Weekly Digest 4/27/16 – Sousei no Onmyouji, Bungou Stray Dogs

Sousei no Onmyouji - 04 -25 Sousei no Onmyouji - 04 -32Bungou Stray Dogs - 04 -15Bungou Stray Dogs - 04 -24

Call me a traditionalist or easy to please, but I like progress.

Sousei no Onmyouji – 04

Call me a traditionalist or easy to please, but I like progress.  It doesn’t fix all problems but when the characters in a series show growth, even superficially, it’s a big help.  For that reason I think this week’s episode of Sousei no Onmyouji represented real progress both for the characters and the series.

My initial reaction to this week’s ep was that the death flags were flying higher for Ryogo-kun than for anybody I’ve seen outside a Gundam show.  But it turned out that they were just injury flags, fortunately.  There wasn’t a lot of subtlety to what transpired here but it was pretty effective on the whole.  And when Ryogo got himself into trouble (isn’t anyone worried that so many more of these kagare seem to be running around?) I liked the interplay it elicited between Rokuro and Adashino Benio.

There were several elements about this that were pretty nice, starting with Adshino Benio’s declaration that “no one should ever have to beg an onmyouji for help”.  It would have been easy enough to have her continue to be fully tsuntsun towards Rokuro, but she did the right thing – and she showed a fair amount of humility in the way he approached her for help.  I also thought she showed a little class when she called him “great” for standing up and fighting despite his traumatic experience.

None of this was exceptional, but it was all pretty good – and I really like the fact that things aren’t just standing still.  I think there’s still some definite upside with Sousei no Onmyouji, and I’d like to see if it achieves it.

 

Bungou Stray Dogs – 04

I want to like Bungou Stray Dogs about as much as I’ve wanted to like any series in a while. But that’s not a healthy approach – you need to make a show earn your respect on its own merits.  And so far, painful as it is, this one just isn’t doing that for me.

The big problem here is pretty straightforward – Bungou spends a lot of time trying to be funny, and I almost never find it funny.  Humor is obviously a personal thing, but if it doesn’t work for you it doesn’t work.  Failed attempts at comedy aren’t usually deal-breakers for broadly serious shows that only gesture towards humor on occasion, but when a show relies as heavily on it as this one they just might be.

The action and violence continues to be much the better part of Bungou Stray Dogs, but so far at least the plot has taken a back seat to the comedy.  And it’s not as though the plot has been all that compelling – rather, it’s simply offered up some good set pieces that have really worked.  We still have more members of the agency to meet, and the run-ins with the Port Mafia continue to provide the show’s best moments – not to mention that BSD falls on an otherwise slow day of the week, anime-wise.  So I’m going to stick it out for a while out of respect for Bones and my own preconceptions, but there’s no escaping that Bungou is going to need to start doing a lot more than it is right now.

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8 comments

  1. H

    With Bungou Stray Dogs, honestly I was just bored the whole episode. It felt almost throwaway, that you could replace these characters with any other character and it would still be exactly the same. The only character for me that is mildly interesting is Dazai, and he was barely in this episode. To be honest, I don’t mind this kind of comedy (I loved Ouran), but not in a show that’s actually trying to be serious at the same time. It’s kinda disappointing, because I really liked the first episode.
    Also, am I the only one who is reminded of Karneval? I can’t even remember the plot of that series, it’s been too long (though I vaguely remember it was a train wreck), but that was my first impression upon seeing this series. Must be that Josei-fantasy-bishounen vibe.

  2. B

    I must admit, I don’t particularly care for Dazai’s character right now (though I do like how Miyano has modulated his voice here). I find his suicide schtick every bit as tasteless as Naomi’s forcefulness. I personally think that the gag’s repetition actually dulled the intrigue of the revelation regarding his previous association with Port Mafia.

    For me, Atsushi is the heart the story- he’s the only character who feels like he’s being written with a decent amount of earnestness, and I like him enough that I’m willing to stick with the show. (That, and the literary references. I am a sucker for anything literature-related, even if I don’t always like the way the references are incorporated into the show.)

  3. C

    Yeah, the humor was this show’s only hope considering the “meh” plot and character develoment. Seriously, though, what is up with the show’s constant mistreatment of Tanizaki? I at least understood the literary reference to Naomi (though why they interpreted her this way, I’ll never know), but what is up with a second character assaulting him in a “haha isn’t it funny” way?? It’s upsetting but also confusing because the show doesn’t seem to be acknowledging the ick factor and treats it like slapstick… which is a bit too Punch & Judy for comfort.

    What could BONES even do to save this show?

  4. T

    YES! I was talking to a friend about Bungou recently and I compared it to Karneval! It must be that josei-fantasy-bishounen vibe. Or the fact that it’s a lot of gloss but not much substance, haha.

  5. T

    And I pressed reply for the wrong post, I’m so sorry. Today has been a comments posting fail day. I blame graduate school.

  6. H

    Haha, don’t worry about it. Everyone has those days. But yeah, that is also probably why it reminds of Karneval. (Now that I think about it, also Hamatora except less rainbows). The characters don’t have much depth, and the writing pretty by the book. The whole ‘Atsushi running away to protect the agency’ thing was so predictable I was wishing they would go somewhere a bit more interesting with it, just to catch us off guard. But oh well. I’ll still be following it though, hoping that we get more interactions between Atsushi and the Port Mafia.

  7. I liked this episode of Twin Star Exorcists, character development is quite rare this season and I’m enjoying all I can get. It sure is nice seeing that Benio has a softer side, and it isn’t as in-your-face as many anime like to do.

  8. R

    If it follows the manga, Bungou is always going to rely heavily on humor. It’s not a bad series, but it definitely isn’t great.

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