Posted on 1 July 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, Bungou Stray Dogs

Well, we don’t usually give a review on the first cour of anime show, given the fact that the second part will air next autumn season. But since I’m not certain I would cover its second half, plus I don’t think this series will improve itself, I might as well give Bungou Stray Dogs a proper review now.

Bungou Straw Dogs is an action show that follows a story of Atsushi, an abandoned boy who can transform into a tiger unconsciously. He got rescued and later recruited by the Armed Detective Agency, which contains a bunch other gifted characters. But things become more complicated as the Port Mafia – the local mafia – also want to take their hands on Atsushi and towards the end of the series, somehow the Guild – the North American counterpart for gifted people – involves to capture Atsushi as well. The show follows this main storyline, at the same time introduces each and every one of the Agency.

As far as action show goes, in term of production, the show has a lot to recommend on. The art designs, in highlights, feel like an essential component of Bungou Stray Dogs. This show has always put extra effort to create a strong personality for its settings. From under the bridge scene right at the beginning, to the abandoned hospital, to the various sights of the city, all are well-drawn and have an atmosphere of their owns. The last episode set-piece in closed space dimensional, in particular, showcase the art designs at its best as it has a very distinctive feel of dreamy and creepy, like a nightmarish version of Alice in Wonderland. The show goes for more of impressionist visual style, and I would say what they achieve here is impressive. The staffs show us that they have a great flair of shot compositions. This is one of a few anime series that whenever I freeze frame the screen, I can still find great shots for my screensaver. The impressionist visual also means that the color palette changes depend on the mood of the scene, but the show favors the use of strong color in its more ordinary scene: dark red, green, resembles many of classical paintings. The music of the show has always been very consistent, and sometimes it did take a little risk. In a bombing sequence for example, the score goes to unsettling and nausea approach, which in turns very fitting to the chaos and the nausea of the confusing crowd.

But in Bungou Stray Dogs, we don’t only have action. There are also some twists/ flavors mixed in with its action, and the results vary in many degrees. The first ingredient is to make the characters based on real life authors. This adds a little quirk to the characters, which is actually fun to watch, especially if you know the authors they are referencing to. Talking about characters, the cast in the show does have their own voices. Like the cast in shows like Baccano or Cowboy Bebop or directly from Tarantino’s movies, they never feel like a real person, but they’re damn fun to watch nevertheless. I have to point out Dazai and the girl Hyouka as the show’s stand out characters, the way Dazai’s charm his way out (even about suicide) and Hyouka tragic but grounded circumstances. Other characters are vastly over the top and when given a spotlight, they developed quite well but most of the times the cast is unfortunately bland and one dimensional. See, this is a fundamental problem of Bungou Stray Dogs, because the cast is so exaggerated and over the top, leaving them on their own could potentially affects the main storyline. As a result, in order to keep the story going the way the show wants it, the cast has to be as one-dimensional as possible and sometimes as inconsistent as ever. For instance, it’s nice to learn the truth behind Ranpo’s gift or Kanji acts up once in a while, but for the majority of time we will have to see the childish, selfish side of Ranpo or the happy-go-lucky Kanji. Bungou Stray Dogs, you need to constantly shed new lights to your characters, because if you don’t care fleshing out your characters then we won’t feel it either. The inconsistency of the characters further highlights this issue and most of the times it feels like the characters act certain way just because the show wants them to. Like for example in the first few episodes it was established that the Agency is like a big family; but then Dazai got captured for several episodes and no one seems to care. I believe this supposed to show how Dazai is always ahead of everyone and he can take care of his own, but it feels truly bizarre that after all the trouble he went through, the next episode we have him sitting in a chair like nothing ever happened, and the cast treats him like he was never been captured before. There are also many times that the character Kunikida has a huge leap of personality, like in one episode when the Agency was informed that Atsushi has been abducted, Kunikida was totally oblivious to the news and kept babbling about the Agency’s current “important” ministry job. In the end of the episode, however, we have him rushing out to rescue Atsushi like it’s the most obvious thing in the world and it makes me feel dumped.

The second mix of ingredient is the mix of detective cases in several middle episodes of the show. Those cases are simple enough and they were presented to mostly showcase the cast’s members. But many cases are just plain, with our Detective solve it way too rushed with information we never even heard before (like the fishing tackle store, which if it blows up it could bring down all the big building nearby. How are we supposed to know it? Well, never mind!). Usually the new players introduced will have something to do with the case, and then when they finish their purpose they will get tossed out and we will never hear from them again. This is a minor complain but the number of innocent people who got killed off are jarring to me. I guess this is just me as I think the show doesn’t care much about this issue, but killing people just for the sake of raising stakes is a terrible writing.

All to say, in terms of production and character designs, there is a lot to recommended but writing-wise, the show needs a lot to improve on. As for the score, for me 60 is the line between exceptional and mediocre shows, and Bungou Stray Dogs is a slightly (very slightly!) above average show. This first half set itself up to be a three-way war between the Agency, the Port Mafia and the Guild. I’m interested to see how they handle the war and also curious to see the Guild counterparts and their gifts. Here’s hoping for the second half can deliver what this first half has been promised.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 26 June 2016 with categories: Bungou Stray Dogs, Currently Watching:

And we get to the end of Bungou Stray Dogs, but this last episode doesn’t offer any conclusive ending, instead feel more like a set up episode for the next season. This last episode functions like a typically Bungou Stray Dogs’ episode; there are many good things to say about it, mainly the technical triumphs and the great character designs, but the writing and the new characters are mixed bags.

Let’s get to the good side first. As far as action show goes, Bungou Stray Dogs is at its top form this week. There are new set of enemies introduced, promising a three ways battle between the Armed Detective Agency, the Port Mafia and the Guild (the North American organization of the gifted) in a second season. Thus the main set piece this week happens in the imaginary closed space of Lucy (resembled of L.M Montgomery – the author of Anne of Green Gables) named Anne’s Chamber. I have mentioned that the show always had a very good grip on creating a memorable set pieces that really feel like it breathes by itself, this time in particular the close spaced is just wonderful. It’s so stylish and awe-aspiring, while at the same time dreamy and creepy. The fighting sequence is exciting, with the cat-and-mouse chase that are thrilling from start to finish. Atsushi again proved himself this week that he is capable of fighting for himself, and I can forgive him for wanting to run away calling for help because that’s just who he was. Thankfully he got pulled back by the physician, who soon revealed to be the Port Mafia’s boss. He is one of the more interesting character out of this show, both very mysterious and smart and tricky, and he’s just like Dagai who seems to be one step ahead of everyone else.

The other new characters presented this week, however, are just bland. I’m a bit disappointed that Fitzgerald turns out to be over the top archetypical American villain, the one who thinks money can buy everything and proud himself for that. I originally think he’s one of the tough one to beat but judge from the facts that he’s super one-dimensional, and he got killed off rather easily in the end, all that made me wonder what’s exactly his role in the show. Lucy is also a very one-note character, who appears mostly as a mad, sick little girl who just want to have fun. A bit about her insecurity among the Guild is a nice little touch but other time she functions like a typical villain. Dagai again back to the office and seems like nothing happen further emphasized my complains on the inconsistency of the show.

Looking ahead, I honestly have no idea how they could handle the mega-battles between the Armed Detective Agency, Port Mafia and the Guild. There seems to be a lot more Guild members with more unique skills to fight against next season, but it seems to me that Mori (the Port Mafia leader) is the ultimate boss. I’m a bit keen to check out the second cour just to see how they handle all that, but I’m not sure about covering its second cour, since I don’t think the show will get any better than what it is now.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 18 June 2016 with categories: Bungou Stray Dogs, Currently Watching:

Bungou Stray Dogs strays to another side stories this week, it’s pretty much set up for the second cour, and in that aspect this week is a success one, both gives us a new light to existing characters and makes quite a bit of impression on our new characters. I kind of appreciate how the series spends its first half on a very unusual lead: Higuchi and her insecurities both in her relationship to Akutagawa, but also her place in the Port Mafia. I mean this is Bungou Stray Dogs so I don’t really expect it to spend time focus on minor characters, yet it did. I’ve mentioned before that Higuchi in her last appearance was not well-written character, she seems more like a plot device last time who being there to trapped our main characters and waited for Akuwataga to come. But in this first half she comes off as a character who has her own worries and her own voice. Yes, being insecure is nothing special, and her heroic act is rather stupid more than inspiring, and I have my doubt that she’ll be important in the future; but for once I’m glad at the effort the show makes to flesh out our minor character. Bonus point for shedding new dimension to the Black Lizards members, who appear to be more sensible and dare I say, heart; than our own Detective Agency.

The second part spotlights the remaining member of the Armed Detective Agency, Kenji. All the facial expressions – from the chairman’s cold face, to Atsushi’s naïve reaction to Kenji’s reasons, to Kenji happy-go-lucky attitude reactions – are mostly great this week, something that the show rarely done it right before. The inclusion of Kenji, a country boy who has a very upbeat “If we’re sincere, they’ll response” attitude, further prove that the Armed Detective Agency is a bunch of weirdos who happen to (or because of) be gifted. Kenji, certainly one of the most over the top characters in Bungou Stray Dogs, smiles his way through all the incidents, and apparently solving the cases by his unique approach. This is not a bad thig though because it makes up some of the more hilarious moments in Bungou Stray Dogs. The fighting scenes for example is more comical rather than thrilling, but it fits well with the story. In other notes, I’m more intrigued to the two young female characters here, one is Hyouka who in this episode stands up for herself and asked so she could stay in the Agency (plus she’s just gorgeous in the maid outfit), I like the way she’s developing here as she takes action into her own hands. The other one is the mysterious young girl with red dress and without a single word in this episode, but she already gives off a strong impression. I suspect her to be a kick-ass girl and it’s apparent that her role in the second half will be much more significant. Speaking of this I have an impression that in the latter half it seems more likely that the Armed Detective Agency and the Port Mafia could team up to fight against Fitzgerald team, judging from the way the show focuses on the Port Mafia side this week (they’re not all that bad!) and the way it frames Dagai and Nakahara, Atsushi and Akutagawa relationships (they seems more like rivalry than actual enemy). I might be wrong of course but if it is this gonna be an interesting development for the next season.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 11 June 2016 with categories: Bungou Stray Dogs, Currently Watching:

Last week I mentioned the lack of consistency in characters, despite the more focus and confident pacing of Bungou Stray Dogs. Well this we pretty much have the same issues here. The first part focus on Dazai and Nakahara and reveals a bit more about his past while he was in Port Mafia. While Akutagawa is short-tempered and easily offended by Dazai’s words, Nakahara seems wiser and understands Dazai better, which is not to say that he is not manipulated by the always-several-steps-ahead Dazai. I still can’t put my finger on the way Nakahara behave, because his behaviors don’t add up much. Let’s say he came to the place to harass Dazai (which in the end turns out that Dazai was expecting it), he then broke out the chains, fight with our main character, intended to kill him, but then was “blackmailed” so he would give Dazai information, frees the guy and “walks and talks like little rich girl”. The character of Nakahara has absolutely no consistency here. I understand that he held Dazai in high regards, being his former partner and Nakahara understands the guy more than anyone else in Port Mafia. I would understand why he like to harass Dazai but go as far as killing him? Nah. I don’t believe it one bit (although tips off for nice visual), so there was no stake to raise here, indeed he couldn’t bring himself to kill Dazai which brings me to a next point: Why include that scene in a first place? It just seems like it was included to further demonstrate how awesome Dazai is. Everything falls into his plan (including how he was kidnapped in a first place). This, and the very awkward “walking and talking like a girl” bit, the show surely overplayed the superhuman, almost perfect Dazai and make every actions made by Nakahara incoherent.

The second part, though, is as entertainment as Bungou Stray Dogs can get. But still I don’t see the point of Kunikida’s rescue here. How the hell would he thinks that yelling out Atsushi name (so all the people in the ship would hear) the best possible action? And he basically helps nothing except being there for Atsushi to jump as well? So why include him again? Well anyway, the fight between Akutagawa and our main character is great, and it’s really great to see Atsushi can perform his gifts at will and gets better and better at fighting. There are many nice visual in a fighting sequences and the choreography is excellent as well. All that and the reveals of a bigger, more bad-ass boss (F. Scott Fitzgerald, can you believe that?) made a nice touch to the series (I would never think they include writers outside of Japan) and set up nicely to the conflict of second season of the series. Anyway, I like to see more on the conflict between Port Mafia and the Agency so here’s hoping the last few episodes can deliver on that.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 3 June 2016 with categories: Bungou Stray Dogs, Currently Watching:

I have a strong mixed feeling towards this week’s episode of Bungou Stray Dogs. While structurally, this presents Bungou Stray Dogs at its best, it has a major flaw, A FATAL BLOW, that could potentially damage the show. The show establishes its most confident pacing ever, by slowing things down on the first half to really focus on the relationship between Atsushi and the new girl, Kyouka. This provides a great break after we had so many explosions and fighting the last couple of weeks. This is a time for a slower, tender moment to flesh out our characters and heighten their relationship. It helps that Kyouka is among one of the best characters the show ever written, the way she’s grounded: she’s well aware of her loneliness and her crimes, yet she strives for someone who could understand her. The art designs, in addition, bright with so much creativity this week. The use of strong color: dark red, green, resembles many of classical painting, but to put them in a modern context – especially this week when they showcase the various attractions of Yokohama – makes it a unique production. This art designs feel like an essential component of Bungou Stray Dogs. I have never seen any other shows that Yumiko Kondo (the art director) contribute apart from this one, but she surely has my full attention now. The music remains strong this week, with a rather unusual choice again, but surprising fitting, in a sequences where Atsushi get attacked by the Port Mafia. Rather than using the thrilling score, in that particular scene the show goes for a much slower, tender score to express the lost feeling of Kyouka. The second half of this episode the show rushes thing off into its action mode and this would be our main climax of the whole first season, especially will be a big fight off between our main lead Atsushi and Akutagawa, both of them connected to Dagai as their upperclassman.

But there is one issue that the show unfortunately stumbles on, and I do think this is a serious issue, that is the inconsistency of the characters. This inconsistency had happened before in Bungou Stray Dogs, in an episode where Dagai, Atsushi and Kunikida witnessed several victims were gassed in an abandon hospital. Now with Kunikida’s personality, a rather self-righteous man who lives by his “ideal”, there is no way he’s not shooting the glass down, regardless if the glass is bulletproof or the gas will spread out. He would not even think about it, just shoot it. Again in this episode, the huge leap of personality happens when the Agency was informed that Atsushi has been abducted, and guess what Kunikida’s acting? He’s babbling about the Agency’s current “important” ministry job, which is strange because in this very morning he still has time to go out for lunch, and worse of all he and Ranpo actually look for reasons no to help Atsushi out. I know that the show has downplayed this part and it seems like this part is a vehicle for the President to involve and shows that the President cares for our rookie member, but the show could do that better without selling out any other characters. Consider Kunikida behaving at that moment with him in the end of the episode where he rushing out to rescue our main lead, this feel almost like a betrayal. Dagai being kidnapped and others don’t seem to care at all strikes as another inconsistency for me, I know he would take good care of himself without any help but I really feel like the cast just don’t care because the show don’t want them too, because it would help to move the story faster or some other rubbish. Another glaring example is when Kunikida raising an unnecessary stake with a remark “Once he’s outside of the country, we can’t touch him”. How the heck outside of the country impossible for them to rescue Atsushi? This is an Armed Detective Agency with gifted people for god shake, and I don’t understand why only him and not the whole Agency going to rescue him? It’s simply just because the show don’t want them too. I can get pass their shaky pacing because as of now it’s kinda Bungou Stray Dogs thingy, but if the characters keep acting so inconsistent like this, I would mark the show down rather harshly.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 27 May 2016 with categories: Bungou Stray Dogs, Currently Watching:

I have to say more than anything this is Bungou Stray Dogs’ special episode, in a sense that in one hand, the show produces one of its most brilliance ever, but on the other hand, there are still many shortcomings along with the greatness, producing an episode that mostly entertainment but uneven. The introduction of the two main antagonists; for example, highlights this unbalance. Kyouka the silent girl might be one of the most interesting character we have for a while, mainly because it has something to do with her not being over the top (compared to other characters of this series of course). Her motives and actions are both mysterious and grounded. Her lines admittedly feel very unnatural, but there is a hint of sadness behind those words. Motojirou the bomber terrorist, on the other side of the spectrum, is just loud and plain. He’s always in the destroy/talking nonsense mode so it’s hard to remember fondly of him. It might come as a cliché but for an action show there must be someone who crazy about bombs huh?

Now let’s get to the great parts of the show. The first thing that stands out in this episode is the music. The music of the show has always been very consistent, but this week it takes a step further. In a bombing sequence, the score goes to unsettling and nausea territories, which actually very fitting to the chaos and the nausea of the crowd. The visual, especially in the action scenes, are pretty amazing to watch. Furthermore, this show has always put extra effort to create a feel for its settings, and this week’s train setting surely doesn’t disappointed. It has a very distinctive feel and a lot of personality. The writing this week takes a rather new approach as well. They don’t go for their usual crime investigating, there is no usual gags about suicide attempts and there is even no interaction between Dagai and Atsushi. All that actually helps to make the story much leaner this week. For once I like the way Atsushi acts this week as he really stands up for himself and fight, and comes out of his own to try saving a girl. This is a kind of development I like to see from him, so I expect more of that in the future episodes.

But not all of this episode is in rose color though. The story runs so fast that more often than not it feels forced, the way our main leads were in the train when all of this incidents happened. Even many of innocent people had to die to “prove the point”. Bungou Stray Dogs, you have to care more about people, they don’t just die for the shake of dying ya get it? Our character this week, Dr. Yosano, comes out as a mixed bag too. When she’s not being creepy by telling how she enjoys “curing” people, she possesses a more attentive side (like when she checks out Atsushi’s leg), but sadly she’s over the top most of the time. Her gift “Thou Shalt Not Die” was revealed to heal a person, but with a condition that the wounds have to be lethal, which comes to a rather illogical part, where she healed herself after a ton of bombs were dropped on her. The way I see it her body would explored well before she has a chance to use her ability. The bomber terrorist as mentioned earlier come off as very one dimensional. In all, I’d say I’m happy with the direction the show heading for now, hopefully it can overcome its shortcoming, especially in its character-writing, because when they do it right, we have a bunch of really solid character’s development.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 21 May 2016 with categories: Bungou Stray Dogs, Currently Watching:

This week the plot revolving the Azure King was resolved and it raises the conflict of sense of justice between Dazai and Kunikida. Like what I suspected last week, all the new characters are in play in this episode and now I get the hang of Bungou Stray Dogs storytelling now. The new characters will get introduced, have a little bit of introduction, serve to move the plot or supporting the cast, and then get discarded very quickly and I doubt that we would hear from them again. Case in point, in this episode, Rokuzou the hacker and Sasaki the victim appear in the climax, when both of them manage to shoot each other and die, and “it was the only possible outcome”. How ridiculous is that? There are many ways where they can resolve the problem without any single one dying, or maybe I’m not that deep to understand that bit. These new characters, sadly function like a plot device to move the story forward than a real person. I will put that aside for now, because after all, their very existence is just to advance the plot and put more depth into our main characters.

But judging on advancing the plot, the action moves very fast to the point we don’t have time to process all the plot development. There will be few hints but either it’s too obvious (like when Sasaki mentions her soulmate), or too inconsistent (remember that Sasaki is the mastermind behind planting the bomb, so when the agency found out about the location of the bomb in front of her, common sense would be her tries to prevent or slow down the process, right?). Moreover, some elements just appear so randomly, like the usb that luckily contains all the necessary information, or Rokuzou shows up to the scene, or the fishing tackle store (how on earth would WE figure that out?). No this plot development moves so hurriedly that it becomes, quite frankly, a mess.

In the character’s development area, it is interesting to raise the difference of how Dazai and Kunikia view of justice. They are both have very different personalities and I believe Dazai does all that out of worry that Kunikida’s ideal and sense of justice, and a bit of guilt over the Azure King case would one day consume him. But that in itself is not the right way to treat Kunikida. For all thing, Kunikida has to learn it by himself. He has a lot more to prove and I expect to see more of this angle in the next episodes. Next week look to be more interesting as it is now Yosano’s turn, along with a new girl in red. Sounds like a promising episode to me.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 13 May 2016 with categories: Bungou Stray Dogs, Currently Watching:

This week Bungou Stray Dogs spends its time to focus on another side character, this time it is Kunikida that has a chance to shine. Out of all of our supporting characters, Kunikida is the one that has the most screen time. He appears in every single episode so far, but sadly, he was also one of the most one-note character.  Before this week all we know from him was he’s a very uptight, self-serious person. He obsessed with his book “ordeal” because he believes his future, his plan… are all written down there. He was also very fond of Dazai, despite they having a completely opposing personalities. All these straits are fine on its owns, but they were mostly played for laugh. This week, however, we learn an interesting backstory that shed a new light into his character. He believed he was responsible for the death of five detectives in a bombing known as the Azure Flag Terrorist Incident, so he still takes his time to look over for Taguchi, a hacker genius type and one the detective’s son. This is a nice development for Kunikida and I really hope the show keeps digging into that direction. On side note I actually think the joke on Dazai worked this time, maybe because he is not rambling about any of suicide method, but just gets so high and talks nonsense. But what a whimsical nonsense.

The actual case for this week is uneven at best. The case was set up until the stakes got so high, and then things were resolved rather quickly and quite unconvincing. I still think the set up part is impressive though. We got introduced to the missing case, and then found our way up to the abandoned hospital. The setting itself has a creepy and tense atmosphere, which is a nice touch from the show. We then witness a girl who nearly drowned in a fish tank, and then a bunch of other victims were gassed right in front of them. This was a nice set up with so much tension, unfortunately the other half was very inconsistent. In process of investigating the case, there are only two characters that have a role in the case: one is the female victim Sasaki, and the other is the taxi driver. And guess what, turns out the taxi driver is the kidnapper. This conclusion is jumpy, there are very little clues to actually figuring out the true culprit here. And worse the case turned out to be just a setup for next episode, and the kidnapper turns out to be controlled by the Port Mafia, which all are ridiculous. But at least we then have an amazing fight so I’ll complain no more. Now when I think about that maybe miss Sasaki will have a role in the next episode as well, because why not?

So in the end, in terms of plot development, this episode is a mess. The pacing is never a strong suit of Bungou Stray Dogs and it again shows in this episode. The character development, on the other hand, was on point and I really much hope for the show to follow that direction. Next week we get to the actual bombing case and we might learn who the Azure King is.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 6 May 2016 with categories: Bungou Stray Dogs, Currently Watching:

Bungou Stray Dogs once again goes sidetrack this week, which means that this episode is a filler one and doesn’t advance the plot at all. The main rivalry between the Armed Detective Agency and Port Mafia; which I originally thought to be 4, 5-episodes arc, seems to stretch out until the end of this season, or the fall season for that matter, now that they announced that the second part will premier in this October. But with all that said, this is one of the best episode Bungou Stray Dogs have ever pulled off. Look, I’m a sucker of shows that care about characters. As long as a show can take their time to focus on character’s development and character’s interactions, I will be content with it. Back in previous few weeks, I had my concerns of the supporting characters being flat with some over the top traits, well this episode is an answer to that. In fact, I am fine if the rest of Bungou Stray Dogs go with this direction.

This week is all about Ranpo with his gift Ultra-Deduction, and he makes the best out of it. The murder case is simple enough to not distract the flow of the episode. Although the case itself isn’t really coherent when you think about it (like if the two were really couple, she should have realized sooner that the guy being controlled by Port Mafia), it makes up by its emotion core and further showcase the ability of Ranpo. Atsushi becomes a sidekick this week and this is for the better. In fact, Atsushi and Dagai interactions are not the strong part of the show (mainly because they would go to the usual banters of Atsushi feeling useless and Dagai bragging about suicide), but this week it’s working since they discuss about someone else, and give more lights about that character in the process. All of the usual gags are absent, and even the part about Dagai being stuck in the net and still going on about double suicide seems funnier this week.

Now into the best revelation of this week: Out of all the characters from Armed Detective Agency, Ranpo is the only one who doesn’t possess natural gifted. The word “gifted” in fact always baffled me. Gifted means that the person have an exceptional talent, but isn’t it matter if one who does not have it to begin with turns out to be talented? People with gifted usually take their ability for granted, so they just don’t know or care that other people have to try hard to reach that level. This is demonstrated well in Ranpo. Because he is not a natural gifted, he had to try harder to become what he is now and his skill now is far more powerful than any natural gifted peers. Another thing is that “gifted” alone is not what makes them great, it is really a combination of:

”Ten percent luck, twenty percent skill.

Fifteen percent concentrated power of will.

Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain.

And a hundred percent reason to remember the name”

~SuperMario~

Posted on 29 April 2016 with categories: Bungou Stray Dogs, Currently Watching:

Bungou Stray Dogs sure never get tired to showcase more new characters every week, and judging from the OP I’m certain that there are more to come. This week there are 3 more new faces and each of them is over the top in their own ways, but that turns out to be for good reason. I feel the pacing in this episode is very unstable, it was too slow at first (mostly because of the dialogues and the overused flashbacks), and then way too fast in the climax scene (we just got introduced with the villains, and then they proceeded to have a big fight with the Agency, who we didn’t have enough time to care about to begin with), but that turns out to be for good reason as well. See, because there is a twist: The Agency are all overpower human being who can easily take down the raids like a piece of cake. The twist works and for once I liked the way they built things up for that climax.

Atsushi, however, has been in an “I’m a burden to everyone” mode for 4 weeks in a row. I don’t see the point the series keep making that Atsushi truly belongs to the Agency. We already know that at the end of the first episode. Here we are now, in its 4th episode, still stuck with that same note (Atsushi cried because he felt he is in the right place). We need to move on man! I will keep this aside for now, but if in the next episodes we still see Atsushi being insecure or that orphanage’s flashbacks again, it will truly drag the show down. I would love for our main character to grow but he will need to be more substantial in order for us to care for him. Being in the same mode will not help of course.

Now this is clear that Bungou Stray Dogs going to be an action comedy show (forget about the supernatural stuffs, they feel more like an action ability anyway) and that lays many problems within Bungou Stray Dogs: the comedy is not funny at all, the action is nice but is few and far between, the transition between comedy and action is awkward and unfortunately slows the show down. The main issue with the comedy, as I mentioned in previous weeks, is because of the repetition as they do nothing to flesh out the characters. Even good joke will get pale if it was told too many times. I hope the show can learn this lesson. It might not be an issue when the main storyline kick in but boys it sure takes its time. I would say Bungou Stray Dogs is at its best when the show focuses on action, with a bit of comedy on top.

In addition, I’m not quite fond with the real-life writers references as well. Sure it’s nice to catch some humors and personality traits based on their real-life counterparts, but the way I see it, it adds nothing to the story and the series could have been the same without all those literary references. In other words, there is no reason for it to be there (except perhaps for being STYLISH). On the last note, I originally thought Yosano would become a compelling character but the healing scene totally killed it for me. Well done Bungou Stray Dogs!!

~SuperMario~

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SuperMario
@anon877854: just finished ACCA episode and I agree that everything getting really interesting now. Review will come up soon.
Anonymous877854
Well I thought ACCA would dance around the truth for a few more eps but they had a bunch of big reveals this ep. Will be interesting to see where it goes from here.
AidanAK47
@Kaiser, Not too fond of really old vn games like those. They put up a presence of being point and click adventures. I have a hard time enjoying the stories when the "Gameplay" keeps killing the pacing. Big offender was Eve Burst error. Really couldn't enjoy that one at all.
Kaiser Eoghan
@Aidan: And policenauts, how about that one?
Kaiser Eoghan
Honestly I really don't mind all the side drama/romance in rakugo...in the longest time its been an anime that gave me feelings worth feeling.
Kaiser Eoghan
@Aidan: Would you in any way recommend snatcher (I think that counts as a visual novel) or is it a dated product of its time. On a side note I love the soundtrack.
Kaiser Eoghan
Case in this point I was blown away by utawerumono and chaos head when I was a less experienced viewer, nostalgia keeps poking at me to watch the sequels, but I just know chaos;child will be awful as will utawerumono 2.
Kaiser Eoghan
Hate when this happens, keep getting this itch to watch the followup to something I liked in the past but no full well I'd hate if I went back to it.
Kaiser Eoghan
Hopefully I'll make time for Irae and subahibi, don't know anything about clockwork. Ended up getting involved in what will likely turn into a business course soon.
AidanAK47
Some really great Visual Novels localised this year. Muv Luv Alternative, Sharin no Kuni, Dies Irae, SubaHibi and clockwork key line. It's good year to be a VN fan. Now I just need an update about Baldr Sky.
AidanAK47
Subarashiki Hibi is getting published by Front Wing. Hell goddamn yes. Finally I can read it and be traumatised for life.
Anonymous870083
mm okay thanks!
AidanAK47
@Anon1, Think you might just have to go with a torrent. It's pretty hard to find direct download anime these days.
Anonymous870541
the latest episode of rakugo just made my heart sank. i didn't think it would get better than it already is. i thank god that i didn't read ahead
Anonymous870083
does anyone know where I can download the remastered version of the Utena series? without torrent?
SuperMario
the same very thought here Lenlo. What I considered the weakest part turned out to be so layered. Sorry for ever doubting you, Rakugo.
Lenlo
And that smirk at the end, beautiful
Lenlo
The weakest plot point of S1 has just become the best part ever.
Lenlo
OOH MAN. I was not ready. The entire first season was all a setup. I cant. What. HOW DOES IT GET BETTER
Lenlo
Cant wait to watch Rakugo tonight, just got home and im lookin forward to it,.
AidanAK47
I think before grabbing the protest signs it might be worth considering if the thing you are demanding be uncensored is even worth it. Oh yeah, now you can see genitalia in crap sex scenes that were crow bared into the plot. No more need to use your imagination.
AidanAK47
Some protest because they want there porn. That I suppose I can understand even if I think they would be better off buying some nukige. But then there are those who demand it just for the sake of standing against censorship. They don't give a crap about the game or the fact we are getting the exact same thing the japanese got. What? Censorship of sexual organs? DOWN WITH CENSORSHIP!
AidanAK47
There are people actively proclaiming they won't buy the game, because they can't see dicks. That is not hyperbole. This is literally exactly whats happening here. And they just act so goddamn self righteous about it. Porn is not the goddamn point of these games. Shouldn't even be in them in the first place.
AidanAK47
So another Sekai Kickstarter is up for a trilogy of Visual novels called A Clockwork Ley-Line. Chipped in my bit as I am going to be buying this regardless but like goddamn clockwork you get the idiots yelling for Mosaic removal. No matter how I try to rationalize it, this just sounds stupid.
Kaiser Eoghan
Just whenever I think Rakugo may be dragging its feet it comes out a gives me three big strong moments in this weeks episode, you will know them when you come to them.
K-Off
Dubbing in more subdued performances work fine. It just becomes unbearable when it involves shouty dialogue, which idescribes most of the Japanese games I play.
Kaiser Eoghan
@Aidan: I think at the time it allowed Bagel (where did he go?) to find some exploit/gap in the sites security too.
SuperMario
I mean the spoiler code in the comment section. ^^. Like I don't mind if readers give (potential) spoilers but I don't want to ruin the fun of other readers as well
AidanAK47
After all it wasn't a intended feature of the old shoutbox. We were pretty much hacking the thing.
Kaiser Eoghan
I seem to remember all those old html codes stopped working on the old shoutbox too at one point.
Kaiser Eoghan
There was also originally an ability to animate text too of the shoutbox and have gifs appear in the message box but not as links.
AidanAK47
I remember some HTML code worked with the old shoutbox but nope. But I suppose you could change the colour of text to white...though that would effect everything you write.
SuperMario
Btw, do we have spoiler tag here Aidan?
SuperMario
@anon861679: Agreed. They have big ambitions, but they seems unsure on what to do next. I mean engaging your readers to give their thoughts is good, but if it is a mean for you to get inspiration to write essay about isn't that great. Well, give them say 6 months until they can settle down (they just launched this site for 3,4 months only)
Kaiser Eoghan
Despite being fine with anime in English, I've almost always felt that voice acting in videogames isn't as good.
Anonymous861679
Hey mario, that anime feminist blog was well, kind of awful. While they're well intentioned, it felt like they were pushing tumblr stuff onto chan stuff and that always ends up in a smoking mess.
SuperMario
Okay I'm going to erase my memories right now
SuperMario
I swear I'll stay off reddit for good. Have been spoiled by the development of ACCA by one of their "theory". As soon as I realized it's freaking spoiler I stopped but what done is done. Ahhhhhhhhhh
K-Off
Christ Fire Emblem Heroes is pretty addicting, micro transactions are not necessary at all. Though it irks me that I can't get Japanese voices. Dubs just make me cringe every time.
SuperMario
@ckspike: Hand Shakers, the very quality that makes you brain cells die while watching it. Well, I actually think the music is one of the best part of the show, now that you mention it like that...well...*slap my forehead*
ckspike
... my roommate just told me the background music when I'm watching Hand Shakers sounds like a bad porno... Now I can't unhear it. Fuck!
Lenlo
I havnt kept up with Academia, for some reason it just didnt catch me as well as the movie first did.
AidanAK47
You know what's funny? I thought little Witch Academia would be the hardest one to blog. Yet halfway into the current season and it's the one I write the most about.
Lenlo
I actually dont read many blogs. Mostly just this place and the occasional pop on reddit
Anonymous859067
I'd like to present to one of my favorite blogs, A work I just created: Greed Island! https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tc2r.greedisland
AidanAK47
I go to Reddit anime myself but I don't really like the upvote system. Basically the majority rule opinions get put to the top which more often than not are jokes.
HelghastKillzone
I listen to podcasts on youtube and others places as well as going on Reddit Anime to hear a thousand people yammering away.
Kaiser Eoghan
I irregularly follow the episode reviews on ANN and sometimes read standing on my neck. I fell out of the habit of following random curiousity.
SuperMario
Anime Feminist (animefeminist.com), while sounds ambitious on paper, hasn't been too hot unfortunately. I know they aim to be "big" so they're still figuring out how to do it best. Well, good luck for them!
SuperMario
Oh, I know I've mentioned this site before but you guys should read it (blog.sakugabooru.com), this site is one of the only few blogs that I actively subscribed to read their post. They have some insights to the anime industry that is very informative and inspiring
SuperMario
I also think that this chatbox here plays a great role to keep a fair amount of readers for the site, as many sometimes just come here to give their two cents on certain anime.
SuperMario
I just checked out rabujoi blof for the first time, (https://rabujoi.wordpress.com) and I think they're in pretty good shape. Content-wise are solid (as far as I read), and they update their post pretty regularly (comparing their amount of posts last month (80) to ours (28), ouch)
SuperMario
Just really wonder, what are other anime sites that you guys follow beside this? Well, ANN and RandomC are a given, but I found myself haven't bothered to read ANN's episodic reviews lately (mostly due to time constraint)
AidanAK47
Don't tell me this is gonna be a regular thing.
Lenlo
There we go
Lenlo
Oh god JSON objects. I thought that nightmare was over
SuperMario
Mine is working probably as well. Thanks a bunch K-Off and glad to hear back from you.
K-Off
No problem.
K-Off
I really need to figure out how to get those damn tooltips working again on the sidebar thumbnails. It'd be useful to have the descriptions popup.
AidanAK47
Cleared my cache and it looks to be fixed. Thanks as always K-Off. I would be completely screwed without you around.
K-Off
Alright I think that did it. Let me know if it pops up again. If you still see it, clear your browser cache and let me know if its still there.
AidanAK47
Messages still get sent. You just might have to reload the page. We are working on getting it fixed.
Vonter
AidanAK47 I can't get into Fate since like with Nanoha there's a lot of stuff with those names in it. Zero was the most straightforward, yet the buildup was very dragout but the payoffs where very worthy.
HelghastKillzone
testing message.
AidanAK47
This is what I get for updating the bloody plugin.....
AidanAK47
He finished it and was telling me what he thought of Saber defeating Gilgamesh. Minute he said that I was like "OH GOD..." He watched the Deen 2006 adaption. Sadly it loos like he's not going to bother watching UBW TV despite me showing him part of the berserker fight. With Fate/Extra, Fate/Grand Order, Fate/Apocrypha, Fate/Oath under the snow and all the rest this problem will happen again.
AidanAK47
You know I wish the Fate series did a better job naming it's series. I was introducing a newbie so I gave him Fate/Zero first. He loved it so I specifically told him to watch the UBW TV Series and don't mistake it for the movie. He then went and watched the movie. I told him to watch the TV series regardless and brought up the MAL page to show him which one.
Kaiser Eoghan
Ah, there's definately no harm in doing further reading on more arthouse stuff before reviewing it/watching/after watching, it extends our understanding and is pretty much required.
Kaiser Eoghan
@Aidan: Go for it, you might sell me on reading it.
Kaiser Eoghan
Yeah, I generally only write reviews every now and then, and they tend to be kept simple and to 200-300 words. My writing ability only really works when I write in stream of consciousness.
Anonymous855550
Zestiria is such a feast for the eyes... The colors and backgrounds are so vivid and magnificent. Story has improved on the game's weaknesses too!
Lenlo
Given enough time, im sure I could write something, but as I writer I tend towards quick, decisive statements of what I think and why. Engineer, so technical documents are like the only thing I know how to write.
Topgavin
@Supermario ah, I'd say I'm the opposite in that I sometimes don't know why I like something so much, and when I read a review about it I can relate my own experiences and put it in my own words pretty well. Can thank Highschool eco for that
SuperMario
But to tell you guys the truth, I never think that I'm cut out as a reviewer (even now), because I'm a type of viewer who more perceive (I know why I like/ don't like stuffs) than express (just can't never explain stuffs well)
SuperMario
@Topgavin: it's depending on what grabbing you really; as I always find shows with heavy symbolisms like Penguindrum or Flip Flappers the easiest to dig deeper. But those are always my kind of show to begin with
Topgavin
I'd find it really hard to write something about a show without reading about it first; watching it one time by myself I usually only notice the big things. Stuff like Flip Flappers I had no clue what half the episode's hidden meanings were, can't imagine reviewing a show like NGE or penguindrum.
SuperMario
that's exactly how I write my reviews anyways
Lenlo
I cant imagine writing a review, id just repeat myself with different words but the same intended meaning over and over again
AidanAK47
Wonder if I should write a review of this. Might be hard without giving too much away.
AidanAK47
(Finishes Sweetest monster Visual novel)
.....well....fuck.
(Buys all authors visual novels on steam.)
Lenlo
Sadly, I doubt Nioh will get a PC port. Sony is pretty stingy on their exclusives, like Bloodborne. But I am so very happy with Nioh. I love technical combat like this
Kaiser Eoghan
I suppose this means I'm looking into this rpg maker game thing now isn't it? Might aswell.
Kaiser Eoghan
I remember the word animerican used to describe things like avatar last airbender. Filthy word =P
Anonymous853606
God no. Jiro Taniguchi died.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, I have been hearing very good things about Nioh. Really hoping it gets a PC port.
@Topgavin, No real surprises there.
Topgavin
I'm sure most of you have heard, but looks like New Game is getting a season 2 out of all things. Apparently they had good sales, and I can certainly see why. CGDCT with yuri undertones and clean animation is hard to get wrong, let alone not sell.
Lenlo
Just started with Nioh, and oh my goodness do I love it.
Anonymous852887
anyone play resident evil 7? its so good.
AidanAK47
Thought that's because the term American Anime just feels wrong to me on all levels.
AidanAK47
@Anon, they do not. They are cartoons.
Anonymous852775
DO people call D.C. Comics animated movies American anime?
AidanAK47
@Anon, I am certainly interested in seeing the next episode. Those minisodes were pretty good too. One thing I thought the writting faltered on though was the comedy. It really was a little too slapstick considering how serious the drama was.
SuperMario
@Lenlo: ah remind me the time I went to Texas (Corpus Christy) before X-mas time and I was wearing short pants and thongs (nice!!!), then went all the way up to Niagara Falls and I was almost freezing there.
Lenlo
See, I love winter, but its almost non-existent in Texas
Anonymous852268
@Aidan: I agree. I loved To the Moon. It's so good seeing emotional drama that isn't centered around high-school kids. Seeing the ups and downs of a whole long life of a person gives everything that happens way more impact.
Kaiser Eoghan
@Mario: An Australian friend put it as "A sunbaked rock in summer, a giant zoo, that actively tries to kill its population"
SuperMario
Not that I'm enjoying the winter either. Why autumn always go so fast?
SuperMario
Believe me but summer here is way too much. When it's too hot and dry it starts bushfiring really badly. And it's too hot that even a big fan straight in front of you don't do you any good
Kaiser Eoghan
What is this mysterious creature known as summer you refer to? =P My country is grey as a black and white film =P
SuperMario
I'm wondering how freezing you guys have to endure right now, but the place I came today in Aussie just reached 50 degree celsius this noon. So hot I felt myself burning
Lenlo
I think the part I liked the most, was just how satisfying those mud splatter sounds were. I dont know why, but its in my head
HelghastKillzone
Youjo Senki 6 subs came out at 11pm PST.
Lenlo
Atleast Rakugo didnt get held up. Still amazing as ever
AidanAK47
Well I spent my time waiting for it to come out by playing and finishing To the Moon. Got to say, it takes some real skill to make a game in RPGmaker that can make you really feel something. But maybe I am just a sucker for this kind of story.
SuperMario
Hey, I would be very frustrating if Hand shakers got delayed. But I agree this delay is caused by Being X. And Scum's Wish, haizzz, this is the show we love to get pissed at. Haha
Anonymous850298
I blame Being X.
AidanAK47
Sigh, Youjo Senki 6 is delayed. Why is it always the best shows that get delayed? If an episode of hand Shakers was delayed no one would give a crap but nope. Gotta be the show you want to watch right away.
AidanAK47
@Anon, in both anime and manga I never liked that character much.
Anonymous849783
Meh, dropped Masamune-kun. Seriously why do they always have to shove in these one dimensional characters with a crush out of f* nowhere. It never made any of these shows more interesting, it's always the opposite.
Vonter
@Kaiser Eoghan - I find it weird having the teacher being so unashamedly evil. In a way I like that, but at the same time I can't relate to the notion of people like that existing IRL.
Kaiser Eoghan
As I continue to watch scums wish, it becomes an anger inducing as much as it is engrossing experience.
AidanAK47
Or the UBW movie over the TV series. You just don't do that.
AidanAK47
That's like recommending someone to watch NGE death and rebirth instead of the TV series.
Kaiser Eoghan
Meh, I just got fed up with the padding in the tv version.
AidanAK47
Jojo has the kind of entertainment that clicks with you or doesn't so I understand if you didn't get into it. Though to give it a fair chance I would recommend trying the first episodes of Battle Tendency. It starts at episode 10 of the first season, you can jump to it. If that doesn't catch you then Jojos really isn't for you.
AidanAK47
Don't listen to Kaiser. The OVA is bad.
Kaiser Eoghan
....found out where a friend had been off to lately, making a movie and he ended up actually making and finishing and I got first dibs. Had a hard time commenting on it as I know the guy personally.
Kaiser Eoghan
@Mario: Totally with you on the academy thing.
@Lenlo: If you ever try jojo again and get onto part three go for the ova instead as it trims down an overly bloated arc.
Lenlo
For JoJos, I couldnt get through the first season. It just didnt hook me
Lenlo
What I dont understand is how anything other than Mob Psycho won best animation, cause my god.
Lenlo
I think Erased lost not because of the libido, but because Yuri was "gay" and "progressive" and most important of all, recent. Yuri had just finished airing so it was stuck in everyones heads. Of course it was going to win everything
AidanAK47
Erased truly deserved to win that category and it only lost because people voted with their libido instead of their head.
AidanAK47
If there's one thing that really makes me angry about these awards it's Yuri on Ice winning most heartwarming moment for "The Kiss". Because A) It wasn't a fucking kiss and B) Even if it was that isn't heartwarming. Oh I am sure something is getting warm but it sure as hell isn't your heart.
AidanAK47
Likely the main reason Kira didn't win main villain because Jojo has grown to a episode count which makes people hesitant to pick it up. Not to mention many would lose interest by Stardust crusaders midpoint.
AidanAK47
When it comes to judging quality you have to leave it to the people who have experienced enough of the medium to truly be able to critical judge it. Pretty darn sure most who voted didn't even bother watching everything worthwhile each season and just gravitated towards whatever they were exposed to.
AidanAK47
Lets not forget someone voting multiple times and bot voting. Because yes, people really do that. As you two pointed out, a public vote was never truly going to be a accurate gauge of quality. For you are not only opening the vote to anime lovers but also newbies and those who simply haven't refined their tastes yet.
SuperMario
so they either abstained their votes (which actually was reasonable); voted for something popular or even voted based on what their kids liked the most (which was flat out unforgivable).
SuperMario
This from my own frustration mostly when it comes to awards like this. But I've been following the Academy Awards for way too long now and every now and then you heard something that really disheartened about their voting process. Like for example many of the Academy members admitted that they don't care to watch anything animated because... it's kiddy stuff
SuperMario
TL;DR: my point is I have mixed feeling about the whole Crunchyroll awards. One more thing that I noticed about the nomination is that the pool was dominated by shows from the first half of last year.
Lenlo
I dont think public voting is the way to go is the thing. Popularity contests are horrible. With popularity contests moe is going to be near the top every time, while shows like Rakugo never really have a chance. And I think there is little doubt that Rakugo was one of the best shows last season
SuperMario
@Lenlo: there is an issue with the first thou, because reviewers like us don't actually represent the whole public opinions. So it's all come down to the very reason they create an award in a 1st place (your second point). But with voting we can't really reason why the winners win the trophy, right?
Lenlo
The problem with awards like that is for them to mean anything they need 2 things. 1) A board of voters who are actual reviewers who have watched a large portion of what was on shelf that season. 2) Reasons for why each thing won its award. An award without reasons means nothing
SuperMario
Other issue about voting for these awards is that the nominating body and the voting body aren't always the same. Usually the voting body is broader and more generic in taste, so I'm not at all surprised when shows like Rakugo couldn't win. Too art-house for their liking. Well, at least it got nominated which for me is good enough.
SuperMario
That's the thing. When it comes to awards, they are more 'popularity' contest than actual quality, since people tend to vote for the safer choice (the one that are both popular and mildly critical success), YOI fits the bill here.
Lenlo
Those awards were not the best and little more then a popularity contest imo.
SuperMario
Actually with that line-up I had no problems with YOI taking the top spot
SuperMario
I actually forgot about the Crunchyroll Anime Awards so I came to check the winner. Guess which show won AOTY huh? Alright, at least it wasn't Kabaneri or Jokers Game
Kaiser Eoghan
But the best one was Mask of Phantasm.
Kaiser Eoghan
@Aidan: And return of the joker also.
Kaiser Eoghan
It has aged admittedly very poorly, but I always got a great kick out of that old 1994 spiderman cartoon.
Kaiser Eoghan
@Mario: I think its fair to use the term K-anime or C-anime for the Korean and Chinese influenced stuff, or maybe just anime would be just as appropriate. If some Argentinian guy can write/draw a manga for a Japanese manga magazine (big comic superior thats the magazines name) and have it actually be called a manga, it should be the same for China/Korea.
Lenlo
Mhmm. Marvel had the movies, but DC had the animated series
AidanAK47
Man, I loved the villains of Batman Beyond. Inque and Shriek had such interesting powers. The DC animated shows tended to be the one that didn't treat you like a kid while watching.
Lenlo
Well, they released a trailer for Samurai Jack S5, so its coming. Batman Beyond I also enjoyed
AidanAK47
Ah Samurai Jack. Wonder how that Adult swim revival is going? Batman the Animated Series as well didn't need Batman to crack off jokes every minute to be great.
Lenlo
Agreed. Samurai Jack was one of my favorite cartoons for that very reason. It ran the gamut of genres, each episode being something different.
Also I used Nichijou cause it was the first to come to my mind as a "Kids Show", though Love-Ru works as well
AidanAK47
One thing I think Cartoons could do to move away from the stigma of being for kids is having more genres than Comedy and Action adventure. Or at least stop putting comedy in everything.
Total users: 24

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