Monday, January 18, 2010

Honourable Mentions: Bakemonogatari


Bakemonogatari is an anime and I think I should first explain that the Malaysian DVD contains the 12 episodes that have aired on Japanese TV. There are three further episodes due for release/released online. However the 12th episode does end satisfactorily – I understand the 13th episode will continue the ‘meddlesome cat’ storyline that we’ll come to in a moment.

Anyway, Araragi (Hiroshi Kamiya) is a young man who was attacked by and turned into a vampire during the last spring break. He was subsequently saved by Oshino (Takahiro Sakurai), who was able to change him back from an oddity (as the supernatural creatures in this are referred to) into a human again (or at least 9/10th human). He still has some residual vampiric abilities – one being rapid healing and there is a suggestion that he has maintained a vampire’s charisma. This all occurs before the anime begins.

facing the crabIn the first episode he sees a girl, Senjōgahara Hitagi (Chiwa Saitō), falling from a great height and catches her, realising that she has virtually no weight. It turns out that she met a crab, which took her weight – symbolic of the negative feelings she had. Over the first two episodes the caustic girl puts her trust in Araragi and he helps her regain her weight. Eventually the two become boyfriend and girlfriend.

Araaragi voiced by Hiroshi KamiyaThe episodes run fairly much like that with a character, female, in trouble due to an oddity and Araragi helping them solve their problem over a couple of episodes. The bizarre part is there is precious little in the way of action for most of this, rather there is intelligent use of myth, some intriguing word play and lots of character driven dialogue. Combine that with some beautiful animation and you really have a series worth watching.

Shinobu feeds on Araragi to give him energyWe hear little more about the vampires. We do discover that the young girl, who never speaks and lives with Oshino, called Shinobu, is a vampire – or what is left of the vampire who turned Araragi. We see her bite him at one point – which gives him the energy to face a rainy demon. How she came to be in the state she is does not get explained in the anime, though clearly it had something to do with Araragi’s cure.

the meddlesome cat is an energy vampireWe also get a flashback to an incident with a meddlesome cat that was the stress induced alter ego (almost Hyde like and taking physical form through the body) of class representative Hanekawa (Yui Horie). It is a flashback but, I understand the story continues in the online content. I mention this for two reasons. Firstly because the meddlesome cat would attack people and drain their energy – making her almost an energy vampire (and vampire cats are not uncommon in Japanese folklore). Secondly, because the cat was defeated by being drained herself by Shinobu.

The vampiric content to this was background rather than foreground, however this was a beautiful and intelligent anime that I would recommend to all anime fans. The imdb page is here.

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