Compared with the five captivating and succinct tales in Bakemonogatari, the two in Nisemonogatari are filled with random-as-hell scenes, conversations and sexual references. Despite the lack of main storyline, Nisemonogatari by no means lacks artistry nor intelligence – Akiyuki Shinbo may well be the most overrated anime director ever, so as NisiOisiN being the most overrated light-novelist, nevertheless the duo have unyieldingly demonstrated their “pseudo-talents” (or Nise-talents as the anime title suggests) in this series.
Nisemonogatari surpasses its prequel for miles in terms of art direction, especially if you recognize and appreciate the Shinbo-style. It is an artwork that defiles all possible rules laid down by anime academia (as opposed to anime industry), and in exchange produces overwhelming sensations for your eyes, ears and genitals. As for visual effects, Shinbo transplants his trademarked mass color blocks/silhouette figures from Bakemonogatari, combining with fancier lighting and 3D rendering. Moreover, Shinbo’s typical camera techniques – weird shooting angles plus frequent zoom-in on human body parts (female body parts in particular) – resonate perfectly with the outburst of erotic allusions throughout the series. As for conversation design, Shinbo’s excessive use of monologues reminds me of Before Sunrise/Before Sunset from 3-D universe. Though Shinbo’s monologue trademark appears in many of his earlier works such as Zetsubo Sensei and Maria Holic, the execution this time achieves two-fold effects. It not only manifests the characters’ 2-D universe moe personalities, but also inherits the 3-D universe symbolism of monologue as being the masquerade of pretentiousness, hypocrisy and pseudo-intelligence, which indeed reflects the theme of Nisemonogatari. Give a lot of credit to the terrific CV cast. Their voices and tones make the act of monologue entertaining and empathetic, regardless of the content of words. As for sexual references, are they even relevant to the story of Nisemonogatari? Of course not, but they are there for a reason – Just like how Jesse tries to impress Celine as they are wandering in the maze of Vienna, by conjuring up all sorts of experiences, anecdotes and philosophical ideas based on his short and pathetic 20 years-or-so life, Shinbo tries to impress his audience by all sorts of recipes, among which Ero(エロ) adds the spiciest and most everlasting flavor. Eventually, Jesse succeeds and gets laid; Shinbo’s pseudo-artistry succeeds too, as Nisemonogatari is attracting attention and laughter from all over the world.
With pseudo-artistry flourishing from the very beginning, Nisemonogatari barely reaches the climax of pseudo-intelligence at the last episode, by an intriguing discussion on honmono and nisemono. Not surprisingly, only what Shinbo believes in the most are explicated, namely Deishou Kaiki’s (貝木泥舟) view that nisemono is more valuable than honmono, because nisemono, with the strong volition of becoming a honmono, can understand the nature of honmono better and hence camouflage as honmono more truly than the honmono itself. In this sense, Nisemonogatari, and every Shinbo’s other work alike, is a nisemono. It resembles an anime masterpiece with great production, editing and score. However, at the core, Shinbo probably has always been that mischievous kid who enjoys experimenting his every single idea and pushing the boundaries of us anime fans.