Posted on 22 April 2016 with categories: Bungou Stray Dogs, Currently Watching:

This week Bungou Stray Dogs had improved a lot over its last episode, probably because the main storyline has kicked in. Look, I’m always in favor for character developments more than plot development, and one of my favorite character development is through the small character moments when the cast interacts with each other. That’s why I like KyoAmi a lot because they nailed those moments and made the characters such a joy to watch. Bungou Stray Dogs, on the other hand, is one of those rare times that I would recommend the opposite. The times they spend talking together is the weakest part of this episode. They spend times do the gags that we already know: Atsushi being shy, Junichiro keeps feeling sorry for Atsushi, Naomi keeps dominating Junichiro, Dazai keeps talking about suicide and Kunikida keeps getting furious over Dazai. And those gags were not even funny to begin with.

Things really got geared up after that, when a woman (Higuchi) showed up with a request for the organization, which ends up being a trap. While I see a lot of issues on the series’ character interactions, it’s actually the main storyline where Bungou Stray Dogs shines. The pacing is much faster and more entertainment, but more importantly, the action part sheds a new light to those characters that we haven’t had a chance to see before: Junichiro can become uncontrollable mad if someone hurts his sister. Naomi, appears mostly as a dominant incest-obsession archetype, literally shields her body to protect Junichiro, our main character Atsushi can turn into a tiger now on his own will, and Dazai is always one step ahead of everyone. The new characters introduced in this episode are a mixed-bag, unfortunately. Akutagawa is a reasonable character with just enough unique skills (Rashomon) and clear motivations to stand out on his own, but the character Higuchi is just plain and feel more like a plot device. Poor Higuchi even got slapped by Akutagawa for not completing her job. Now this is bad writing. Well I guess Akutagawa supposed to be a cold, ruthless guy but showing him slapping woman is no way justified that. Cruelty for the shake of just cruelty is terrible. But I can put that aside for now as long as they don’t repeat that same mistakes. I also love the introduction of Port Mafia gang here, albeit target the weretiger just because of the money is a bit of a letdown. But I guess there is more to it as why the weretiger attracts so much attention from all the gangs. I think the rest of the series we will learn more about it and exactly what they want to do with the weretiger.

The visual and characters design remain strong and actually at this point I trust the show on these. This is a rare compliment I would give to any shows but I believe Bungou Stray Dogs deserves this. Basically most of the second part is a step in a right direction, and if they keep going into that direction, Bungou Stray Dogs could become a very entertaining show.


Posted on 15 April 2016 with categories: Bungou Stray Dogs, Currently Watching:

Boy, this episode does highlight many of the show’s shortcomings. In a way, that is a good thing, because we now know what elements that DON’T work for the series.

First and the most jarring issue is the comedy. All the gags, from Atsushi considers himself to be useless, Dazai suicide’s obsession, Kunikida’s being constantly teased by Dazai, already feel dragging and wear out its welcome. Consider this is just second episode this is not a good sign. The dialogue in general is not great either, it either does not advance the story or flesh out the character, and mostly stays too long on its jokes. While a little comedy would definitely be welcomed, making the comedy the central focus is a wrong step for this series.

The second weakness of the show is the characters themselves and their relationship. The central relationship between Dazai and Atsushi, for example; have been done countless times before and this one so far doesn’t offer anything new on the table. This week we get introduced again a whole bunch of new characters. They are, like last week’s new characters at the end of the episode (which completely disappeared this week), feel like just a decoration of the show. Although they are based on real Japanese authors, for now all of them are just one-note, over the top and I get the feeling they’re just there for kicking, screaming and supporting the main characters. It seems like next week we going to get a whole bunch of new character as well, so I’m a little worry there.

Lastly, the plot in this episode is a step down from last week. It’s always a given that Atsushi will be a member of Armed Detective Agency, so giving an entire episode just to reach that again is a wasted and really slow the story down. The plot itself is ridiculous. So the Agency gave Atsushi a trial without him knowing it and he passed it because he used his body to shield the bomb. REALLY? How on earth is that a plausible action? I’m actually thinking of a line from Joker’s Game “Getting killed or commit suicide is the worst possible decision a spy can make”. It actually can apply very fittingly here.

But not everything from this episode is negative though. I still pretty much enjoy the direction of the show. The use of color-palate, for example, give me a strong atmosphere that I rarely find in other anime series. I also enjoy the production design of Bongou Stray Dogs, from last week’s Under the bridge at the beginning to the warehouse at the end, or the place where Atsushi wake up in the morning or the Agency office, each of the place have such rich personality and give them a very distinctive feel. Bungou Stray Dogs shines when they focus more on the characters, like when Atsushi talks to Dazai about him being left out, there were a sense of sadness in his speech; the show also shines when they deliver the supernatural twist to the story (which appeared none in this second episode). I still have hope for the show. Next week it seems like the story will get dark though, and I pretty much prefer the series to be dark than its current light-heart, so here hoping the for the show to pick itself up from this misstep episode.


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