Words can't begin to describe how brilliant Bakemonogatari is. The writing is fantastic and thought-provoking, and the combination of cinematography, sound design, art design, animation... basically all the components of anime are utilized to their fullest to create a compelling experience that is a joy to revisit.
Bakemonogatari is driven by mysteries and witty dialogue between its colorful and beautifully written (and performed) cast of characters, who discuss innocent topics which end up revealing volumes about the people speaking. The themes they explore are very relatable for young adults and the way these characters act, while ludicrous in other ways, make them feel so real. Their exchanges are philosophical, but not in a pretentious or preachy way, and the superb writing and direction give rise to a signature cleverness and charm that make Bakemonogatari endlessly entertaining.
The cinematography, animation, and art design are one of a kind, with a style of bizarre imagery and scene transitions that is rare in anime outside of the Monogatari series. Despite how ridiculous the imagery can seem at times, it’s never meaningless. Instead, it plays an extremely effective role in accentuating the mood and feel of scenes, and is able to convey the emotions and inner thoughts of the characters without the need for words. This all combines with the dialogue to create a pensive tone that puts the onus on the audience to be able to piece together the stories and motivations of the characters through their different perspectives. This perplexing nature of Bakemonogatari is what keeps drawing me back to rewatch it, and each time I do, I feel like I understand or notice something new.
All in all, Bakemonogatari is an absolute masterpiece that oozes personality. It’s brilliant in so many ways and I can’t think of another anime that executes its unique ideas in such a signature way. The reason why I did not include any examples in this review is because I strongly believe that Bakemonogatari should be watched with as little previous knowledge as possible, and that excessive details or spoilers would ruin the experience. It’s a must-watch and I would strongly suggest revisiting this series after your first viewing.
I would recommend watching the other entries within the Monogatari series as well, as they also share the wonderful writing and style of Bakemonogatari (With the exception of Kizumonogatari, which has a different style due to its chief director being different. As such, I would recommend reading the light novel in addition to watching the Kizumonogatari movies.).
P.S. Some might be put off by the imagery at times, as some scenes can be considered rather ecchi, but it’s important to note that these scenes develop the characters and help us learn about them through their reactions to such situations. The subtext is often as important as the scene playing out before you.