「其の一 彼女に向かない／職業 其の二 有頂天探偵社」 (Sono Ichi: Kanojo ni Mukanai Shokugyou / Sono Ni: Uchouten Tanteisha)
“First, an Unsuitable Profession for Her / Second, an Ecstatic Detective Agency”
「たえまなく過去へ押し戻されながら」 (Taemanaku Kako e Oshimodosare nagara)
“Borne Back Ceaselessly into the Past”
That finale was certainly not what I expected… in fact, it didn’t feel quite like the cliffhanger I expected nor as satisfying as an ending. The past two episodes have been devoted to introducing more characters and groups – which I guess sets up the story for the next cour, but doesn’t leave me wanting more. Unfortunately I was really hoping to get more from the finale in terms of hopes and excitement for next season. Not to say that the series wasn’t great and I won’t be watching the next cour, but it definitely could’ve been improved. It felt like the pacing of Bungou Stray Dogs wasn’t planned properly and while the quality of each episode was there, the story planning fell short.
These final two episodes left very little to the imagination as each mystery and new characters introduction were pretty much summed up in half an hour. I was hoping that there would be more build-up but these past two episodes sped by very quickly. There was a bit of background on Ryuunosuke and his partner Higuchi Ichiyou (Seto Asami) and how they actually have a very close bond. Their relationship was a bit hard to grasp given how Ryunnosuke is just shown being quite harsh on Ichiyou. Ryunnosuke resembles a wild stubborn dog to me who craves acknowledgement and acceptance so badly and I can’t really sympathize with that. His character still feels like he’s bad for the sake of being bad. In the second half of episode 11, we get to know Miyazawa Kenji (Kagura Hiroyuki) a bit better and his unique interrogation techniques (or rather, lack of). He has superhuman strength which is cool but his character doesn’t particularly stand out and his antics for the day with Atsushi was amusing but not terribly fascinating.
The finale definitely proved to be more interesting than episode 11 but also introduces a slew of characters that don’t feel like they’re very memorable. One of them dies, one of them disappears and the Guild isn’t all that frightening at the end anymore. We start with the introduction of Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (Sakurai Takahiro), the man we saw at the end of episode 9 and he’s actually the head of “The Guild” – the association that set the bounty on Atushi in the first place. Francis meets with Fukuzawa to try and buy his “Gifted Business” permit which Fukuzawa obviously declines. The Guild leaves, but not being making Kenji disappear… that was unfortunate since we just saw more of Kenji last episode. The Guild send Lucy Maud Montgomery (Hanazawa Kana) to trap several of the Agency’s men in her illusion world where they “play” with Anne (like Lucy’s imaginary friend). Lucy holds Naomi and Kenji ransom and force Atsushi and Junichirou to play tag wth Anne and if they win, they get their friends back. The battle itself was interesting and Atsushi was very resourceful on his own. He couldn’t have got out on his own but he tried his best and managed to succeed with a little help from a stranger. This stranger ended up being the best part of the episode – despite the fact that anyone could’ve guessed who he was. Lucy runs away when Atushi manages to ruin her “game” and the Guild is down two members by the end of the episode. Lucy herself felt like a wasted character because both her intro and backstory were delivered so quickly that it makes me feel no emotional attachment to her at all. Plus she reminds me so much of Yuno from Mirai Nikki and yanderes are not my type.
The ending finally reveals the head of the Port Mafia named Mori Ougai (Miyamoto Mitsuru) and he has an attachment to Elise (Amamiya Sora) who has gone missing during the same time that the Guild attacks the Agency. He finds her by the end of the episode but he also shows that he’s not to be messed around with – especially after killing a member of the Guild (see, characters just come and go so quickly these days). Now it seems like a power struggle between the Guild, Agency and the Port Mafia who all employ humans with super abilities and each have their own motives for doing what they do. I just wish I knew more about them before the end of his cour. We’re just starting to get to the main story and the season ends before we know it. I don’t mind that it’s taken a while to get to this point, but it felt like a very convoluted way to get there. Asides from Dazai and Ranpo (and maybe Kyouka), I don’t feel the urgency to learn more about each individual and that’s a shame with my high hopes for this series.
As I’ve mentioned already, Bungou Stray Dogs started off very strong and it had a lot of potential which I hoped it would live up to. Episode 3 was the best episode by far and it had just about everything I love about the anime. There’s some mystery that reveals a bit about each character, there’s development for both the characters and plot, and of course, there’s action that makes sense and not just explosives for the sake of it. The other episodes, especially in the latter half of the series feel like a jumble of character introductions, some backstory but mainly subplots for the sake of showing more groups and people. I didn’t feel that sense of connection between the viewers and the key characters, nor did I really care for the relationships surrounding them. The series felt very flat even with its attempts to solve and develop so many things at once. The next cour is scheduled to air in Fall 2016 and I hope it takes these past 12 episodes and builds on it in a more interesting way. Now that we have the Agency, the Port Mafia and the Guild all in a bind, what happens? So what? Where does this lead Atushi and how does he create more trouble or solve problems?
Early on, a lot of people complained that the comedy was very off-putting in this series and I would definitely agree that the comedy aspects can be a turn-off… but it’s not so terrible that I’d stop watching. The delivery could be improved but the timing isn’t off (which can be awkward in a lot of other series). The action and quality of the anime is to be expected from a Bones series so I’m not surprised… there are some great scenes – all featuring Ryunnosuke which I thought were outstanding. The ED continues to be one of my favorites this season and I actually love the entire song! All things considered, Bungou Stray Dogs has the complete package but the only thing it doesn’t deliver on is the storyline and that can be a bummer when everything else is above par. I’m sticking around to watch the second season but I’ll go in with a lot more skepticism this time and maybe not hype myself up too much. I hope it ends up being similar to Noragami ARAGOTO which really takes advantage of their second run and nails it.
Author’s Note: Apologies for the long wait this week for Bungou Stray Dogs! I’ve been on vacation and summer weddings so I’ve had a hard time finding time to sit. I hope you all understand and I appreciate the patience. Summer preview is just around the corner though so hang-tight!