Instead of spending my Thanksgiving vacation doing something constructive, I ended up re-watching Bakemonogatari, from Aniplex’s American release. I’m done with the series and about 1/3 of the way on the commentaries.
Senjyogahara. The first time through I already knew she is a really cool customer and deserved, as reflected by the counts of her adorers, “all that.” I think this is also, however, a well-deserved honor. Put me with the people who find her just a little bit disturbing, I guess. Of course, it is all very much just a device, it’s what the likes of Nisio Isin and his ilks do to words and names of Japanese monsters of yore, something deconstructed and reconstituted. I think that’s what makes her interesting–Hitagi is built harder, better, faster, stronger, and simply more desirable with an efficient moe mileage, so to speak. Now it is entirely a different question as to how each of us, as individuals, find that appealing, or find Hitagi likable as a meta construct of some kind, but she serves as some kind of norm–or maybe she just acts out what normal would be in her own clumsy ways. This second viewing gave me the opportunity to really focus on what she is all about, rather than the text flood that serves as the dressing for some rather simple lot of plot. It’s like using the piano as percussion. Hitagi is like that longing but expressive guitar solo that you happen to perfect on your first try on Expert in Rock Band 3. It’s an artifice that leads to joy. She simply cuts; I only wish characters like her are more of a frequent happenstance.
Commentary tracks. Speaking of dressing, for a series that is drowned in verbal expressions, the last thing it needs is even more verbal expressions, running on its own tracks (not even on parallel tracks in a lot of cases) that comments on the other flood of verbal expressions going on in the show. You know how the factoid about human vision and how our minds are programmed to disregard all but the most useful visual cues, or else we would overload? That is something that could happen with other senses too. To that degree, I have some trouble enjoying the commentary tracks because I had to devote a lot of my attention just to process everything that’s happening. Maybe this is one of those times a dub would’ve been helpful. I guess it’s doubly tough when I was also trying to listen to the Japanese and interpret it as I hear it, and read what the subs are saying. There wasn’t anything particularly problematic about the content of the commentaries, although it feels a little aimless and the jokes are kind of hit and miss–more miss I guess. You can tell how some of it is pre-orchestrated, and let’s just say I doubt Nisio Isin wrote them. With that being said, I’ll probably plow through, because it is kind of cute and kind of interesting.
There are boobies. I was hoping to get the credit-less version of the cosplay Tsubasa Cat OP, but I guess nobody got that, huh. I also totally forgot about it until I saw the two episodes that had it. It’s a bit of a surprise to see ite; I mean the show is pretty much just about people talking till the cows come home; after the first two episodes the fanservice is fairly muted (even including poor Nadeko’s performance). It’s as if late night anime got…late night…ier, after the series hopped on to the web. Tsubasa Cat’s proper opening is kind of graphic too, for that matter.
The packaging is kind of lame, but it is, like most Japanese-style releases, full of attention to details and it’s outstanding only to those of us who look beyond the spec sheet. It’s probably not worth the $150 if all you want is to own it. It’s worth it if you are a fan of Bakemonogatari to any degree, however. The booklet that comes with it has the obligatory story arc spreads and character profiles. The only thing beyond that is the list of all the end cards, which justifies its existence. As far as bare-bones import Blu-ray box sets go, this one is really, really just bare bones. Anything less is too bare bones; but no real complaints from me. One more note: the back cover has this nice Koyomi Arararagi image which is covered by the spec sheet which is glued to the top of the box. I kind of like how they did that with the spec sheet, I don’t like how it covers the back image–it’s possibly the more striking image on the box.
Overall, this is a show that can stand a repeat viewing. It’s no better than the first time I watched it, however.
PS. Otakon really should invite VOFAN or Poyoyon Rock and get one of them to draw some Crabby crossover.