Saturday, August 8, 2009

Why Bakemonogatari keeps reminding me of Utena

Or, I haven't been posting much about it and was pretty sure I was going to, what with this being the arc that introduces my favorite character Nisioisin has ever done, but she got a fucking minute of screen time and made little to know impression if you don't already know why you should care, so I guess I'll be waiting two weeks till they stop wasting their time on fucking sports and get back to broadcasting it.

Exhibit A: Senjogahara's house is a set, with cut away walls to film through. METAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPOCALYPTIC.

Exhibit B: Ordinary conversations are underscored by a series of metaphorically surrealistic stock imagery. Why exactly the world is filled with identical cars that have the old kanji for 5 on the side of them I do not know, but the pacing and rhythm with which these elements are included is extremely Ikuhara. (Although I could do with less live action elements.)

Exhibit C: The threat of domestic violence is never very far away.
On an unrelated note:

This bit of violence was ridiculous (and by ridiculous I mean AWESOME) in motion, but when I went to capture a frame of it I discovered that she has literally punched all the way through his skull. This is not particularly Utena-esque, but it is worth cackling about.


  1. Wow, nice work blogger, nice of you to put the indistinguishable image code in the opposite fucking order so I had to edit this three times.

    I just noticed the fucking message scrolling across the ultraviolence informing people when the next episode would broadcast. That could not have been better timed if they had planned it that way.

  2. I was POSITIVE you were going to post a pic of the insanely elaborate infinitely high school staircase from ep 1.

    Also, this is far from the first time Shinbo/SHAFT have shot the interior of a house as some kind of stage or set; I don't think there was ever one "conventional" shot of the dude's house in Moon Phase.

  3. These are all things that have happened in several Shinbo shows, namely in Tsukuyomi and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. Not to say Shinbo isn't influenced by Utena, as I'm sure he is. And ought to be.

  4. I'm pretty sure I did call out the Utenastair when I was actually talking about the first episode.
    But episode six brought the point home even stronger, after a few slightly tamer episodes.

    Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei's the only other Shinbo show I've been able to tolerate, but this show in particular seems to really hit that Ikuhara vibe in a way the other stuff I've seen didn't. It feels like more than simply 'influenced' here; he's really tapping into something fundamental in the rhythms and tone that I think forms a very interesting contrast with the omnipresent snappy dialogue loop-de-loops.

  5. Kanbaru doesn't really come into her own until the 4th arc, but the way they've been cutting back on dialogue, it's possible she'll end up a very tame character in the anime.

  6. I literally don't remember the fourth girl at all, but it has been pointed out to me that the bulk of Kanbaru's filth comes in that storyline.
    I hope they figure out a way to keep it, since it just isn't Kanbaru if she isn't propositioning Araragi every other line.

  7. I wonder what Shinbo shows you've seen that you couldn' like any. I could see you not liking Hidamari since you are an enemy of moe or whatever silly thing, but I would think The SoulTaker would be RIGHT up your alley. And then there's Petit Cossette and classics like Tenamonya Voyagers and Yamamoto Yohko that you'd have to like.

  8. You must be mistaking me for a gibbering idiot.
    I've explained before how The Soul Taker is the biggest piece of shit in the entire universe. I basically watched the vomitously bad first episode of that and refused to actually see anything by Shinbo ever again except some stuff I watched by accident.
    How is it even possible to get more moe than Petit Cossette? Haven't tried it, so can't actually comment on quality - likewise with Tenamonya.
    I did see Yamamoto Yohko, unaware that it was him, and it was the most super generic thing ever, so I remember basically nothing.

  9. You must be mistaking me for a gibbering idiot.

    I am having that engraved on your tombstone.

    Man, this isn't even the first time we've bagged on Soultaker on this site.

    We did watch Tenamonya when it came out, way back in the day; I recall liking it, but it's definitely slight, and in hindsight, really unmistakably Shinbo.

  10. Yeah, I know Andrew was going to love that comment :)

    I'm the one that likes Shinbo's visual excess, and both Joe and Andrew bag on me for it (they'd say it's for my own good). They would both hate Petite Cossette if they actually watched it.

    Tenamonya I think is the only other thing we all liked from him. I still love that show - it never got the credit it deserved, unfortunately.

  11. I actually did fire up Petite Cossette when I visited right before you left Boston, and it started giving me a migraine about five minutes in.

  12. Yeah, in a lot of ways it could be summed as "the visual excesses of SoulTaker without the ridiculous characters or action and MoonPhase without the humor."

    There's a lot about it that I enjoy, but coherence is not one of them. It's a deeply flawed experiment.

  13. The only two things I remember about Petite Cossette is the ridiculous amount of red paint in it and the unhealthy obsession the male character had with the moe girl who was actually fake (hmm...).

    I find Bakemonogatari to be more like the Utena movie than the actual series.

  14. The Utena movie was what the series always wanted to be, but didn't have the budget to realize.

  15. I know you've bashed on SoulTaker before, I've just never understood why. at all. It makes no sense.

  16. Having an unlikeable protaganist in a generic stock anime plot with little to no hook and trying to disguise that with a bombastic visual style that managed to render everything as incoherent as it is predictable isn't enough?
    Then I present to you the panty flashing pedo.

  17. I don't really get how SoulTaker's plot is cliche, seeing as the whole thing pretty much changes from episode to episode, not that you'd know, or how the plot in SoulTaker ever mattered, considering that it's pretty much a monster of the week anime with awesome visual style.

    I guess, sur, if you don't like the visuals, then you won't like the show, but there's no point in complanining about any other element, since none of that ever mattered from the beginning. SoulTaker does not ever let on that it wants you to give a quarter of a damn abotu the plot.

    And what you missed out on is one of the most cleverly subvertive shows around. I can understand a knee-jerk reaction to the first episode, but if you haven't seen the rest, frankly, you havne't seen anything.

  18. Boy, nothing as subvertive and cliche free as a monster of the week anime! That is what I'd pegged it for, and if the script is shit, so's the show. Visual style has to serve the writing, or you've just got garbage.

  19. Well, I disagree. I have a tendancy not to give a damn about the plot in anime at all anyway, which is why Shinbo is one of my favorite directors.

  20. I think the biggest problems Joe and Andrew had with SoulTaker (at least judging from their berating me about it) was the two-pronged sin of incomprehensibility paired with cliched and flat characters.

    I don't think they ever got to the point of giving a shit about the plot itself because they didn't give a shit about anyone in the show and couldn't tell what the fuck was happening.

    I was happy to enjoy the camp and ridiculous, over-the-top visual excesses, but those very things can easily drive other people off. SoulTaker is definitely one of my pleasures that I can understand why other people might hate it.

  21. That is a good point. I have definitely given up on shows that had perfectly promising plots (Eden of the East) because the characters were fuck boring.

  22. I gave up on Eden as well for the same reason, but that show also didn't have visual insanity. I like good characters, and I like good visuals, and I can deal with having one or teh other, but not without either.

    I guess, yeah, I can understand not liking SoulTaker, I just didn't expect you to hate it so vehemently. I thought to something like a Maijo Otaro story, where the plot and characters are nonsense, and you're reading it for his intense style, and I'd like to think SoulTaker is like that.

    I also never had such a hard time telling what was going on in SoulTaker like others did, but maybe it's because I knew what to expect. And the first episode is a lot worse in that regard than the rest of the show.

  23. To bring things back to the Shinbo show we all agree on... why the hell was she constantly transcribing the Gettysburg Address!?