Nisemonogatari Review (Anime)

I didn’t really enjoy Bakemonogatari as my review made clear but I’m continuing it in the hopes that it might grow on me with its sequel Nisemonogatari.
It doesn’t. I was told that Bakemonogatari is considered the best Monogatari by many and now I feel unless the story revolves around Meme and Shinobu (who actually gets some mention-worthy screentime), then I won’t enjoy the story on offer as they’re the gems in the rough in a series that’s devoid of characters with any real personality or meaningful relationships; I enjoyed Nekomonogatari Black a fair bit but haven’t found enjoyment in the series since. I didn’t think it was possible to be so incredibly bored when watching anime but Nisemonogatari has me inserting coins into the “continue?” slot and I’m all out of pocket change.
The story begins not long after Bake and places a bigger focus on Koyomi Araragi’s little sisters, Karen and Tsuhiki, who are called the ‘Fire Sisters’ due to being self-proclaimed heroes of justice; their reputation precedes them but, as with all other girls in the series, they get into a sitatution where only Koyomi is able to come to their aid. If you liked Bakemonogatari then there’s no guarantee that you’ll like Nisemonogatari as, even as someone who disliked Bakemonogatari, it’s a shadow of its former self. It follows a similar arc structure and that’s one of my many problems with the series as each arc struggles to differentiate itself and feels the same, just with a different damsel in distress. As is the same with Bakemonogatari, it picks up towards the end but it’s too little too late and doesn’t make up for the chore that is the rest of the series.

The popularity of Monogatari is usually attributed to its characters and dialogue, although I’d say it’s due to the art style, but the characters are flat and one-dimensional and the dialogue isn’t witty or clever, nor does it have a particularly good sense of humour or sense of pacing. For a show that doesn’t have a lot going on story-wise in the way of action, locations and emotion, Monogatari relies on having people become attached to the characters but they’re utterly shallow, selfish and many of the relationships feel forced. This is a problem that I feel is prominent primarily in Koyomi’s and Senjougahara’s relationship where nothing happens that leads me to believe that they’re actually in love on any meaningful level – it’s the very definition of contrived.
Their relationship may have made progress physically but emotionally, and mentally, they still behave like children who want to claim ownership over the other. The script tries its best to make me take it seriously, yet all I can do is be disappointed with their shallow and pathetic love story. Kanbaru, my favourite character in Bake, has been stripped of her likeable qualities, opting to hit on the already taken Koyomi at any given opportunity and provide much unneeded fan-service; fortunately, Hanekawa gets hit with the ‘dumb-me-down’ stick just as hard, becoming a useless, over-sexualised character which even the most nude-heavy harem shows would be ashamed of – they wouldn’t be envious of this abysmal character development, though. Watching the Monogatari series is uncomfortable as I have to deal with the clear and heavy amounts of sexual frustration seeping from the author’s pen and through my TV.
The visuals are again one of the shows strong points with characters looking gorgeous and are highly detailed – sadly, the same care and attention wasn’t given to the environments which lack detail a lot of the time; it doesn’t help that Shaft clearly blow much of their budget on this one series as all of their other series’ show clear signs of a strained budget. Monogatari looks outstanding in screenshots and despite my clear dislike for the series, I can’t deny that the characters look great and that the character design is relatively plain and simple, fitting the characters to a tee; this isn’t a bad thing, it’s nicely consistent and isn’t unnecessarily flashy, creating a contrast to the strange direction of the show with its many close-ups, art style changes and flair in trying to make everything look dynamic and exciting even if it doesn’t always succeed. The fan-service is dire and whilst I don’t mind it in general as I’ve made abundantly clear, I do mind when Nisemonogatari revels in sexualising little girls – it’s simply pathetic.

The audio is another point in the show which deserves praise with its poppy and various OP and ED themes – other than seeing a young girl with her top open and suggestively dripping in sweat, of course – and the OST is worth listening to; I won’t listen to it in my spare time but I found it enjoyable if not inconsistent in tone with the show itself. The story tries to be mature and clever but the OST wants to have some much needed excitement, and I had more fun with it than I’d expected to. It’s lacking in English dub which is a shame because although the dialogue is riddled with repeated jokes and hold-my-hand conversations – I never got lost, despite Nisemonogatari trying its best to mislead me with its self-indulgent talk – but an English dub would’ve benefited it as there’s a lot of dialogue regardless, and hearing it in a language you understand would be a huge help to many.
If anything I can’t fault MVM’s release as there’s nothing wrong with the release itself. I’m pretty lenient in my taste in shows as I’ll give anything a go with an open-mind, even if it isn’t to my tastes that doesn’t mean I might not find enjoyment in it, however, Nisemonogatari is unbelievably dull, devoid of any interesting story or characters and the repetitive dialogue has me rolling my eyes to the point I was worried my retinas may detach – at least I then wouldn’t continue to watch this utter trite. Oh, and that toothbrush scene, let’s just not talk about how awful that was, shall we?

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