Bungou Stray Dogs – 02

Bungou Stray Dogs - 02 -4 Bungou Stray Dogs - 02 -13 Bungou Stray Dogs - 02 -29

Bungou Stray Dogs was not a series I expected to be on the fence with, even this early in the season.

Bungou Stray Dogs - 02 -1I think it would be way too harsh to call Bungou Stray Dogs a disappointment, and not only because it’s way too early to make a judgement on it – it’s not off to a bad start by any means.  It’s really just a matter of expectations.  The other series I was counting on have met them, and a couple (Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge, Shounen Maid) exceeded them in their premieres.  Bungou Stray Dogs was not a sleeper for me – along with Boku no Hero Academia and Joker Game it was probably my most anticipated new series of the season.  And so far it’s the only one that hasn’t quite clicked for me.

Bungou Stray Dogs - 02 -2Why is that?  Hard to say.  It’s in part no doubt the style of director Igarashi Takuya, which is hit and miss in more ways than one.  He’s a believer in big, broad gags, and ascribes to the notion that if you throw enough of them at the wall some of them will stick.  And Igarashi hasn’t generally been connected with me, even in the widely-praised Ouran Host Club.  I still think the outsized, grandiose nature of Bungou Stray Dogs (in both setting and characters) might be the right fit for Takuya, but I don’t know if it’ll be the right fit for me.

Bungou Stray Dogs - 02 -3In the final analysis I just don’t care as much about the cast as I want to and I’m not as interested in the plot as I want to be – not yet. I appreciate the unapologetic silliness of the series but it would be a big help if anything or anyone in it starts to emotionally resonate.  I like Atsushi well enough, and Dazai is a modestly funny guy and a good vehicle for Mamoru Miyano to cut loose as only he can.  But Bungou Stray Dogs is not closing the deal with me – the overly broad comic tone undercuts any sense of real threat, and the humor isn’t consistently successful enough to carry the show on its own.

Bungou Stray Dogs - 02 -5There are a couple of different ways I could see this show turning the corner, if indeed it’s destined to.  Someone in the supporting cast (who we’ve barely met so far) could stand out in a big way.  Maybe as we get to know Atsushi and Dazai a little better (why is he so intent on committing suicide?) they’ll close the emotional gap with the audience.  Or maybe the relentless and unpretentious nature of the series will wear me down and I’ll find myself caught up in it more than I am now. But I was hoping not to have to rely on such possibilities after two episodes.

Bungou Stray Dogs - 02 -6As to this ep itself, I’d rank it about on a par with the first one.  This time around Atsushi is grappling with his future, unconvinced he can be of any use to the Armed Detective Agency, and Dazai tricks him into testing himself in a fake hostage situation.  We meet member Tanzaki Junchirou (Toyonaga Toshiyuki) and his brocon sister Naomi (Omigawa Chiaki, who seems to have dropped off the map lately) as the principal actors, as well as agency president Fukuzawa Yuichi (Koyama Rikiya).  It’s all pleasant enough and occasionally funny, but has a by-the-books feel to it.  I’m going to give Bungou Stray Dogs quite a bit of time to close the deal, not only because of expectations but because it’s a split-cour show.  But for now, it’s the most surprising entry on the bubble list.

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10 comments

  1. M

    I think this a case of personal taste / your mileage may vary especially if Ouran wasn’t your thing… The manga gets more intense and more action packed, but the irreverent slapstick remains a constant which in the context of the anime, taking into account Takuya’s predilections, seems more jarring than in the manga. Also it’s the typical case where the foes are more interesting and compelling than the MCs which with the exception of Dazai are rather tropey.

  2. D

    I’ve always enjoyed Ouran and it still manages to get quite a few laughs out of me whenever I rewatch it. Yet this show doesn’t really work for me. It has a lot of flair and style, but it seems odd that such a big chunk of the intro episodes focuses on comedy instead of trying to explore the world and the characters.

  3. T

    I’m not getting hooked in, but I’ll give it a few more episodes. The literary conceit is interesting, but save for giving the characters some texture, I don’t see its relevance in the story. (Meaning I could name Doppo “Malvolio” and have him wear yellow stockings with crossed garters and the plot would still be pretty much the same…) But maybe if I stick around long enough, I’ll see it’s more than just a gimmick?

  4. S

    That’s my main gripe with the show too, which is specially strong in Dazai’s case because his gimmick concerns suicide. He had been pretty happy-go-lucky and display no psychological tendency to suicide, there’s no hint given to any reason he’d want to commit suicide. His co-workers treat it as an annoyance that’ll never be fully gone through. So far his character is forced to do it simply because he’s named Dazai, and instead of comedy it feels like the author forcing the trait down my throat.

  5. G

    I would agree that while it’s not outright bad so far, it honestly does not justify the hype and I don’t see the appeal of the show thus far. Mamoru Miyano is the only draw for me now, hopefully they will settle down and start getting serious with the plot.

  6. P

    Let’s face it, we got duped by the PV. I don’t mind this kind of humour at all, in fact I love Ouran High School Host Club but it’s just not connecting for me in this series at all.

  7. t

    If this is going to be similar to Ouran I will be disappointed. I normally enjoy comedy but that show never clicked with me.

  8. R

    Out of curiosity I read the source manga to see if this was the case in the original material. And I have to say it is. The series isn’t BAD by any stretch, but it’s also not amazing. It puts me in mind of Yozakura Quartet. Entertaining but all over the place in terms of story structure and tone sometimes.

  9. C

    BONES series usually deserve a little patience, they’ve certainly surprised viewers on more than one occasion. On the other hand, the source material here isn’t stellar and feels a little dated in terms of its favored tropes and character design. Everything looks like it was lifted from the early 2000s, and not in a good way? But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Right now, this feels like a poor man’s Kekkai Sensen, with none of the charm that carried the largely unused charm of the cast from the Summer 2015 series.

  10. I’d say give it two more episodes to see where it’s actually heading, since it seems to me the narration drags us along with Atsushi to this group of wackos and we’re shown everything from his perspective (are these guys reliable at all?) without having any clue as to what’s going to happen next. But since we get to see the obvious main antagonist in that short scene after the credits, I’m guessing some threads might start coming together sooner rather than later. At least I hope so.
    As for the Ouran comparison, I couldn’t stand that show while I’m actually enjoying this one quite a lot, so I guess it’s more a matter of what is presented rather than how in my case.

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