「つばさキャット其ノ伍」 (Tsubasa Kyatto Sono Go)
“Tsubasa Cat Part 5”

It was delayed enough times for me to stop caring when it would come out, but SHAFT finally got around to airing the last episode of the Bakemonogatari anime. Remember six months ago when everyone voted it as the best anime of 2009? Well, this series probably should’ve been saved for 2010 consideration given how late this aired. Anyway, a quick refresher of episode fourteen was in order for me to recall where we even left off in Hanekawa Tsubasa’s arc last time. For those who don’t recall either, Tsubasa’s cat oddity resurfaced as a result of her stress again, except this time we learn it’s a direct result of her unrequited love for Koyomi, who’s officially going out with Hitagi now. With everyone but Hitagi out searching for Shinobu to get her to drive away, Koyomi stumbles upon Tsubasa first, leading us to where we are now.

Much like the series has become known for, most of this episode entailed a dialogue intensive scene between Koyomi and Tsubasa Cat. From it, we learn for the first time how Tsubasa’s been in love with Koyomi ever since spring break, during which she caught sight of him dealing with various other oddities and a fairy tale-like fascination developed. Between all the recent relationship advice and support for his relationship with Hitagi given since then, it’s not surprising that Tsubasa suppressing her true feelings gave Tsubasa Cat an opportunity to resurface. What was surprising however is that Koyomi never had a clue about her true feelings since she hid them really well, which made the depiction of how Tsubasa truly felt quite a shock. Still, he manages to reject Tsubasa’s feelings after coming to the conclusion that her problem stemmed from her inability to handle being heartbroken and relying on the oddity within her to convey her feelings. Tsubasa Cat accepts his rejection given how he saved an oddity before — wounded vampire (Shinobu?) — before discussion branched off to how Koyomi doesn’t possess the true alluring powers of a vampire since he doesn’t really have any of the girls close to him completely wrapped around his finger.

In a way, it was an interesting aspect that I didn’t really pick up on over the course of the series. Ever since Tsubasa told Koyomi he has a charm about him and would be popular with the ladies, it more or less proved to be true as the story progressed through the arcs. However, the explanation that he doesn’t have the ability to manipulate others as if they were mindless dolls was more to show that the lie made back in part three was actually Tsubasa Cat’s doing. It was a bit of a weird revelation, learning that she was trying to help Tsubasa get together with Koyomi, which in turn had me thinking that the cat oddity wasn’t such a bad thing. If anything, it’s more akin to a split personality of Tsubasa’s that appeared to help her cope with her problems with her parents and stress in general. Quite honestly, I’m still a bit confused about her intentions in all this, as she later told Koyomi to stand by the street light but not directly under it so that he has a visible shadow. The reason being that she was banking on Shinobu to come out of it when she proposed the other solution of suppressing her within Tsubasa — killing the source of the stress, Koyomi.

While Koyomi was willing to die for Tsubasa’s sake, the realization that Hitagi would come kill her once she finds him dead quickly made him give up on that idea. In turn, he ended up calling for help from Shinobu as the only one he felt would come save him, which not only suppressed Tsubasa Cat but also mended Shinobu’s desire to feel needed by Koyomi. I was just as surprised as Koyomi to learn that Tsubasa Cat seemed to have planned for this to happen, though I’m not entirely sure why. My interpretation is that she realized that Tsubasa wouldn’t be happy about Koyomi dying and was hoping he’d realize how important she is to him too — as someone more than a person he feels indebted to. (Perhaps someone familiar with the light novels can fill me in on this.) Anyway, I have mixed feelings about the way things wrapped up with Koyomi learning he’s on his own now with oddities after Oshino left town, simply because Koyomi never picked up on the signs that he was saying farewell. On the flip side, he did trust that Koyomi would handle this latest Tsubasa Cat incident on his own, so that was the one good thing to take away from his departure. For now, the series has left things kind of open-ended with Shinobu still in Koyomi’s shadow, Koyomi unsure if Tsubasa has recollection of what happened, and everyone getting together for the school festival, where Hitagi has helped prepared an elaborate haunted house.

With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see if Nisio Isin’s prequel novel Kizumonogatari or sequel novel Nisemonogatari get anime adaptations at some point, but the big news is that the release of the final DVD/BD volume will coincide with the release of his new prequel novel (between Kizu and Bake), Nekomonogari. From what I’ve been told, Kizumonogatari involved Tsubasa long before Hitagi ever stepped into the picture, whereas Nekomonogatari should expand on that.

* Note: It was unbelievably brief, but that is Shinobu with nothing more than a band-aid on underneath. Kanokon episode eleven anyone?


ED4 Sequence

Final Impressions:

Despite this series’ unquestionable popularity, I still have mixed feelings about it as a whole. Back in the Best of Anime 2009, I didn’t list this as one of my favorite shows. Instead, it was an honorable mention of mine for the “Exceeded Expectations” (and Omni’s pick for that award), simply because it turned out much better than most SHAFT productions directed by Shinbou Akiyuki. When together, they have a very unique style with gags that is most distinguished by close up shots of a character’s eye and very brief screens with just text on it. Quite frankly, I don’t care for either and actually find them pretty distracting, but even with them, this adaptation was able to captivate viewers with its dialogue intensive nature. For that, I attribute it almost entirely to the original story in Nisio Isin’s light novels, which was interesting enough to prevent the series from losing steam even when the animation wasn’t even finished for an episode. Let’s not forget the drastic DVD/BD release changes either, which quite honestly I felt were worse than the original broadcast in a lot of cases. To add to the questionable production values, the last three episodes were shifted to web ones giving us a strange fifteen episode series with a very sporadic and constantly delayed release schedule.

Objectively speaking, I’m hard pressed to imagine any series becoming a hit after going through all of the above — let alone be picked as one of the best shows of the year — but I guess this is a prime example of where a really good story won’t even be pulled down by any production issues. One of the things I really enjoyed was how the various sub arcs focused on a different girl yet worked towards the overall story, all of whom I couldn’t help but get attached to due to their distinct personalities. Due to the character interactions achieved solely through conversation most of the time, a lot of the humor resulted along the way too, which was one aspect I particularly enjoyed. At times, it almost made it hard to believe that we had a love story going alongside this ghost story, but it was that very unassuming manner of presenting things that made the conclusion of the television broadcast as great as it was. The best things that came from the production side of things were undoubtedly the character song opening themes, but I still can’t help but wonder how much better this series would’ve turned out if another studio was in charge.

That said, I’m a firm believer that more fundamental things such as story go a long way to make up for a lack of stunning visuals (as is gameplay to graphics in video games), so I’d still recommend this series to almost anyone. As I’m sure a lot of people will tell you, it ranks very highly on their favorite series of all time for characters like Senjougahara Hitagi alone, who just so happens to have a banner spot on this site. =)


  1. Hnnghhh Hanekawa…
    Loli Band-aid where?
    Ararararagi harem?

    At least I got a very cute Hanekawa last episode..? :/ What a huge disappointment yo. This, and that Vampire Bund loli show were the worst things done by SHAFT imo.

    1. I wonder if Shaft meant to release it smack dab in the middle of so many other series ending. Even if you count just the ones starring Hideki Kamiya, there are 4 other series that ended within 2 days of Bakemonogatari!

  2. I agree, this series suffers from Shinbou Shaft. But Shinbou has redeemed himself a bit in my opinion with Arakawa this season, which incidentally is getting a second season! 🙂

  3. I don’t know if another studio could have done better than Shaft. If you think about it, the series had little action, few scene changes, and focused almost entirely on conversation. Shaft makes it work precisely because they do so many weird and (for some) interesting cuts. Plus, Shaft has a unique sense of humor that really fit the series (like internet memes).

    I mean… think of all the other harem shows that butcher the source material and who focus primarily on fan service rather than story. When you boil everything down, Bakemonogatari is a harem series. A lot of harem stories with good source material have been made into terrible animes.

  4. Yea, I agree with the people who think that no other studio other than SHAFT can pull this series off. When it boils down to it SHAFT’s specialty is making dialog-centric shows interesting. I realize that some people don’t like SHAFT’s style and it really is either you like it or you don’t.

  5. It is finally over! I just love the story so much!!! thanks for the post

    They kind of already aired Kizumonogatari… the first 1:30 during the first episode… (quite disappointing, but that is pretty much the whole story…), but I strongly suggest people read that novel when given the chance…

    as far as asking koyomi to go under the light, it is all a setup for the vampire to show up (as indicated in the novel)

    the sequel Nisemonogatari itself… Show Spoiler ▼

    Hope that second prequel Nekomonogari will be just as good!

    ps. no comment on the band aid… Kudos to the screen capture though 🙂

  6. IMHO, to really enjoy Bakemonogatari thoroughly, one must know a lot about Japanese, I mean fully understanding, speaking, writing, reading Japanese. Because there are a lot of pun / word play.

    ay ya ya ya ya
  7. Overall I still enjoyed this anime more than any other from last year, and with the popularity it has in japan, I wouldn’t be surprised if it got a second season. I’m actually hoping for that to happend.

  8. @ divine

    no offense but I don’t think any other studio could pull off bakemonogatari like SHAFT can. The big part of the appeal in bakemonogatari (for a lot of us) is the dialogue which is emphasized by the animation that SHAFT gives. SHAFT does best with dialogue-centric series you know. And this proves it.

    1. Everyone seems to think so, but no other studios are really given an opportunity to even try. I agree that SHAFT has a unique way of going about dialogue heavy scenes, but whose work are we comparing them to?

      1. yup katanagatari. It’s also nisi oisin’s work but… is it better?
        did it have more appeal than bakemonogatari?
        would you have prefered that studio animating bakemonogatari?

        I don’t think so.

        I think sometimes quality isn’t everything the studio gives. It appeals because of the presentation.

  9. divine, not everybody think this had lackluster animation. I think its part of the appeal. Anyway though as a whole, bakemonogatari is a really really good series. Of course I was one of the many who voted this as best anime last year.

  10. Aside from that Snake episode, Im a little confused by Divine’s disappointment of the “low production value.” As far as I can remember, each episode had top quality animation, music was just outstanding all throughout, voice actors some of the best Ive heard (a couple who have become my favs now), and not only great but creative directing. Best anime of ’09 by a long shot.

    1. After looking back at earlier episodes, I’m willing to hedge that statement. It’s been so long that it’s actually better than I remembered. In fact, this is probably one of SHAFT’s highest quality productions now that I think about it.

  11. I have to agree with the rest that only SHAFT could pull this off
    the appeal of bakemonogatari was its weirdness in comedy, action and animation along with those text cuts in the episode, those are the reasons me(and other people) like bakemongatari.

    they still had a great story though if you dont mind the weird stuff happening
    and im hoping that theyll animate those other novels that ive heard

  12. They made the whole searching for Shinobu thing kind of pointless though, turns out Oshino just left and put Shinobu in Koyomi’s shadow. I wonder how that works? In any case, Araragi finally faulted someone for their own mistakes and realized he can’t take responsibility for everyone; about time he grew up.

    I wasn’t expecting Haneneko-chan to sacrifice herself to get Hanekawa back to normal, quite touching. Although, with Araragi’s prediction about what Senjougahara would do if Haneneko actually killed him, I kind of wanted it to happen just to see another good boat ending.

    Either way, great end to a great anime and my only gripe about the finale is that they didn’t show Nadeko and Hachikuji together with the others. Oh well, at least this can finally go on my complete list lol.

  13. What in the world are you talking about divine, this show’s animation quality is by far top notch. Also, this story is so unique and shaft’s style of storytelling just emphasizes that. This anime has everything, that’s why many if not all love it. There’s drama (best presented in Koyomi and Hitagi’s first date), there’s comedy everywhere, there’s action (loved the Suruga vs Koyomi fight), and there’s this unbelievably lovable character-Senjougahara, who’s dry and cute.

    Bottom line, this is one damn good ride.

    Leon ni
  14. really a great show. But it left me wondering what if KyoAni was the one which animated this series? Minus the MOE scenes they’d probably add in it, this one would be near perfect.

    Not that I doubt or dislike SHAFT’s animation but I’d really love to see this anime in a different style. Though it’s probably 100% IMPOSSIBLE

  15. I can’t organize my thoughts! 🙂 Mostly I’m still debating if episode 12 (anime ending) will be better at this point (episode 15) than when it was broadcast. But Araragi and Hitagi love got so strong on that one, that he really needed it to be able to say no to Tsubasa cat. But the ending here, was good, but not great like 12.
    I did love Araragi and his 3 legal age harem walking with him (smart guy to keep his 3 lolis hidden). Gave the impression of good things to come. Having a pocket vampire in your shadow could make it’s own series! I won’t get into the animation debate; only I can add is I wish I could speed read so I don’t have to pause it to read it. But the story is great well build and excellently presented. This is a TOP show in my anime library!!!

    Island Esper
  16. On the contrary, I think the visuals were Bakemonogatari’s strong point and one of the aspects that made it the hit that it was. The story was certainly very good, but without the visual style it had, the show would’ve just been characters sitting in front of each other and talking.

    You can criticize the visuals as having low production values, because it’s certainly true. But in the end, the amount of money, time, or effort that went into the work doesn’t determine the final product’s quality. As many corners Shaft might have cut, the end result was something beautiful to look at with a very compelling and unique sense of style.

  17. I loved this show so much even after 6 months the ending still had a really big impact on me, it was awesome on so any levels of awesomeness.I love each character.I love the story.I hope they make more.And of course I curse myself for not being able to read japanese and read the novels.

  18. Ep 15 was awesome!!! It was a crazy ride, and crazy ending, that’s for sure. Reminds me of when the original Naruto ended. This was on par with ep 12’s ending also. Both were amazing for an anime to do. One of the, if not best anime of 2009-2010. It will be missed, hopefully a season 2 will be out in some time!

    This will stay one of my favorite animes, of all time.


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