First Look: Bungo Stray Dogs

bungo1title

Alternative titles: Literary Stray Dogs
Manga Adaptation by Bones
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Authors of mystery fiction have superpowers and form a supernatural private detective agency.

Iro’s verdict: Good Dog

I liked this a fair amount, but that’s probably because it scratched my Blood Blockade Battlefront itch. That is to say, I like super-powered squads of fashionably dressed people doing cool superpower things, which seems to be Bones’ thing these days. On the other hand, the mystery author gimmick doesn’t add much other than a literary veneer to the show’s aesthetic, and the tone swings wildly from dark to wacky and occasionally both simultaneously. Suicide jokes are a thin line to walk, and having someone’s entire gag personality be “wants to kill himself” is honestly rather off-putting, even with Ouran-esque comedic timing. In any case, I’ll keep an eye out, but I don’t see this being particularly good or bad moving forward.

bungo1objection

Artemis’ verdict: Tonal Whiplash

You know what, I’m just gonna ignore the character names and their respective abilities for now. I expect it’s meant to come across as clever, but since the exact same story could be achieved without the literary references then I’m much happier just pretending I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary going on there.

Unfortunately, ignoring the see-saw shifts in tone is a lot harder to do. Is this show meant to be a comedy? That’s almost what I thought at first, even if it was some sort of black comedy a la Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei what with the whole suicidal thing – only it kept shifting back and forth between absurdist humour and more serious content, the latter of which I suspect was supposed to feel dark and edgy. Some of that might have even worked if it wasn’t being laid on so thick with the repetitive woe-is-me flashbacks, and if it wasn’t being constantly interrupted by yet more comedy one-liners, courtesy of Dazai and Kunikada and their bickering-married-couple routine. The single scene towards the very end that might have carried any kind of emotional weight for me was ruined by just such a flippant remark, so despite the fairly solid production values thanks to Studio Bones, I was left feeling pretty let down by what I saw overall. I’ll give it another episode just to be sure, but I’m really not holding my breath with this one.

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