Bakemonogatari (Manga) 1 review – a new take on the acclaimed light novels

NisiOisiN’s Monogatari series has been dominating the light novel scene for several years. Now we have a manga adaptation of Bakemonogatari brought to English speaking fans by Vertical. One day, high-school student Koyomi Araragi catches a girl named Hitagi Senjougahara when she trips. But – much to his surprise – she doesn’t weigh anything. At all. She says an encounter with a so-called “crab” took away all her weight… Monsters have been here since the beginning. Always. Everywhere.

With both the original light novels and anime adaptations widely available in the west, most fans should already be familiar with the Monogatari series. It’s a surprise that readers in Japan had to wait till 2018 for a manga version to be released. It has definitely been worth the wait though and this is far from a rushed adaptation. It’s common for a manga adaptation of a light novel or an anime series to be handled by a relatively unknown creator – often just starting out in their career. This is not the case here however as original author NisiOisiN has teamed up with the fan-favourite bestselling creator of Tenjho Tenge and Air Gear Oh! Great.

As an adaptation of the opening arc of the Monogatari this is an excellent result. The brilliant characters retain the complexity and charm that made the original novel such a great read. Araragi retains his wit and healthy dose of snark that helps carry the series and brings some punchiness to the narrative, whilst Senjougahara continues to be a brilliantly complex character with way more layers than your average tsundere archetype. Their interplay was one of the highlights of the novel and it is carried over to the manga with Senjougahara’s sly putdowns, and Araragi’s snarky combacks and monologues just as entertaining as they were initially.

Of course, the main draw for this series is seeing it depicted in a manga format. Oh! Great is a perfect artist for the job. His style is a natural fit for all the characters and (apart for a few moments that were in the original) he shows a lot more restraint in the fan service department than his work on Tenjho Tenge would lead you to believe. It’s also clear he’s having fun telling a different style of story than he is used to. His Senjougahara is a great example of this with all her complexities taking on new levels in this form (her demonic wielding of stationary in her first moments takes on an even more frightening dimension at Oh! Great’s hands).

This is a tremendous start to a new adaptation of the Monogatari world. Fans of the original light novels and Oh Great! Will be more than satisfied, in addition to being a fantastic way to experience the series if you are a newcomer.

Bakemonogatari (manga), Volume 1 is out now from Vertical

9781947194977 – P/B – £10.99

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