Sorrow-kun on Redefining Harem Anime

Original post: Authenticity, How Beatiful You Are (Bakemonogatari 12)

Sorrow-kun

September 30, 2009 at 1:25 am

How good was this episode? You know me, I look at things with a critical eye, but I couldn’t find anything in it that didn’t have value, and that wasn’t good. The car scene was so entertaining and had a strong sense of awkwardness that was palpable, and the star-watching scene exposed us to yet another layer of Hitagi, and showed why the romance between her and Araragi is genuine.

People are better off after knowing him. This is clear. Maybe this is some kind of magic wand waved by the narrative, but no, not really.

It’s interesting, since this is a formula commonly seen in harem anime, except here the “magic wand” is much better concealed. That’s the difference between Bakemonogatari and most harem anime… there’s more genuineness and believability to the girls falling for Araragi (in most cases, only to a mild extent) than there is in a standard harem anime.

I kinda think that shows like Bakemonogatari and Kannagi give us a reason to rethink the definition of “harem”. It’s become such a dirty word in anime discourse, but these two in particular are genuinely great titles, and calling them “good harem” isn’t far-fetched. So it doesn’t have to be that way, IMO. A couple of years ago, I wrote that the thought-provoking harem was like a black swan. Well, between Shinbo and Yamamoto, two of anime’s best directors, they’ve sure answered that.

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