Third-year high school student Koyomi Araragi is human again. Cured of his vampirism, he seeks to help other supernaturals with their problems. Koyomi becomes involved in their lives, revealing secrets in people he once knew.
Follows the adventures of Koyomi Araragi, a former vampire. One day, a classmate named Hitagi Senjougahara, a loner, falls down the stairs into Koyomi's arms. Hitagi appears to weigh next to nothing, defying physics. Despite being threatened by her to keep away, Koyomi offers his help, and introduces her to Meme Oshino, a strange middle-aged man living in an abandoned building, who cured him of vampirism. Koyomi becomes gradually more involved in cases related to unusual supernatural creatures, meeting new people and discovering secrets in the people he thought he knew.Written by
Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari
Lyrics, Music and Arrangement by Ryo
Performed by Supercell See more »
It's hard to believe something this inventive is a long-running anime series.
Often this show will be pegged as an anime taking a stab at New Wave filmmaking in snobbier circles--such as was popular in France, with filmmakers like Godard or Truffaut. Though some of the style of framing and editing could have just as easily been drawn from the Japanese New Wave, the circuitous dialogue of the series and the playfulness probably is most similar to the French variant of the movement, however.
What's most immediately apparent is the excellent framing and style that the series maintains in every installment. It's worth watching for its cinematic craftsmanship alone. It's filled with unusual angles, a mixture of photography, CGI that surprisingly works, a small amount of stop motion (I remember at least one moment of this in the first episode) and more abstract animation, and plenty of mixed media.
The editing is also inventive, with many fast cuts, jump cuts that often have no consistency and move the characters into parts of the frame far removed from where they once were for emotional impact, title cards and flickering images with text from the book, etc. A common question concerns how important the flickering images with text are: while I took the time to read some of the flashing text on the screen, and it can help to understand everything a little better, I will say that the flashing text is not that important to understand what is going on, and I wouldn't recommend rewinding over and over.
All of the recurring and one-time environments are all elaborately constructed and have striking colors. The cityscapes are often shot with a wide perspective and are utterly desolate; in fact there are no crowds, just the occasional car. Identical cars and bikes, as if the same model were mass-produced often appear in rows upon rows. The only characters are Araragi, and the 5 girls of his harem--as well as Oshino Meme, Senjougahara's father, Shinobu, and Araragi's two sisters (mostly featured in the episode previews).
The fact that this is a harem, with plenty of fan service, is probably the strangest thing of all, albeit a very surreal and artistically ambitious one. There's a supernatural element and at times it appears this might be an action series, but it's really not. There are a few fight scenes spread throughout, and they're just as eccentric as the rest of the show, but the supernatural component is mostly there to represent the mental state of the characters in an unusual way, and Araragi's abilities are of the masochistic 3x3 Eyes style, having the main character regularly beaten to a bloody pulp, only for his wounds to heal right back up.
The emptiness really does contribute greatly to the excellent atmosphere--and with the sometimes eerie, looping music and the morbid presentation of many events, and the sometimes erratic behavior of the characters, it almost feels like a very peculiar horror series in some scenes. Senjougahara's house seems to even be unfinished, with what looks like a film set or scaffolds right outside her room, and the frontal facade is missing so many planks of wood that you can see inside. I can't help but think something feels very off about this series, and that's another part of what I like about it. It's also worth mentioning that one of its post-modern elements has the characters often breaking the fourth wall. This is almost always for comedic effect, but I always felt like eventually they'll go out of character and say something unsettling to the audience. Of course, other tracks of music are very carefree and light, and humor is so common that it softens these vibes that I felt in some of the earlier segments. Anyone who has seen this series can obviously tell you it's not horror, but the vibes it gave me is a testament to just how good the atmosphere is handled here.
On the topic of it being a harem: it does subvert the genre in a variety of ways and almost always presents its subject matter in a fresh way. Personally, I've always avoided harem anime, but this is one of the few that is often discussed that I've managed to enjoy. Although the dialogue can be meandering, it's often well-written and funny; one reviewer in particular explains how Senjougahara and Araragi act as a sort of Japanese comedy duo (he had very specific terms and an explanation that I won't go into here)--I have no clue about Japanese comedy, but it seems pretty apparent that they are playing off of each other in a very concentrated fashion that's often quite amusing, and unlike what I've ever experienced from the few Harem anime I've seen.
Each arc is very different, so even if you don't like one of the arcs, I'd suggest giving it some time and getting to the next arc, although you can probably safely drop it if you're not into the first arc (2 episodes) and the second arc (about 3 episodes). I initially found the second arc a little too meandering, but it becomes more restrained as the series goes on. Some will say that it's an inaccessible series, and this might be true for many people who are used to the most run-of-the-mill anime. With the very Japanese style and its adherence to certain anime tropes, it's probably unlikely people who aren't already into anime will be able to get into this. If you like anime and have at least some degree of interest in art films or anything remotely experimental or unusual, then this will probably be worth a shot. The other issue is the fan service and lewd aspects. Most of it is incorporated into the plot or has solid character motivation, and it generally doesn't eat up much time. This isn't an anime with an entire episode dedicated to all of the girls being naked in a hot spring, after all.
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