Review: Bakemonogatari – Monster Tale (Pt.1)

(Art by Mekk)

For general information on this series: Monogatari entry

This review is for the first volume of Bakemonogatari: Monster Tale by Nisio Isin (with artwork by VOFAN). The English edition was released by Vertical in December 2016. The second and third volume will be released in the following months (February 28, 2017 & April 25, 2017). It is a chronological sequel to Kizumonogatari, released a year before.

Bakemonogatari – Part One

For how messy the Monogatari Series is, Bakemonogatari: Monster Tale is probably the most consistent book of the series while still being one of the few oddballs in the light novel world. This melting pot of tales, folklores and thoughts has managed to turn itself into a mainstream hit, though I still wonder how a self-pretentious story could have such a following and somewhat “cult” status.

Araragi Koyomi is back at it, enjoying his life as a half-vampire, half-human high school student and discovering that oddities are not his own problem but rather beings mixed up in everybody’s life. A sort of tale about growing up and maturity, but more focused on adding a supernatural touch to make the story more attractive. Throw the vampire and bring the gods. Sadly, most of its content is not really up to what you would expect from a serious young adult story.

Especially considering how the book is not at all modest in its writing, sometimes indulging in referential banter or tacked-on paragraphs about trivial subjects while actual character progression feels inconspicuous. Story progress is jolting, doesn’t feel rewarding at all, creating a lack of interest in the next parts, even if the vague elements and mentions to other “stories”, directly fed to the reader, are numerous.

A shame, since the work put behind it is easily worth the money. A mix of wondrous stories, supernatural beings and unusual settings around Japanese folklore tied to the human psyche is hidden in the midst of all of this. A downgrade from his previous work, Zaregoto, but still compelling enough with its affable cast and underlying premises.

In the end, Bakemonogatari Part One is probably a good read, if you were already pleased with its animated adaptation or its prequel. If not, then you can assume that the others parts won’t differ much. It’s a Nisio Isin story, the kind to leave you tired after reading it, but only feel rewarding if you were interested in what the author talked about.

Sadly, I’m not one for banter. Unless it’s truly engaging.

Melody’s Rating: Maybe Recommended… for Nisio Isin fans.

2 thoughts on “Review: Bakemonogatari – Monster Tale (Pt.1)

  1. Great review, Melody! I think I have similar thoughts as you for this one. I felt Kizumonogatari was a strong “meal” (story and characterization), with the banter serving as its unusual “spice.” But this volume of Bakemonogatari was more or less just a plate of the spice, ha ha. I was amused at times, but the story felt inconsequential and the characters flimsy. I’ll likely delve more into this in a review of my own, or in the upcoming editorial.

    1. Wow, I’m a bit late for the reply. :3
      I kinda liked how they debated over the folklore bits tied to the actual problems the characters have, and it’s probably the few moments I think the novel shined. Everything else was pretty much tacked on to the story and didn’t feel “spicy” enough to be engaging. But yeah, you’re pretty much on point.

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