So in my spare time I read the translated light novel of Bakemonogatari(or at least what Baka-tsuki has). Despite what Shaft might want you to believe, it isn’t all about being pretentiously smart or artsy. Or it could just be the Japanese puns flying over my head. Really, it won’t make anybody but a Japanese guy with a decent knowledge of anime feel smart.
To add on, Bakemonogatari(henceforth Bakemono) is really about the romance between Senjouhara Hitagi and Araragi Koyomi. While this should be too obvious to state, I guess most people forget about it. Each supernatural encounter has a theme and they tie in with the teenage romance of the two with adolescent troubles. The supernatural touch drives the plot, keeping the reader guessing and works as a metaphor.
While I can’t comment further than Mayoi Snail, the first two arcs exemplify the point. In the first, Hitagi is troubled by her parents’ divorce because she thinks it is her fault. This is not an uncommon theme and is a widely encountered familial issue. Whether or not the crab took her weight does not matter. Araragi could have still discovered her secret, leading to his very painful discovery that Hitagi carries stationary for self-defense.
Likewise, Mayoi is just a shared hallucination by people who don’t want to go home if you take out the supernatural portion. But then, the novel would be just another teen romance addled with slightly crazy characters and an ordinary setting. What Nisio has managed to accomplish is write a very ordinary story in an extraordinary setting without giving the fact that it’s ordinary away. Throw in anime references here and there and you have the perfect book for teenagers and nerds.
This is mainly targeted at the story of Bakemono because Shaft tends to be distracting just because it’s Shaft. If there is something that should be added, much of the dialogue and story they decided to stuff inside their infamous scene cuts are actually important but were probably decided to be not entertaining enough. Thus the story’s flow seems to be disjointed and focused solely on the more risque or satirical portions. Flaws like this can only be attributed to Shaft’s adaptation, though they did do well on the choice of voice casting. I really can’t imagine Emiri Katou not being Hachikuji Mayoi for example.
If you’ve continued reading until this point and have been wondering what the hell I’ve been trying to say-This is just a collection of points for Bakemono that most people seem not to discuss and I feel that are important for its critique and enjoyment. Of course you can get by with Renai circulation and koyomi-niisan (It’s what made me continue watching in the first place) but a better appreciation of building of its world will definitely enhance the experience. And hey, if you don’t like it the sales actually enable Shaft to have money to make Arakawa under the bridge and Madoka magica, both great series to many.