Bungo Stray Dogs Season 2 Series Review


Season 1 ended with the Guild attacking the Agency and essentially declaring war. Season 2 continues following Atsushi (mostly) as he works with the Agency to protect the city. I reviewed this episode to episode if you want to check out my thoughts (which progressively got more negative as the series continued).

Review (full of spoilers):

Bungo is such an odd show to try and review because there are moments and little snippets of plot that I absolutely love and then there is everything else that the show mixes into its little pot and tries to serve up to us as something resembling a character focused narrative. I say character focused because it surely can’t be plot focused. There is still nothing in this show that resembles an overarching plot.

Villains are introduced and  then as quickly discarded in this season as the first. Remember how bad Akutagawa  was supposed to be in season 1? If you see him, run. And then by the end of the season, absolutely nothing. He was easily dealt with and turns out he isn’t all that impressive. This season does it again. Over and over. Talk someone up. Show them being unstoppable and powerful. And then nothing.

Even the ‘final’ boss (who it turns out is not actually the final boss) is stupidly overpowered at first but his power has one very obvious flaw. Eventually he will run out of funds so just keep hitting him. Apparently Atsushi is completely untouchable given regardless of damage he seems to regenerate (but only when he is mid-battle and only when he really knows he can’t afford to lose) so just keep flinging Atsushi at the guy and eventually he’ll fail.

This doesn’t make for compelling viewing.

The best moments of season 2 come from the fairly independent arc showing Dazai’s past with the Port Mafia and the moments between Kyouko and Atsushi. While that isn’t a romance made in heaven and isn’t exactly brilliantly written or balanced in any way, it is one of the stronger narrative arcs going through the series and the reunion between the two at the end was actually kind of touching.

Another positive is the half episode devoted to Rampo. Locked door mystery and no Atsushi made this one of my favourite post-flash-back moments in season 2 and I really enjoy watching Rampo. He’s one of the few characters in the show I find consistently entertaining.

Last positive point, Lovecraft. Okay, we got zero explanation for this guy but he kind of sold every scene he was in and when he finally dove into the ocean I just kind of thought ‘oh, are we not getting to see any more of you’. One of the few characters I am sad to see leave.

So this leaves everything else. Dazai continues to be smugly perfect at everything and while I loved his flash-back episodes and brief reconciliation with his old partner from the Port Mafia, pretty much everything else Dazai related grated on my nerves, yet he still managed to be on my top male character list  from 2016 because when Dazai is entertaining he is very entertaining.

There are just too many characters chopping and changing meaning none of them get proper development, their motives are explained in info-dumps and then they leave. The fight sequences range from awesome to completely tacky to just plain dull so it is always hit and miss what you will get. Oh, and did I mention the absence of an actual plot other than Guild wants something so Guild smash city?

Overall, Bungo Stray Dogs season 2 can’t be called a disappointment as most of these issues are just continuations of the flaws of season 1, but I’m disappointed anyway that none of these seem to have been dealt with. Is it watchable? Definitely. Will you enjoy it? That entirely depends on whether you liked season 1 and whether you will put up with the issues. Pretty much if you thought season 1 was okay, check this out and you’ll probably get a few good moments from it.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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Friday’s Feature: Consistently Inconsistent – Or Why I Would Struggle to Recommend Bungo Stray Dogs

I know I covered a lot of my issues with Bungo back when season 1 finished airing. In case you missed it here’s a link to my review of the season. One of my biggest complaints then was the inconsistency of the series. So now that season 2 is done, has the issue been resolved? (I will actually write a review of the show at some point rather than nit-pick at individual points.)

I’d really have to say no. The one thing I can rely on from Bungo Stray Dogs is not knowing from week to week what I’m going to get. More importantly, not knowing from minute to minute within the episode. Is this threat going to be serious or not? Are they actually going to develop that plot thread or is this just another throw away idea that will come and go in the blink of an eye?

Sometimes I really feel that Bungo would benefit from an absolute do-over. There are so many good ideas in the show and there are some really interesting moments that are well delivered and well thought out. Then there’s everything else in the show.

Bungo 10

From season 1 to season 2 there have been some changes. Spending the first four episodes of season 2 in flashback (giving that arc at least a bit of consistency and a more serious tone) was a bold choice. The end of season 1 left us waiting for the next move in the three way war and instead we got back story on a character and more information about the Port Mafia and the show benefited overall from both of these things. It made Dazai a little more human and a lot less of a comic relief character and it allowed us to see the Mafia as an actual player in the battle to come rather than the throw away third wheel.

But this wasn’t enough to really say that this show found its tone. While the episodes following the flash back did tone down the comedy aspects that consistently plagued season 1, the comedy is still there (and rightly so given its an established part of the show). The issue is that they still aren’t really finding the right timing or placement of some of these ‘humorous’ moments and a lot of them still aren’t hitting their marks.

Okay, there are worse things for a show to be than inconsistent in tone but inconsistencies are a major problem. When a show doesn’t have consistent tone or pacing they risk alienating everyone. A lot of people will put up with bad or mediocre but when we’re not sure what is coming and we go from soaring heights to crashing to rock bottom in the space of half an episode it makes you start to resent the show.


That said, this problem isn’t exclusive to Bungo Stray Dogs though it’s probably been the one anime I’ve kept watching this year where inconsistency has been a problem. Prior to Bungo the anime I’d have pointed to with this as a central issue would be Samurai Flamenco. I never had any clue whether that show was supposed to be serious or not and whether it was supposed to be funny or not and the way it threw us around made me wonder sometimes if the writers actually knew what they were aiming for from scene to scene (and I know I just annoyed every fan of Flamenco but wow that tone shifts around a lot).

Addressing the other side of the coin though, some anime are deliberately all over the shop  when it comes to tone and it works for them. D Gray Man, which is admittedly one of my all time favourite anime if not my favourite, is horrendously inconsistent when you consider the sharp shifts from comedy to character driven drama to shonen action and then to the darkest and nastiest things your could do to characters. And yet in D Gray Man the tonal shifts are actually a strength rather than a detriment in the long run (at least for me). While occasionally the comedic moments are jarring, they are placed strategically to either energize a section where the pace has slowed down for exposition or at a moment when things have been too dark and tense for too long and they are trying to bring us back into the flow of the story.


What the comedic moments never do in the original series is step on an important piece of character development or a truly dramatic moment. While Allen and Kanda will shout and yell at each other in the cafeteria or prior to a normal battle, when faced with a truly dangerous foe the characters don’t waste time with quips or other silliness. They respond to the situation they are in and that makes them feel more real. In the everyday (and facing the normal enemy that they are well used to fighting) they are more relaxed then in other situations.

The other reason it works is because ultimately the central narrative continues to drive forward. We are always moving toward stopping the Earl. It doesn’t matter what side missions they get sent on or what intrigue happens or how dark or light the tone of the show it because we are still moving toward something that was established early on. Basically the story has purpose and all the jumping around in tone just makes 103 episodes of this show actually interesting because the characters go through a lot of different things and you are going along for a ride with them. If they hadn’t had the variations in tone we might have been buried under an avalanche of depression about twenty episodes in.

Bungo lacks this drive toward anything because from episode 1 we know nothing. We don’t know what any of the characters ultimately want and we don’t have a central conflict or villain to deal with. Everytime we think we’ve met something that could be a that villain or goal, it is quickly revealed to be just another distraction in an already cloudy narrative. And that may actually be the main reason Bungo struggles to find its feet. While there may be an overall purpose, the audience aren’t in on that secret and so very little of anything it is presenting has any weight. At the end of season one we meet the Guild but are they really all that much of a threat? And will defeating the Guild mean everything is fine? None of this has been established and other than the fact that the leader of the Guild seems crazily destructive for the sake of it, if the Guild actually won this three-way battle would it matter?

What are your thoughts on inconsistent tone in anime? Does it bother you?

Bungo Stray Dogs Episode 23


Apparently this episode is everyone clearly and slowly state exactly what your personal hang up is and draw some sort of moral across the screen so that the viewers can’t possibly miss the message. While it is nice that Bungo decided not to be confused in terms of tone or story this week, the dragging out of this conflict on the Moby Dick was really quite depressing.


This battle is one of overpowered punches and occasional lengthy exchanges between any combination of the three main players which means it isn’t exactly compelling and what they are saying bordered on repetitive by the halfway point. I’m guessing we were supposed to see Atsushi and Akutagawa both help each other see what they were missing but mostly I just kind of wondered why Akutagawa didn’t use his gift to slice the Moby Dick into small pieces and call it a day.

Anyway, anyone who has paid any kind of attention to the opening already knows where this is going and the battle still didn’t conclude  so mostly lets hope that we get something a bit more interesting for a climax next week.


Bungo Stray Dogs is available on Crunchyroll.

Bungo Stray Dogs Episode 22


The first half of this episode of Bungo was great fun. Rampo was doing his thing and coming to the realisation he doesn’t have a gift and really not wanting to admit that.


Okay, I just like Rampo so the diversion from the Agency/Guild/Mafia war to have a confrontation between two ‘detectives’ through the use of a locked room mystery novel was kind of awesome and thoroughly enjoyable.

Then we move to the second part of the episode which sees Dazai and Rampo concoct a plan involving getting Atsushi back on the Moby Dick and of course things go a bit wrong with the plan except that Dazai has of course accounted for that.

It’s weird that when Rampo figures things out that he really shouldn’t be able to I find it an endearing character trait but when Dazai does it I just find him obnoxious.

Anyway, looks like next week should be interesting.

Bungo Stray Dogs is available on Crunchyroll.

Bungo Stray Dogs Episode 20


Bungo Stray Dog does a lot of things well, but it also has a lot of problems in terms of writing a cohesive narrative. We just seem to keep piling on more characters, abilities and craziness for the sake of novelty and for every explanation we get there’s a whole bunch more questions (and usually the explanations are a throw away line about someone’s ability). Did we really need a giant, mechanised, floating whale? Hello? Does anyone need that?

Kyouko has probably been arrested and is lost in despair, Atsushi is momentarily in hero mode before we get his next break down of patheticness, Dazai is still showing up to save the day even though there is no logical way he should have had any idea that Atsushi was going to dive out of an airship, have his parachute shot down and then run sprinting down that particular street (and don’t tell me Ranpo foresaw it because that actually makes it even worse), and lastly we have Atsushi suggesting an alliance with the Port Mafia. Who would have thought that both Japanese agencies would come together to defeat the Americans?

Anyway, even if the alliance does happen, and it does seem like the only plausible next step but that doesn’t mean much for this show, we know the Port Mafia  will ultimately betray the Agency when it is to their best advantage so it isn’t like we’re all going to forgive and forget the casual murder and property destruction the mafia have engaged in up until now.

Oh, and in case you think after reading that I disliked this episode, that’s not exactly right. I smiled most of the way through it and got a great laugh from the end. It’s crazy, over-the-top and absolutely ludicrous story telling running at full tilt and hoping no one looks closer because it all kind of falls apart and yet it was a really fun episode on the back of a so far superior second season.

Bungo Stray Dogs is available on Crunchyroll.

Autumn 2016 Week 6

Week 6, here we are. Halfway for 12 episode shows. My honest opinion of Autumn so far is that I’m actually really enjoying this season. There’s a number of dropped shows (or unwatched shows) that I’m interested in and am enjoying reading the reviews of others and the shows I’m watching have been highly entertaining (while some are not actually good). Of course there’s also a group of shows that make me wonder what I’m basing my original judgements on because they’ve just never lifted their game. Oh well, my thoughts on week 6 are below.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the season below.


I Must Keep Watching

  • Natsume Yuujinchou Go (Ep 6)
  • March Comes in Like a Lion (Ep 5)
  • Bungo Stray Dogs (Ep 18)
  • Yuri on Ice (Ep 6)

I’m kind of torn this week about Natsume having the top spot. On the one hand it is consistently entertaining and the quality of the story and presentation isn’t up, down and all over the place. On the other hand, March Comes in Like a Lion had a much stronger episode this week and overall is leaving a bigger impression this season. That said, consistency is winning at the moment and we’ll see how things go next week.

March Comes in Like a Lion felt a bit better this week with a return to Rei at the centre however there is still the issue of where this story will go or whether it will just become a slice of life style show. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but I kind of need a bit more direction in the story to stay interested over a longer period.

Bungo Stray Dogs is still feeling a bit stronger than last season and I’m quite enjoying season 2 but I’m still struggling with why I should care about any of the conflicts that have cropped up. Definitely keeping an eye on this one.

Yuri on Ice moved down a little this week. Not because of lack of personal enjoyment (I’m really loving it) but because looking at the last two episodes realistically we have no story going on here other than the competition. Character focus is fine and all but could we have something in the plot other than skate good?


Still On My Radar

  • Days (Ep 18)
  • Iron Blooded Orphans (Ep 30)
  • Lostorage Incited WIXOSS (Ep 5)
  • Izetta: the Last Witch (Ep 6)
  • Flip Flappers (Ep 6)

Days continued to give us a solid reminder about what it has done best for its run time and that is deal with the characters’ emotions. The soccer is okay, the pacing questionable, the animation all over the place, but the characters continue to grow and when they are allowed to take centre stage something quite wonderful happens. That said, there are too many issues with this show to make it a must watch again even though I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last two weeks.

Iron Blooded Orpahns didn’t noticably improve from the rest of this season but it has maintained consistency which is more than some of the other shows. This second season is definitely different from season 1 and yet feels like a very logical progression on the events so it is hard to be annoyed about the change in tone, though it looks like things are about to get very messy again.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS kind of flattened out this episode and that’s because we’ve got our characters into this horrible situation but this episode doesn’t progress the situation or their development as characters. The show instead ops to have them go through the motions as if they are uncertain that the audience are ready to move on and that kind of killed the tension this week. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

Izetta is continuing it’s downward plunge as it just can’t seem to decide if it is going to be serious or just have cute girls prance around a war setting. If it could figure that out it might be able to make a decent story but so far it hasn’t so after initially being quite interesting I am finding myself more and more distracted during episodes to the point where I miss actual bits of story and then have to go back and watch the last few minutes.

From a visual point of view, Flip Flappers is better than most of the other shows in this section. The problem is from an episode to episode point of view, the story is a complete mystery that may or may not play out. This is definitely one of those shows that will either have a great ending and force a total rewatch to pick up all the missed pieces or it will end as incoherently as it began and disappear as a cute but odd viewing experience. Guess we’ll find out in a few weeks.


Not Dropped But Not Sold On These

  • Trickster (Ep 6)
  • Kiss Him, Not Me (Ep 5)
  • Bloodivores (Ep 6)
  • Nazotokine (Ep 6)

Trickster remains the most consistent of this group of shows but hasn’t done anything that would make me consider moving it up to the next category. It remains not good but not terrible and they might eventually get around to actually making it more than just a colourful piece of fluff with a few darker overtones at some point.

Kiss Him, Not Me continues to drag us through the bottom of the highschool dating cliches but with its own bit of a twist and just enough charm that I haven’t flung this one off my watch list. I’d be lying if I said I got no enjoyment from the episodes but I’d also be lying if I said that this suited my tastes or that it is particularly good or compelling. Points though to whats-her-name for calling the boys out on being completely shallow.

I didn’t think Bloodivores would fall back below Kiss Him given that I’m a lot more interested in vampire/prison survival stories than in teen romance and yet this episode proves that Bloodivores is just not very good. It isn’t a matter of personal preference for topic anymore. Objectively, Bloodivores got worse and it was already pretty bad.

Nazotokine is actually a piece of fairly forgettable anime. The short episodes make it bearable but it would be difficult to argue that any aspect of the show is particularly good. Of course it is equally hard to complain about anything other than it being boring which is more than enough of a complaint when discussing a piece of entertainment.


Watching and Will Review Occasionally

  • Cheating Craft (Ep 4)

So far I’ve put off the next episodes of this but I may still pick it up. My review of episode 4 will come up in the next couple of days.



  • Girlish Number (Ep 1 – Yeah, I dropped this, I just never got back to another episode so clearly wasn’t that interested.)
  • Nanbaka (Ep 2 – Dropped)
  • Magical Girl Raising Project (Ep 2 – Dropped)
  • Matoi the Sacred Slayer (Ep 2 – Dropped)
  • Touken Ranbu – Hanmaru (Ep 1 – Dropped)
  • To Be Hero (Ep 1 – Dropped)
  • Occult;Nine (Ep 1 – Dropped)
  • Dream Festival (Ep 1 – Dropped)

This was the halfway point so the question is which shows are you most looking forward to seeing end (either because you want to know what happens or because you are over them but haven’t dropped them)?

Bungo Stray Dogs Episode 18


Bungo Stray Dogs is going to get the award for most inconsistent not just in tone but in airing time the way this season is going. I could probably search and find out why the release date of the episodes has been all over the place but I’m really disinclined to bother. It just seems weird.

Anyway, episode 18 gets action heavy as we blow up a ship and then have a minor skirmish between the Port Mafia and the Agency. Atsushi and Dazai were both mysteriously absent from the whole episode this time (save for a few flashbacks of Dazai’s expressions) which gave us a bit of time to try to remember who all the other characters are. They all still seem death proof which makes you wonder how we’re ever going to get a victor out of the three way conflict, but that’s another story. The way this season is going this is actually going to be one of the few season 2’s I enjoy more than the original season of a show.

Bungo Stray Dogs is available on Crunchyroll.