For weeks, Atsushi Nakajima's orphanage has been plagued by a mystical tiger that only he seems to be aware of. Suspected to be behind the strange incidents, the 18-year-old is abruptly kicked out of the orphanage and left hungry, homeless, and wandering through the city.
While starving on a riverbank, Atsushi saves a rather eccentric man named Osamu Dazai from drowning. Whimsical suicide enthusiast and supernatural detective, Dazai has been investigating the same tiger that has been terrorizing the boy. Together with Dazai's partner Doppo Kunikida, they solve the mystery, but its resolution leaves Atsushi in a tight spot. As various odd events take place, Atsushi is coerced into joining their firm of supernatural investigators, taking on unusual cases the police cannot handle, alongside his numerous enigmatic co-workers.
"Stupidity is a talent for misconception"
-Edgar Allan Poe
We've all heard the famous phrase "I'd rather be a Jack of all trades than a king of one", but what happens when you try to be at Jack of too many trades? Well, that's where you get a show like Bunguo Stray Dogs. The second anime to be produced by bones this season, Stray Dogs is an edgy, ambitious story of an abandoned orphan who finds his place with a detective agency solving crimes and battling the notorious Port Mafia. The synopsis is what really had me hyped for the show, because on the surface it sounds
like it has the promise to be something really unique. However, throughout its first season's 12 episodes, Stray Dogs never really discovers what it wants to be. Throw in some sporadic comedy, unnecessary gore along with some of the poorest excuses for detective work I've ever seen and you've got a recipe for disaster.
I truly mean what I say with regard to the promise I had for the show. It loosely reminded meet of the anime Gungrave's synopsis with an orphan joining a powerful agency and excelling through the ranks. I really enjoyed the first episode or two with the introduction of our main protagonist, Atsushi and how he comes into the Armed Detective Agency. I was looking forward to uncovering his past as well as the origin of his mystical Weretiger ability. But after 12 episodes of watching Stray Dogs, I would like to throw a strong disclaimer out there: don't expect anything to be explained in this anime. People use magic abilities, characters appear out of nowhere and mysteries are solved with the level of clairvoyance that would make Nostradamus roll over in his grave. I digress, I can give a pass to the whole magic thing, as I expect this to be explained in later seasons... If I'm even committed enough to make it that far.
After being collected by the agency, Atsushi does his best to fit in. And the man that initially recruited him, Dazai does his best to send Atsushi on meaningless tasks in order to establish himself at the agency. Perhaps it was to lay the groundwork for the characters, but I felt that nothing really happened in the first five or six episodes. At one point I thought the show was a dark comedy, the next a murder mystery, but all of the ideas that it seemed to have fizzled out into one disjointed mess. It's like the kid from your high school that never figured out what he really wanted to do and instead hung around into his 20s and 30s and made attempt after pitiful attempt to be cool. Not to mention the ghastly written comedy. Perusing the forums in hopes of finding out what I was missing to take away from the show, I found statement after statement praising the comedy in Stray Dogs. Has anime become so watered-down that feeble comedy such as the kind found here is passable as funny? The jokes are so forced and random that it made me cringe. I laughed at approximately 0% of it. I know I can't be the only one that feels this way.
Another mute point that was spewed at me was how each of the characters were based off of a famous writer of American, British or Japanese dissent. There is Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe and Agatha Christie just to name a few. The moment I thought I knew who the writers were portraying, they would do something so out of character that I had no idea who they were trying to emulate. It's almost as though the creators of Stray Dogs were trying to use this as a scapegoat. They probably figured that most anime fans have little knowledge of old literary geniuses, so it didn't matter if their personalities were accurate to achieve the same amount of praise.
Forgive me, for not all the writing is bad. The last 2 to 3 episodes dwarfed The rest of the series in terms of complexity and engagement. There are still the occasional scenes where the character's moods would shift from serious to slapstick, but I felt like overall I finally got some bang for my buck. The main villain even got some backstory and the writers offered a glimmering sliver of hope for next season.
As a main character, Atsushi was one emo moment away from me chalking him up as just another whiny bitch. Honestly it was uncovering his crippled past that drew me to the series in the beginning. I wish someone would've told me how little of an explanation I would get in the long run. His interactions with Dazai at the beginning of the anime were rather entertaining, but again their relationship never really transpired past the same cheesy recycled jokes and forced authoritative delegation by Dazai. Speaking of Dazai, what is with the suicide complex? I'm assuming it has something to do with his personification as a famous writer, but I found his split personality offputting and unnecessary. I mean who could be that bad at committing suicide? His true motives for recruiting Atsushi and acting the way he does haven't fully been explained, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Honestly, Kunikida was my favorite character of the entire show. His methodical personality and antics reminded me a lot of myself, and of course he got berated with jokes on a regular basis. It seemed like he was the only genuinely serious thing in the entire show. The rest of the characters were thrown in to fit various tropes, and that lazy, pompous detective guy Ranpo pissed me off to no end.
The OP is actually rather strong. It punches you in the face both visually and with some ear-splitting metal riffs. It's arguably the only aspect of Stray Dogs I consistently enjoyed from beginning to end. The ED and rest of the soundtrack were forgettable but didn't necessarily detract from the overall experience. I did quite enjoy the artstyle however. There was something about the colors that really caught my eye... I can't explain it but perhaps it was a combination of the bigger budget and flashy fight scenes that kept my senses stimulated. Each character was uniquely drawn, and there was rarely a repeated background to be seen. I loved it.
It goes without saying that my feelings about Bunguo Stray Dogs are relatively negative. I will probably stick with the second iteration launching in October because I've already devoted enough time to it... but only time will tell. Hey, maybe I'll even forget about how much I disliked certain aspects of it and move on. I'd recommend this to fans of more recent series, and people looking for generic battles and a cheap laugh. As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the rest of my Spring 2016 reviews!
Initially, I wasn't too excited or hyped up about the show because I didn't feel any type of enjoyment. Most of the times the humor felt forced along with most of the drama however during episode 3, that was the biggest turn around for me. Everything after that episode had me completely anxious, and excited to see what's going to happen next episode! Before I knew it the damn show was over. The story itself is really engaging. I think that the biggest part of Stray dogs that I enjoyed most, was the shows well delivered, strong, dramatic and
supernatural story-line. One of the biggest issues that I had, that I also noticed a few others had this problem, was the balance. Sometimes, stray dogs was a comedy, then a drama, and then finally back to comedy. The poor balancing negatively affected my time watching it because it really took away some of my engagement not to mention my enjoyment with the show. That said, the story is actually pretty solid. In terms of the stories supernatural occurrences, it reminds me a lot of both the series Durarara and Baccano. Oh, and I cannot forget the comedy style! although, thinking back I don't remember whether or not both DRRR and Baccano used over the top reaction faces..
That aside, the whole gang warfare, port mafia vs armed detective company reminded me a lot of yellow scarves vs the dollars. Of course Stray dogs version of this is more about justice than revenge. Now I did enjoyed Stray Dogs comedic routines. It is always refreshing to have a bit of comedy and fun after dramatic or serious events have occurred. It really does take your mind off of things for a while. I believe that uniqueness was Stray dogs strong-point overall. It is is one of those titles that's simply fun to watch because of an interesting story with unexpected and exciting new developments.
As far as animation and art style goes, visually stray dogs reminded me a lot of Baccano! even some of the characters looked like they belonged in Baccano. I noticed that Bungou Stray Dogs setting and character designs have a strong 1940s-1950s feel to it. I think that whoever the key animator was, and whoever was in charge of doing the background settings did an amazing job with it. I loved watching the fight scenes occurring in this show. Fights and action scenes are perhaps one of the most noticeable things caught my attention the most. During fights, I noticed that the fast paced animation used greatly increases the intensity of the battles. In addition to that, I also observed that when it comes to fighting, when characters are talking to each other, there is also a sense of build up. I knew that right after characters would finishing talking, there would most likely be some sort of turnover and the quality of the fight would turn out even greater. Character designs were pretty interesting, the eyes were most unique to me. They weren't quite oval shaped nor were they round. For some strange reason male characters features tend to stand our more than the females. I noticed that are drawn to be more "pronounced" so to speak. They did a great job making a good looking main character for the Fujo's to go nuts over too.
Sound was pretty great too. I enjoyed both the soundtrack and voice actors used in Stray dogs... well except Chiaki Omigawa. Her voice is like nails on a chalkboard. She sounds like a boy going through puberty, that is how bad her voice is. Every other voice actor I had no issues with. The background music was pretty good too. I like that during battles, the music would help intensify the fight. Lastly, I loved that vocals were used in most of the songs, rather than just sticking with instrumentals.
Character growth and development is featured in the show however, it's not really prominent. I feel like the events in season 2 will definitely help characters develop more so that they aren't too.. plain. My biggest issue with the characters is that none of them really stand out. Having a long lasting impression of the characters in stray dogs seems almost impossible due to their uninteresting traits along with personalities.
Enjoyment for the show was pretty strong. I think that this was easily my 4th favorite title airing this season. It does deliver quite a lot of drama, action, and mysterious elements. I do believe that because of the way the show is written and introduced that it doesn't appeal to everyone. My overall feeling for the show is that it felt too incomplete, like they are relying on season 2 to make things even better. Despite that that though, I believe that stray dogs delivered enough greatness to make me want to come back for more. I was impressed with just about everything featured in Bungou Stray Dogs.
Bungou Stray Dogs had a somewhat interesting premise, yet was ultimately disappointing. This anime could be easily summarized as an average battle shōnen with arguably sub par comedy: not exclusively because the comedy is bad, which is hit and miss, but because of its implementation in the most inappropriate moments. This does not mean the anime as a whole is terrible, it is simply lacking as hardly any progression was made throughout its airing time making it as a whole just average.
The story of Bungou Stray Dogs is centered around the orphan protagonist Atsushi who was kicked out of the orphanage because of mysterious incidents
that happen around him. Having no idea or clue on how to survive, he aimlessly wanders around, just to coincidently fish out a suicidal detective out of the river, by the name of Dazai. Of course it just so happens he is no ordinary person: he works for a firm of supernatural investigators. Being pulled into this world, the daily life of the protagonist begins with a wacky cast of characters. Not to mention the mystery surrounding the main character.
At first glance it may seem as an endearing premise, which it is, only up to a certain extent: while it treats some of the difficulties the protagonist is suffering, it mostly focuses on the introduction of new characters and their respective powers. Hence, is mostly of episodic nature. The various powers introduced are interesting and varied on its own, which in turn makes it possible to have entertaining battle sequences, although the conflicts are very simple: detective firm versus the mafia. This is combined with an abundance of comedy, which is personally the biggest gripe with the show. The humor is rather basic: suicide jokes, ill-timed situational ones are such examples. What is worse, whenever it is trying to be serious, it is often followed by a gag that hampers the immersion in the narrative significantly.
The characters presented in the anime are of simple nature, with some endearing ones, while others are rather dull. The main character Atsuchi is a timid boy who does not know of friendship; combined with the fact that he is very insecure of himself and his peers, the protagonist finds himself in a constant conflict. Being labeled as a seinen anime, it does not present an interesting development akin to the genre, rather it follows that of the battle shōnen one. He experiences some character development throughout the series by interactions with the cast, and the events that happen to him. He could be described generally as a wimp in some occasions, while in others he is courageous.
Regarding the other characters, these are rather stereotypical with their own charm in some cases: the excentric airhead, the suicidal enthuthiast, the strict guy, the maniac - just to name a few. Some of these have some mysterious background attached to them, which enhances the narrative, and in exploring their respective personalities. Due to the short span of the anime, most characters remain very basic, as well as the opposing entities of the main cast. Consequently, there is little investment in the villains themselves, which is a bit dissapointing.
The animation of Bungou Stray Dogs was well executed which implemented some great action scenes: fast and fluid, with consistent design. As for the art style, it was remarkable with amusing character designs: although using a similar template as other anime, it is distinguishable on its own, more akin to the likes of Durara. In addition, it makes use of exaggerated facets of the characters for comedic purposes, which were lacking: this was mainly due because of the humor that simply was not fitting for the different atmospheres the anime was trying to portray.
Concerning the sound used, it was a whole well implemented and executed with befitting voice actors, although in some cases it could feel off.This mainly concerns in some cases some transitions of suspense to comedy, and also the protagonist. The soundtrack uses various tunes, jazz included, which is a nice touch to the generic notes viewers are used to. The ending of the anime was well done with a great transition, which was personally a joy to listen to. Unlike the ending, the opening is rather forgettable as a whole.
Bungou Stray Dogs was a show I had some interest in, yet was rather disappointing as a whole, which was mainly because of the ill-timed and arguably bad comedy. The anime falls short of even beginning to expand on the whole mystery surrounding the protagonist, consequently being quite hard to get into. Regardless of said issues, it had some great action sequences as well some interesting background stories to share, which was satisfying. Otherwise this anime is quite average and does not stand out from its competitors. If the jokes are no issue for the viewer, I'd say try it out, otherwise not.
What happens when you get together a special group of individuals based off famous literacy authors? The answer is Bungou Stray Dogs. Only this time, they have special abilities in a world where there’s mystery, crime, and all other sorts of dark phenomenon that will take your breath away. Based off the manga of the same name, this is a show that can be easily recommendable to almost anyone. But if you’re a fan of supernatural mystery, it’ll be an exception treat.
Bungou Stray Dogs is prime proof that supernatural fiction can still work in attractive fashion. The show stars a group of characters as part
of the group known as the Armed Detective Agency, who specializes in missions to solve dangerous cases. It offers a select group of individuals with their own unique talents, traits, and ways that makes us wonder about their everyday life style. Then, we also meet Atsushi Nakajima, the main protagonist who got kicked out of his orphanage and ends up becoming a member of the Agency himself. It’s like fate connected his life together with these individuals in a story of innovative wonders.
If you’ve seen The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or something along that line, then watching this show will feel a bit familiar. On paper, it’s a pretty cool looking show with a cast of badass characters named after famous literary works. Not only that, their special powers are also based off of their well-known literature. The first episodes establishes a blend between mystery, supernatural, and black comedy. In fact, the show easily crafts a mood that is rather comical with the way Osamu Dazai is introduced. I mean think about it, the guy tries to commit suicide in an absurd fashion until Atsushi decides to save him. Throughout the show, his relationship with Dazai can be viewed as bizarre. This also expands to many other characters because truth to be told, Atsushi really is like the new kid in class. Other characters he gets associated with such as Junchirou Tanizaki, Doppo Kunikda, Ranpo Edogawa, Akiko Yosano, and Kenji Miyazaza also brings the best and worst out of him. Throughout the series, it’s also shown that he is perhaps the most “human” out of all the characters. He is very ordinary and has low confidence in himself from the beginning. The revelation regarding his own powers also makes him feel like he’s a walking curse and that misfortune follows those who he encounters. Now you’re probably asking why you should care. The main factor is that Atsushi needs to realize that not everyone can be saved. Kunikda realizes this and constantly reminds himself and others that it’s a cruel world they live in. And that’s a lot to say about the show. The world setting of Bungou Stray Dogs has mafias, underworld organizations, and crimes that goes beyond imaginations.
The story structure sets up the show nicely with its first two episodes. I will emphasize that as part of the series, comedy also plays a large factor to perhaps decide whether you’d like to continue watching or not. For some, this can be very entertaining in the form of popcorn comedy. For others, it can be distracting and even annoying. Director Igarashi Takuya puts his talent at the table and his previous work with Ouran Koukou Host Club can feel familiar to those who recognizes it. That is to say, the comedy may not be suitable for everyone, in particular the timing. The adaptation itself is also quite faithful with panel by panel. It also brings in the violence that gives the show a darker tone mixed in with the humor and jokes. However, I will mention that the show does go off for two episodes around mid-season (not based on the manga). Also, the plan to adapt the series is split into 2-cours (12 episodes ach) and this review will cover the first half.
As some may expect, the Armed Detective Agency also attracts enemies. This is where the Port Mafia comes in as they are introduced. Working from the shadows with mysterious origins, we also meet Ryunosuke Akutagawa, mysterious member of Port Mafia who seems to have a history with Dazai. Other members introduced in the mafia also shows their ruthlessness and lack of care for human life such as terrorist bomber Momojiro Kaji. The point is that the show makes them the main antagonists for the first cour, an antithesis to what Atsushi believes in. At one point, he even meets a young girl known for the murder of 35 people yet still hopes there’s some redemption for her.
As I mentioned before, Bungou Stray Dogs is a cool looking show, literally. The characters portrays some unique personalities with their own personal powers. From tiger transformation to bringing objects into existence by just writing in a notebook, the show demonstrates the capability of attracting fan of supernatural fiction. Unfortunately, I can’t say that the mystery is very impressive. It’s actually pretty straightforward although sparks quite the curiosity about characters’ background stories. What I mean is more of the cases that is rather predictable and some of them actually feels repetitive by nature.
Bones helms the series and once again shows that they are capable of capturing the magic of supernatural genre. Character abilities not only looks cool but also decoratively presented in fashion that is extraordinary. Speaking of the characters, each of them has some unique appearance that makes them stand out in one way or another. From the carefree expressions of Dazai to the mischievous Akiko, it has something to offer for anyone. There’s also a prominence of male characters with bishounen-like characteristics so female fans may find this series a nice sight to look at. The action speaks pretty much for itself with good amount of violence, choreography, and battle theatrics. I can also confess that most of the character expressions in the anime is done better than the manga.
Soundtrack is a nice way to make the show more entertaining as well. From the OP song by Trash Candy to the battle OST, it gives the pleasure of what supernatural battles are all about. Character voice mannerism can also be praised especially for guys like Akutagawa’s sinister tone or Daizai’s sarcastic personality. Because the show is known for its catchy dialogues, the voice mannerism has to be portrayed with credibility and the voice actors/actresses does just that.
It is what it is. Bungou Stray Dogs is pretty much a show that can be watched by anyone from the beginning without any knowledge about literature. That being said, the comedy can feel like a bit of the hit or miss category. After the introductory episodes, the story does pick up quite a bit so patience is a key to enjoy the show. Luckily, there’s an adequate amount of entertainment provided by the unique cast of characters, themes, and storytelling so be prepared for a wild ride. It’s one that you’ll someday come back and realize how fun it was.