Bungou Stray Dogs (Season One) Review – Much Wow, Such Doge


Written April 30th 2016

Watched 3 out of 12 episodes

Overall Rating: 1

I started watching this show, thinking that this show would have great plot and memorable characters but unfortunately, this show let me down so bad. Reason: This show had nothing to do with dogs at all!!! I can’t believe Japan did this, using dogs’ name so irresponsibly! Time to call PETA.

BTW, this show had nothing to do with dogs, or bungee jumping at all, despite what the title would have you believe. Instead, it features a ragtag group of detectives with superpowers. Aside from a referential main concept that is utterly useless, this show is an unoriginal and uninspiring disappointment! Also, misleading as hell!

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HOLD YOUR HORSES!

Metaphorically, I mean. Please don’t attempt to milk your horses in any way, they will get upset. We all will.

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Actual review below ->

Bungou Stray Dogs


Atsushi Nakajima was kicked out of the orphanage he resided in, and weeks later, he arrives at the city, searching for shelter and food. Starving and homeless, he decided to resort to crime out of desperation and starvation. However, before he could do rob anyone, he finds a person drifting down the river and Atsushi reluctantly saves him from drowning. It turns out that man, Ozamu Dazai, is a suicidal maniac, and also genius detective working for the Armed Detective Agency, the fabled detective agency comprising of super powered individuals. Unbeknownst to AtsushiDazai and his partner, Doppo Kunikida, are in fact, on a dangerous mission that has more connection to the bewildered Atsushi than he thinks.

Plot:

I recognize phenomenal writing when I see it. To have a good plot, you not only have to be entertaining, but also have consistency and great pacing. The layout of Bungou Stray Dogs is largely similar to the first season of Durarara!! and some other shows, for that matter. The first half of the show would focus on world building and character development, while in the later half of the show, the main plot would start to kick in and the pacing would pick up. I won’t say the writing for the first 12 episodes of this show is flawless, but it did better than Durarara!!

Bungou Stray Dogs 1

People have mixed opinions about Durarara!! Some say the first half of the show was great, while the later half couldn’t live up to the promise of the first half. Others say otherwise. I for that matter, thought both halves had their flaws. In the context of this review, in my opinion, Durarara!!‘s first half was plagued by inconsistency and overcrowding. There was just too much happening, and sometimes it can get overwhelming. Bungou had a much better time when it is introducing its characters, and it was ultimately much more engaging due to good pacing.

That one episode aside (Episode 11), the show was consistent throughout and most episodes feature mini cliffhangers that offers enough intrigue to keep you hooked but not enough to overwhelm you.

Settings:

The whole debacle about people with abilities is not exactly very original. In fact, it is a dated set-up dating back to the pre-2000s. What’s new, you may ask? Well, not much. If you were expecting Holmes-esque detective stories, well, don’t hold your breath. While it may have an one or two episodes about actual detective work, it’s still nothing to shout about.

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The central conflict between the Armed Detective Agency and its illegal counterpart, Port Mafia serves as the backdrop for the show and sets up for great action scenes. This backdrop is great and all, but it isn’t the main focus of the show, but it will kick up a notch in the second season. And boy, am I really excited for the second season.

So, what’s intriguing about this show, you may ask? Well, if there is one thing we could learn about entertainment from Hollywood, it’s that you don’t need an entirely original setting to be entertaining. It’s intrigue doesn’t come from the awfully new setting, but it’s great pacing and (wait for it) it’s characters.

Characters: 

Despite what you may be led to believe by naysayers, the character development of this show is actually best part of this show. Let’s talk about the main characters. Atsushi is your typical main character with the cliche backstory we all are familiar with. Out of place MC? Check. No parents and relatives? Check. Naive? Check. Dense? Check. Well, he may not be very original and intriguing, and the show knows it. The writers doesn’t try to shove the character down your throat but instead, he is used to subtly introduce the various characters. The plot is still centered around him though, but he still can hold on on his own.

Bungou Stray Dogs 2

What the main character cannot do, the supporting characters compensate. The main duo, Kunikida and Dazai is by far the most entertaining and the most developed characters. Both of them have contrasting personalities and interesting backstories. They both have a lot of potential to be great characters and a lot of mystery surrounds these two. They remind a lot of Izaya and Shizuo, from Durarara!!, and they also remind me of the interesting characters the Durarara!! duo could have become. I really want to see these two from Bungou evolve from their current state into great characters. I have a lot of hope for them.

The rest of the cast have a limited screentime, mostly limited to one episode per character. I won’t complain though, the writers don’t have 50 episodes to work on.

Bungou Stray Dogs 2

The main complaint people have with this show is that the characters are comical and very goofy at times. While I don’t mind the goofiness myself, many were “appalled”, at least according to MAL. I think what the writers were going for comedic relief in the form of goofiness, but they failed to achieve the heights they were aiming for. It wasn’t bad though, however, it should be said that that the goofiness can be passed off as a failed attempt at comedy. Still, it is a somewhat integral part of the show but not so much to the extent that it may ruin the show completely. In short, the humour may tick you off but bear with it, and you will be rewarded.

Graphics & Sound Design

Graphically speaking, this show is superb. The animation is superb and the use of bright colors is phenomenal. Overall, it is top notch. Studio Bones are at the helm of animating this show, so it should be to no one’s surprise that this looks so good. The action scenes were especially great, well-choreographed and visually stunning.

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The soundtracks are also very good. It reminded me a lot of Kekkai Sensen‘s jazzy, upbeat soundtrack and serves as an awesome backdrop to the madness unfurling before our eyes. The OP and especially the ED were quite good. Granrodeo’s track, “Trash Candy” was the usual rock number you’d come to expect from them, but the animation sequence were kind of generic, in my opinion. The ED, Luck Life’s “Namae wo Yobu wo” is one of my favourite anime ED of all time. I liked the melancholic feel of the song and swooning melody a lot, and this track alone makes me feel like I wanna buy Luck Life’s EP on the App Store. It is THAT good.

Conclusion:

This show in my opinion, is one of the best shows to come out in Spring 2016. And, no I don’t think Re:Zero is best anime of the season. Sorry. I enjoyed this show quite a lot, despite it’s popularity or rather, lack of. For me, it represents Durarara!!‘s unfulfilled promise of refined storytelling and interesting character development, and combines that with the jazzy, upbeat tone of Kekkai Sensen.

It have good writing, great pacing, promising characters and amazing visuals. It may not be as popular as the ongoing shows like Re:Zero and Boku no Hero Academia, but it could very well surpass them both in terms of storytelling and characters. Well, that would depend on the second season airing this Fall, so how it would fare is anybody’s guess.

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It does have some flaws, here and there, but I still find it to be highly entertaining.

And so, after meticulously calculating the points awarded for story, character development, graphics & soundtracks, as well as my personal enjoyment, I hereby decide to award this show the rating:

8.11 (Promising)


So, there you have it: My first review of this season’s anime. I really liked this show and the promise of a tantalizing character driven story. One can only hope they don’t screw up, but then, who knows?

Tanaka-kun Itsumo Kedaruge finished earlier today, so I may finish watching that last episode and complete my review for it. And next week, I will have finished Koutetsujou no Cabaneli and Sakamoto desu ga so hopefully, will have another review up by next weekend. I still have one episode of Tanaka-kun to watch, so I will see you in the next one. Ciao!

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