anime, Reviews

REVIEW: Bungou Stray Dogs – Weretigers, detectives and Mafia, oh my!

So, my plan is always to review shows once I’ve finished with them, which I plan to do with every show. Unfortunately, the show I had to skip this rule on was just so damn abysmal I barely had the energy to muster up any thought about it, positive or negative. Thanks, Ousama Game!

Luckily, after Christmas, I got a belated gift in the shape of an Armed Detective Agency. Yes, I’m talking about Bungou Stray Dogs, the bishounen heaven of 2016.

bungo2bstray2bdogs

Genres: Action, Mystery, Comedy, Supernatural, Seinen
Overview: 
For weeks, Atsushi Nakajima’s orphanage has been plagued by a mystical tiger that only he seems to be aware of. Suspected to be behind the strange incidents, the 18-year-old is abruptly kicked out of the orphanage and left hungry, homeless, and wandering through the city.

While starving on a riverbank, Atsushi saves a rather eccentric man named Osamu Dazai from drowning. Whimsical suicide enthusiast and supernatural detective, Dazai has been investigating the same tiger that has been terrorizing the boy. Together with Dazai’s partner Doppo Kunikida, they solve the mystery, but its resolution leaves Atsushi in a tight spot. As various odd events take place, Atsushi is coerced into joining their firm of supernatural investigators, taking on unusual cases the police cannot handle, alongside his numerous enigmatic co-workers. (taken from MyAnimeList)

I have seen endless. ENDLESS posts about Bungou Stray Dogs, and yet the motivation to watch it didn’t come around until Boxing Day. But y’all, I finally understand it. It’s not just good because Mamoru Miyano lends his voice, although that’s already a damn good reason for me.

Bungou Stray Dogs is pretty unique in many aspects. The best part of the show, without a doubt, is its cast. BSD is unique, as whilst the story is fictional (duh), its characters take inspiration from real life counterparts, notable Japanese writers. Whilst BSD is totally enjoyable without knowing the references, literary buffs will rejoice noting the characters likeness to their inspirations, such as Dazai Osamu’s suicide obsession, mirroring the real Dazai’s obsession with a double suicide (which in his case, succeeded).

ccf2e5a4ce6f2409983987ab51a38
This is the face of someone obsessed with suicide, everyone.

I fall very solidly into the camp of going in blind about the characters backgrounds, with no prior knowledge of any kind of Japanese literature. Luckily, each character was written to intrigue and excite the viewer. Despite appearances, such as Dazai in the gif above, there is some interesting darkness lurking under the Armed Detectives, which is slowly uncovered as the series progresses. And of course, each detective has a gift of some sort that both aids them in solving cases, as well as causing havoc. And these gifts can be ANYTHING. Tiger? Sure. Turn yourself into snow? Mkay, anything goes. And it works.

How can those things all work in one plot? A tiger in a detective agency? I know, but it really does work. Think if Sherlock crossed over with Heroes, Bungou Stray Dogs is the anime baby. Or for familiarity, think of if Durarara!!! took a turn for the supernatural. Note how awesome all of those shows are? Uh-huh, you see what I’m getting at? Some people have pointed out that the plot in Bungou Stray Dogs can seem a little silly, with the villains coming across somewhat comical, but in a world like BSD’s, can we really criticise unrealistic villains? Whilst there is definitely a serious plot in BSD, it really is a dish best served with a light-hearted touch.

Which brings me into the next part of BSD I loved. Whilst I’m a big comedy fan, I am less of a fan of comedy which is misplaced, another criticism I see thrown about with BSD. But…controversial opinion time, at its core, I think BSD leans on the fence of comedy more than it does serious, despite tags and first impressions. The comedy doesn’t feel forced, nor does it ever get in the way when something serious IS happening. If anything, it can add a nice element of surprise when the serious parts come to kick your ass very shortly afterwards.

I’m fighting the urge to watch season 2 straight away, as I have a whole lot of Gintama to watch, but. If like me, you put off Bungou Stray Dogs initially, now is the time to change that.

My rating: 8.9/10

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s