Surly Summaries: Bungo Stray Dogs

Bungo Stray Dogs is a show I have some mixed feelings about, it was pretty solid overall but it never got great and it’s ending leaves something to be desired.  There will be spoilers ahead.

Let’s start with all the pros for Bungo Stray Dogs before we get to the cons.  It looks gorgeous, it has a bunch of good character designs and the animation is stellar.  Anyone who likes superpower shows will likely enjoy this one as it has a bunch of superpowers involved and some of them are pretty interesting as they are based on literary figures and their novels.  The characters are sort of goofy caricatures of the authors whom they are named after, the Guild leader who shows up in the final episode keeps using old sport in a bunch of his lines, something he borrows from the main character of The Great Gatsby.  Likewise Dazai is constantly trying to kill himself because the actual author ended up committing suicide.  This can get kind of stupid and/or annoying but I’m generally on board when it comes to shows with goofy, eccentric characters so it mostly works out for me.  The action scenes are pretty good, especially the Atsushi and Akutagawa fight but save for that fight most of the action is nothing to write home about, like the show itself, the action is solid but not particularly noteworthy.  Also the theme music that plays whenever the boss of the Armed Detective Agency enters a scene is fucking awesome. Times for the cons.

The show suffers from being an episodic mystery show, because the mysteries are generally pretty lackluster, the side characters introduced are mildly entertaining at best and frankly the more episodic aspects of this show mostly fail when compared to the overarching narrative, which thus far has not been great but hasn’t been bad either.  Also the frequent flashbacks to Atsushi’s past where the orphanage caretakers constantly call him worthless and tell him he should just die in a ditch was both cringe-worthy and really annoying to hear over and over again.  The ending also presents some interesting problems, yes I realize it was a sequel-bait ending and it’s quite possible Bungo Stray Dogs 2 will appear in the upcoming Fall season (because that’s generally how split cour shows work), that’s not really my issue with it.  It has more to do with where it ended.  In episode 11 they introduce the Guild for about 5 seconds, and I felt like that was all they needed, to me it seems weird to introduce them, have a big battle scene with one of the Guild members and for the series to cut off right after that.  It would have made more sense for it just to have been a low key episode where Atsushi meets the Port Mafia leader and only finds that out later once Kyouka comes to pick him up, in other words the final episode had some decent elements in it and I just thought it was weird for the Guild and Armed Detective Agency to start fighting in this season, because ending before the conflict began but after the Akutagawa battle was over would have been a more natural break in the story.

Anyway, Bungo Stray Dogs is a solid show and if it sounds interesting to you I would encourage you to give it a shot, but I’m not really going to recommend this to someone who didn’t think it looked good in the first place.  I hope you enjoyed this and I’ll see you in the next one.

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