll admit that I find Araragi’s panicked reaction hilarious now – but at the time, it was just uncomfortable. I . Don’t . Like . Fanservice. (Admittedly…I should probably qualify that with a ‘most’… but anyways…)

Whoever thought a long, drawn-out conversation in a playground could be so interesting to witness!

Then episode 3 came along, and the verbiage between Araragi and Hitagi just completely blew me away. Talking about everything from fantasies about little sisters to the rather more relevant matter of how she might be able to thank him for saving her, the wordplay and biting dialogue that Nishio Ishin wrote somehow infused the show with a life unlike any other series I’d ever seen. Seriously, name me another series where its main draw lies in the words that the characters throw at each other.

Araragi may be a pervert…but even more importantly,
he somehow knows the right things to say and do.

But Bakemonogatari didn’t just do humour well. Perhaps surprisingly, it also gave us one of the most fascinating relationships – and the best date – of the year. The TV broadcast ended with what became, and remains, my favourite anime episode ever, an episode built on all the elements that I love about Bakemonogatari. Tropes were turned on their head, framed by dialogue that was flirtatious, sarcastic, and above all, heart-felt. Actions speak louder than words: that certainly was evident in Hitagi’s request to her father, in her father’s silent acceptance of his daughter’s will, in the hand that wordlessly grasped another under a canvas of stars. But sometimes, there are also words that must be said, fears and desires that must be shared – words may be sincere only when accompanied by actions that match them, but sometimes, it is the sincerity of words that gives an action its gravity.

A day and a couple to remember.

Any other show would have been completely derailed by the behind-the-scenes failures that resulted in a half-assed TV broadcast of the 10th episode, not to mention the delays in the web episodes that squeezed tears, wails and eventually, sighs of resignation from fans like myself. But Bakemonogatari’s strength lies in its words, in the creative use of language that still fascinates me to this day. I’m inclined to agree with Sam Pinansky – it doesn’t matter that it’s already been done several times by several people, I’d love to translate Bakemonogatari and the rest of the Monogatari series. It’s challenged me once, in a bout that’s been put on hold for now (those darned puns!), and it will undoubtedly challenge me again. But that’s precisely what I love about it, and also what makes it completely worthwhile.

About karice
MAG fan, amateur translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

2 Responses to Bakemonogatari: the core of an obsession

  1. Pingback: Nekomonogatari White: Hanekawa and me | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

  2. Pingback: Monogatari Series: Kamimashita! | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

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