The animation is typical SHAFT. The backgrounds are well drawn and tend to be clean, bright cityscapes with a futuristic style. The characters are also well drawn, especially in close-ups (of which there are MANY, especially with eyes), but with some questionable wide-shots, although these were few and far between as I was watching the cleaned up blu-ray release. Each character is also unique in look and personality, and seem to be similarly as attractive as those in SHAFT's other show
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, each character is completely unique to one another, in look, style and personality. They're all also pretty likeable, or at least were for me, especially Senjougahara (above) with her tsundere attitude, stylish dress sense and good looks, whilst also remaining fun, loving and also quite vulnerable despite her hard outer shell. SHAFT do a good job developing each character and providing their back story, which is made rather easy by the fact each new girl has usually three episodes dedicated to her arc and then carries on to play a big role in subsequent episodes.
One main thing I noticed whilst watching is that there is a LOT, and I mean a lot, of talking. I also noticed that this was usually just meaningless chatter between the two characters with little relevance to the story, however, I quite liked it, as it created a connection between the two and was usually quite comedic in nature, and when it wasn't comedic is was serious emotional talk. All this talk makes Bakemonogatari a very character-driven show, with the real action only really taking up 10 or so minutes of the whole arc. As is probably clear from my numerous other anime posts, I tend to love shows that rely on the strength of their characters, as it also helps the viewer to make a connection with them, making the story much stronger emotionally and enhancing the experience greatly. Quite a lot of jokes and some explanations rely on wordplay, which means that some of the comedy and details are lost in translation if you don't have much knowledge of the Japanese language. Of course, because this was obviously intended for Japanese audiences and not foreign ones, this can't really be put as a negative point towards the show.
Another thing I noticed, and very much liked, was the music throughout the series, be it the soundtrack itself or the various OPs and EDs. The background music worked well to enhance almost every situation, be it emotional, action or comedy and by the end of the series I found myself recognising and really liking some of the songs used. Each arc is also accompanied with a new OP sequence and song that compliments the theme of that particular arc, and I personally liked them all except for maybe one. The ED song remains the same throughout, but each arc brings a slightly different ED sequence (above) and I also really liked the song.
As I said earlier, the story was largely character-driven, relying greatly on these characters' pasts and their emotions to provide a basis for the situation they've each found themselves in. The story's main themes concerned the supernatural, with spirits/'apparitions' and gods causing the most trouble, and because of this almost anything was possible, as realism was largely irrelevant. This of course allowed for more elaborate and interesting stories and action sequences.
In summary, I enjoyed this show very much, with the animation, soundtrack and characters being particular highlights. However, the sheer amount of talking and some of the series particular quirks (you'll have to watch to understand) can sometimes get tedious, but not so much to get annoying. I can certainly see why this sold so well (with the sixth blu-ray volume holding the record for highest first-week sells before SHAFT's Puella Magi☆Madoka Magica broke it last month) and was very popular among anime fans, although I'm not sure if I liked it enough to class it as one of my all-time favourites as I'm not sure the characters and story in particular were as strong as other series' I've seen.With this being the third SHAFT show I've watched and greatly enjoyed, I may have to take a look at some of their older shows and will definitely look forward to future shows from them, especially the prequel film Kizumonogatari set to be released next year.
Along with the other two series I've downloaded (Lucky Star and Death Note) I'm also planning to re-watch a number of series over the summer along with most likely a couple more new ones, as well the Summer 2011 shows, and so there'll likely be quite a lot of anime-related posts over the next few months.