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Old 2014-11-27, 07:27   Link #1
Guernsey
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Nisio Isin General Discussion

My experience with Nisio Isin is rather limited to Medaka Box and Katanagatari but after lurking around in blogs and forums, I realize that his works are very polarizing despite their content. From my understanding, Nisio seems to be a troll author who uses characters and worlds as vehicles for ideas and philosophy but he uses witty dialogue and wordplay to get his ideas across. I don't enjoy all of his stories but sometimes I wonder how should approach this author's works? Despite the characters conversations, it seems that ther eis a 'wrong' way to interpret the stoires in question.
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Old 2014-11-27, 15:51   Link #2
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Originally Posted by Guernsey View Post
My experience with Nisio Isin is rather limited to Medaka Box and Katanagatari but after lurking around in blogs and forums, I realize that his works are very polarizing despite their content. From my understanding, Nisio seems to be a troll author who uses characters and worlds as vehicles for ideas and philosophy but he uses witty dialogue and wordplay to get his ideas across. I don't enjoy all of his stories but sometimes I wonder how should approach this author's works? Despite the characters conversations, it seems that there is a 'wrong' way to interpret the stoires in question.
That seems to be what pockets of the internet like to say, but to me that's just people being elitist and not true in the slightest. A lot of people, particularly heavily invested otaku groups absolutely love this guy no doubt, but like you say he kind of feels like a disingenuous troll author to me as well and it feels like he's just sort of writing stuff for himself that he personally finds amusing and never seems to take anything as seriously or urgently as his advocates seem to feel he does, albeit though he does seem to have a very vague idea and outline of what he wants to do with some characters by the end of a story as a published work and I guess cause it's kind of unique in terms of style and involves a lot of word play a lot of people seem to find his work ingenious.

I find what I've seen of his work (Bits of Monogatari, Medaka Box, Katangatari) to just be kind of average harem/moe fare that is very YMMV in terms of content and about as reliant on fanservice and a certain understanding with the audience in mind as your average Light Novel story that I just don't figure I have much in common with as a pre-requisite for appreciation of the material. His writing style to me is also far to busy, reliant on long stretches of repetition and tangential conversation and just desperately in need of more focus and proper editing, more so than most Light Novel authors even.

To me there's no right or wrong way to interpret stories like he writes though, just ones own way. Either you like it and find something of merit in there to get invested in or you just don't and no amount of pressure from otaku groups or insistence that you must feel or interpret the material a certain way is ever going to change that. Personally when it comes to anime adaptations of his stuff too I've never managed to actually finish anything outside of one of the short Monogatari OVA's due to rapidly lost interest and the material just coming across as far to busy, unfocused, drawn out and kind of trite with extremely annoying and unlikable characters on average to boot, the last point of which really sinks his stories more than anything. All of the ones I've seen also give me the feeling that I'm being patronized and made light of somehow for spending my time following them, which is not a positive feeling to have when watching a show or one that makes me want to agree with the consensus that this author is a genius. I feel like maybe if I was several orders of magnitude more of a natural otaku in terms of taste that I'd be able to get invested in his sort of material far more easily though.
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Old 2014-11-28, 07:13   Link #3
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One thing to note....Nissio writes for himself. That is to say, he writes to express himself, no more no less. Reading too much into it gets you no where yet ignoring what he's trying to say means you totally miss the point as well.



Does Nissio write to make people think he's a genius? Does it have the pretentious air of say....Mahouka? No...I don't get that feeling at all. It's just a stereotype others foist onto him....so you cannot really blame him if he does not meet your own expectation
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Old 2014-11-28, 08:38   Link #4
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I just want Nisio's partner in crime, Shinbo, to direct a Zaregoto anime. Monogatari fans clearly don't know where Nisio's talent is.

/runs
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Old 2014-11-28, 08:40   Link #5
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I've seen every Monogatari episode released and eagerly await new ones. The Monogatari franchise is one of my all time favourites.

(Though, I'll be honest, I don't give Nisio sole credit for me liking Monogatari. For example, I'm not sure I'd have liked Hitagi and Nadeko as much without the great performances from Saito Chiwa and Kana Hanazawa, and the little visual absurdities Shaft throws in make some scenes far more amusing than they'd be from dialogue alone.)

Personally, I think he alternates between goofing off and being serious - in Monogatari for example, I would classify Monogatari SS as largely serious, Nisemonogatari as largely goofing off and the original Bakemonogatari as a mix of the two.

Does he troll sometimes when he's being goofy? I don't think any of us can say, we're at best trying to infer it from whether particular parodies and such come across as pretentious rather than merely clever. For me personally, there were occasional bits of Monogatari and Katanagatari that came across as pretentious, but even among the goofy parts they were in the minority, and I enjoyed the goofy bits far more often than not. Can't speak for Medaka Box as I didn't watch past episode 4 - I like Monogatari and Katanagatari for the characters and I just wasn't getting that out of Medaka.

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Originally Posted by Dr. Dahm View Post
I feel like maybe if I was several orders of magnitude more of a natural otaku in terms of taste that I'd be able to get invested in his sort of material far more easily though.
Just going to comment briefly here - if by "natural otaku" you mean "obsessed with tropes and their own knowledge of them", I've met quite a few Monogatari fans at real life events and either none of them have fit that bill or they don't show signs of it in real life interactions, even at fan events. Granted, my sample skews female just because of the social scenes where I met them (cosplay + a local anime group I attend that seems to get a lot of visits from young Japanese women attending local language schools), but there's a few men in there too. I can't say that being a natural otaku wouldn't help you, but it certainly wasn't a prereq for a lot of other people.
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Old 2014-11-28, 08:47   Link #6
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Originally Posted by Akuma Kinomoto View Post
I just want Nisio's partner in crime, Shinbo, to direct a Zaregoto anime. Monogatari fans clearly don't know where Nisio's talent is.

/runs
Nisio would never allow it though :3
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Old 2014-11-28, 11:22   Link #7
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So Nisio writes for himself and I shouldn't take too seriously? Still, his wordplay seems to come off as little confusing considering that the dialogues are almost next to pointless save for fleshing out the characters.
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Old 2014-11-28, 12:33   Link #8
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I've only read Medaka Box and watched some of Monogatari

I really love Medaka Box, the characters were fun and interesting and unique. The battles and the story were nice too. One of my top favorite series, and highly highly underrated. Hope he does another shounen series like it
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Old 2014-11-28, 14:05   Link #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0 View Post
I've seen every Monogatari episode released and eagerly await new ones. The Monogatari franchise is one of my all time favourites.

(Though, I'll be honest, I don't give Nisio sole credit for me liking Monogatari. For example, I'm not sure I'd have liked Hitagi and Nadeko as much without the great performances from Saito Chiwa and Kana Hanazawa, and the little visual absurdities Shaft throws in make some scenes far more amusing than they'd be from dialogue alone.)
It seems to me that Monogatari was carried hard by Shinbo and Shaft. I've never really found the story or characters particularly captivating but Shinbo's strange and wacky fetishistic approaches combined with Shaft's group of talented regular voice actors really brought up the approach of that show to me. Although ironically Kana Hanazawa's performance I consider merely average for her despite loving her work in general; I think Chiwa Saito's work on Hitagi was absolutely spectacular because otherwise I may have wanted to toss the show out of a window had she been anyone else. But barring that, Hiroshi Kamiya is consistently great, and Maaya Sakamoto is probably the unsung hero of the show as Shinobu. Then again, I suppose being a regular VA for Shaft means you have to recite all kinds of ridiculous lines with a straight face.

But as you can see, without the audio, I don't have much.

To me though, I found it an entertaining spectacle and while the first part had some interesting plot threads I would have definitely dropped the series past that had it not been for the above. I haven't watched season 2 due to a lack of interest.


Then again, it could have been a double edged sword and not indicative of Isin's work. Medaka Box manga seemed alright, but once again, more of a passing thing.
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Old 2014-11-28, 17:50   Link #10
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Originally Posted by Guernsey View Post
Despite the characters conversations, it seems that ther eis a 'wrong' way to interpret the stoires in question.
Art always leaves room for interpretation, but I would definitely say there is a wrong way to interpret someone's work. An extreme example would be like saying Spielberg supports Nazis in Schindler's List. I would hope someone could realize this is clearly so wrong it doesn't even deserve comment.

To bring this to Nisio Isin himself, I think it is important to take into consideration that although his writing style is present in all his works, they are by no means the same. Katangatari is grounded far more in a traditional storytelling structure than Monogatari, and seems to stick to certain core themes a lot better as well. Monogatari is a bit more random, and in my opinion showcases Nisio's more wild side as a writer. I see this as both a strength and weakness of Monogatari.

Yes, he sometimes can come off a bit troll-ish in his writing because he loves to go against convention and pushes boundaries that other writers don't typically do. Sometimes it works out great, and sometimes I feel it doesn't (toothbrush?). Regardless, this doesn't mean he isn't sincere in what he tries to write. He comes up with ideas he finds fun and interesting in hopes that others do. I am not sure some of stories are always meaningful, but they definitely can be quite entertaining. Some would describe him as too self-aware or pretentious, but that of course depends on you.

To answer your question about how one should approach Nisio Isin... I really think it depends on the work. Generally, however, just know going in that his stories are extremely dialogue heavy and sometimes the conversations have no real meaning in the grand scheme of things beyond the scene in question. He likes to cleverly build up plot threads in subtle ways in conversations that tend to come full circle by the end of an arc or story. I think to enjoy Nisio Isin you really just have to like his style of writing first and foremost. Otherwise his works can become quite annoying really fast.
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Old 2014-11-30, 02:35   Link #11
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Best Monogatari stuck in production hell (along with best Monogatari director, which hurts the other series) and his best work will never be animated in Zaregoto. Medaka Box anime ending on the part is actually started to get good... don't really think anime only viewers can judge Nisio... but you can only judge on whats out.

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Originally Posted by Akuma Kinomoto View Post
I just want Nisio's partner in crime, Shinbo, to direct a Zaregoto anime. Monogatari fans clearly don't know where Nisio's talent is.

/runs
From what I've read of Zaregoto it doesn't really seem like something that would scream SHAFT to me....
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Old 2014-11-30, 07:48   Link #12
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So Nisio writes for himself and I shouldn't take too seriously? Still, his wordplay seems to come off as little confusing considering that the dialogues are almost next to pointless save for fleshing out the characters.
If it fleshes out characters then it's most likely 100% relevant. Nisio Isin's stories are primarily character driven.

I personally have nothing but respect for Nisio Isin's storytelling. Yes the narrative and its penchant for meta-humor, meta-characters, red herrings and plot twists comes across as self-congratulatory but I consider the dialogue and storytelling to actually be clever, impressive and actually worthy of his own congratulation, rather than the misaimed thinks-it's-clever-but-isn't-really crap you usually see from the other pretenders and their Light Novels.

And I've never doubted for a second that there is real sincerity in Nisio's storytelling. The recent Hanamonogatari, for example, was such an incredibly emotional and gut wrenching piece of storytelling that it left me genuinely upset: something that only a very few anime have ever been capable of. And overall the Monogatari Series: Second Season was an absolute blast. There was one episode in that season (Episode 18) where Shinbo's directing reached maximum cheapness and it ended up being more of a picture drama than an actual animation. Most of the episode was just one character narrating an event that happened in her previous life 400 years ago. And yet I consider it to be one of the most immersive and best episodes of the entire franchise, partly because Shinbo's cheap directing still made it work exceptionally well, but mostly because I think Nisio's writing pretty much speaks for itself.

Now it's true that Nisio has slipped up on occasion: Nisemonogatari is definitely not the best he's come out with, but I still found it to be good overall and I don't think I've ever come across a writer that can consistently produce greatness so I'm more than happy to overlook it (and personally I thought the incestuous toothbrushing scene was absolutely hilarious). I've heard that the actual novels of Katanagatari were padded out to hell and the anime (which I also consider great) slimmed it down into something more bearable but that's second hand info that I can't verify.

Of course, I should also point out that my opinion on Nisio Isin's writing is based purely through the lens of his anime adaptations. I've never actually read any of his stuff directly.
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Old 2014-11-30, 08:15   Link #13
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From what I've read of Zaregoto it doesn't really seem like something that would scream SHAFT to me....
The first two books can work well enough, but from what I've heard of book three onward, maybe not so much.
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Of course, I should also point out that my opinion on Nisio Isin's writing is based purely through the lens of his anime adaptations. I've never actually read any of his stuff directly.
That's why I brought this up in jest earlier; how much of Nisio Isin (or more specifically, the Monogatari series) success in animated form is him, and how much of it is Shinbo being Shinbo? I'm curious to probe for answers, even though I'm ambivalent about the Monogatari series myself. I mean, when toothbrushes and half-screens collide so well (or horribly?), I can't help but think the two are soulmates. Nisio X Shinbo OTP
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Old 2014-11-30, 13:15   Link #14
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Originally Posted by Reckoner View Post
Art always leaves room for interpretation, but I would definitely say there is a wrong way to interpret someone's work. An extreme example would be like saying Spielberg supports Nazis in Schindler's List. I would hope someone could realize this is clearly so wrong it doesn't even deserve comment.

To bring this to Nisio Isin himself, I think it is important to take into consideration that although his writing style is present in all his works, they are by no means the same. Katangatari is grounded far more in a traditional storytelling structure than Monogatari, and seems to stick to certain core themes a lot better as well. Monogatari is a bit more random, and in my opinion showcases Nisio's more wild side as a writer. I see this as both a strength and weakness of Monogatari.

Yes, he sometimes can come off a bit troll-ish in his writing because he loves to go against convention and pushes boundaries that other writers don't typically do. Sometimes it works out great, and sometimes I feel it doesn't (toothbrush?). Regardless, this doesn't mean he isn't sincere in what he tries to write. He comes up with ideas he finds fun and interesting in hopes that others do. I am not sure some of stories are always meaningful, but they definitely can be quite entertaining. Some would describe him as too self-aware or pretentious, but that of course depends on you.

To answer your question about how one should approach Nisio Isin... I really think it depends on the work. Generally, however, just know going in that his stories are extremely dialogue heavy and sometimes the conversations have no real meaning in the grand scheme of things beyond the scene in question. He likes to cleverly build up plot threads in subtle ways in conversations that tend to come full circle by the end of an arc or story. I think to enjoy Nisio Isin you really just have to like his style of writing first and foremost. Otherwise his works can become quite annoying really fast.
I think Nisio is a clever writer but sometimes his works can be self-indulgent and self-congratulatory. It seems as though you need to be very astute on how you watch this series as it seems that it is easy to misinterpret the character's motivations or even the story in general. He also seems to enjoy anticlimatic endings after building his plots so well.
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Old 2014-12-01, 01:15   Link #15
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I've heard that the actual novels of Katanagatari were padded out to hell and the anime (which I also consider great) slimmed it down into something more bearable but that's second hand info that I can't verify
From Andrew Cunningham's review/reaction of the light novels..... Katanagatari, shit till the bitter end.

Quote:
I think Katanagatari failed for three primary reasons - the schedule, which was a stunt thing involving churning out a book a month for an entire year (and seems to have encouraged him to pad the fuck out of the books with 30 page recaps and write books even when he clearly didn't have a good idea);
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Old 2014-12-03, 08:02   Link #16
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Hmmmm Katanagatari was a publicity stunt and while the novels were dragged out, the anime was top notch but it misses a ton of information...am I right?
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Old 2015-01-07, 00:51   Link #17
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Can anyone elaborate on the 'struggle of the genius' theme that Nisio is suing in his works?
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