If you do a Google search for ‘Acquired Taste’ you get a nice definition which basically states that it applies to something that requires lots of exposure before someone can develop a taste for it. If you were to apply that definition to anime, you would get Bakemonogatari.
Originally a novel series written by Japanese author NisiOisin, Bakemonogatari originally premiered in 2009. Produced by studio SHAFT and directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, Bakemonogatari is a harem series unlike any other. Telling multiple stories over the course of its run, Bakemonogatari starts with Koyomi Araragi meeting a girl named Hitagi Senjougahara who has almost zero weight. It turns out that she’s been cursed by a spirit and Koyomi must help her. Throughout the rest of the series, Koyomi will meet various other girls who are afflicted with similar problems which he must figure out how to fix.
The first time I saw Bakemonogatari, I was absolutely floored and amazed by what I saw. Every episode was something new and interesting that made me want to see more and learn more about these characters. Recently though, I decided to revisit the series and see how my initial thoughts held up to the test of time. What I found was that even after many months, Bakemonogatari deserves it’s positive reputation thanks to being so very different visually.
Shinbo has earned a reputation over the last few years for including very unique visuals within his works and you can argue that this is the series that started that trend for him. Filled with constant cuts and flashes of visual exposition, viewers will wear out their pause button if they try to read every last bit of text that flies across the screen. Match this with beautifully originally character designs and backgrounds that will shift styles at a moment’s notice and you have a series that will keep your eyes locked onto the screen at all times out of fear of missing something if you look away for even a moment.
Of course, one could argue that being so different from what’s already available is actually a detriment to the series and something that plays against it on a regular basis. If you’re looking for traditional animation or moe character designs, you’re going to be completely out of luck with this series. This is a series that thrives on breaking the mold and showing the world that it is still possible to be strikingly different. If you’re not ready for something like that or just not willing to expand your horizons, you’ll want to skip past this series.
Additionally, viewers are going to find that the writing requires a certain amount of patience. While most of the series moves swiftly, there will be times when you’re going to have to sit through up to fifteen minutes of dialogue at a time before the story picks back up and starts moving at a decent pace again. Again, if you’re ready or willing to deal with something like that you’re going to find that this is not the series for you.
For the rest of us though, Bakemonogatari is going to go down as a classic series that gave the anime world the shot in the arm (or kick in the ass, whichever you prefer) that it sorely needed. After all, this is the series that gave the world the now famous SHAFT head tilt. Over five years later, Bakemonogatari is a series that can still get a room talking with excitement and it’s about time for you to join in that conversation.
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