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Dated 15 July 2009: The Hime Cut Chronicles, Part One

Mio
Mio stretches her 15 minutes out with an encore.

Mio from K-On! was far from the first popular character with a hime cut, but she did re-vitalize some interest in the hairstyle.

Yomi
Yomi adds a ponytail to her hime cut.

Notably, Yomi from the underrated Ga-Rei Zero sported a hime cut two seasons before K-On! began airing.

Yoshino
Detective Yoshino from the novels > anime Yoshino.

This has led to some controversy as to whether a hime cut is still a hime cut if it is modified in some way, such as worn in a ponytail (as Yomi frequently sports). Most proponents permit the variation, but are less accepting of the twin-braid version preferred by Yoshino from Maria-sama ga Miteru.

Aoba
Aoba's hair improved Jinki:Extend immeasurably.

Although not as standard as the hairstyle worn by Aoba from Jinki:Extend, I believe merely tying it back or adding braids does not fundamentally change a hime cut, so these variants should be allowed.

Yuki
I hope Yuki writes "Red Raccoon Dog"
on her hair band before games.

Likewise the additional of a hair band as with Yuki from Taisho Yakyuu Musume should be okay as well. What are you going to do, tell a MAMIKORE character to her face that she's disqualified? Get out of here.

Hitagi
Given all the crap Hitagi carries with her,
she probably lacks a comb deliberately.

After all, once the hair tie or braids are removed, the hair will again have the three standard hime cut components, although some combing may be necessary to straighten all the locks. Even still, some degree of unkeptness should be permitted, as I believe few would disqualify Hitagi from Bakemonogatari, for example. In any case, I recommend giving her quite a bit of latitude in this regard, as it appears unwise to cross her in general, even over a matter of principle.

Dated 5 August 2009: Summer 2009 impressions

Hitagi
Hitagi doesn't believe in towels. Well, she believes they exist.

I am only following four new shows this summer: Bakemonogatari, Canaan, Taisho Yakyuu Musume, and Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. The rest of the shows I'm watching are all continuations of series that began previously (I'm including the second season of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu in this group). I'm told there are a number of other shows airing this season that are also worth watching, but I've got enough on my plate for now.

Hitagi
It's still a hime cut. Okay?

Among these shows, Bakemonogatari, Canaan, and Taisho Yakyuu Musume are closely ranked and trade positions episode to episode as far as my favorite new show of the season goes. Each has managed to surprise me in some way—enough to boost them beyond my expectations.

Hitagi
Hitagi can eat whatever she wants and never gain a pound. [Spoilers.]

Regarding Bakemonogatari, I'm glad to see such overt fan service presented proudly and unapologetically. I mean, Queen's Blade has overt fan service also, but you can tell the animators knew they weren't making anything that was ever going to be held up in a serious light and admired by port-drinking ass clowns knowingly rubbing their chins. Bakemonogatari, on the other hand, at least tries to present itself as something better than what we groundlings deserve.

Araragi and Hitagi
I'm going to pretend Araragi ran in terror and refused to look
directly at Hitagi because he has vampire eyes. [Spoiler.]
Either that or he's an anime male protagonist.

Bakemonogatari has also been described as insufferably smug and self-important; this is true, but it's okay. As much as I often lament that radio dramas almost never get translated, even I grew a little tired of the extended telephone conversation segment—and this from a guy who really likes the infamous elevator ride in Neon Genesis Evangelion. But the show wins me over with with the little gimmicks and twists that I won't spoil here. Bakemonogatari is flawed, but it has enough good points to still make it worth your while.

Yun-Yun
You can't fault Yun-Yun's work ethic. Or her taste in clothes.

Canaan is a much more conventional show, but keeps my interest because of its high production values and (so far) somewhat opaque story. Others have complained they don't feel particularly invested in the characters because they don't know too much about them and aren't entirely sure what's going on, but I am certainly not going to fault a series for not being predictable with cookie-cutter characters. It might turn out that Canaan isn't so special after all, and the lack of information is a fault of clear storytelling and not a sign of something grander below the (very pretty) surface, but I'll give it a chance. Also Yun-Yun is a fun character. At a minimum, I'll keep watching just to see where her story goes.

Koume
There should be a musical number with different characters every episode.

Taisho Yakyuu Musume is about what I expected from a J.C. Staff production about girls playing baseball in 1925. Not a model of historical accuracy by any stretch of the imagination, but charming and entertaining nonetheless. I hope to see more rickshaw training and musical numbers, to tell you the truth. Of course, I've been waiting for an all-singing, all-dancing Love Hina OVA ever since I heard "Mirai e no Okurimono." I guess that's never going to happen, so I wouldn't hold your breath when it comes to getting more musical numbers in Taisho Yakyuu Musume.

Kitsu Chiri
It's asymmetrical without someone on the other side of your umbrella, Chiri.

Sadly, I'm not as taken with Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. It's possible that I've just grown tired of its gimmicks, but each succeeding season of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei has seemed less interesting to me than the one before. I really enjoyed the first season, but now I think I would enjoy Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei more if the episodes were half-length to fill 15-minute blocks instead of a full half-hour ones. It's probably also because the characters, by design, are heavy stereotypes. This is probably why I like Nami (the Normal one) more and more as time goes by. I'm not quite willing to move shovel-wielding Kitsu Chiri from the Best Girl top spot, though.

Hitagi
Where we're going, we don't need dere-dere.

Notably, I haven't dropped any shows this season and I don't expect to drop any of the above four—at least barring some catastrophically poor shifts in quality, which generally doesn't happen this late in the game. I've already seen four or five episodes of each of these shows, so they're probably in the clear. The only one really at risk is Bakemonogatari, and that's just because I'm not a fan of SHAFT X SHINBO. I'll remain appeased as long as Hitagi remains kinda mean, though.

Dated 25 September 2009: Maybe I'm just not with it enough to get SHAFT

Araragi
You should have accepted the naked apron offer, guy.

I've never been a fan of SHAFT, but between Bakemonogatari and Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, I'm getting really tired of the SHAFT pseudo-avant garde shtick.

Nami
It's normal to leave one's curtains open.

I keep watching more Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei because I keep hoping it will return to kind of charm and humor it had during its first season. But truth be told, I've gotten so tired of its gimmicks that I'm rejecting my earlier assertion and now declaring Nami (the "normal" one) the Best Girl of the show.

Dated 2 October 2009: Bakemonogatari turns Panavision into shortscreen

Hitagi
Open wide.

Sometimes I think SHAFT/Shinbo is trying to be the next Gainax/Anno. Other times I think SHAFT/Shinbo is just trolling viewers. Some argue unfavorable opinions about SHAFT's avant-garde Bakemonogatari represent intellectual deficiencies or unbreachable cultural divides hamstringing impaired viewers.

< wildarmsheero> the people who dont like things like bakemonogatari or zetsubou sensei
< wildarmsheero> are just dumb americans who dont get japanese culture
<&Nakar> I may not know a japanese ghost from a hole in the ground - and I know from holes in the ground - but I know smug self-congratulatory dialogue when it hits itself on the back.
< wildarmsheero> i think youre jsut mad at the show
< wildarmsheero> because you dont get it
< Asuka`s_Hair_Clips> I totally agree with Nakar, but I also think Bakemonogatari is a brilliant slide show presentation.
< Asuka`s_Hair_Clips> It just wasn't any fun to watch.

Araragi
As a harem-anime protagonist, Araragi is as much
a loser as Urashima Keitaro. Maybe more so.

The things I don't like about SHAFT and Shinbo in general and Bakemonogatari specifically have nothing to do with Japanese culture, though. (But I guess it is possible I might still be too dumb to "get" the show.) Mostly I'm irked that they attempt to be different merely for the sake of being different while giving their fanatics a smug sense of self-importance that seems to arise out of the very act of being SHAFT, Shinbo, and Bakemonogatari fans.

Hitagi's and Araragi's hands
(1) Best use of the wider-widescreen aspect ratio all episode.
(2) God damn, Araragi has little girl hands.

For example, the 12th episode of Bakemonogatari was presented in widescreen—not its regular 16:9 widescreen—but wider widescreen. But the actual content of the episode did not benefit in any way from the aspect ratio. Is it really widescreen if there are no gains side-to-side? If it's just a regular episode with the tops and bottoms cropped off, isn't that technically shortscreen? Is that still good? Or is it just dumb? Granted, Bakemonogatari was not the first show to attempt this trick.

Raven, Break, Alice, and Oz
Pandora Hearts uses the entire screen.

The final episode of Gunbuster by the aforementioned Gainax is in black and white and widescreen. (The previous episodes of Top wo Nerae had a 4:3 aspect ratio.) Turns out Gunbuster episode six was also originally 4:3 and was matted to give a widescreen appearance as well. Without delving into a comparison to determine if Gainax made good use of the wider aspect ratio during the final episode of Top wo Nerae, or was also guilty of shortscreen shenanigans, I can at least claim Bakemonogatari was neither unique in employing this technique nor successful at its execution.

Dated 15 November 2009: Bakemonogatari inspires clothing-related introspection

Shinobu
I don't know why a vampire would need a helmet and goggles.

In Bakemonogatari episode 13, Mayoi refers to enigmatic silent character Shinobu as the girl with goggles on her helmet. That got me thinking that it's generally accepted anime characters will have some defining quirk that prevents them from looking like every other anime character. E.g, Haruhi's hair band keeps her from looking like some random K-On! retard. How often does this occur in real life? Is there an article of clothing or piece of haberdashery that defines me? I suppose if I had to pick something, it would have to be either my houndstooth flannel shirt or my combat boots. I do have a rugby shirt exactly like the ones worn by that guy in Rizelmine, but I never wear it. [Update: Turns out I also have a rugby shirt exactly like the one in Summer Wars.]

Dated 9 January 2010: A possible SHAFT cross-series Easter egg

Hitagi
Hitagi pulls on her panties.

So, in light of Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei episode 13, do you suppose SHAFT intentionally had Hitagi in Bakemonogatari episode two put on her panties backwards?