DVD Review: Bakemonogatari – Part 1

bakemonogatari_screenshot_5The super-natural but visually superb anime Bakemonogatari has arrived into the UK, but is Bakemonogatari worth watching or is it mainly a curse too far? Find out in our DVD Review of Bakemonogatari – Part 1.

Synopsis:

Koyomi Araragi thought he was done with the supernatural after his recent brush with vampires but that belief is short lived when Senjyogahara, the aloof girl in school, is as light as a feather. The cause? A crab God with a penchant for the vulnerable. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg as she’s not the only individual suffering from the effects with their brush with the paranormal. A lost snail who can’t find their way home no matter how hard they try, and a mysterious deadly arm that can only bring misery despite how hard one wishes. The forever ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ Koyomi, can’t help but embroil himself into their lives to fix their problems with the aid of Meme Oshino, an expert on these matters.

Our View:

The Synopsis pretty much sums up what is included with this first-half-season release of Bakemonogatari, with three different character stories (Hitagi Senjōgahara, Mayoi Hachikuji and Suruga Kanbaru) all being told over the eight included episodes. Basically Koyomi Araragi, or Araragi for short, ends up helping a variety of different people (living or dead) by the way of wannabe priest Meme Oshino, who lives in a dilapidated building. Upon successfully saving these people from unique Curses Araragi begins to develop stronger relationships, namely with the mysterious Hitagi Senjōgahara.

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The charm with Bakemonogatari is not the story but its extremely unique way of telling the story, as action is discussed through words, empty threats and close-up of characters rather than actually violence, however when a fight does take place it is either extremely short or ends by way of a unique conversation.

Another interesting feature of Bakemonogatari is the style of animation used, which has been animated by SHAFT, as while all characters are highly detailed the backgrounds are left rather plain and bare, this is so that the viewer’s attention is focused on the characters (or subtitles) rather than the background behind them.

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Put simply Bakemonogatari, which is directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, follows the traits of other anime series he has been involved with, such as Dance in the Vampire Bund, as these shows featured plenty of dialogue, a lack of on-screen action and detailed character artwork. While Bakemonogatari follows traits of Akiyuki Shinbo previous works the series does utilise some ‘quirkier’ scenes, whereby animation is replaced with a Japanese text or an image of real items thus mixing animation with reality, it’s an interesting style but the amount of un-readable text (unless paused) does get annoying.

Extras:

Unlike other subtitled only releases, such as Waiting in the Summer and Mayo Chiki, Bakemonogatari Part 1 features a rather large amount of extra content considering its relatively short series. Included on the disc’s we have Character Commentaries (for each episode), Text Less Openings (for Episode 3,5,6 & 8), Text less endings (for Episodes 1,4,6 & 7), Alternate Ending (Episode 2), Text less Ending Theme & Animation ( for Episode 5 & 8) and finally a variety of trailers.

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The main attraction will be the Character Commentaries, which are provided as an ‘alternate’ audio track for every single episode. Unlike traditional audio commentaries, which features the voice actor explaining their role in the anime, these character commentaries are the characters themselves discussing what is unfolding on screen, for example in the first episode Hitagi Senjōgahara (voiced by Chiwa Saitō) narrates the episode with Tsubasa Hanekawa (voiced by Yui Horie) while at the same time mocking Koyomi Araragi’s daily activities. It’s interesting style of Commentary and it is something that was originally included with the Japanese (and American) release of the series so it is nice to see it included with this UK release.

While the Character commentary is available throughout every episode it is the insane amount of text less opening and closing videos, along with trailers and alternate endings, that make up the extras on the second DVD disc. The reason for the amount of openings and endings is because Bakemonogatari’s stories are split up into two to three episodes with each story receiving their own unique opening and ending. All of the opening and ending videos (from the first eight episodes) are included on the second disc along with an alternate ending for episode 2.

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Finally the second disc has also been packed with a variety of trailers, some of which have been licensed by MVM Entertainment, while others have yet to be licensed for UK release.Trailers included on the disc are Hakuouki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, Gyo, Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari, Inu X Boku SS and Hiiro No Kakera.

Tech Specs:

Media: DVD 9 x2
Running Time: 2:02:55 (Disc 1), 1:01:25 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (Japanese)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Bakemonogatari is an interesting anime and has a unique story to be told but with its relatively boring and (possibly) complicated approach to storytelling some viewers might be afraid to give it a try. In this Part 1 release we have the first eight episodes of the series spread out over two DVD discs, all of which are presented in Japanese in English subtitles. In regards to the Audio and Subtitle options these can be changed at will and subtitles can even be removed entirely, offering the true experience for Japanese fans.

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While English-Sub only releases are becoming more popular with Western auidiences it seems Bakemonogatari could have gained more interest if an English Dub was available. The reason I say this is an insane amount of talking takes place on screen which equates to a lot of subtitle reading for the viewer, combine these subtitles with the large amount of text appearing on screen and your left with too much to read in an extremely short space of time, with some scenes only available to read if paused. This isn’t MVM’s fault, as they are only distributing it, but with an anime featuring this much text an English dubbed option should have been considered.

This combined with the lack of ‘screen movement’ are my only quarrels with Bakemonogatari, as the story itself is an interesting tale of Curses and Vampires but too much is focused on the talking and not enough on the action, however this is down to the story telling itself and has nothing to do with how the DVD is produced.

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These quarrels aside the amount of included extras, combined with the stunning picture quality, makes this for an impressive viewing experience that everyone should attempt to watch.

Score: review-stars-3

Bakemonogatari – Part 1 will be available on DVD from the 17th June 2013 and Blu-ray from the 25th August 2013.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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