Category Archives: Bakemonogatari

Year in Review 2016: N-listing

I’m putting this out first because the other post can stand by itself, introspection or not. Hey, it’s not March yet.

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Kizumonogatari Part 1

Kizu was a good time. Just a few points to a short movie that’s more akin to a very long TV episode here.

I watched it twice, once in NYC and once in NJ. The NYC showing gave out better loot, although it’s nothing significant. The crowd was also “better” in NY in that people more or less kept their wits together and it was less like a laugh-a-thon. These are just minor nitpicks for people who care about this stuff. Watching it twice also gives me the chance to focus on stuff other than taking the movie in, at least during the second go-around.

Kizumongoatari is the most impressionistic (for lack of a better term) thing out of Shaft that I’ve seen since maybe that vampire loli anime, or even Soul Taker. Like, that Kizu used French titles (and not even thoroughly!), is both humorously pretentious and yet appropriately chosen. They could’ve gone with a number of other languages, after all.

The feeling I can’t shake was that if I wanted an adaptation of Tsukihime, this is how I wanted it to be done.

The animation is great, I guess this is something you just have to see for yourself. There were a lot of visual references and nods. For people who didn’t come into Kizu with Bake under their belts the jokes might be lost on them, but it is all per se meaningful and perhaps most meaningful in that way to interpret the material. I thought also that if we take a step back and consider Bakemonogatari (and others) in the same way, where the only pitfall of Kizu’s predecessors was the production quality to impart the technical necessity that Kizu did not lack, but the others did, maybe I would not have gotten tired of the Monogatari series so fast.

It’s like unless the prurient stuff were of interest, there isn’t a whole lot that separates Monogatari the series with, say, Mushishi. And I think it’s a certain sort of doom when a subcultural artiste’s work is best compared to a National Geographic documentary (or its anime equivalent), (if) only in terms of content. Well, there were some token pervy jokes as you’d expect, and I’m glad there were, if only to keep the contrasting heavy and light feels of the film going.

The voice acting was good. It’s as you would expect out of our four notable voiced roles, although I think Hocchan stole the show. Sakurai’s Meme was extra irritating, which is credit on his part. Hearing the older-bodied Kiss-Shot was nice, especially in that kind of traumatic state. I guess they had to go to a baby crying to kind of make it sound at least plausible.

Kousaki Satoru’s soundtrack was tops actually, it’s appropriately knock-off in the sense that Kizu’s sense of style is equally knock-off. I was taken most particularly to the music used during the conversation between Hanekawa and Araragi, as if it was kind of ripped half from Evangelion and half from the rest of Kousaki’s works. Please forgive the drawn-and-quartered analogy in advance, but it is kind of like trying to enjoy driving a Lexus makes me want to just get back into a BMW all the more, but you would think the Lexus justifies the price tag, and is a well-appointed mechanism worthy on its own rights.

Which is to say, yeah, there is a visual/sound gag that kept resonating with the weeb audience and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Let’s just say I hope the directorial crew for the movie got that feedback from the test audience in LA. Some jokes westerners get & like, which are sometimes not the same ones as the domestic audience.

I went into the experience already knowing what Kizu was about, and how this is part 1 of three, that you should expect about an hour, and that it is well animated. It was exactly what I expected. And it’s probably worth watching it twice in theaters. But this is mostly because I am already some kind of hardened otaku who is arguably the heart of this target audience, despite my distaste for Nisioisin…well, he has some good stuff, and some stuff not as good. More relevantly, there’s just too much of all of this, what people call TV anime. Having an elevated, polished and well-presented video entertainment as Kizumonogatari Part 1 is a welcomed change, if anything.

Some Summer 2013 Season Thoughts

Shoot first ask questions later style post.

Honoka Mutsu

I generally like Servant x Service. I think in a lot of ways it is an improvement over Working, but it lacks magnetic characters. I think taking on adult sensibilities gives it a new flavor but at the same time brings too much into play that shaves away the charm of a simpler punchline and makes it harder to embrace. “It” here being both the jokes and characters.

I think Silver Spoon anime comes across just a little heavy handed, but at the same time that’s probably necessary to drive the deeper points of the story. I’m not sure how the manga handles it, but this Silver Spoon feels like it is a pretty deep work. I also think that this could have been a very cultural-specific sort of a thing, but the saving grace is that processing basic raw ingredients in agriculture isn’t so different this day and age, across different countries, thanks to scientific advancements. In other words, the core message is somewhat universal, and moreover a lot of them don’t have anything to do with agriculture. The pizza episode was a great example of a modern day stone soup story and it definitely was the best one out of them all.

Out of all the shows I couldn’t make it out of episode 3, I’m most intrigued by Kaminai and Monogatari series. I’m pretty sure I will catch up on the latter series.

I really enjoyed Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ episode 6 and 7. In the end of 7 Potte took a photo of the fireworks and the backs of her friends. What ISO was that film? Did she change it from her camera at some point after the competition? That said I’m kind of behind so hopefully I’ll get to catch up in the coming week.

MJPR ending was a sea of flags. I mean, it totally pulled an Evangelion in terms of the joke flags. Too bad the story came across as too simple, for me. It’s like a Hollywood cliche. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t executed well enough to be enjoyable. It was enjoyable, for sure, but a little too shallow for my tastes.

The two Oonuma Shin series were a riot to watch. Good for him. They executed well, and despite the obvious and usual resource-saving techniques used everywhere, Illya delivered all that action and Watamote was a very clever show. They exceeded expectation in a good way, but that forces me to examine my expectations for Watamote and Prisma Illya to begin with–admitted they were somewhat low. Still there were some obvious bright spots in both shows. Izumi Kitta simply was perfect as Tomoko. Besides the convincing action scenes of Illya, Mai Kadowaki by now has a ton of Illya speaking time, so she wears that role like a comfy sweater.

Compared to her performance in Genei Taiyou, at least, Ilya was simply delightful. It’s not to say Day Break Illusion would’ve been helped by that, but in the end it was a weird way to highlight how different the two magical girls show were. The weird thing is, as bad as Genei was, it still had a lot of good points to it. Otaku media, I guess.

Titan and Railgun remain as the two top least serious business anime on my watch list. Especially Railgun. I see people taking it seriously all the time, though… I don’t get how people can do this without making a fool out of themselves.

Free is a fun watch on its own merits. The manservice for the most part can be side-stepped easily. I don’t think the rest of the show is really that noteworthy–about on par with Tamako Market I guess. My complaints still stand, but the animation and story is enough to keep my attention.

Kaminomi is also a lot of fun, as a non-manga reader. It’s not often you hear Asumin and Ayachi in roles like these. This third season of Kaminomi changes the gambit of the show for me–my favorite episodes in the last 2 seasons were the filler ones. By pumping the plot forward like season 3 they removed some of my complaints about the forced pacing, but it also took those charming down-time moments away. I guess I can’t say I like it, but it certainly can be a lot worse.

Eccentric Family is my top show this season and easily a top 5 candidate for 2013. No need to waste my breath at this stage, lots of other people are doing it. I’ll take my time to think about it…

The surprise hit this season is actually Love Lab. I really dig the way it gives a normal girls-be-girls kind of a setup, a backbone. It also has boys. It’s overall just delightful. If anything it could be funnier.

Genshiken Niidaime is as good as I expected to be, which is a high bar to clear. It’s still one of the best meta anime out there in recent memory. But because I expected this, it’s not particularly delightful since it can’t quite surprise me. Even if I have the manga and have been saving it until I’m done with this anime. I really enjoy some of the cross-cultural jokes especially.

Well, I probably should watch K3 before making those claims about Genshiken. I saw some cool caps from that show. But it doesn’t distinguish itself beyond the really nonsense stuff. Is this show any better than Kinmoza?

C3-bu, on the other hand, is a big surprise  in a different way. I also really enjoyed it but I had a hard time talking to people about it because following that show on CR is basically following it a week behind. It comes out on Mondays and the new episode airs Thursday–given how busy I was this summer I basically end up watching the episode usually on the weekend, Thursdays being the earliest. Sorry Crunchyroll, please never do this.

As for the show itself, in a way I like how it approaches the pathos from the “negative” side of things. You can state the problem in a negative way or a positive way, and the solution would feel very different depending on how you approached it. I think it’s a great litmus test. I also love how it gives Yura all these “reality marble” sort of way to show whatever it is C3-bu was trying to get across. Anime no Chikara yo. In a lot of ways this is a great show, in the way that, for example, MJPR fails to achieve.

I thought I would be all over Kinmoza, but this show didn’t have a higher gear to kick in to so it lost against the other shows of this season for my viewing time. It’s like I need to save certain times of the day when I am awake enough to take in these low-tension shows like Tamayura and Uchouten Kazoku (at least earlier on) to enjoy them fully, bumping out shows like Kinmoza and K3.

Gatchaman Crowds is the odd ball of the season. I guess that is only expected given that it is a Kenji Nakamura anime. However it is also a pretty fun show carrying the same kind of weirdo-yet-progressive ideas Nakamura has been sprouting. Whoever lets him have the freedom to make weird shows like this, God bless you and I hope you keep doing it for another 50 years.

Anyways, Gatchaman Crowds is also kind of the show that could “go wrong” really easily. It’s like Fractale, basically, that if the execution dropped something important, it’ll lose all credibility. I guess we have one more week to find out.

If there is one guilty pleasure this season for me, that would be Ro-kyu-bu SS. SHOW YOU GUTS COOL SAY WHAT saikou daze. No, more like because it is a koushien story after all. Kanae Itou is being her usual self in that show too, which is something getting rarer by the season. I also have to say it has a weird effect watching this right before/after MJPR. Iguchi!

I’m going to marathon Rozen Maiden…from episode 6. It’s fun. But probably less fun than marathoning Senyuu and Teekyuu back to back. Or interweaved. Which is something I’ll have to do too.

Bonus round:

  • Favorite OP: Servant x Service. However C3-bu’s final sequence is woaaah moeeeee. Also, kz song is so kz.
  • Favorite ED: Drowning in saudade in fhana’s Che Sera Sera, although I will reserve 10% for LOLI LOLI GROWING, whatever that means.
  • Most surprisingly good: C3-bu
  • Most surprisingly bad: MJPR
  • Funniest: Love Lab…or Teekyu.
  • Most surprising: Gatchaman Crowds
  • Most Mamiko: Uchouten Kazoku
  • MVP: Rento Kirishima

Monogatari Series Episode 2 Girl Talk, About Random iM@S Notes

I don’t want to dwell on it, but it basically boils down to:

Oh Japan?

I think the chit-chat between the co-stars of the Monogatari series in episode 2 is not only an excellent fanservice vehicle (in the way boys like to see two girls get it on in the way Senjougahara explicitly inferred for what Araragi likes), but also it’s just exhibition of Hanekawa when we take a known value that is Senjougahara and put them side by side. It’s character development. But yes, the two girls did talk about the guy, since it is a point of reference as a foil device. Is it Bechdel compliant? Is it problematic that we are thinking it in terms of compliance to Bechdel? I think that is more so the case.


Mayako Nigo, Festival of Winter 2013

Some Idolm@ster info:

From Exciel-P, who rolls his own blog. Basically, it’s a touching story about a man who loves Azusa and then went on to become a legend.

Here’s some fan translation of a guide on how to do the iM@s 8th Anniversary tour. It’s noteworthy because I think it’s a good intro guide to people who have never done nerd concerts in Japan before. At least the big ones. This ain’t how it rolls if you want to attend, say, underground idol lives or CooRie’s shows, lol. What it gracefully and unfortunately leaves out is how to get tickets. Getting tickets is still the most difficult barrier one has to overcome to do such a show, especially for foreigners.

Lastly, some caps from Mayachan’s Big Jump. A bit of background: this past February there was a 2-part concert and during the first show, Mayako Nigo’s first solo act had a tumble and fall. Basically she’s catapulted from the rising stage a little too … fast, let’s just say. While she continued on like a champ barely missing a beat, it was a (somewhat slight) shock for a lot of people watching it. Now I get a shock from watching the concert on home video.

Bakemonogatari, Again

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.

Some notes:

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.