Anime: Bungo Stray Dogs (Season 1)
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: March 06, 2018
Retail Price: $84.98
The 2016 anime series Bungo Stray Dogs became a success for a plethora of reasons - and after experiencing it for myself, I can understand why the genre-bending anime has received the adoration it has. Finding himself stalked by a ferocious white tiger, Atsushi Nakajima is unsure of the culprit or his safety, leading him to an unlikely aid. Atsushi manages to catch the attention of a powerful group known as the Armed Detective Agency and from that point on his life changes forever. This group of detectives happens to be gifted with unique abilities and their interest in him becomes all to clear as the first episode wraps up with a story that gives us enough of a push to follow the story of Atsushi.
The young man makes the discovery (thanks to his new allies) that he is in fact the powerful white tiger which is the true reason behind the Armed Detective Agency's interest, making Atsushi someone who could develop within the core team. Atsushi becomes a protegee to a man is described as their "most eccentric member" Dazai in what is considered to be a whole new world in the young man's eyes. With Atsushi being a commodity to others, the team begins to take on a range of mysteries that set the course for a season of action, intrigue, humor and a splash of growth from the series lead.
An interesting direction from the series was their decision to shift tone without skipping a beat. From early moments in the anime, I made assumptions that it would most likely lean towards more comedic styling than serious. Everything about the character of Atsushi screams comedy, from his voice to his actions - making him seem more like a character that struggles to be taken seriously. Once moving past those introductory portions, it becomes more of a drama between the mafia and detective agency that promises to depict heavier content. It loses steam when it falls back on the humorous comfort zone it has established early on, sometimes making it a jarring transition where it should be an aid to the series by showing that range. If Bungo Stray Dogs found moments in the middle of heavy scenes (similarly to Yu Yu Hakusho for example) that used more nuances than prolonged transitions it would make it even more well rounded than the series is - because it does have plenty to offer for all genre fans.
Justice seems to be a hot topic in the anime, where Baccano (a series that it is compared to by some anime fans) attempted to focus more on revenge. That sense of justice is what pushes the Armed Detective Agency to do their duties - making a more straight-edged group with morality expectations. I do enjoy the fact that they mostly picked a lane to stick with from a atmosphere perspective, but it does also leave a little to be desired in the future. There is already a Bungo Stray Dogs second season, but not having seen it - I hope the creators should really buckle down and try to navigate through the Agencies detectives. If given more purpose or a specified goal (both personally and as a team) it could be a critical step in making the lighthearted detective series something to return to for years to come.
Bungo Stray Dogs is an anime production that comes from Studio Bones, responsible for successful series/franchises like Fullmetal Alchemist or Eureka Seven - with Bungo Stray Dogs becoming another well-known title. The animation quality appears to pull inspiration from a late 1940's to early 1950's style, yet in a modern setting which works in favor of the series creativity. There are some moments (like Atsushi's transformation) that prove to be wonderfully animated, with almost all the character designs also falling in the 'pro' category - the only moments that can be considered to be less enticing is the fanservice depictions of Atsushi as the frail boy who can be objectified in mild instances (nothing too damaging however still unnecessary.) The dubbing quality doesn't have any negative traits to it, as Funimation proves that when it comes to dubbing they have a smart formula of actors for roles that appease viewers interests and aids the roles. Bungo Stray Dogs is available on video and Funimation's streaming service now - so make sure to pick it up for the hi-jinks of a detective agency that above all aims to have a little fun.
Overall Score: 7/10
Aedan's Final Thoughts:
- I'm hoping that season 2 is used to straighten out a more structured narrative.
- Atsushi dropped the ball at becoming a truly strong protagonist.