Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 6: Father’s Day

I don’t know what’s going on this week. I’ve watched a few anime that I’ve really enjoyed but also made me cry. It’s been a very bittersweet sort of week. And Bungo Stray Dogs fits right in!

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me too!

This week it seems we are continuing on the foundational work of developing characters which really should have been better established in earlier seasons. More specifically, we are looking at Kyouka and Atsushi with a little side of Lucy.

On paper this worries me. I have nothing against Kyouka But I always figured she was the token gap more character. The adorable lethal girl with the lethal skills for those that enjoy that sort of thing. Through 2 season and a movie she’s pretty much only been an attractive archetype with nothing much to bring other than a slight twist on the damsel in distress. The bad**s in distress, I suppose. 

As for Atsushi, in many ways I feel he’s the weak link in the series. He’s sort of dull and annoyingly emotional. If he has to makepeace with his gift and accept the tiger one more time, I might need some Pepto. I know it sounds harsh but the only two modes this kid has is expositional wallflower or super angsty weretiger. It gets grating, or worse, boring.

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep6 (5)
I should have used that crying screencap again

How am I doing selling this episode so far?

Maybe I’m just predisposed to this season, but I think there’s been a net improvement in Atsushi’s character. I’m not about to call him my favourite or anything but we’ve been focusing on him for two episodes now and I’ve yet t be annoyed by him. He got a bit emotional in the second half of this one, but it was pretty justified.

We start off by being reintroduced to Lucy and neatly tying off a loose end from season 2 in the process. Well done guys! Lucy is a great choice as a character to bring back. She’s shifty enough that her allegiances could go either way. Her gift is powerful but inconvenient. I might have prefered to see a little more of Twain or Poe, but she’s a solid choice.

The arc then quickly shifts to show us finally what happened to Kyouka’s parents and it’s not exactly what we’ve been led to believe. In fact, it was considerably more interesting in my opinion. And it fundamentally changes a lot of what Kyouka has held as truth and has been influenced by all her life. She must now figure out how to shift her anger and her guilt. This revelation changes everything.

But by far the best part, was how this revelation came to light. There are still people in this world that love Kyouka very much. I teared up a little.

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep6 (53)
I’m not ashamed!

The second half tok yet another stab at Atsushi’s les misérable orphanage past but for the first time we get a bit of moderation. It’s still awful but with space and perspective it becomes nuanced. People do terrible things with the best of intentions.

We don’t get that much in the way of new information but the episode did tell us one very important things. Atsushi led a difficult and painful childhood. One that was unfair and that no child deserves. But he was also loved. And the man who raised him, truly did want him to grow up to be a good and happy man. That’s a gift that cannot be overestimated. 

It throws your whole world astray. When you believed yourself to have been completely alone and reviled your entire life, to suddenly find out that someone out there was trying their best for you. And then to just as quickly find out that that person is now gone. That’s a pretty trying emotional roller coaster for anyone o put up with. Especially little Atsushi.

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 I did, a lot

So what are we left with after having our two young heroes face their mommy and daddy issues and completely upend their understanding of the world. Well, we do have two important but so far very flat characters finally gain some depth. It was also smart to keep the stories fairly short. No time for overblown melodrama or annoying contrivances.

It was probably the weakest episode of the season when taken by itself but you can tell that it’s foundational and I appreciate seeing that effort is being put into the groundwork. It’s a good sign.

I’m looking forward to the next episode and I’m starting to miss Fyodor just a smidge.

As usual, in order not to clutter Karandi’s media library I’ve stored the rest of the screencaps on my blog. If you’d like, you can go see them HERE .

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep6 (37)
what is she looking at?

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Top 5 Anime I’d Love To Play If They Were An RPG

Tuesday's Top 5

It is fairly accepted these days that games inspire movies, TV shows, and anime and a lot of these aren’t great. It also is fairly well accepted that popular shows and franchises might get a game spin-off but usually these are pretty much pandering to fans of the source and while some of these games are actually quite fun they aren’t exactly wowing hard core gamers. That said, there are some anime I watch and I just think how much fun it would be to play a game version of them. Now, some of them probably already have a game out but this is my list of anime that I thought have concepts that would make for an excellent gaming experience while watching.

I’d love to know which anime you think you’d enjoy as a game so be sure to leave me a comment below.

Number 5: Soul Eater

It shouldn’t be any surprise that I’ve put Soul Eater on this list. I mean, when you think about it, the story is made for being an RPG. Enrol at DWMA and design your meister/weapon combo. Complete missions to rise up the ranks and get good grades and help defend the school from threats. It would be an awesome RPG. Add in some factions and secret organisations within the school and you’ve got the makings of a really awesome game.

Now there are already Soul Eater games out there by the looks, but they seem mostly like battle focused games rather than an RPG experience. Maybe I’m wrong and one exists, but if it does, I’d love to know because I would definitely play it.

Number 4: Bungo Stray Dogs

As much as I find the narrative in the anime quite messy and unfocused, that would actually kind of work in an RPG. I don’t know about you, but when I play Skyrim I pretty much avoid anything that is a main mission quest while I meander about completing as many side quests and plots as I can. Mostly because at some point in an RPG, if you follow the main storyline you usually get to a point where you can’t go back to some of the other missions. So I like to get as many of those done before advancing the plot as I can. In Bungo Stray Dogs case, this means you can get distracted by as many petty investigations or conflicts with other organisations as you like and if you forget what the main mission was, that’s okay, I’m pretty sure no-one who only watches the anime knows what the end goal is anyway.

Now this one does have a game as well, but I haven’t really looked into it. Still, there’s certainly a lot about this anime that would work well in a game.

Number 3: Madoka Magica

Create a character and choose to take Kyuubey’s deal. Learn what kind of a magical girl you became based on the wish you chose and the character you designed and then fight off witches, deal with other magical girls, and decide what to do about Kyuubey. This could be an awesome gaming experience. Not to mention the visuals. Madoka Magica aesthetics in a game world would be utterly amazing.

Now there are plenty of Madoka games out there but most of them seem intent on supporting the narrative in the anime rather than being their own kind of gaming experience. Let’s just take the concept and create an original RPG experience around it and then we would have a truly amazing game to play.

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Number 2: Made in Abyss

A little less fighting and a lot more exploration and survival, Made in Abyss would be a truly amazing and horrific gaming experience. How far into the Abyss do you dare explore. How long before you die? I could see this one being comparable to Dark Souls in terms of being unforgiving to those who travel in unwary and die and yet it would be such a glorious experience. Not to mention, despite having a similar difficulty to Dark Souls, visually this one would be bright and cute in direct contrast to the horror of the situation. Fantastic.

Create your own orphan character being trained to explore the abyss and then after the briefest of tutorials, let’s just throw them down the hole and see how far they can get. I would absolutely love to play this though I suspect rage quitting would definitely become a thing.

Number 1: Darker Than Black

It is probably an obvious choice for me, and there is a game of it already, but I’d love to see this in a blockbuster game release. Massive world to explore, Contractors and factions to join, work with, bring down, mysteries to uncover, it could just be such an immersive gaming experience. I could certainly see us travelling about Carmen Sandiego style, stealthily infiltrating buildings and ferreting out intelligence, and when things go sideways unleashing amazing attack and fighting for survival.

It would be such a great game and because of the range of Contractor abilities it would have almost limitless replay value as you try with different characters and abilities to complete missions. I know I’d have a lot of fun with it and I’m pretty sure it could have wide appeal.

So those are my picks for anime I’d love to see made into games, or made into a specific game that I’d like to play. What are some of your choices for anime that would make great RPGs?

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Karandi James
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Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 5: The Girl With The Flowing Black Hair

Every Friday after I finish the latest episode of Bungo Stray Dogs’ season 3, I think the exact same thing to myself: Gowsh – I can’t wait to see the next one! This should give you a clue about how this review is going to go!

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Exactly!

Let me just say right off the bat, the writing this season has gone up a considerable notch! You hear about animation boosts as budgets get increased for later seasons of popular shows, well this time we have a narration boost and it is hugely welcomed.

The episode starts off by catching us up with the Armed Detective Agency. This is pure nostalgia fanservice but I have to admit, I got a huge kick out of seeing them all together again. Even Atsushi was great and I usually find him rather dull. We got some friendly and fun little banter in a coffee shop that established a much lighter mood than we’ve seen so far and reminded us that BSD is often a comedy. But a shadow was lurking, dum dum DUM.

One scene later that lovely café where they had enjoyed such a pleasant afternoon, lay in tatters and the owner was holding an injured hand with his fingernails ripped off. As I looked at our heroes’ horrified faces I though, whoa – they are wasting no time. Attacking straight on the agency’s home turf and violently at that. This is epic. Does Fyodor really move that fast? why? The scene was such a 108 from the previous one, it made me dizzy in the best way.

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stuff just got realz!

We quickly find out it was the doing of some new criminal organization called the Park but their affiliations are uncertain. At this point I thought to myself, well this is a little weak. The new leader was carefully detailing the organization and flexing in what was a rather ungraceful straightforward info dump. Not to mention that yet another criminal organization in this occasionally overstuffed plot seemed lazy. Dostoyevsky is much more interesting as a lone gunman villain and brings something new. If we wash him down with some two bit gang, the character loses some of his appeal and mystic.

And I should really learn some patience some day. Not only did the Armed Detective Agency track down this supposedly uncatchable group in seconds, they also disposed of them in roughly the same span of time. We even got to see Akiko have some fun which is always a reat. Not only that but the next intant the café was back in sparkling form and the apparently unharmed owner seemed no worse for wear.

the entire opening act was one big slapstick subversion of every trope we’ve come to expect from the show. It was wry, funny with just a bit of bite and reintroduced us to the characters in the best way possible. I don’t think past seasons managed this level of charm or wits in the writing and it set the bar rather high, in a season that has been impressive on that front.

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you know what, I say just run

The rest of the episode took a turn as it split focus between Atsushi and Doppo trying to get help from a former Armed Detective Agency member called Katai Tayama and Higuchi trying to figure out what Akutagawa is up to.

Katai has a gift which allows him to control computers and Doppo is hoping this will help them figure out something about the microchip that almost caused the Moby Dick to crash into the city last season. Unfortunately the man is lovestruck, having fallen for an elegant black haired beauty, and currently useless until he can track down the lady and confess.

Meanwhile, Higuchi accidentally runs into Akutagawa outside Mafia headquarters for once but he is with an elegant black haired beauty, which leads Higuchi to fear the worst. Namely that he has gotten himself a girlfriend! Hilarity and hijinks abound as the two groups cross paths and rce to find out the truth. I,m not gonna tell you what it is. There’s a few good twists. You should watch this episode!

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stalking shows you care!

The second half unfold like a lighthearted romantic comedy. Complete with misunderstandings and comical overreaction but that smart writing still come through. First it’s just plain fun but mostly, it sets up a lot of things without making obvious at all.

Throughout the episode we are reminded of the season two finale and they are starting to tie both season’s together, making a larger arc rather than throwing out past seasons like a lot of shonen. Second, the episode served as a huge character development (even a touch of backfill) for a lot of important players.

Most notably the stoic Higuchi just became my favourite character, showing an adorably hopeless side and just plain fun personality. But we also got a lot of background information and establishment on important Port Mafia characters we hardly saw in the episode. Not to mention that it was a pretty in depth introduction for Katai which might turn out to be a major player (or sacrificial pawn) this season.

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relatable

If this keeps up, season 3 is set to eclipse the previous ones in my mind and I’m already a little bummed out that it only gets 12 episodes. This story had potential to grow and it seems to be in the hands of a very skilled team. This will likely be the season that finally pushes me to buy all the manga.

As a side note, I’m really enjoying both the OP and ED. The OP is fun with a good beat to and great animation to get you in the mood, while the ED is a smooth wind down after the excitement of the episode with just a hint of melancholy in the imagery. I think I like the visuals of the OP a little better and the song of the ED a bit more. Do you have a preference?

Since Karandi doesn’t have unlimited storage space, I’ve dumped all the screencaps on my blog so you can go see them HERE if you like. Yes there is an unreasonable number of them.

Bungo Stray Dogs S3 ep 5 (54)

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Top 5 Characters Voiced By Miyano Mamoru

Tuesday's Top 5

I don’t give voice actors enough credit on my blog. They can really make or break a character and an anime, but other than Daisuke Ono I’ve never really focused on the voice actors in shows. However, with the return of Bungo Stray Dogs I decided to turn my attention to yet another voice actor I’ve really enjoyed over the years and am sharing my Top 5 characters voiced by Miyano Mamoru. I’d love to know some of your favourites so be sure to let me know in the comments below.

Number 5: Setsuna F. Seiei from Mobile Suite Gundam 00

While some of his other roles will show off a much wider range of emotion and expression than Setsuna, I really love the way Setsuna was portrayed in Gundam 00. His level and unemotional delivery for the most part really sells the tragedy that has occurred as Setsuna is very much a product of having grown up surrounded by war and conflict. Where a lesser voice actor might have made his character come across as dull, there’s intensity and nuances to the delivery of Setsuna F Seiei that make for an interesting performance and one that made him a fairly memorable character even if I didn’t realise until far later that Setsuna was voiced by Miyano Mamoru.

Gundam 00 - Setsuna F Seiei

Number 4: Dazai from Bungo Stray Dogs

Arguably the reason this list exists as Dazai’s character continues to both amuse and frustrate, I have to give absolute credit to the performance delivered by Miyano Mamoru here. Dazai can be an infuriating character for both the audience and the rest of the cast but the changeable nature from serious to playful and back again, the vaguely knowing and taunting tone that he delivers when teasing others, the sheer crazy or bored depending on the situation, everything about the performance is tailored to the situation and it works. As much as I might criticise aspects of Bungo Stray Dogs, I certainly can’t fault the voice acting for Dazai’s character.

Bungo Stray Dogs - Dazai

Number 3: Fushimi from K

Another fairly over the top performance but one that again shows a nice range as Fushimi can go from the bored and disinterested character to intense and borderline obsessed in a very short span of time. Fushimi is definitely a character who stands out in K, which is saying something in a large cast of zany and interesting characters, and a lot of the reason for that is the vocal performance. Regardless of the situation, Fushimi delivers his lines in a way that makes you pay attention and again we see that even when delivering lines as though bored, there are nuances to the performance here that make it interesting rather than dull to listen to.

K Project - Fushimi

Number 2: Okabe Rintarou from Steins;Gate

Come on, there was no way I was making this list without Okabe being on it. Given the sheer amount of dialogue packed into Steins;Gate, if the VA’s weren’t spot on it could make for one very dull viewing experience. Fortunately, the cast are all superb and none more so than the lead. Miyano Mamoru is the cackling self-proclaimed Mad Scientist who can deliver insane statements as if they are solid truths and can declare the invention names with absolute conviction even when they aren’t complete. While there are plenty of reasons to love Steins;Gate, the vocal performance delivered here is probably one of the best.

Steins;Gate - Okabe Rinatarou

Number 1: Light from Death Note

It is a tough act to beat Okabe Rintarou in terms of vocal performance but I’ll have to put my favourite character voiced by Miyano Mamoru as Light Yagami. Sure, Light has his moments of crazy, declaring himself a god amongst other things, but he’s also the model student, the good son, the seductive manipulator and takes on literally whatever role he needs to in order to achieve his goals. All of that means he needs a versatile voice that matches the occasion and Miyano Mamoru rises well and truly to the occasion to create an unforgettable character.

Yagami Light Death Note

That is my list for this week but there are a lot of other great characters voiced by Miyano Mamoru so please be sure to let me know your favourites.

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Karandi James
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Top 5 Anime I’m Anticipating For The Spring Season

Tuesday's Top 5

I was asked by DMWonder on Twitter whether I was going to do a anime I’m looking forward to post for the Spring season. As a general rule I just kind of wait until the season starts because when I do look ahead, I get excited about an anime and then realise it didn’t come out somewhere I could watch it anyway which leads to disappointment. That or I get hyped for something that then fails to deliver and again, disappointment.

So to avoid disappointment, I have taken the bury head in sand approach to seasonal viewing and while it is impossible to avoid hearing some of the titles coming out as other bloggers and anime fans on twitter share their thoughts on the upcoming season, I don’t go digging for more information until the season starts. Still, after I was asked this question, I got curious.

To make a not so thrilling story shorter, I went and had a look at MAL’s list of what was coming out in the spring and so here we are with me listing the top 5 anime I’m anticipating. If they don’t come out on services I use or they suck, I never made this list. Just saying.

However, though a lot of my readers have already shared their lists on their blogs, I’d love to know what Spring titles you are looking forward to, so be sure to leave us a comment below.

Honourable Mentions:

There are a few. These are titles that I kind of thought might be interesting but until you see how the first episode goes there’s really no way to tell. On this list I’ll add: Kimetsu no Yaiba and Fairy Gone. Both look like they could be really interesting, but they could also both fall completely flat depending on how the ideas come together.

Fairy Gone

Number 5: Shoumetsu Toshi

I don’t know what it is that is really grabbing my attention about this one. Maybe it’s just the opening line of the synopsis where it says a city just disappeared. Whichever way, something about this one kept grabbing my attention. That said, it lists a game as its source and that may or may not be a problem, but I’m still going to be hopeful about this one.

Shuometsu Toshi

Number 4: Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin

Alright, this one is just asking for it to flog big time, but the write up on this one looks interesting and that supernatural label always gets my attention even if I sometimes regret it after the fact. Throw in youkai and potential exorcists and you at least have me looking for your first episode ready to enjoy. Whether I will or not remains to be seen but this one seems like it should be right up my alley.

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin

Number 3: Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3

While this isn’t one of my favourite franchises, Bungo Stray Dogs has enough fairly awesome moments (particularly the start of season 2) to keep my attention. Visually it is always a spectacle and the powers are really cool. While I’d like a bit more from the story some times and find the focus on Atsushi a little less than thrilling when there are so many better characters in the show, I must say I still had a bit of a smile when I saw this was coming back.

Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3

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Number 2: Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2

Weird that I thought I’d be dropping Attack on Titan when season 3 started. But part one of this managed to get me really excited for the story again and even made me appreciate a lot of the characters more and so here I am getting hyped for a part two. Let’s hope it holds up because this one has got a lot of hype around it and just being okay won’t really be enough to stave off disappointment.

Attack on Titan Season 3

Number 1: Fruits Basket

I was completely in love with the original series of this, though always found the art style and the incomplete nature of the story a little frustrating. This was one that I looked up the manga online because I had to know what happened next but ended up realising there were quite a few changes. With all of that said, this one had been on my list of anime I wanted a reboot for, for a very long time and finally getting a reboot is incredibly exciting. I will definitely be watching this anime during Spring.

Fruits Basket

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Karandi James
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Bungo Stray Dogs Series Review: Guys With Super Powers, What More Do You Need?

This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in July 2016 and can be found here.

Now this post originally had those random circular images in it that just look kind of hideous and didn’t really have much in the way of flow. So I was kind of happy for the chance to revisit and to restructure just a little bit.

Review:

The first time I watched this series, my familiarity with the authors it was referencing was pretty much zero. I’d heard some of the names but knew little about them. After watching this and reading various blog posts that looked at how they were used in this series, and coming across many of these names in other anime, I spent a bit of time reading about these authors and their work and have even read small bits and pieces of some of their work. I don’t know that it appreciably adds to the viewing experience in the anime though I guess some things make a little more sense (but at the same time some things make a great deal less sense because while there is a reference there they seem to have taken a lot of artistic licence).

bungo 9

The other thing with revisiting this series is that I’ve since watched season two and that of course very much changed my impression of season one and where things were going so I’m trying to just focus on this season as I revisit it.

The first few minutes of the first episode remain my favourite part of this entire season. My original post summed it up best:

So I watched. And within the first few minutes just fell over laughing. The opening scene with Atsushi starving by the river and deciding to rob the next person who comes by. Then the motorcycle screams past and you see him realise that was never going to happen. Then the military group. Lastly, we see the floating legs going down the river. It was a beautifully written piece of comedy and the timing was perfect and the predictability of it and yet the still refreshing reveal just hit the spot.

However, as glorious as those first few minutes are, the rest of what follows will be a mixture of success and failure and none of it ever quite lives up to that opening. It kind of reminds me of Zombieland Saga n that I loved the opening act of that, however, I will admit what follows in Bungo Stray Dogs certainly held my interest better than what followed so far in Zombieland Saga.

Bungo 7

My biggest issue remains the pacing, though characterisation when watching again seems even rougher at times with some characters overstaying their welcome in a scene and other characters seemingly missing in action for no reason other than the plot said so. I also never found the comedy quite as solid as that opening scene, though I will admit there are some genuinely funny moments to be had. Again, the original post kind of captured my feelings perfectly.

Watching Bungo Stray Dogs makes you feel like you are on a see-saw. This joke hits the mark and things go your way, and then the next falls flat and you are just stranded up in the sky because someone left a rock on the other end of the see-saw and it won’t get off. That plot twist grabbed your attention… and then it went nowhere. That villain looks super-cool. Did they just unspectacularly knock him flat and move on without really dealing with why he even attacked?  For every moment of ‘now it’s getting going’ you get at least two moments of ‘what the?’. When reflecting on the whole, you realise the series seemed like fun but lacks anything of substance.

As for the characters, Atsushi and Dazai tend to dominate a lot of the screen time and that’s a problem in and of itself because both of these characters are brilliant at times and at others kind of painful. Dazai’s particular character quirks are really funny in the beginning but feel stale and repetitive, or just ill-timed, elsewhere. While he is an interesting character, he is also quite annoying. As a protagonist, Atsushi has a lot of dull moments where he is kind of propelled along because plot said so and the jumps in his ability to use his power seem really inconsistent.

The supporting cast are made up of some interesting characters but not enough is done with them in this first season to really make any kind of connection. They are there, they have the potential to be really fun but it isn’t really ever achieved. I just kept thinking how much I’d like to get to know more of the cast but always feeling like they were just kind of there.

Bungo

And it is a shame that I still feel much the same way about the plot presented in season one. There is a plot and it does continue into season two, but it is really scattered all over the place and there’s a lot of different ideas that never really seem to consolidate. It is more just watching the characters reacting to events rather than having a clear goal and that is partially what hurts this anime in its pacing because we’ll have a series of events coming one after the other and falling over each other and then we’ll have moment of kind of aimless meandering before the next thing happens.

 Um… Okay, plot?  Look, our characters are quirky and amusing and they have super powers. They fight each other over things that may or may not turn out to have any meaning and we’ll drop just enough hints that you think something may emerge from all of this.

Still, it is fun enough and even rewatching it and seeing that I wasn’t mistaken and that the plot really does just trip all over the place, I actually enjoyed watching these characters in action. The cool moments are cool enough and there is enough humour and action to keep things going and enough potential for the story in the future to bring things together if it chooses to do so.

Bungo11

The music was pretty solid and I like the visuals. The first time I had a bit of an issue with the way things hang off of characters, ties, belts, hair, etc, but this time around I just kind of liked how the show seemed to have a consistent style in its character design and that kind of made the whole thing seem very together so as much as I’d still like to trim Atsushi’s belt I think I’ll just go with it for now.

I still like this anime, though Bungo Stray Dogs is one of those that I probably won’t ever buy on DVD. I don’t feel I really need to watch it over and over and while there’s fun enough to be had there’s plenty of other titles I’d rather watch. Still, if you haven’t seen it and Dazai’s suicide joke isn’t going to upset you, watching this series is probably a fun way to spend a weekend.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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CALIGULA OVERDOSE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Friday’s Feature: Problem Solver

When I wrote this piece originally it had been on my mind for awhile. The idea that  fiction is a fairly distorted way of experiencing reality. Not saying that’s a bad thing, by distorting certain aspects of what is real other points can be more easily framed and foregrounded. Complex emotional ideas that usually get swept under the rug in reality can take centre stage or we can just enjoy the fact that our heroes are all but indestructible due to plot armour.

However one way that fiction consistently distorts is that regardless of the medium  stories have this tendency to lead the audience into thinking the problem (whatever it is) has a solution. It isn’t that every fictional problem is always solved neatly or easily, but there is almost always a forward motion in stories and usually this is built around characters advancing towards that final solution whether they ultimately achieve it or not.

And while certainly a non-defeatist attitude or a desire to be proactive might be admirable personality traits, hopeless optimism that everything could be solved is probably not. When we think about some of the situations anime protagonists are faced with and yet mostly they still say cheesy lines like:

I mean, they are wonderfully inspiring quotes that make you feel you can get out there and accomplish anything you put your mind to. But they don’t really deal with the reality most people face everyday. Changing things is sometimes not a matter of having courage but one of opportunity and those are few and far between.

march5

And sometimes you could try as hard as you like but without others being on board you may not succeed. Also, sometimes you don’t have endless chances to try once more. Sometimes you’ve tried and failed and that ship has sailed off into the sunset when you were not on board (I do mean a metaphoric ocean going vessel here and not a relationship).

That isn’t to say that there aren’t characters out there expressing a more down to earth view of things.

kunikida

However, that is why Kunikida is not the main character of Bungo Stray Dogs. He can’t be a main character with that kind of attitude. He exists to be a voice of logic or reason that others (those who will be the main character of their story) fight to overcome. In truth, he is directly positioned to be seen as unhelpful and negative at times and as the person who has a defeatist attitude. Comparing him to Atsushi (who is actually the main character of Bungo Stray Dogs for some reason), Kunikida is smarter, more focussed, and infinitely more talented. And yet it is Atsushi’s never say die and charge into the den of your enemy approach that ultimately saves the day in the final fights though there is a lot of giving up at smaller challenges earlier in the season (what exactly did Kunikida do for the entirety of season 2?).

Then we have Hachiman from My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU. From a casual observation he flies in the face of every other protagonist out there. He is the star of his show and carries with him a negative and self-destructive mantle that he absolutely refuses to change.

He doesn’t want to change, he doesn’t see his personality as a problem, and has more or less given up on expecting anything from the world. Yet then we look at the plot structure of this story. Almost every episode (or arc as some go over multiple episodes) deal with Hachiman having to address a problem and solve it. He may whinge, drag his feet, and act indifferent but even though his solution is unconventional and usually leaves him burned, the fact remains that he continues to act on behalf of others to bring problems to a solution.

The one problem that he refused to address is the problem everyone else in the series is forced to address and that is his own anti-social attitude which as he points out probably isn’t that big of an issue given he’s hardly the first teenager to go through high-school without friends. It becomes an issue though when it becomes apparent that a lot of what he says is an outer facade rather than his true feelings.

Kirito_Dual_Blades

And then of course we have Kirito from SAO who faced a problem so extreme that even with a never say die attitude and you never know until you try still couldn’t win so broke the game. While there might be a touching message about the power of emotions and desire the reality of that situation wasn’t just distorted it was completely thrown out the window for narrative convenience. Of course, any other ending wouldn’t have really worked at that point so we’ll just go along with it.

Fiction is a mirror for the world but it isn’t a true reflection and this is seen clearly in this idea of solving problems. Some things once broken can’t be fixed. Others require a work around, acceptance, or sometimes a tactical withdrawal (otherwise known as running away with purpose). And while all these ideas appear in stories, the overwhelming majority of fiction has a protagonist confronting a problem (regardless of what that problem might be) and in some way dealing with that problem (even if the protagonist ultimately does not succeed).

What do you think about fiction and how it constructs reality? What are some of your favourite quotes from anime protagonists as they go to confront overwhelming danger? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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BUNGO STRAY DOGS – SEASON ONE
BUNGO STRAY DOGS - SEASON ONE