I did not know that this was part of a larger grouping of stories, referred to as the “Monogatari” (“Story”) series. I came in on Series #9 “Hanamonogatari” with a concurrent viewing of #11 “Owarimonogatari” (review on that later. Maybe). It’s just that they are very annoying both in presentation and content.
If I had watched them from the beginning, a lot of what transpires in this one would potentially make better sense, but it suffers the same problem as “Mekakucity Actors” or parts of “Penguin Drum”. But I get ahead of myself. The plot contends itself with Suruga Kanbaru (left), as she begins her third year in high school. She deals with her left hand that had been turned monstrous through the use of her mother’s monkey paw charm. After hearing rumors from Ougi Oshino of a Devil that can solve one’s problems, Suruga sets out to find this person. She secretly fears that this person is her. However, she soon discovers that the Devil is her former basketball rival from junior high, Rouka Numachi (right).
Now, I did some research on this and learned that what I am watching is actually Episodes 54 through 58 in the full arc of things and that, in the beginning, Kanbaru isn’t even the ‘star’ of the show. But even if I knew all the back stories, it has two major problems. The first is that everyone talks and talks and talks. It might as well be an anime version of “My Dinner with Andre” as people blab on about everything and use 10 words when one would suffice. The other is the imagery.
There are some stunning, modernistic scenery in all of this and some viewing vistas or challenging visual concepts to endure. Yes, endure. It got to the point where you felt shaken about like a rag doll with what goes on. And there are information cards that are dropped in to kind of explain things, but they shuttle by so fast, all you know is that a card was inserted, but you were not allowed to read it. It may have had salient information on it, but if the director doesn’t care enough to let me in on this, then what am I here for?
Oh, I should address the fan service, such as it is. There are scenes where we see her nude, but it is both flat and uninspiring. I felt that was more a comment about her flat and uninspiring life than any kind of ‘reward’ for sticking it out, but, for the most part, there isn’t really anything I would remotely consider fan service. The Planters Peanut has more curves than these two…unless you get off on seeing naked monkey legs.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to look great. “Tatami Galaxy” pulled that off, but it did it better in both story and vision. This is just an on-going muddle that seems to have no real purpose in what it is trying to achieve in all of these manipulations. Maybe the best way to view it is to turn off the sound completely and just groove on the visuals OR start at the very, very beginning (“Bakemonogatari”) and run through all 75 episodes. It’s just that I don’t have THAT level of dedication. I barely had enough for the five episodes I watched.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 9 (Visually stunning and challenging)
Plot 7 (I think I found one)
Pacing 6 (Feels rushed for going so slow)
Effectiveness 5 (Too artsy for its own good)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 5 (Completely worn down by it all)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I’ll challenge you, one-on-one.