First Look: Bungo and Alchemist -Gears of Judgement-

Alternative title(s): Bungou to Alchemist: Shinpan no Haguruma
Game Adaptation by OLM
Streaming on Funimation

Premise

The evil taints, born from negative emotions towards literature, are threatening to wipe books out by invading their stories. Only real-life famous authors can save them, by delving into the books and ensuring the stories play out the way they are meant to.

Euri’s verdict: Hot for Teacher

Bungo and Alchemist is an anime that isn’t going to perform that well outside of Japan, that much is for certain. Its core focus on famous Japanese literary works means that the stories it’ll touch upon are going to be completely unfamiliar, and more importantly, so too will the relationships between the real-life authors that show up. I’ve heard of Osamu Dazai and Run, Melos!, but not well enough to know if the episode covered it well, or what Dazai’s relationship to Haruo Sato was. The show touches on this very briefly, but I feel like there’s a lot of lost context simply by not having studied these authors in school.

The show is interesting though, I can say that much. The idea of authors going through real books to fix changes made by some kind of evil entity is something I’m totally on board with in concept, but I’m not sure a 20 minute anime episode is the best way to explore that. Granted, most of my knowledge on Run, Melos! is based on a synopsis I read afterwards, but it seems this episode covered the story very broadly, needing to also cover the ‘all protags are real authors’ bit, and exploring Dazai and Sato’s relationship.

There’s also a toothless fight scene against the Taint thrown in towards the end, as this show is based on a mobile game. All of the authors are hot husbandos that are proficient in combat with some kind of outrageous weapon, so we’ve got to have a few minutes to show that off, I suppose.

While I do dig the premise, I don’t see this as something I’ll be keeping up with. While it caused me to go on an enjoyable Wikipedia dive on Dazai, the show was… fine. The story was rushed along to squeeze in all the exposition, and the art direction felt inconsistent. That said, I urge you to check out the opening animation, which really stood out from the rest of the episode.

You might be able to enjoy this show by relying on what the anime has to say about these authors and literary works. They may even throw in some Western authors, as I believe the game has featured Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe and Lewis Carroll among many, many Japanese authors. In any case, it’ll at least give you some literary works to look into, and that’s hardly a bad thing.

Osamu Dazai, famous real-life author, with his iconic scythe

colons’ verdict: I’ve heard this one before

I’m aware of another anime about some dark magic force altering and destroying books, and about the team of people led by a cute small animal who dive together into the worlds of those books to save them from destruction. I am, of course, talking about 2019’s Pastel Memories, which Glorio has covered extensively already. I was convinced this meant Bungo and Alchemist was taking direct inspiration, but it seems the inverse may be true; Pastel Memories (the mobile game) launched in October of 2017, but Bungo‘s source material (also a mobile game) launched in November of 2016 on the web, and then on mobile the next June. DMM should probably sue.

Shit, though, this show is super gay, and I love it for that, but I’m worried a lack of familiarity with the source material will detract from any potential enjoyment I might get from it. I have to respect it, though; such a transparent excuse for homoerotic self-insert historical literature fanfic can only be commended. Being able to rope the authors in too? It’s just too good. 👌

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