Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 4

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The sense of guilt that Atsushi has is cliché, misplaced, and utterly annoying. I hate it when a good guy blames himself/herself for something a bad guy did. If it wasn’t for me existing, this terrible thing wouldn’t have happened. Fuck that shit to hell and back, because it’s tired and stupid. It makes the character appear tired and stupid. Now, I understand that feelings aren’t logical and it makes sense to think that way in certain situations. That can’t be helped. What can be helped is the stupid shit they try to do afterward to solve the problem. Kill themselves, quit the team, negotiate with the enemy, etcetera, etcetera: All the dumb crap protagonists trick themselves into thinking is the right thing to do.

In the end, nothing good comes from it and the main character ends up looking like a total asshat. I try to avoid this at all costs, but Bungo Stray Dogs…well, it takes a different approach. Atsushi feels bad because it turns out the mafia is after him and that makes him feel like he’s more trouble than he’s worth to the agency. This point is hammered in even harder by the reoccurring orphanage flashback that still hasn’t been fully explained. An orphanage hates him for some reason, and that’s all we really know. Go die in a ditch, yadda, yadda, yadda-we get it, alright? Atsushi feels like a burden to everyone around him, and this time Dazai’s not around to out “suicidal-thought” him.

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Then we have another blunt showing of how menacing and evil the mafia is. There’s nothing very interesting going on for the antagonistic side of things so far, which is a shame because I often like having the villains be the more intriguing of the two in a good vs evil narrative. So far I’m not seeing a plan from this group. It’s more like they’re doing bad things for the hell of it. They massacred a warehouse full of workers. Why? Who knows! All we can really take away from this is that the mafia is big and scary and not to be fucked with. Oh, and of course Atsushi happens to be there to see the carnage, only adding to his head full of fear and self-doubt.

But now we get to the good part. Atsushi’s stupid antics aside, the mafia decides to take the detective agency head on, now with three times the force they had in the warehouse. Things are looking very bad as Atsushi see gun shots and broken glass from down the street. He rushes back, carrying all his guilt and fear and dread with him, only to find the mafia utterly crushed. Turns out these raids are nothing new to the agency, thus smacking down all the stupid thoughts in Atsushi’s little mind. He’s not a burden, these two sides would still be at each other’s throats whether he was in the picture or not. Hopefully this will be the last we see of Atsushi blaming himself for everything.

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Onto other things, I liked how the deaths were handled from last episode. Well, almost deaths, I should say. One of the agency members has the power to heal anyone that’s nearly dead, although I don’t think that’s actually explained in the episode. All we really know is that the procedure is painful, and kinky, and I kinda want to know more about what’s going on there, for…reasons.

And as I alluded to earlier, there’s not much Dazai in this episode. In fact, he gets one scene, and it’s only for a suicide joke. Odd, but I guess it lightens the tension in some way? I don’t know, I felt like the show could’ve just done without it this week. Anyway, that’s my write up for episode four! I seemed to be in a swear-y mood today. Huh. So what did you think of the episode? Tell me in the comments or tweet at me without any context whatsoever, even if you’re reading this years after the show aired. As always, thanks for reading! Hope to see you come back next week for more thoughts about kinky medical procedures.

+ Akiko Yosano’s gift

+ Atsushi’s doubts are finally squelched (hopefully)

– (Probably not though)

– Blunt showcasing of menace

Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 3

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A nice, simple start laced with great gags and an amazing potential running mystery; is how Bungo Stray Dogs decided to begin this episode. The suicide gag that Dazai runs is especially on point this time around, causing me to audibly express my amusement, amplified greatly in the reality of which I exist. I LOL’d. You’d think jokes about ending one’s own life might be a put off, but I actually find it quite morbidly refreshing, and the way the jokes are delivered is so expertly written and timed that even though I know it’s a running gag, I still don’t see it coming. It’s fantastic, and never too similar to a joke previously made, so I would ever grow tired of it. Hopefully that continues, as well as all the other eccentric antics that this group seems to go through on a daily basis.

Before we move on from the opening scene, an intriguing mystery arises as the agency decides to let Atsushi in on their little game. It’s a guessing game, one where the members of the agency try to infer what every other member did for living before joining the team. The enigma that emerges from this is one that I thought they would run in the long haul, although I could see them revealing it at the end of the current episode as well. No one can figure out what Dazai was before the agency, and so now there’s a huge cash prize for anyone who can come up with the answer. And the answer is good, but more on that later.

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From there the group gets a call alerting them of a new client. What comes from this scene is a mission, an antagonist, and another Dazai suicide joke. The client has a problem with smugglers and needs the help of the agency to scope it out/take it down. Meanwhile, it is explained to Atsushi-kun (and the audience) that there is a big bad mafia, and special people within it that you should avoid at all cost. This of course leads to Atsushi meeting said person. But before that we get a scene of that evildoer doing heinously evil things to a police station in an attempt to hammer in the sense that you should not fuck with this person. Other than that, I felt the moment was a little unneeded, but cool all the same.

Probably the worst part of this episode was how bluntly the trap was produced. The client leads them to an alley and reveals she’s with the mafia. Okay. She pulls out an Uzi and guns down the sister. Not okay. Then Junichirou reveals his special ability which is kinda cool, I guess. Ryuunosuke shows up and takes him down, slaps his partner in her face because she failed, and reveals that they wanted the weretiger all along. Then they fight and Dazai shows up just to save the day. Turns out he planted a wire on the chick, which was pretty smart. Although, he did wait until two of his comrades were down, which wasn’t pretty smart. But this whole situation where the group gets trapped fairly easily wasn’t very smart either.

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What was smart, however, was Dazai’s previous occupation being revealed. If you were expecting that answer then maybe you felt differently, but I sure as hell didn’t see it coming and therefore thought it was awesome. And I still think this show is very awesome, despite its lackluster trap this episode. Hopefully they move away from the straight forward action setups to something a little more unexpected and cerebral, as I felt that these characters aren’t so dense as to fall for a simple alley way ambush.

+ Suicide jokes on point

+ Great ending ties with deceivingly simple beginning

– Reliance on crappy action tropes

– Completely un-clever ruse

Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 2

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This episode starts with another Dazai suicide joke. While quirky and expected, I can’t help but feel it’s alluding to something. If Dazai keeps trying, one day he’s bound to succeed, which would be sad considering he’s such a cool and playful character.

But this is what I love about this show. It keeps a balance between serious and humorful that’s hard to pull off. This makes the show unpredictable, as I can’t tell if a running gag will turn out to be more meaningful down the road. Bungo Stray Dogs even likes to squeeze its comedy into the tensest of situations, while not taking away from the dire reality at hand. Like roshambo to decide who has to talk down the mad bomber, there is no moment too grievous for Dazai to lose his eccentric charm.

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Although this did just turn out to be a test, which may have been the reason for his calm demeanor, I would like to think he’d be just as languid if it were the real thing. In hindsight, the test was kinda obvious, but in the moment it was just so compelling and fun that I didn’t care. The bomber is in the Opening credits and clearly a main cast member, but I just assumed this might be his induction into the agency as well. Dazai definitely seems like the type to welcome someone who threatened to blow up a building full of innocent people.

Still, the plan worked out great, having Atsushi prove his worth in the noblest way possible, retelling the age old lesson that it’s not the power that makes the man; it’s his actions.

+ Pretty colors and scenery

+ Tension + comedy = happy

+ Cool outfits

Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 1

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Hello all! It is I, crispyn64, here to review another seasonal anime episode by episode, week by week, in the timeliest manner I can afford. Why? Because I want to, that’s why! And also because I think having another reason to write every week is a good thing that will ultimately (hopefully) result me growing as a writer. Furthermore, I want to you to watch along with me, and read my reviews only after you’ve watched the episodes yourself and have formed your own opinion on the matter. Then we can talk about it in the comments below! Doesn’t that sound fun?

Starting with the scenes: There were three of them. And they all looked fantastic. Flowing waters and purple-red skies, a nice eatery with more than a few interesting camera angles, and then a shadowy blue warehouse lit only by the moonlight through the windows. Positively splendid. And the characters weren’t so bad either.

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Especially Osamu Dazai, or as I like to call him, Suicide. So far he seems like the delightfully aloof but smarter than meets the eye type, which is one of my absolute favorite archetypes. Then there’s Doppo Kunikida, aka Ponytail. He’s pretty cool, with his ponytail and all. And finally there’s the main character, Atsushi Nakajima, and he seems like a safe choice for the protagonist. He’s also an orphan, as the show would like you to know.

By which I mean it repeats it. Over and over, throughout the first episode, presented by the inner thoughts of young Nakajima. Good for nothing. Orphan. Should just die in a ditch. I’m paraphrasing because I’m too lazing to go back and check. But that’s the basic point I think the show is trying to get across. For now it seems this character is pretty down on himself, so joining this group of eccentrics might just give him the new lease on life he desperately needed. Or something. We’ll see as the show progresses.

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As for some final thoughts, I started watching this show like how I try to watch any show: With no prior knowledge and no expectations. So it came as quite a pleasant surprise when the humor finally kicked in. At first I thought this show was had a very serious tone and then BAM! Joke. Nice one, Bungo Stray Dogs. It didn’t muddle the possible significance of this show while still acknowledging that it can have fun. I hope Bungo Stray Dogs can keep that balance, as I am eagerly awaiting more.