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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Anonymous951955
We'll see; trailers can give false impressions
Anonymous951955
Not that all changes from source adaptations are terrible, but in this case, at least the trailer makes it look pretty bad.
Anonymous951955
It looks not great; I understand the need to change it a bit to suit the format/audience, but at what point does it turn from adaption to "loosely based on"?
HelghastKillzone
I'm glad we're past the phase of moe club shows.
AidanAK47
@Helghast, now that's something I never thought I would hear.
HelghastKillzone
Hell ya. We are in a golden age of anime that is filled with options and quality.
Anonymous951809
What a great week! Iron Blooded Orphans, Onihei, Little Witch Academia and ACCA 13 all had great episodes! I am spoiled!
Anonymous950847
@Anon and @Aikan

The LoGH manga remake has been out. It did not work for me.

I hope he anime goes its own way. I do trust Production IG, so I hope. I think it might not be this year. No lgoic, just a hunch.
AidanAK47
@Anon, Only info I can find is that it's coming out this year and it will be by Production IG. But I think you are right in that if it;s coming this year it will definitely be winter.
Feeling rather cautious about the remake myself. LoGH is dated visually but in a way it is a product of it's time and things you could forgive in the old version wouldn't be so forgivable in the new.
Anonymous949997
Does anybody know when that LoGH readaptation is coming? It's supposed to be this year right? Probably winter right?
SuperMario
But I will give it a full review anyways because all the amount of time I spent in that series should be paid off somehow, right?
Kaiser-Eoghan
But serious Gohands is a studio that had potential its just a shame its wasted on rubbish writers. Although I did like mardock scramble, because cyberpunk =)
Kaiser-Eoghan
If I met handshakers in public I'd refuse to shake its hand =D
SuperMario
Oh, it's actually just an extra Hand Shakers episode that serves as a prequel story. Not that bad then
SuperMario
Not to disregard Hand Shakers, but the best way to describe how I feel about that series is mind-numbing
Kaiser-Eoghan
They tried with that Military guy and his daughter but not by much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But I do agree that there needs to be more to the characters, right now its JUST Tanya.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As for Tanya, having caught up with it, its a nice trashy guilty pleasure, especially due to the protagonist and I enjoy the setting because I'm a war film fan and like some of the action/politicking. I still do wish it was aesthetically a bit better. The dub isn't that bad and I'd welcome a second season.
Kaiser-Eoghan
In an ideal world Kino's journey would have been a good model for what light novel adaptations can be and SHOULD be.
Kaiser-Eoghan
If we must have more light novel adaptations, I would prefer them to be like Tanya, Muvluv, okay hardly breathtaking, but still better than that thing Aidan linked.
Lenlo
*Sigh* It looks exactly how I imagined it would and its terrible.
Lenlo
Please dont tell me thats an actual title.
AidanAK47
In another world with my smart phone light novel to get an anime.

Oh my god...This literally sounds like a joke title you would see within an anime. Tried giving it an honest chance by reading it and it's just shit. Just pure terrible.
AidanAK47
If people in Japan are actually buying blurays thinking its a good show then something is seriously wrong with the world.
AidanAK47
@Topgavin, maybe too many people watched it because it was so terrible. I haven't watched past episode 1 but it doesn't sound like it improved.
Topgavin
Just incase you guys were avidly waiting for the announcement, Hand Shakers is getting a prequel season because it's apparently selling well......
SuperMario
Should be happy for it, though I'm a bit disappointed that I can't be able to cover it
SuperMario
Inside Mari gets live-action series adaptation. Why not anime?? Duh
Spike
Little Witch Academia finally tips it's hand on the overall plot! I'm pretty pleased and think some direction might help bump it up from just being 'good' overall.
HelghastKillzone
@KTravlos Still watching it week by week and I'll write up a review on the second season of Iron-Blooded when it ends.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: It is however the kind of anime film that would have the wide audience appeal though, as in anime for people who don't watch anime.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: just prove that people has paid attention to anime. That's an encouraging sign actually
Kaiser-Eoghan
Feck, silent voice was booked out when I got there just now....should have booked in advance, showing at 7:00 on Friday booking it now.
SuperMario
@KTravlos: I haven't, but that more because I'm not a big fan of Mecha genre. I believe one of our writer HelghastKillzone still follow the series
KTravlos
No idea, if you are all still watching MS Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans. I am, and while the 2nd Season toned down some of the elements that made the 1st Season good, it is still pretty good with the last episode doing a great job. If it keeps it, it definitely is head to head with Turn A Gundam for my favorite long-form Gundam Series (I am doing Gundam Origins for the original story)
Lenlo
Mhmm. It was one of those shows it weave adult themes into a kids show, so it had something for both. Now I can also appreciate the artstyle that doesnt use hard black outlines for everything.
AidanAK47
If anything I get so much more out of Samurai Jack now than when I watched it as a kid.
Lenlo
Love that dude Aidan. And yes Kaiser, I think anyone get enjoy it now. I love that its back, but even without that its easily standing on its own
Kaiser-Eoghan
How much of this love of samurai jack is a nostalgia driven thing? I'm not knocking that nostalgia but would it be possible to get something out of the show now if I never watched it when I was younger?
Lenlo
Yeah, that conversation was great. Really shows you how messed up hes become. Its also amazing when you realize that was the last set of spoken dialogue in the episode. There was not a single word uttered in the second half.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The audience who enjoyed samurai Jack has grown up, them bringing up seppuku and blood is possibly a part of that.
AidanAK47
Scene with the coffins was awesome as was the fight in the dark. My personal favorite part of the episode though was Jack arguing with his old design self. And young jack suggesting committing seppuku made my eyebrows raise. I mean..damn.
Lenlo
I agree Aidan. That quick shot of Jack vs the Daughter, with the sudden blood, suprised me as much as it did Jack. I really loved the scene with the coffins. The music nad sound was just great there.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, It was a really great episode. I love the meta of Jack being worn down by the wait and the wait the viewers had to endure for the new season. I is rather odd seeing blood in Samurai Jack though but it does make that particular moment have so much more impact.
Topgavin
April 16th for NZ. It is a lesser known movie than Kimi no na wa though, so I do wonder how available it's going to be in cinemas
Lenlo
This second episode of Jack was really just amazing. Its making full use of the new budget/tech for the art and of the new rating, along with the impact the timeskip would have on Jack. The cinematography was superb as well.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: Koe ko machi will creen in Aussie in the beginning of April as well. I'll go to watch it; but I would love to jear your thoughts on the movie.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There is a preview screening of koe to kachi on Monday night, depending I may go, I may review it or at least talk about it on here.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm dying waiting for the Blame! anime film adaptation to come out in May. I've wanted an adaptation for years.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I'm too much of a cheap-ass to actually buy anything, don't even use legal streaming for films or anime/manga/comics, pirate almost everything.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or shelves for that matter.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I've fallen out of the collectors thing pretty much entirely. I don't like to advertise any of my interests on my bedroom wall either.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Some years ago I ended up selling almost all of my anime dvds/vhs and manga, comic books aswell, took down my posters and moved what figures I had left into attic boxes , just no space for it and it was a good way to get some quick extra cash.
Lenlo
I love Rakugo as well, im not meaning to bad talk it at all. I simply also agree with Aiden that slow rolling us with Yakumo's death was poorly done and that its feeling stretched.
Topgavin
Nevermind, the $30 price tag made that decision for me
Topgavin
Weird how I see $8 movies on youtube as a ripoff yet a $90 series as a bargain. All these $300 box sets made me think it'd be in the hundreds. Wonder if I should get rebellion too
SuperMario
I'm still pretty much a fan of Rakugo this season. It goes much darker than the first season, something I didn't dare to think before consider this isYotaro's story. Would love to see more about rakugo's industry but this season does flesh out a lot of our core characters
Kaiser-Eoghan
I said it before but I'll bring it up again, the slow pace allows for, when big things happen to have a larger impact when they do.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*In
**and(not on) waiting for the series to finish
Anonymous935946
Season 1 showed a lot more, different periods and times, the development of Rakugo, the tragedy of Sukeroku & Miyokichi (or at least one version). In contrast, season 2 was basically about Sukeroku's legacy in the form of Yotaro and Konatsu and their kids, and Yakumo's relationship with death, changing from fatalistic to happiness over the course of the series.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think it might be 13 episodes, the first season had 13.
Anonymous935946
To be honest, I understand your point: It's hard to actually describe what happened in season 2. I guess I became invested into Yakumo in season 1, and then warmed up to Yota and Konatsu in this season.
Anonymous935946
Yeah, I think they certainly could have compressed the front half of the season. There wasn't too much plot going on, but I enjoyed the characters and their interactions, so I didn't mind the deliberate pacing.
Lenlo
I still really like Rakugo, its really good, it just probably didnt need 12 episodes. That said, really lookin forward to the timeskip
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I've never actually seen any of Olivier Asayas' films come to think of it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But going back to that dragging on, that did factor in almost making me hold off on waiting for the series to finish before going back. The anon's comment was what got me to watch this weeks episode right now rather than waiting till later.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Rakugo remains at this point still going in too long, but in fairness to the anon, yes the episodes conclusion was effective on emotional level and I bought into the dreamy atmosphere, largely due to the good cinematography the series uses.
Lenlo
Really? Im torn. Im glad they didnt bait and switch us again, but I always liked how grounded Rakugo was so im not sure how ok I am with the supernatural part and some of it felt like fanservice in regards to bringing characters back. The VA though is fantastic as always and I am definitely looking forward to this last timeskip. Cant wait to see the kids grown up.
Anonymous935526
Rakugo was otherworldly today. Not going to lie, was fighting tears back, but failed at the end.
SuperMario
@Topgavin: the bluray goes by region as well so you can only buy it in Australia/NZ region (region 4). For Madoka I still find it easiest to just go to JB Hi Fi and buy it. Sometimes I find it cheaper from JB Hi Fi than even their original distribution company.
AidanAK47
@Topgavin, I ordered my Madoka bluray's from Amazon.co.uk.
Topgavin
Where do you guys buy your merch? Was looking into buying the Madoka blurays but can't find a reliable place to ship to NZ.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: nah, Personal Shopper isn't even a horror. It's just a failed arthouse that have little to say except grief.
SuperMario
...even now. For Raw, I would never expect the positive reactions from mainstream. I think the film really push the tolerance of the voewers, but it was a refrrshing watch.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: now you mentioned 2 films thay I really fond of. I come from Vietnam, so I could easily tell you that the settings are staged. The dialogue is pretty unnatural as well, but the movie grows a lot on me. I still love the striking visual and a long, slow mood the film evoke, and It speaks to one of the theme (women's identity in Vietnam society) that speaks well to me and still relevant...
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Is personal shopper really that mediocre a horror film?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I also got back from seeing Raw a couple of hours ago, though the violence was enjoyable I was expecting it to be more so, it was also surprisingly funny at times.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I did eventually see Scent of Green Papaya, while I did like that a plot actually did appear later on I was mostly content to find it a really pretty looking and generally relaxing film.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: =< Sorry that anon post was me, was using the work computer and didn't log in.
AidanAK47
@Anon, don't do that. Don't hint at future events and just let people see for themselves.
Anonymous930711
The glasses teacher in scum's wish will have an interesting moment to look out for in the coming episodes, I read on in the manga. Only one chapter left.
SuperMario
*ED instead of OD
SuperMario
@anon928813: usually they will release the music separately from the DVD/Blurays. I believed the OP had released last year, and according to their website the OD gonna release in 5th of April
Anonymous928813
Does anyone know the release date for Zaregoto's OST? Is it bundled with one of the BDs?
Kaiser-Eoghan
Y'know I'd like to see this Akane-sensei girl attempt to seduce me and just watch her fail at trying to do so.
Kaiser-Eoghan
My guess is that Miura will do another 6 or so chapter run then put it down for another while.
Lenlo
Im so happy Berserk Manga is starting up again, but im curious for how long. I remember sitting through that boat. I was there for all 7 years of it. Im like a hiatus vet now
Kaiser-Eoghan
Pretty much in agreement on titan where after what the first season covers I've pretty much been waiting for it to get back on track before I bother to get back to it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I should be catching up and sangatsu and acca.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I never saw kekkai sensens first season so there's little chance of me watching the sequel.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Berserk and Natsume I'll just stick with the manga. I don't know about Bahamut, it took me a few episodes to get into before it became fun, but then the ending was disappointing, again maybe there's room for improvement in season 2.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I would hope that eccentric families second season would be able to live up to the potential of building on the first. However it's been a while since I've seen season one, might need to refresh myself.
SuperMario
For the Spring season, it is a season of sequels. From sequels alone, I'll follow Berserk, Eccentric Family, BBB, My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, Natsume (is it the last season?), How to Raise a Boring girlfriend. I dropped Shingeki no Bahamut after 3 episodes, but might pick it up again before the new season begin.
SuperMario
Before that, Utena and Haruhi.
SuperMario
Gotta love the extend a passionate fan would go. The last time I felt passionate about something anime-wise was Monogatari as there was a period of several months that I watched nothing but that series, and rewatched and rewatched. It just clicked with me personally at that stage of my life.
Lenlo
At this point, ill watch/read anything with Berserk on it. I already own all of the original print runs of the Manga. If I had the money, I would buy everything else.
SuperMario
@Lenlo: I'll be on the same boat with you regarding Berserk. I know I CAN ENDURE it (finger crossed)
Lenlo
Man, your season preview reminded me I soon have to watch another season of CGI Berserk. Im not going to like it, but its a trial I must go through as a hardcore Berserk fan.
Lenlo
Im glad they didnt lose the funny robots in their pursuit of the Grimdark
Lenlo
That flute into Skatman-like singing was great
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, I had the biggest smile when Jack destroyed the robots flute and he started singing with his mouth. Looking at clips of the show on youtube I don't think I appreciated just how funny this show was. Also digging Jacks PTSD and the daughters of Aku.
Lenlo
Dude has problems and I loved the singing robot
Lenlo
Have to say, enjoyed seeing Jack again.
Lenlo
Thanks Aidan! Cant wait to watch it tonight
Kaiser-Eoghan
Well I suppose it is moreso samurai Jack wasn't really a large part of my childhood.
AidanAK47
Don't know how it is for security but I never really had trouble with it.
Lenlo
Love me some Samurai Jack though
Lenlo
It may just be Malwarebytes actin up. Ill look into it and if its a false flag check it out.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I never really had any opinion of samurai Jack when it was airing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Oh I'm enthusiastic about Kino season 2, but I want to be cautiously optimistic just in case.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But has anyone read on in the Kino novels to confirm that a second season would have good material to work with, would it fall prey to the light novel curse that apparently many of then weaken by the third volume?
Kaiser-Eoghan
The only issue I've found with kiss is that, in firefox at least, sometimes it slows down my browser but only now and then. Never had any trouble with viruses or mal/spyware on it. Though it won't allow adblock =<
SuperMario
@Aidan: I was surprised at Kino's Journey news as well. Yay for having a new season!!
SuperMario
I have no problem with kiss whatsoever regarding virus. Hehe then try to catch it at Toonami
Lenlo
Yeeeah, sorry, my anti-virus isnt that big a fan of kiss.
SuperMario
You can watch it online at kisscartoon, of course at your own risk ^^
Lenlo
I really want to watch the new Samurai Jack season, but I cant catch it when it airs and dont know where to find it otherwise
AidanAK47
Plan on getting the spring season Preview up today or Tommarrow. Things basically written up so it's just a matter of getting it to look right on the site.
AidanAK47
Who here is watching the new season of Samurai Jack? That first episode hit me hard with nostalgia. It's like he never left.
AidanAK47
Spice and Wolf season 3 may not be so impossible after all. Or hell even a Spice and wolf full remake, FMA Brotherhood style.
AidanAK47
Holy crap, Kino's Journey is getting a new anime. Never thought that would happen. Sweet.
Lenlo
Art was great, sound was great, an argument could easily be made for 9/10. Its just cohesive story and efficient use of episodes means alot to me. I kinda had to actively remind my self to watch after ep 6 and then binged 10+.
Lenlo
8.5/10. I really liked the start, the middle kinda lagged plot wise for me which is always my most important metric, and the last 3-4 episodes were great.
SuperMario
@Lenlo: how would you rate it?
SuperMario
@Lenlo: it's the middle part that I completely fell in love with. Well, guess that everyone have different taste huh?
Lenlo
So finally finished Flip Flappers. Had it on my to do list since last season. It ended pretty well imo, but the middle lagged for me in places.
AidanAK47
HXH does pull off drama well but one thing that annoys me is how it builds up these big confrontations just to have them fizzle out. An anticlimax may be unexpected but in some case it would be more satisfying to just have things play out predictably.
Lenlo
And it did it better than Naruto, which had 7 years to pull that off.
Lenlo
I think one of the reasons HxH pulled it off so well, is because the first like 100 episodes built up to it. It pulled off the slow transition of basic shounen to well developed drama sort of thing very well. It slow rolled us basically.
Topgavin
Since when did HxH become a feels trip show? ep135 just ruined me, and did it better than actual 'feels trip' shows because of how unexpected and masterfully executed it was. The Chimera ant arc may have been slow, but by itself it was very FMA:B reminiscent with the huge character cast, amazing execution and the conflict in antagonists and humans and their values/morals.
SuperMario
@KAiser: oh man, you remind me again that I need to watch Bela Tarr's films. I remember one of the blogger was frustrated at the Turin Horse for "showing the pot of boiled potato for 10 minutes". I was cackling hard with his comment.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: The realist genre in general really clicks with me, the neo-realist movement, can't get enough of it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Selish giant, ratcatcher and fishtank, maybe even gummo might be other good example of social realist stuff.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Bela Tarr did two accessible films in his early career called Prefab people and family nest which had a social realist feel to them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I've seen Kathy come home, Daniel Blake, Kes and wind that shakes the barley, of those Kathy and Daniel were the most emotional rewarding but being Irish it was very easy to connect with wind that shakes the barley. But yes I agree (as would my father) that Loach loves to "announce everything" or turn everything into a speech.
SuperMario
I've heard good things about Lorna's Silence as well
SuperMario
so do you watch Ken Loach? admittedly I just watched his I, Daniel Blake and it was solid, but a bit too much "message" for my taste
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I'm fond of that kitchen sink/social realist type of drama in general.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Yes! I finally actually properly registered my name on here!
@Mario: I've seen Rosetta, L'enfant and le Promese, two days one night, very moving and affecting films. My eye is on Lorna's silence , but I haven't seen kid with the bike, so I'll give that a look.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: fair enough, although for me I never really care about the dub version. Always prefer the Japanese voices :)
SuperMario
They have such a simple, yet direct handheld film making styles, so simple that many accused them for being amateurish.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I actually watched a handful of Dardenne's works so I can give you my recommendation. Rosetta for me is their best, L'Efant, The Kid with a Bike and 3 Days 2 Nights are all excellent; with their latest The Unknown Girl was a slightly letdown
KaiserEoghan
@Mario: Acca is quite slow and wordy, so I will wait for the English dub.
KaiserEoghan
@Mario: Might check out some more of the Dardenne’s works soon.
KaiserEoghan
@Mario: Yes, I also agree that Erdmann was largely more of a drama, though the balance between comedy and drama was masterful.
Total users: 29

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