Bakemonogatari – Episode 1

This season, Classic Reviews return with one of my all-time favorite series! I’m betting it’ll be a lot of fun to revisit Bake after all this time, and the first episode didn’t let me down. Bake’s premiere is strange and confident and entirely its own thing, offering many fragmented hooks while seemingly ignoring many other pieces of important information. It’s a solid statement of purpose, and I had a whole bunch to write about it.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my episode notes below.

Bakemonogatari’s first episode opens with an in-your-face panty shot

Following our protagonist Araragi’s eye, the camera zooms in and then up, focusing on the panties and then following a line up to their owner Hanekawa’s face

There’s no avoiding that, and it basically gates the Monogatari franchise right from the start

It does reflect the fact that the show will indeed have fanservice. But it also reflects two of the show’s other priorities – the raging feelings of adolescence, and a clear emphasis on perspective. In this first shot, the fact that we start with Araragi’s eye before jumping to the panties is essentially informing us as to how such shots will generally work going forward. Monogatari is in large part about perspective, and everyone’s perspective is different. There are few unbiased shots in Monogatari – most of the show’s camerawork belongs to one of its characters

Then we get those inescapable text images

Then we get the whole fast-forwarding of Kizu

The fact that the backgrounds here also feel totally unreal and minimalist also plays into that. It’s a regular SHAFT choice, but in this show, the fact that these kids have only a vague idea of their surroundings, and no conception of the adult world, colors what we actually see

This moment of her falling is beautiful, almost religious. And a falling figure being caught by another encapsulates this series

Isin’s writing style is very stream-of-consciousness, and in a show with limited animation, that’s very hard to translate. Fortunately, Oishi is already very fond of mixed media, and so much of the literal text gets yanked into shots on screen

In fact, we see both their eyes up close

And here’s that OP

May 8th

The show doesn’t seem to care about “spoilers”

The camera focusing on Araragi’s pencil, emphasizing his boredom

They’re brainstorming ideas for the school festival

The camera also seems to avoid Hanekawa’s eyes, implying he’s hiding something

More perspective shots. This first episode makes it easy

“I only know what I know”

Hanekawa teasing him, as usual

Of course, some shots are just evocative for their own sake

Grilling Hanekawa on Senjougahara

She was the star of the track team in middle school

“She’s such a fragile being”

Mentioning Mr. Oshino

And now he’s being threatened by Senjougahara

She has no weight. She encountered a crab who stripped her of all her weight

The text screens emphasize thoughts rushing through his head too fast to process. They’re mean – sometimes they’re irrelevant, sometimes they’re crucial. Far, far along in the series, one critical piece of character context only appears in the text, because that arc’s narrator is a liar who always hides their feelings

Evocative imagery of her stationary falling – literally her defenses falling

Meme Oshino

“Thanks to him, I was able to turn back to a human from a vampire”

“You would call a character like me a tsundere, right?”

Everyone’s self-aware, but also not

She has to keep “both hands free to defend herself.” What would make this girl so defensive?

She’s got a great way with words. Heavy, loaded sarcasm

Some cut paper shots, film copy. Lots of interesting visual diversions

“I just heal a bit faster now, otherwise I’m a normal human”

“You seem really self-conscious, or rather have a massive persecution complex”

They’re already bantering really well

He makes a Fullmetal Alchemist joke, and she actually picks up what he’s throwing down

And Araragi’s already adopting the tsukkomi role

Shinobu idly revealed

“Save you? That’s not possible. All you can do is save yourself on your own, Miss.”

“There were at least five people who said the same thing to my face. And all of them were con artists”

A Weight Crab

“If you said you encountered a crab, then I’m sure it was a crab”

“Gods can be found anywhere”

Senjougahara points out that Oshino is talking in riddles

“Unless you wish for something, it won’t manifest itself”

One thought on “Bakemonogatari – Episode 1

  1. Thanks for this! I also wanted to run through the first series again to find ideas and themes I didn’t pick up on before. As Flounder was wont to say, “This will be great!”.

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