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Nisemonogatari Anime Review
To avoid redundancy, you should probably read my Bakemonogatari Review prior to this one, if you haven't already done so.
Nisemonogatari (literally "fake/false story" in English) is an 11-episode anime series developed by studio Shaft, and based on the Monogatari light novel series written by Nisin Isio. Nisemonogatari is the second production in the anime adaptation of the Monogatari series, preceded by Bakemonogatari, and succeeded by Nekomonogatari (Kuro), Monogatari Series Second Season, and Hanamonogatari. Although it is under a name separate from Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari is still part of the "first season" of Monogatari, a model dictated by the light novels.
Being very similar in concept to its predecessor, Nisemonogatari follows Koyomi Araragi as he deals with the supernatural issues of those who are important to him. This instance in particular deals with his sisters named Tsukihi and Karen, instead of his other companions.
Obviously, it would be pointless to describe characters when I have already done so in another article, (unless they have some dramatic character change) so only newcomers to this part of Monogatari or those who become more important in it will be outlined.
Karen Araragi, the middle Araragi sibling, is shown to be a very extroverted character who is quick to act and has no patience for things that she either dislikes or doesn't understand. She displays a tomboy-ish demeanor and is rarely seen wearing a skirt, unlike the rest of Monogatari's female cast. Being one of the most dexterous and fit characters in the series, her intents are not meant to be taken lightly, as she has a high sense of the word "justice".
The youngest Araragi sibling, Tsukihi Araragi, prefers activities that are very contrary to her sister's. She also doesn't have as much drive in her life compared to Karen, as she would rather sit on the sidelines.Tsukihi exhibits some of the symptoms of bi-polar disorder, being known for her rapid and sometimes frightening shifts in behavior which Koyomi has somewhat come to fear. She likes to exclaim the phrase "i'm platinum mad!" whenever angered, though it isn't clear what exactly this means. Collectively, Karen and Tsukihi are known as the "fire sisters", though little information is given as to what the primary objective of the "fire sisters" is, as well as what the relationship between the two sisters is like.
Deishu Kaiki is a con man accused of deceiving many of the students at the junior high school that Tsukihi and Karen attend. He doesn't have a problem with lying to people, but will revert to telling the truth at its utmost basic values, whenever he is under the presence of those who can see through his mirages. He is aware of his wrongdoings and their consequences in every way, with the prospect of money being the only reason that he commits such acts. Kaiki has come to be one of the signature characters in the Monogatari series, despite his relatively low amount of screen time. His persona is further expounded on in great detail during the final arc of Monogatari Series Second Season.
Having a fairly small part in Bakemonogatari, (in fact, I don't think she spoke even a single word of dialogue) Shinobu Oshino returns, having an actual personality this time around. The reason for her sudden change in activity isn't disclosed at this point, but the viewer is led to believe that Shinobu is important because of her ties with Koyomi, (she literally lives in his shadow) as well as her past in which she was supposedly much stronger as a vampire. Being hundreds of years old, Shinobu appears confident in nearly everything that she and Koyomi discuss, though this is offset by her apparent weakness for donuts. Her existence is known by most of the main characters, with the Araragi sisters being outliers in this respect, though there was one scene that outlined this fact so ridiculously that I doubt that it was meant to be taken in a serious fashion.
There are two remaining characters, Yozuru Kagenui and Yotsugi Ononoki, appearing towards the end of Nisemonogatari as a pair of individuals whose aim is to deal with supernatural phenomena, but due to the lack of information regarding them and the point in the story at which they appear, I would consider them as no more than supporting characters (though the same could be said about Kaiki.)
As a whole, Nisemonogatari delivers a far more light-hearted story than its antecedent. This is evidenced in the first arc of the series, Karen Bee, which takes up seven of the total eleven episodes. Furthermore, the first two episodes of this arc are mostly filler, showing a few instances of Koyomi running around and talking to the heroines of Bakemonogatari while nothing is accomplished plot wise, and these scenes could be completely skipped by the viewer while they won't really be missing out on anything relative to the rest of the story. The only real purpose of these first few episodes is to create a board for which inane fan service is able to exist. Situations of this nature didn't exist in Bakemonogatari. The relatively low amount of fan service that it displayed was relevant to the plot in at least some way.
Thankfully, this trend gets toned down from the third episode onward, though the fan service throughout the entirety of Nisemonogatari is far more frequent and exuberant than all of the other currently existing entries in the Monogatari series (excluding Nekomonogatari (Kuro) possibly). At times, this made me feel as if I were watching one of those "crap" anime that attempts to draw in viewers with titillation rather than with the actual story that it presents.
However, this remark turns out to be disapproved by the ever-enticing concepts and ideas spelled out through these eleven (though some would consider it to be only 9) episodes. Themes of sibling relation, perseverance, and faith are continuously evident, with some moments of silliness connecting the more serious ones. One of these moments, known simply as "the toothbrush scene", has become infamously associated with the Monogatari series, even though it doesn't have any significance to the rest of the plot. All lewdness aside, I think that this scene explores just how intimate an event can become just by someone performing something for someone else that would normally be done alone.
Warning: watching this scene out of context prior to watching it in context could ruin the novelty of it.
Animation & Sound
Shaft's signature art style remains present during this title, though it is a large step down from the ridiculousness of Bakemonogatari. The text slides are far less frequent here as well, with the prospect of more focus on fan service than actual plot taking a toll on the strangeness in presentation that the Monogatari anime releases are known for. This is also the first time I've witnessed the "magical beams of light" phenomena, a common technique used in television releases of anime wherein characters' private parts are conveniently covered up by an intruding ray of light, something that doesn't exist in Blu-ray/DVD releases. There aren't any noticeable flaws in the animation, with everything being as gorgeous as ever, a trait Shaft has been known for in recent years.
This time around, the soundtrack goes for a much less serious feel, as indicated by one of the videos above. It all feels very fitting, though it's nothing that I'm particularly fond of due to its absence of compassionate appeal. I especially like the opening of the second arc, Tsukihi Phoenix, titled "Platinum Disco", as do many others. Once again, there is no English dub cast, for obvious reasons. However, there seems to be a lot less Japanese culture references in the dialogue, making it easier to follow for the non-Japanese acquainted audience. Though I'm not a Japanese speaker myself, I still think that the voice actors did an excellent job as far as emotional demonstration goes.
Nisemonogatari is the most underwhelming instance in the Monogatari series thus far. Though there are a few good points in the plot, I feel that the show put too much focus on the fan service for my liking. The animation and sound departments are both done at exemplary levels, though this is expected at this point. Despite my disapproval with many of the aspects of this series, I still think it is worth the watch if you enjoyed Bakemonogatari. Also, this is the only trough within the context of Monogatari, with something far better coming after this iteration.