Nisemonogatari – 01 Review

I wish that would’ve been a joke instead of the cruel truth what really happens to girls in this series…

Nisemonogatari 01 – It Started With Boredom And Ended With A Kidnapping

*sigh* Finally a series where I don’t have to start telling people to stay the hell away from this. Nisemonogatari is the sequel to the really popular series Bakemonogatari (for those of you who lived under a rock and didn’t know that already…) and like that there were of course a lot of expectations for this series. And I think the good news is that it continued being as good as Bakemonogatari. But the bad news is that if Nisemonogatari doesn’t bring anything new to the table I might end up declaring it to be ‘more of the same’. But who knows, this obviously was just an opening-episode leaving it to the next episode to truly start with the arc.

Synopsis:
The episode starts with the sudden realization of Araragi that he was kidnapped and is now chained to some chairs. That’s when Senjougahara comes in and the usual abusive banter starts as she’s enjoying the situation of Araragi being chained and being thirsty and hungry.
After the Opening the story goes back to the morning of that day when Araragi gets a message from Tsubasa that she can’t come to help him study so he realizes that he’s really bored now. As he goes downstairs he meets Tsuhiki, his youngest sister, watching TV and they start bantering. At some point Araragi remembers that he promised Sengoku to visit her and he calls her. Taking the call she immediately agrees being completely flustered by his sudden call. As Araragi wants his sister to come as well she declines and Araragi ends up leaving alone. On his way to Sengoku’s house he meets Hachikuji and they start bantering while discussing some trust-issues Araragi has due to the fact that nobody of his family knows that he’s a vampire (sort-of…).

It isn’t unexpected at all if having the kidnapping-scene right at the beginning as some kind of flimsy foreshadowing means we get to see Senjougahara right in the first episode. She’s the most popular character from Bakemonogatari and it would’ve been strange then not to shoehorn her somehow into the first episode.

Review:
As one of the series with the most expectations I would say this episode was good enough. It highlighted everything which made Bakemonogatari likeable. And since every guy and his dog liked Bakemonogatari it’s safe to say that nearly everyone will love this episode. But let’s be serious and say: No, it’s really nothing special. The first episode was the usual opening-episode of a sequel. Highlighting important plot-points, setting and showing off all the characters you need to know for the sequel. Pretty much by-the-book you might say. What made the episode enjoyable for me, though, was its humour and the solid direction.
First of all, let’s talk about the animation and how surprisingly ‘tamed’ it is in contrast to series like Zetsubou Sensei or Bakemonogatari. There are still cartoony faces and weird scene-set-ups to highlight characterizations but it’s all done in a very conventional way (considering Shaft, I mean). I wouldn’t say that the series suffers from having less blank colour-screens, in fact that was one of the things I hated about the original. No, I think it seemed kinda ordinary because of the contrast to the dialogue. The variety of Shaft-styles in Bakemonogatari mostly improved the experience of the dialogue. In this episode it just seemed arbitrary like it simply has to be there since it’s an anime. It doesn’t have to be on the level of Bakemonogatari but a little bit of weirdness more here and there wouldn’t hurt, I guess.
So what’s left is obviously the dialogue and that means: jokes. Nisemonogatari isn’t a supernatural thriller of Araragi’s sisters ghostbusting while they have the time of their lives. Even with the supernatural element it’s mostly social drama giving a background for the jokes. And the humour of this franchise comes in three varieties: Okaku-pandering, manzai and wordplays. Now what I want to call otaku-pandering are all these jokes relating to anime-references and pretty much everything which needs some kind f otaku-background-knowledge to get it. Well, perhaps pandering sounds a bit too negative for what it actually is but you get the gist. The Manzai-stuff is already pretty much obvious by the fact that in each scene of this episode Araragi is talking to one person. It’s not a horde of stock-brokers speaking over each other at the same time. The dialogues are a clear back-and-forth between two characters and like that most of the dialogues seem like a kind of play. Instead of going with the usual way of characterization where depth is preferred to charm, in this case the characterizations become a silent background to jokes playing out between the characters. The word-play-parts were pretty mild considering how kanji-heavy some of the stuff from Bakemono was but I guess nobody will complain as many of us Subber-watchers don’t really want to start learning Japanese kanji to understand what’s going on.

Like usual Araragi is more than ready to openly show his pervertedness and make jokes about it.

Overall the jokes ranged from good to being mediocre. One time I think the timing was wrong what the “love for sale in the supermarket”-bit got introduced a second time but the rest of it had really good timing. And yeah, looking at the other series of this season which call themselves being a comedy that’s not something you naturally can expect.
The characters are a bit problematic, I would say. On one hand it was nice to see again the characters with their quirks and also one new characters who obviously also has a quirk but I fear that at some point the part which makes the characters unique becomes stale. And I think one can already see this with the Senjougahara-scene which feels more like a kind of fanservice for Bakemono-fans than real funny storytelling. First of all, you don’t get anything story-related from that bit besides that Araragi got kidnapped by Senjougahara (probably…) and that she keeps him there to protect him. So this scene is so context-related that it doesn’t have any kind of real foreshadowing-value. The joke relies on the surprise that he’s in this situation so after the scene plays out there’s no real need to know how he got there. The joke of the scene’s finished and that’s all that matters because we don’t know what the story is yet. And it shows Shinbou’s good direction that after the OP (which by the way sounded far too similar to the “stable, stable”-OP to be called interesting, it was kinda like what “ebullient future” was for ef – a tale of memories)… so that shows since after the OP there was no “But let’s look back at the beginning…”-start for the sort-of flashback to the morning. It simply wasn’t necessary. So while the scene-structure of the episode was really solid, I think the next episode’s story has to hit pretty hard to not make the story dull as it’s buried by the same kind of jokes again and again. Because if something was established by now, it’s the kind of jokes we’re gonna see in this series, that’s spilled milk under the bridge and whatnot. So it all depends on the context making it interesting and funny enough to stay new and fresh.
As for the parts that actually did say something about the story and we know it’s gonna focus on Araragi’s sisters, it was handled actually pretty clever. By letting Araragi talk to Tsukihi there was already a lot of indirect characterization going on as to what kind of characters they are. It isn’t anything deep, though, and the franchise still is a harem-series no matter how often there are meta-fictional jokes made about that. I will laugh about the meta-fictional jokes when they are good but it’s still dull to have a harem-mentality going on with seemingly every girl having a crush on Araragi for some mysterious reason. And that’s why it’s nothing great. Even when it’s making fun of stereotypes and despite the fact it’s really witty sometimes, in the end it adheres to some nagging stereotypes as well. It’s a pity but that’s how it is. This franchise is great – but not without its flaws.

While being rather light on the story-side this is the typical opening-episode reintroducing everything you need to remember from the first series. What it makes enjoyable is the same witty humour and the same charming characters you’ve already got to know from Bakemonogatari. Although I doubt that this episode adds much to what makes the Monogatari-franchise what it is, the concept is still good enough to deliver some good entertainment.

Episode-Rating: 7/10

 

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About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on January 8, 2012, in Anime, Nisemonogatari, Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Well, taking a break from subbing Nisemonogatari and being half truth I must say it´s right, it is somewhat easier to translate and you miss a lot of this freaking Black Scene/Flash Back Stuff, but I m not sure if they will not come up with it.
    Morgoth, you re-watched Bakemono so you should know precise, cause as far I can remember in the first episode Bakemono wasn´t that much of it as well, it was gaining with the story itself…
    This was quite solide episode and a pleasure to watch. Just after finishing the first episodes of Symphofear and some Mouretsu I can´t help to get the feeling this whole sad and bad season seems to be that bad just to have the perfect stage for Nisemonogatari to show off. In the moment you won´t find even one anime which could accord to level of Nise. Therefor it´s quite hard not to get overexcited and one the other hand it´s hard, facing this, not to get overcritical as well.
    But without knowing the novels I would say there is some sense in Araragis kidnapping.
    He is kidnapped more or less exactly on the day the rest of the story is happening, so I´m guessing dear Miss Senjogahara-sama is really trying to rescue him most propably from himself and his harem thoughts… 😉 No, I think it is supposed to show that something will happen to Araragi-kun and it is nothing good. I really did love the Senjogahara/Araragi-kun scene a lot. There was so much love in the air in quite an odd way and a lot of small jokes as well. I really was into the Marie Antoinette reference “If you don´t have bread to eat than you can eat cake” (Gosh, there was a mistake they where talking the whole time about ricecake and not riceballs, there you go again! English translation wrong…) and some other nice references like the NGE one.
    But still a bit to less Karen (Bee) Sister. And again I wonder why was she not showing up since it is the BEE arc? Do the want do the characterization without the character showing up?
    It is really strange you start the sequel which is about the sisters, one is not showing up and the other one has not much screentime.
    One can not say this was not the best first episode so far… And I can´t wait for the next to come up with all this other suffering around me.

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    • “Morgoth, you re-watched Bakemono so you should know precise, cause as far I can remember in the first episode Bakemono wasn´t that much of it as well, it was gaining with the story itself…”
      It wasn’t that much but it introduced Senjougahara and her problem as far as I remember. In this case we got nothing but there were some introduction-episodes like this one for two of the arcs from Bakemonogatari. There are worse “We don’t give a damn about the story”-first-episodes out there but it’s certainly no masterpiece.
      “I really did love the Senjogahara/Araragi-kun scene a lot. There was so much love in the air in quite an odd way and a lot of small jokes as well.”
      Yeah, but the question is: Can he keep up the level of these jokes without changing the formula at some point?
      “But still a bit to less Karen (Bee) Sister. And again I wonder why was she not showing up since it is the BEE arc?”
      Well, they’ll play a role but it’s not like Araragi and everyone else become bystanders to the Fire Sisters’ ghostbusting. Araragi is still quite the centre of the universe, you might say.
      “Just after finishing the first episodes of Symphofear and some Mouretsu I can´t help to get the feeling this whole sad and bad season seems to be that bad just to have the perfect stage for Nisemonogatari to show off.”
      You watched the cotton-pirates and the stuff nightmares are made of? Gee, how unpleasant do you make your life…?

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  2. “It wasn’t that much but it introduced Senjougahara and her problem as far as I remember. In this case we got nothing but there were some introduction-episodes like this one for two of the arcs from Bakemonogatari. There are worse “We don’t give a damn about the story”-first-episodes out there but it’s certainly no masterpiece.”

    I didn´t disagree on that one, but I was asking for something else, my dear Morgoth…
    I was talking about the Flash Back/Black Szene-Stuff appearing in the first episode of Bakemono.

    “Yeah, but the question is: Can he keep up the level of these jokes without changing the formula at some point?”

    Well, you can´t tell rigth now… The only strange thing was the funniest parts so far where in the first arc… They rest was O.K. but pretty normal.

    “Araragi is still quite the centre of the universe, you might say.”
    Let me guess…. Maybe because it´s a harem? Of course, but don´t tell me it´s normal to see anyone but only the one person whos name is in the title not.

    “You watched the cotton-pirates and the stuff nightmares are made of? Gee, how unpleasant do you make your life…?”
    Do you have any better recommodation this season? I mean right know?

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  3. I didn´t disagree on that one, but I was asking for something else, my dear Morgoth…
    I was talking about the Flash Back/Black Szene-Stuff appearing in the first episode of Bakemono.

    Oh, that… Hmm, definitely more present than in this episode since it was more than one time in Bakemonogatari’s first episode.

    Well, you can´t tell rigth now… The only strange thing was the funniest parts so far where in the first arc… They rest was O.K. but pretty normal.

    Well, I’ve always liked it more when they treated the supernatural as more than just a plot-device. But obviously that’s not what the franchise is about, isn’t it? So from a social drama point-of-view the first arc was indeed one of the best.

    Let me guess…. Maybe because it´s a harem? Of course, but don´t tell me it´s normal to see anyone but only the one person whos name is in the title not.

    Well, it gets creepy at some point despite all the good humour, I would say, but that’s brainfood for when we get there in the series 😉 .

    Do you have any better recommodation this season? I mean right know?

    *cough* Uh, you… could… rewatch the original Prince of Tennis because it’s SOOOOOO hardcore and exciting? And so that you can ‘get’ what’s going on in the new series since it’s such a complicated and deep story 😀 .

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  4. M0rg0th, I have to commend you for finding so many bad things to point out about this anime. Personally, all I had to say after watching was, “Sugoi!!!” 🙂

    It does have a lot less of the flashing-color-kanji/english-typing screens, and in a way it’s almost like Shinbo-lite. I re-watched Bakemonogatari ep1 after this, and I will say that nothing so far in “Nise-” can compete with the opening sequence of “Bake-“. But, I suppose Shaft knew the audience was already there for Nise-, so why worry with all the puns, right? Honestly though, I’ve seen the first episode of Zetsubou Sensei about 30 times and I’m only now able to confidently say that I’ve understood more than half of the comments, references, and jokes written on the blackboard, etc. I don’t know if I will ever make it through all three series at the rate I’m going.

    Nise- so far seems much more plainly comedy oriented than I remember Bake- being… There were tons of funny moments in Bake-, for sure, but nothing like the amount of time devoted in this episode to a singular joke (the “courage” joke). The courage “secret technique” had me LMFAO though. I watched it again and laughed at least as much the second time around. It’s damn funny, for sure. Actually, I had laughed my self nearly to death within the first 5 minutes of the episode, and I was really gladly surprised that the writers could keep the humor up throughout.

    Honestly, I wonder how much the “context” of being in this season has to do with my unparalleled enjoyment of this episode? I mean, with things like *cough* New Prince of Tennis around, how could Nise- seem to be anything but totally perfect?

    And, my last thought…. Among my very few but devoted anime-fan friends (and other unfortunates that I have forced into watching all of Shinbo’s stuff), we all seem to agree that Shinbo/Shaft anime tends to have more of a “Western” or “American” appeal. I mean, many of my friends who don’t like anime will religiously watch what Shinbo/Shaft is doing. That seems strange to suggest since so many of the puns/jokes/humor have so much to do with kanji-related confusion, but everyone here (USA) I’ve talked to seems to think the humor has the same sort of grit and pacing as any typical intelligent, dark, and sarcastic American comedy. It’s a bit more subtle and hard to explain than what I’ve said here, but this is just a comment and not my own review. Suffice to say, my friends eat Shinbo’s stuff up like candy, while everything else coming out of Japan seems to fall flat for them. What do you guys who are *not* in the US think about that? Can something so “Japanese” have any “Western” appeal? Or does any of even it matter at all with the world being some sort of “global village” these days?

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  5. “M0rg0th, I have to commend you for finding so many bad things to point out about this anime. Personally, all I had to say after watching was, “Sugoi!!!” “

    You don´t have to get Mr. Morgoth wrong, cause you always have two sides of the medal. And to be honest what he pointed out is not that wrong 😉 and it wouldn´t be much fun hearing this guy just praising an anime like some fanboy without seeing the facts.

    “Oh, that… Hmm, definitely more present than in this episode since it was more than one time in Bakemonogatari’s first episode.”

    I just wonder if the change this wall of kanjis in this strange new hair and eye transformation stuff what would be for sure nicer to watch but still even a bit harder to follow.

    “Well, it gets creepy at some point despite all the good humour, I would say, but that’s brainfood for when we get there in the series . “

    Mmmh, to be honest… I really would be looking forward to have Shaft doing a characterization without having the character to show up. Shouldn´t be to hard to do since Baka and Nise is more on the dialog side.

    “*cough* Uh, you… could… rewatch the original Prince of Tennis because it’s SOOOOOO hardcore and exciting? And so that you can ‘get’ what’s going on in the new series since it’s such a complicated and deep story .”

    Uhm, I will let you do this stuff since your are more in this masochistic mood, watching your “Watching List” latley 😉

    “What do you guys who are *not* in the US think about that? Can something so “Japanese” have any “Western” appeal? Or does any of even it matter at all with the world being some sort of “global village” these days?”

    Well, to be honest I don´t see any relations in this since one can find this sort of quite rare, dark humor anywhere around th globe. It´s just a question of taste, I say… 😉
    And coming to the piont on of the founder of anime, well he had the first studio, Osamu Tezuka, was very much inspired by Walt Disney^^, so much about being “Japanese” in the first place. It allways was and is “global” if you want to say so…

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    • Ahh…. I won’t disagree with you that Mr. Morgoth’s finer comedic qualities tend to come out, more obviously, in the “anti”-oriented rants.

      And, I appreciate your points about “matters of taste”, Western/global humor, Disney, and so forth. Thanks to you, I’ve got a date with the internet after class to learn more about this “Tezuka” guy! 🙂

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      • I´m pretty sure, you will love the “Lion King” part…^^
        And if one could find a -dono, the master of it all ;), in the anime/manga world for sure it is Osamu Tezuka…
        So don´t call him “just” guy, will ya, please ;p.

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