Review: Bakemonogatari – Monster Tale (Vol 1)

Monogatari fanart by Dafi
Monogatari fanart by Dafi

For general information on this series: Monogatari entry

This review is for the first volume of Bakemonogatai: Monster Tale by Nisio Isin (with artwork by Vofan). The English edition was released by Vertical in December 2016. The second and third volumes will be released in February and April this year. Bakemonogatari is a chronological sequel to Kizumonogatari, released in English about a year ago.

Bakemonogatari - Part One
Bakemonogatari – Part One

I wrote a bit about this volume already, in an article where I compared it to the prequel novel Kizumonogatari. (Justus R. Stone contributed as well, and also wrote this great piece on Bakemonogatari‘s themes.) Those articles have spoilers though, so don’t read them until after you’ve read Bakemonogatari (unless you don’t care).

Monogatari is weird. I am fine with weird, but I feel like if an author isn’t careful–e.g. breaks perhaps one too many conventions of storytelling–the narrative can fall flat. At some point I can’t help but shift from an impressed “yes, finally something different…” to “what is this I don’t even.”

This volume is about a high school boy named Araragi, who helps out a couple girls who have been afflicted by some kind of supernatural creature. If you read Kizu, you’ll know that Araragi is a bit supernatural himself, having become somewhat vampiric. The first story of Bake deals with a girl named Senjougahara, who has lost all her physical weight thanks to a special crab. Seems an appropriate animal, because she is quite crabby! The vast majority of Bake goes like this:

  • Senjougahara: (says something mean about Araragi)
  • Araragi: I can’t believe you said that!
  • Senjougahara: (says another mean thing about Araragi)
  • Araragi: You really don’t hold back, do you…
  • Senjougahara: (goes on about how Araragi is such an idiot)
  • Araragi: You’re not exactly wrong, but do you have to be so harsh about it?
  • Senjougahara: (non-sequitur)
  • Araragi: Where did that come from!
  • Senjougahara: (another put-down directed at Araragi)
  • Araragi: Setting that aside for now… (returns conversation back to the plot… maybe)

I enjoyed the banter in Kizu, but I probably liked it because it was supplementary to the story, rather than the other way around like it is in Bake. Also, there was a little more variety in the types of conversations that ensued in Kizu, since there was a more varied cast interacting with the protagonist. Here it’s mainly just Senjougahara. I’m actually okay with her character (Nisio Isin is good at creating hidden depth to his characters)–I just grew tired of the “sameness” of the dialogue in general.

The second story deals with a young girl who can’t find her way home, thanks to a snail. I liked the ending plot twist for that one, but again, the story was primarily just moving from one strange conversation to the next. All in all the stories here felt very experimental–something the author wrote out on some whimsical weekend. I’m curious enough to read more from this series, but I’ll probably want to space out my reading of upcoming volumes a bit.

Cho's Rating: Maybe Recommended

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

    1. Sounds like an interesting way to look at things. Various characters in the series are certainly troubled at least, and Nisio Isin’s stories tend to have a psychological aspect to them.

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