As I said on my Facebook page, I will be reviewing a few things that I’ve had on the backburner over the next few days – this series being the first. If you have suggestions for something I should watch or play, send me a message through any of the methods available on the About page.
To be honest, Bungou Stray Dogs wasn’t the first thing I wanted to review – however, my reviews on the Monogatari series may wait until the first movie is available (also, I am currently debating whether to do each “story”, each “season”, or everything up through Owarimonogatari as one review). As few of you may know, I have a great interest in fantasy and scifi, and last season was a fairly “shounen” season, with things like Jojo, Kuromukuro, and all of the new series for older shows (like Duel Masters and Sailor Moon).
However, I came across Bungou completely by accident – while I was skimming Facebook posts, I came across a Crunchyroll post with a young blonde man attacking a group of thugs with a car. Obviously, I searched for the source, and came across this gem of a show.
Bungou Stray Dogs “follows” the story of Atsushi, a young man who was kicked out of his orphanage because he was considered “worthless”. At the start of the story, he is on the verge of starvation, and seeks help from anyone nearby – cue the strange man floating upside-down in the nearby river. Long story short, he gets involved with a group known as the Armed Detective Agency, a group of people with abilities who try to keep the area safe – and keep Atsushi from getting killed by a militia gang known as the Port Mafia. There’s more to the story than that, but the rest is for you to see yourself.
Bungou is a strange mix of comedy and darker themes, which comes packaged with all sorts of other emotions (like an inkling that the brother-sister team is like “that”). There are a variety of characters, from Atsushi the weak-willed hero, to one of the main antagonists of the series Akutagawa, who suffers from an inferiority complex because of his former master. There are also plenty of characters whose abilities (and even true motives) haven’t yet been shown, so it seems like there may be a second season coming soon.
And now, for a proper review!
Plot: 5 out of 10
While I did like how the story of Bungou Stray Dogs played out, I kept getting the feeling that I had seen it so many times before. I’m not quite sure why, but I always get the feeling that someone should die after certain events, only to find that they survive (not necessarily inexplicably).
Character Development: 4 out of 5
I won’t cut corners here: every character has a good amount of development (sans the siblings mentioned earlier) – even the demonic Akutagawa has his own little “I was wrong” moment near the end of the season. My biggest problem here is, despite the various times Atsushi makes good, even great decisions to protect others, the “worthlessness” in his past always makes him second-guess himself, and by the end of the series, it still doesn’t seem like he can read between the lines.
Art/ Acting: 6.5 out of 10
While I did enjoy the art style and environments (and I won’t lie, they kind of bothered me at first), the acting is what really bothered me – many of the characters voices seem very flat, and their emotions don’t always correctly fit the situation. The only exceptions to this are in the Port Mafia – Akutagawa shows extreme emotions very commonly, his subordinate consistently shows loyalty to him, and Izumi (who starts as an emotionless character) eventually gives much more emotion than I thought would be possible. Other than that, it feels like everyone’s just joking around the entire time…
Rewatch Value: 6 out of 10
It is certainly not the worst show I’ve come across, but there are shows that I would rather rewatch than this most days. The only rewatchability I get from this show is a single fight scene between two important characters, and even that is starting to feel boring. Like I said above, everyone just feels like their joking around, even when they’re in dangerous situations, and that kind of turns me away from the series as a whole. Even the scene that made me find the show is rather lackluster, especially since it comes after the majority of the damage is done.
Overall Rating: 30 out of 50
There’s not much else to say about this show… I think this show was made for very specific audiences in mind, and while it hits some of those points with me, the majority of the show just ends up lacking. While writing this review, I discovered that the current season is actually half of the first season, and the second half will be premiering in October. Honestly, I might watch it, but if it continues to be so lackluster, I may have to give it the Iron Boot.
The series is available on Crunchyroll, and has been licensed in the UK by Anime Limited, so I’d suggest watching it online first, and if you enjoy it, then consider buying it. Otherwise, I can’t honestly recommend this as a “good” show.