Bakemonogatari

Sometimes visuals are more important than plot.

The Bakemonogatari series follows a simple supernatural harem story: the major catches of the series are the stunning visuals and unique, fluid animations with beautifully detailed urban backgrounds in a silent, empty world – and the in media res beginning and surreal, nonlinear order that the series order follows. There are two ways to watch the series: the chronological order and the broadcast order. While the chronological order would place the series into a more familiar context, the broadcast order was chosen for a reason. It heightens the surreality of the plot and enhances the complicated web of character relationships.

The broadcast order is as follows:

1) Bakemongatari
2) Nisemonogatari
3) Nekomonogatari Kuro
4) Monogatari Second Season
5) Hanamonogatari
6) Tsukimonogatari
7) Owarimonogatari
8) Koyomimonogatari
9) Kizumonogatari Tekketsu-Hen

Beyond the format of the series, the plot, even as simplistic as it is, contains enough mythological allusions and supernatural interactions to be worthwhile. The characters are also interesting in their own right. As per the harem genre, most of the series is populated by women, who all have unique home situations – especially relevant since most of them are highschool aged and live with their parents – and relationships among the other women in the cast.

Bakemonogatari tries to be above its genre in content – it uses dialog to directly reference character tropes in an attempt to call them out and subvert them while also adhering to harem genre tropes to a T. It’s a bit of a shallow attempt, and as the series progresses it becomes even more heavy handed in character philosophies and obvious plot devices, leaving the audience uncertain if the genre is being mocked or the series is just highly unaware of itself.

It’s a fairly bloody series, mostly due to the vampires and other supernatural forces, but the violence is often highly stylized or so completely over the top that it cannot be taken seriously. There are odd sexual undertones that are unfortunately in all the wrong places. Skip episode 8 of Nisemonogatari if uncomfortable almost-incest is not your thing.

Regardless of its flaws, it is still a fun series to watch for its incredible visuals and the unique supernatural elements that it puts on display.

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