Well, as you can see, I’m kind of a big Shaft fan, so the onset of Crunchyroll doing weekly streams of Nisemonogatari and the forthcoming prequel movie, Kizumonogatari, has had me ecstatic. (By the way, check out Kaushik’s review for season 1, Bakemonogatari, right here if you need a little refresher course!) Now that we’re four episodes in, let’s take a look at how the second season is out of the gate.
Just like in the original light novels, Bakemonogatari was more of a compilation of five shorter episodic cases. Each case would basically have our lead, Koyomi Arararagi (excuse my stuttering, Araragi), confront some paranormal affliction that is tormenting a girl he knows, brought on by said girl’s personal problems. By solving the personal issue (parents, jealousy, unrequited love, etc.) Araragi is able to release his friend of the week from her torment by doing a lot of talking for twenty-four minutes. This time, however, instead of two or three part shorter cases, Nisemonogatari has two longer cases in the original novel, “Karen Bee” and “Tsukihi Phoenix”, and adapting those chapters will likely be the bulk of the season, if not, most of it.
After all, from the onset of the case titles, it would probably need more episodes anyway, since they focus on Koyomi’s little sisters. Back in season one, Karen and Tsukihi served little more than comic relief at the “next episode preview” and at the end of a episode where a case is resolved, where they would rouse their exhausted brother out of bed. It’s great to finally see these two get fleshed out and given a day in the sun. One of the first season’s strengths was that if any particular arc rubbed you the wrong way, you could always skip an episode and be done with it. But in season two these two arcs seem to be at least five episodes (in the case of “Karen Bee”). If you have apprehensions towards pestering little sister archetypes, you may be initially disappointed, but there is plenty of compensation for you.
The series always had a way of taking it easy, so you don’t really dive into “Karen Bee” in the first three episodes. Most of this time is spent towards rebuilding familiarity with the cast and setting up some overarching frameworks. As a sequel season, you still need to draw in viewers and get them to speed somewhat with everyone who has seen season one. Thankfully, extended flashback montages full of old footage are not used. Instead, Araragi wakes up kidnapped and wonders how he got into the mess. He confirms his situation by backtracking through a day where he passes by most of the girls from season one. And like that, you can snap back into their quirks and personalities from Mayoi’s very scrappy self, to Nadeko’s forbidden big brother complex, to Kanbaru’s innuendo slinging, and so forth. Honestly, it’s no doubt a much better way to reacquaint viewers with the cast by having actual new content and jokes that reveal the character relationships. Outside of focusing on just those two cases revolving around Araragi’s sisters, there’s a side plot involving another supernatural specialist in town, one that Senjougahara has bad blood with. Why? We’ll see for sure.
So really, second season doesn’t quite throw you back in the ring. It takes its time, though the first few episodes lay enough groundwork to properly segue into the main case and they’re no less entertaining to boot. The animation is the typical simple stylish style Shaft tends to like these days, just what you’d expect. Background music is also mostly silence or something more ambient while the OP and ED are lovely. Voice acting is top-notch. Great to hear Hiroshi Kamiya (Happy Birthday to him, by the way! 1/28) and Chiwa Saito banter again. (And Maaya Sakamoto finally gets some lines for her role in that one rather surprising scene!)
With season two in full gear now, Nisemonogatari looks great, and if you’re just tuning in, you can and should hop right in. (Though I’d suggest watching at the very least the Hitagi Crab arc of Bakemonogatari to give better context for Araragi’s relations with Senjougahara) Get ready for more sitting around, talking, and a healthy dose of reaction shots because we’re back in business. Yours truly can’t wait to land down a full review in the future. Join me next time when I attempt to survive sorting a sea of BL novels and manga.
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