Not only does sucking the blood of an ex-vampire age you a couple of years, it also hands you an entire new wardrobe. It even has the sense of style to have a doughnut emblazoned on the back of the hoodie.
Let’s make a big list of things that I prefered about Nisemonogatari to Bakemonogatari. Right up near the top of that list (but not quite first) would be the new personality given to Shinobu. Her haughty attitude was just at that perfect point that she was entertainingly charismatic while still having her weak points that ensured she wasn’t infallible. Almost all of my favourite characters in any piece of entertainment have this quality. Yang Wenli, L, Okarin, Horo, Lelouch, Sam Vimes (sorry, but I happen to be reading his latest book at the moment, so it’s been on my mind a bit). They all have this blend of being charismatic while still being very flawed individuals.
The main reason this isn’t my #1 improvement on the part of Nisemonogatari is because I would have prefered her more if she spent the entire series looking like an 18 year old woman with a fetching side-tail instead of a 12 year old girl, but I’m not a pedophile like Shinbo. I heard she’s a large breasted vampire queen in Kizumonogatari, so maybe that will be more to my shallow preferences.
As an aside, woah boy does she ever tower over Arararagi. The tip of his ahoge barely reaches the top of her head. In fact, most of the women in this show tower over Araragi. Even his younger sister is a good 3-4 inches taller than him.
On the list of things I disliked about Nisemonogatari vs Bakemonogatari would be the incest. Now this hadn’t bothered me before this episode, but that’s because them being related was more an interesting little tidbit rather than an essential factor to the story. They were an extra piece added onto Arararagi’s increasing harem of ladies. But this final arc decided that suddenly their relation to him would be the important point behind why Arararagi was fighting for them, not just because he was a nice guy who helps people anyway. This is where I throw my hands up in frustration at anime as a whole. You can’t have imouto fanservice for all the only child’s out there and then, in the very same fucking plotline, try to play the ‘importance of family’ card. You’ve can’t have it both ways, that’s not how family works. Do these writers simply not have sisters, or is there a culture gap going on here? Is Japan really that afraid to talk to the opposite sex that they all turn to incest?
Which brings me to the larger point that Nisemonogatari was worse at than Bakemonogatari: The plotlines. Each one in Bakemonogatari was better constructed. They had a clear beginning, middle and end, with a clear focus throughout. Sure, they were hugely varied and normally an afterthought to just watching the characters interact with each other. But for what it’s worth, they were still better than the arcs in Nisemonogatari, both of which ended in incredibly anti-climactic ways.
One point Nisemonogatari beats Bakemonogatari at is the direction is several steps above. When Bakemonogatari had a bad episode, it was a slog to sit through. Nisemonogatari rarely had that, because the animation style was almost always a treat to watch. I’m not sure what to put this down to. Was it 2 and a half years extra experience for Shinbo to make his crazy artstyle actually tell the story he wants to tell? Was it the fact that it was considerably better animated because Shaft now have money pouring out of the ears? Was it simply from my perspective that I understood what Shinbo was going for with the directing more this season than last? It’s probably a combination of the three.
I really want to see more Shaft prodigies trying their own work, beyond the world of fanservicy light novel adaptations. I’d like some more anime like Arakawa Under the Bride and Madoka Magica by studios other than Shaft, especially since Shaft themselves seem to be tied up for the foreseeable future with the Madoka movies and Kizumonogatari. On that note, there was a little ‘to be continued?’ thrown in at the end of Nisemonogatari. There’s still a whole load of novels left to adapt, and I’m sure Shaft would not want to let their cash cow be left to rot. Especially since Shinbo has apparently got free rein to do whatever the fuck he wants with these novels.
Tell you what I would really like to see though. The story of Oshino and co. when they were college students together. Imagine Oshino, Kaiki and Platform Shoes-chan, solving mysteries in their incredible roundabout ways, espousing philosophy to each other, and with no incest or pedophilia whatsoever. It would start to resemble Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex except with monster folklore instead of robots and cyberpunk.
However that story would involve very little Senjogahara, not a good thing at all. That said, Nisemonogatari involved rather little Senjogahara too. The only parts of Nisemonogatari I liked were those with Senjogaharai in it. Well, no, that’s a lie. I liked the scenes with Shinobu too. Oh, and most of the scenes that had Kaiki in. And that toothbrush scene was pretty epic. And I guess I had fun watching that one scene with Kanbaru. Other than that though, Nisemonogatari was crap!
If I had to pick between the two, I’d give Bakemonogatari the nod above Nisemonogatari. It had more of a structure to it, more of a Senjogahara to it, and the addition of the two sister characters in Nisemonogatari did little to improve my opinion of the show. That said, for as controversial as much of the series is, I still enjoyed Nisemonogatari a lot. The flaws many people highlight, from the bizarre directing choices to the rambling dialogue, are the exact things that make it unique. That’s the part that elevates it above its fellow stories about a generic male lead going about saving the haremmette of the week. It’s total masturbatory, self-indulgence on the part of Shinbo and Nisioisin, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.