I really am going to write a post on Phantom, but honestly, Bakemonogatari 12 is far and away the best episode of ANYTHING I've seen all year.
Perhaps even for the past few years. Whilst I really appreciated about 10 minutes of the last episode of Code Geass a lot, and Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo is quite magical too, NOTHING comes close to this.
Having been absent for the last three episodes, Senjougahara Hitagi returns as author and studio deliver what may well be the best relationship development I've ever seen in fiction...well, at the very least, animated fiction (I really like P&P too, you see...). During a typical teasing lunchtime session together, Hitagi "invites" her boyfriend on what would be their first date. Koyomi, needless to say, ecstatically looks forward to it despite (or perhaps partially due to) it being a virtual command. Until he finds himself in a car with Hitagi AND her father.
The car scene that follows tops the conversation they had in episode 3 - Hitagi's tongue is as sharp as ever, and Koyomi is spot on as usual with his tsukkomi, and the topics they cover flesh out and further their relationship thus far. Koyomi's subsequent conversation with Hitagi's father then provides a counterpoint, along with the blessing that most boyfriends can only dream of getting this early in a relationship. But the highlight of the episode was definitely the date itself, under the stars, during which Hitagi shares the last of everything that she can currently give to Koyomi, and he reassures her that it is far more than enough, at this point.
It's something one needs to see for oneself...though that does mean that you'd have to go through all 12 episodes (thus far) of a series that definitely doesn't suit everyone. But I can't recommend it enough!!
But whilst this is extremely fitting for the end of the tv broadcast, not to mention something that SHAFT might not be able to top in the remaining episodes, this isn't the end of Bakemonogatari: the last 3 episodes of Tsubasa Cat will be broadcast online from as yet unannounced dates. As of now, Hitagi is still my favourite, but from what I've heard/read, Tsubasa should give her a run for the money. And whilst she wasn't in the episode at all, people on various forums confirmed my suspicions as to what her problem is primarily concerned with - it's been hinted at in every single arc, and this particular date is oh so important. Definitely looking forward to it!
p.s. I'm finding the various translations that are being used for tsukkomi (references, retorts etc) rather amusing... It IS kinda difficult to explain...
p.p.s. My DVD has been shipped! I need a Blu-ray player and HD screen!!
p.p.p.s. The screen text at the beginning of this episode also ups the ante (^_^) especially if you read it after seeing the episode in its entirety at least once before.