Bungou stray dogs (文豪ストレイドッグス) is the first of the two announced season of Bungou Stray dogs. Stray dogs is an adaptation of a manga of the same name, written by Kafka Asigiri and published in Young Ace magazine. Produced and animated by “ Bones “ the studio who created FMA:B and Noragami seasons 1 and 2.The manga has been running for 4 years now and has 9 volumes worth of material to adapt. The initial season will run for 12 episodes.
As an enormous fan of the detective genre I was very excited when I heard about this show however this isn’t a detective anime like Psycho Pass is but rather a supernatural comedy action series. Now I’m not sure if the fault lies in me for misinterpreting what this series would be like or on the advertising team for being misleading.
Stray dogs tells the story of an orphan who is coerced into joining an private detective agency that focuses on tracking down supernatural cases that the government can’t handle. However there is very little focus on actual detective work it’s much rather a set of cops and robbers situations with a boring mafia villain. A shame seeing how this show is built on references to Japanese literature which is brimming with interesting villains so it is a waste of great potential to just use “the mafia “as the antagonists. The idea of “ government agency used to track down the supernatural “ is a story that has been told many times before and Stray Dogs doesn’t seem all that eager to do anything to wild with it. But they might just be biding their time for season’s 2 with that.
Our OP opens very honestly on some footage of awesome supernatural battles and not detective work on show. The main cast is introduced and we get a feeling for everyone's personalities. Not a very exciting nor deep opening but it’s still fun to get hyped up with for the following action
There’s a lot of eye-candy in this show, from deeply detailed shots of steaming rice to flashy fight scenes complete with flips, yelling and bright and explosive moves. Simple animation of characters just walking and eating is fluid and natural with a lot of detail and styling. The choreography for the fights is superb and the constant movement is shot well and followed by the camera to create an intense sense of movement and tension.
If you don’t know this already then Stray dogs has a lot of references to Japanese literature. All the characters are named after famous Japanese authors and poets so the animation team has taken full liberty with that idea to give the visuals a unique edge. All special attacks are decorated with swirling lines of kanji.
Characters thoughts and feelings pop up in little boxes and are typed onto the screen and each character's super-natural power is related to the author they share their name with.
For the character designs there’s been an exceptional amount of detail put into the clothing and I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ll be seeing a lot of Stray Dogs cosplays soon. Surprisingly every character is different and has a fully fleshed out persona whereas I expected there to be at least one or two clichéd archetypes. So I was pleasantly surprised to be getting pulled in with these characters because what they lack in emotional depth them more than make up for in sheer likeability. One thing that did begin to grate on me was the overuse of those simple chibi faces that are often used to convey emotion during joke scenes. Since Stray Dogs can’t go one minute without making a joke the character are also constantly wearing enormous red throbs or crying floods that cover their entire face. A complete waste where when it tries the characters can display a lot of feeling in the body language animations and the eyes. Most characters have eyes that can display an ocean of feeling but is lost to a simple black dot.
Now for what really put me off the show, the unfocused tone and how it misleads to create fake suspense. The writers of Stray dogs, I don’t think, understand what comedic relief is. It is not cramming a joke and a visual gag in between every serious scene because the audience might get scared but that is what happens time and time again. Whenever the story tries to pick up and go somewhere it's held down by screaming and characters pulling dumb faces. Stuff like this doesn’t bother me on its own for example Osomatsu san one of my favourite comedy anime is composed almost entirely from the two things I just named. But the difference is Osomatsu-san never showed itself off as a mature detective story involving the supernatural. Stray dogs did so when an the second episode which is being shown after a very intense and character heavy pilot
Starts the entire first half off with an elaborate suicide-joke fake out I felt disappointed. I would have much rather had spent that time on creating more suspense in the horribly rushed second half of the episode.
So the choice whether or not you should pick up Stray dogs is, as most things in life are , completely subjective on what it is that you want to see. But I still think the advertising was quite deceptive in portraying it as a more serious show than it really is. If you want to see clever police work and mysteries a la Death-note then this is not your thing and you’d be better to just move. However if you enjoy light-hearted shows that have an interesting super-natural twist and no real substance then you’ll probably have a fun time with Stray dogs. A second season was announced recently with an airdate of somewhere this October 2016. I hope this continuation focuses of fixing the tone and stepping up the story to a more serious tone that is warranted of its 17 + rating.