Don’t you just hate it when an anime has so much potential but ends up taking the easy route and squanders it’s potential? I was ambivalent after watching season 1. On one hand, I liked the concept and the plot, but on the other hand the characters were bland and had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Season 2 was also kind of cursory with the characters, but the Oda Sakanouske arc (the best arc yet) gave me hope that this just might me good, but towards the end of season 2 the author again started taking the easy route and just went with the flow. So, after reading the highly positive reviews of season 3, I was filled with hope *insert don’t give me that hope meme*, but unfortunately, it’s the same.
This season again we follow the antics of the detective agency and the Port Mafia. There is not much to discuss about the story as the “real plot”, for a lack of better jargon, is yet to be revealed. The initial episodes gave us a little bit of insight on Chuuya’s past, the middle episodes were almost episodic and the last few episodes progress the plot in real time.
The kind of narrative structure that Bungou Stray Dogs uses helps the show to feel less jaded as it doesn’t focus on one place too much and keeps moving around in order to stimulate the viewer’s attention span. That being said, I was still bored half the time because of the plain characters. The main cast, frankly, is pretty boring. We’ve got Dazai, whose sole purpose in life seems to be overpowered af and be annoying to the people around him. We’ve got Atsushi, the weretiger, who is a lil bi*ch. All he does throughout the series is cry and shout. Kunikida is the idealist in the detective agency and that basically sums up his character. The only two characters of interest in the Detective agency are Kyouka and the President. In Port Mafia it’s the same story. Chuuya’s raison d'etre seems to be to shout “Do you want to experience gravity?” or be assaulted by Dazai in an attempt to provide comedic relief but most often then not it just managed to annoy me. Akutagawa is the edgy emo character because every shounen needs one. The only interesting character in Port Mafia is the Chairman of the Mafia.
Most of the characters have weird traits or quirks to differentiate them from the rest and except one or two characters no one gets any kind of progression or development. Lemme give you some examples of "quirky" personalities – Dazai wants to die; Kunikida is a perfectionist; Ranpo is a genius, on second thoughts, everyone in this show is a genius (I’ll get to that later); Akiko is a sadist; and there’s a girl who loves her brother, loves in the anime way not the normal way. Now back to explaining the genius part, there is only a fine line between this show and death note. Most characters have already figured out someone’s plan but it turns out that the other has also figured out that the other has figured out their plan and the vicious cycle takes turn biting both the character’s asses. It's like they're playing UNO and both of them play the reverse card, also known as the "no u" card. The worst part about that is no one manages to top the other as the characters pull out strategies out of their asses.
The characters also have some kind of ability with which they fight. But, unlike the more tactical fights that could and should result from those abilities, the characters prefer to duke it out and announce their attack before they commence it. Seriously, this one-time Kyouka used her ability as a diversion and went in for the kill herself but had to monologue which ended her attack and my interest.
There are some interesting characters though who use their ability and their brains to get out of a predicament. This season’s villain Fyodor is just fantastic. Discussing anything about him would be treading into spoiler territory but let me just say that he’s one of the most cunning and interesting antagonist I’ve seen this year. But, the number of bland characters outnumber the interesting ones. One of my favourite parts of the show is when we get to see the past of the characters because the past is way interesting than the present; and that’s not a good thing.
The animation is fantastic and I love the character designs. The background art is just as good. The fights are fluid and the fight scenes flow seamlessly from one shot to another which helped me get invested as the fights themselves were nothing special. The music is fine I guess. Nothing special.
BSD still has some potential. The characters need a little bit more characterisation and need to stop putting their brains in abeyance when having a fight. Some of the characters seriously need to be nerfed because if everyone is OP, then no one is.
OVERALL – 5.5/10