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Bungo Stray Dogs
Bungou Stray Dogs is focused on our timid lead, Atsushi, who finds himself caught in the middle of a conflict between the Armed Detective Agency and the crime syndicate, Port Mafia, due to his ability to become a weretiger. Many of the characters among both factions have names taken off real-life famous authors (Japanese and Western-influenced) and have their own unique special abilities related to literary works written by the real-life author they are named after. These abilities are shown to have their uses and limitations that each character learns to make use of with their ability, and they aren't particularly too overpowering as you may find compared to a number of other anime action titles. Complimenting this, the series sports solid animation with character designs having a good amount of detail, scenic shots being pleasant on the eyes, and fluid movement with great fight choreography compliments of the unique abilities milked by each character in the series.|
Beyond its action-focused elements though, there isn't much else of substance to get out of Bungou Stray Dogs. Many of the characters fulfill specific character types that have been milked to death from past anime titles, from Atsushi being your typical timid and hesitant lead to Port Mafia member Akutagawa being a merciless and self-serving psychopath. The series is mostly focused on the members of the Armed Detective Agency taking on missions and often coming at odds with Port Mafia. While the series provides enough fleshing out of the two factions to allow viewers to learn more of their workings and some elements of the conflict between them, it doesn't offer enough depth on the majority of characters to allow you to connect with them on an individual level. Of the characters introduced, I only found myself caring mostly for Kyoka Izumi, a young Port Mafia assassin who eventually becomes aligned with the Armed Detective Agency. Otherwise, the characters mostly lacked enough dimension or depth for me to give a hoot about beyond whatever character types they are playing up. Not helping matters is that the series is deliberately left open-ended since its manga source material is still ongoing as of this review.
While I'll give Bungou Stray Dogs some credit in that it offers a solid presentation with some fun action scenes compliments of the unique abilities of its characters, it doesn't offer much else in terms of depth for me to care more for the characters of the series as most of them only came off feeling like two-dimensional character types nor the motives and purposes of Port Mafia. As it is, the series is mostly a treat for either action anime fans or those who don't mind the conventional trappings offered up with it.
Last updated Sunday, December 24 2017. Created Sunday, December 24 2017.
Bungo Stray Dogs
(Two-and-a-half episodes watched):|
Episode one of this show started off okay but managed to become less interesting as it progressed. My impression was of just another 'secret evil-fighting organization composed of people with supernatural powers' anime, and I cannot think of any of those which have really thrilled me yet. Perhaps the problem is that the supernatural powers typically get more attention and development than the characters do. Sure enough, the characters here seemed unconvincing; wasn't this Dazai guy suicidal earlier in the episode? He seems pretty normal now. Was that supposed to be a joke of some sort? This also strikes me as one of those shows which thinks it is more funny than it really is. That is, a show which seems to be operating on the assumption that the viewers are rolling of the floor laughing when in fact you could hear a cricket chirp. The degree of humor and seriousness seem out of sync somehow; or perhaps it will be hard to take this show seriously after its jokes have fallen flat. But I decided to watch at least one more episode, because the basic premise still hadn't been explained and it might still be interesting. What sort of opponents will the ADA take on? Will Atsushi's personality develop in a pleasing manner? Will he literally transform and then rip enemies to pieces? Will there be anything interesting about the just barely introduced ADA agents (so far, they rub me the wrong way)? Chances are that this would be a pretty formulaic and unexceptional show, but I wouldn't write it off just yet.
Actually, episode two was better than I was expecting. Not something to write home about, but a fairly interesting story with a fairly surprising conclusion. The dialogue between the characters was fun and sometimes amusing--I appreciate humor that comes about in that way rather than via simple visual jokes. I had gotten the impression from episode one that these people would be largely stuck-up assholes but that didn't seem to be the case. It was all about Atsushi's training as an agent of the ADA, and we got just a hint of what sort of opponents the agency will take on. However, episode three crystalized by opinion of BSD, and not in a good way. I experienced a feeling of massive disappointment and a collapse of confidence when we were thrust into a thoroughly unlikely situation ('smugglers' operating in back alleys?) and a thoroughly evil but thoroughly two-dimensional villain was thrust into the premise. In the case of BSD, the problem is both the good guy characters being largely uninteresting (as happens all too often in anime), and the bad ones, too. While episode two made me pause and think that maybe these characters did have a little personality after all, it seems that the truth is that each character seems to basically have one odd quirk (Darzai's nonsensical suicide obsession, the girl's obsession with her brother, etc) and that is the extent of their personality. Either that, or they basically have no personality at all. Atsushi is the only character who I have any idea of how he feels and whether I would want him as a friend. Episode two suggested that some personality development would take place, but episode three made it clear that that was an anomaly, and in fact the characters would be typically shallow. Having a 2D villain shoved in my face, in a take-it-or-leave-it way, crushed my hopes that there would be much of an interesting long-running plot to the show. I don't want opponents who must be destroyed just because they are evil (that is simplistic), I want ones with understandable motivations who can't be entirely blamed for what they do. The 'underdogs go use paranormal powers to fight 2D villains' concept seems uninteresting and formulaic. I couldn't bring myself to struggle through this episode and finally just switched to something else. That, in all likelihood, marks the end of BSD for me.
Last updated Friday, September 09 2016. Created Sunday, April 24 2016.