Bakemonogatari is easily one of the more popular Anime series from the animation studio SHAFT. The quirky series follows the character Araragi as he solves mysteries that regularly intersect with the supernatural. The first half of the series saw Araragi come face-to-face with a crab-god and even doing battle with a cursed monkey hand. The second part of the series continues this fashion of oddity.
What’s interesting about the story in Bakemonogatari is that it has a bunch of smaller stories, or arcs, spread sequentially across all of the episodes, rather than having one really long story arc. Each storyline tends to be a random number of episodes in length but generally follow a kind of pattern. After watching the series it kind of feels like each episode has corresponding phases. The first episode in a series will be the set-up for whichever mystery it is that’s being solved. They also seem investigative, in that the characters try new and different approaches to working out just what’s going on. The later episodes feel more investigative but will launch into a resolution before the end. They’re not abrupt resolutions, and they typically take a good portion to sort out during the arc.
What’s good about this format is that it gives the viewer a sense of what’s going on and makes the series feel a lot more fleshed out and thoughtful. However, what the staff have done to keep this format interesting is that they typically have certain elements that play well together within a storyline. For example, the characters will always bounce off of each other that is true to their personalities, there will be moments that drop you in and out of the action, usually as some kind of gag, and not only that, but the core format is often shaken up just a little. Even while the story is unfolding, there are more and more storyline elements being added and new information given to the viewer. This all culminates in a satisfactory fashion by the end.
Bakemonogatari Part 2 has some really great action sequences that, not only service the plot, but are also visually impressive whilst giving a great sense of tension to the battle. While you’re watching, you can’t help but sit there in awe, trying to work out just what is going to happen next. Actually, oddly enough, for a supernatural and mystery type of Anime series, the battle scenes beat out even most series’ that are battle orientated. Even a battle as minor as the one with an invisible cursed-monster type is incredibly well directed.
The best part of the Bakemonogatari experience isn’t so much the storyline as it is the way the characters interact with each other within the series. There is never a dull moment of character interaction within this part of the show. This is because each of the characters have really distinct personalities that are played really well along with each other. Whether it’s the intimate date between the two main characters, or a running gag between a closet pervert and and overt one, you really get a sense of true character interaction. It’s really difficult to choose an example of this but the one that immediately comes from mind is one of my favourite scenes where two characters have essentially disrobed a much younger girl in a bedroom and the perverse banter ensues. It was quite hilarious.
One thing that is a bit less over the top in the second part of Bakemonogatari are the weird edits. Or at least, you’re used to them by this point. Actually one of the things to really look forward to in this half of the series is how some of the art styles change to suit the mood of a particular scene. This is used sparingly, but adds to the overall feel of a scene.
The series comes only with one audio selection, which is the Japanese dub, which is best watched with subtitles. Anime purists will like this feature whilst viewers that prefer to have a dub should be aware that one is not included with this release from Hanabee. As an aside, we’re not sure an English dub actually exists for this series in any major country as of writing.
The Blu-Ray edition of the series adds a great amount of clarity and visual fidelity to the series unavailable to DVD viewers. After watching Bakemonogatari on a Blu-Ray in full HD, it’s hard to make an argument for watching it in a format that isn’t the BD. That’s not to say DVD consumers will not like the series, but the higher visual fidelity gives you the impression that it was designed to be watched in HD and not at standard definitions.
The one downfall to the BD release though, is that it doesn’t come in the cool collectors art book that the DVD releases come in. However, the higher visual fidelity seems like a good trade-off. Anyone wanting to buy the art-book DVD edition can still do so at their local store (usually). We’d wager that only the strongest of fans will opt for both releases though, so you’ll need to decide which is more important to you if you’re not fully committed.
What’s great about Bakemonogatari over other Anime series’ is that each storyline has its own theme song. This is different to most Anime series’ in that usually they’ll only have one or two of them. If you count the amount of arcs in this set, which is two (depending on how you count the date episode), and if you combine it with the arcs present in the first, and you’ve got a good amount of tuneage.
Overall Bakemonogatari Part 2 is an excellent follow-up to the quirky first part of the series. It continues being entertaining, fun and engaging whilst retaining a mysterious feel and just generally being different. This set brings the Bakemonogatari saga to a satisfying close and keeps you engaged the entire time.