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.