A terrible show done as well as possible
This is a terrible anime. It's pacing is slow, it's content is borderline offensive (unless taken as "satire"), and there's no reason why any sane person should watch it. I've watched more than 70 episodes of it. Why? It has really pretty colour palettes and the sound is just amazing (both the music and the diagetic sounds). The characters and their actions are either boring or despicable but the world they do it in is just entrancing to look at and imagine what it would be like to live in. If you just want to relax, switch your brain off and watch something stupid and then complain about how awful it is afterwards while secretly enjoying the general mise-en-scene of the thing I cannot recommend much more than this. Otherwise, watch Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It's infinitely superior in nearly every respect apart from the music.
Monogatari takes place in a city populated by about 20 people, cardboard cutouts and kanji characters, following the story of Koyomi Araragi as he meets girls who have supernatural oddity-related issues in their lives and tries to help them. The characters are what you'd expect from a harem anime. There's the selfless main character, the Tsundere girlfriend, the shy Moe girl who turns out to actually be manipulative, the smart girl who wears glasses, the little sister(s), the sports girl, the lesbian, etc. However, most of them are written with more nuance than what you'd expect, as in, they are not obsessed with the main character's dick. I'm not a fan of the characters (except for Kaiki and maybe Meme), but I do give them credit for that. The dialogue is also what you'd expect from an anime. Talking about motivations, delivering exposition, and bantering whenever there's nothing going on. The difference is that most the show is just that, talking. However, I don't have a problem with that aspect and some of the dialogue is occasionally funny. When it comes to the story, a lot of arcs start out with promise, but then they end up focusing more on the dialogue than doing something interesting with the premise, and then end unmemorably. The biggest example of this is in Monogatari Second Series' Mayoi Jiangshi arc. The biggest problem I have with Monogatari, however, isn't inherent, since I've read some of the light novels and think they're okay, despite having these flaws. Shaft has been using the same visuals for every Shinbo-directed show since Pani Poni Dash! in 2005, but when making Monogatari, they rely on their visuals too much. During the dialogue scenes, they keep cutting to Dadaist visuals, text screens, weird camera angles and extreme closeups, which wouldn't be a problem, except that they focus on them far too much, and it detracts from the experience. They fail to build up a good momentum for the pacing. I don't judge a show based on the animation, but this is one case where I have the opinion that it detracts from everything else. In conclusion, I think that the Monogatari light novels are okay despite their flaws, but that Shaft's direction makes the anime boring to watch, and I would have likely enjoyed the show more if it was made by another studio, or if they hadn't gone overboard with the animation.
Is there a kami of 'SHUT THE F**K UP' anywhere around?
I personally feel the point of certain reviews isn't that you agree or disagree with them, but that you can see where the reviewer is coming from. I bring this up as I'm about to say something very negative about a series a lot of people like. I detest Bakemonogatari. It's Mushi Shi without any subtlety, xxxHolic without any class or depth, Natsume Yuujinchou without any charm, Mononoke without any shock (that isn't superficial). Comparisons between Natsume and Bake are especially insulting, that's like comparing the sweet, innocent church-going girl (not really a 'church' but you get the idea) with a dirty prostitute. So what does this series offer instead? A bunch of pointless dialogue that only exists to make the author look like a smartarse, and fanservice. Oh, and now Shinbo's typical forced, attention-seeking, not-actually-eccentric visual style. You may have heard this series' dialogue praised to high heaven. Easily its most overrated aspect, as practically every conversation boils down to this same formula: "Hey, I'm a bigger smartarse than you!" "No you're not" "Yes I am" "No you're not" "Yes I am" "No you're not" "POP CULTURE REFERENCE!" Speaking of which, I'm surprised nobody ever says "I was frozen today!", it'd fit in so well. Save the self-referential stuff for the wikis, will you? So if you think watching a bunch of smarmy brats trying to one-up each other constitutes fine entertainment, you'll love this series. Oh but they all have 'sad backstories', whch apparently makes up for all of it. Er, no it doesn't, they're just Nisio's way of saying "Ah, now you have to like this character, regardless of how annoying they are, because if you don't you must be a heartless jerk!". Said characters can be summed up as: Kyon rip-off, guy who pales in comparison to Yuuko or Nyanko-sensei, "self-aware" tsundere, "self-aware" class rep, Yami "self-aware" class rep, offensive lesbian stereotype, girl people only care about because of her Image Song, and girl with really obnoxious Image Song. I'm aware I probably sound quite bitter, but if you have a low threshold for anything smartarsed and pretentious try reading/watching this series and not feeling the same way.