Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina Series Review

Elaina Review

The diary, the witch, and the broomstick.

Wandering Witch is a 2020 anime I hadn’t heard of at all, having been out of the loop and it not being a sequel or connected to any franchise that had been out prior to my blog break. Yet when I asked what anime I should catch up on from last year Elaina came up more than once. I did about two seconds research (yes it was available on Anime Lab and it had a witch in it) and decided why not. Now having binge watched the entire series in the course of a day I’m really happy with that decision.

While I will probably point out some faults with the series throughout this review, the simple fact remains that I was engrossed enough that despite having many other things I could or should be doing with the last of my holidays I kept clicking for ‘just one more episode’. Well, if you do that enough and you only have a 12 episode series and eventually you realise its finished and the whole day just disappeared in a puff of cute witches hats and pink smoke.

Fran shows off her witch fashion - Wandering Witch
Really, really cute witches hats. Seriously, love Fran’s outfit.

Wandering Witch is very easy viewing. Episodic in nature, with some stories taking only half of their episode, there’s a similarity to the structure of Kino’s Journey. The comparison becomes even clearer when you realise that Elaina is travelling to different countries each with their own quirks and rules much as Kino was – though she has less stringent rules about how long she’ll stay and clearly has no issue getting involved when it suits her. Now, I only watched the remade series of Kino and to be honest after the initial positive impression, was somewhat less than impressed.

However, Elaina somehow manages to avoid either boring me or feeling pointless, even in the somewhat more frivolous episodes. Partly I think this is because the series isn’t taking itself so seriously or trying to be a philosophical work but instead chooses simply to be about a wandering witch and the various things and people she encounters.

Wandering Witch is more travelling show than adventure or fantasy.

Even episodes that do set up more meaningful situations to contemplate, such as the kingdom where people could only speak the truth, are ultimately dealt with in a light manner. Sure there’s more depth to the concept and you could consider the moral implications, or you can just enjoy Saya and Elaina’s reunion and watch things unfold. Other situations are significantly more serious, such as the city that was being destroyed by a monster where a princess was left alone, however even these situations were ultimately resolved in some form and Elaina then moved on.

Elaina looks back over a city in the process of being destroyed - Wandering Witch
So many sights to see – Elaina takes in the world one city at a time.

Despite the light and cute visuals that permeate most of the series, there are a number of not so sweet factors at play in the world. Not every ending is happy and Elaina isn’t always directly involved in resolutions (though she certainly has her hand in many of them). Honestly, I kind of appreciated this as it stopped things from getting too saccharine. I felt a number of times while watching that this reminded me both visually and in tone to WorldEnd.

Apparently they are both from C2C studios though I wasn’t seeing a lot of staff in common. Still, there was definitely just a enough of an edge underlying the otherwise fluffy tone to keep me interested and yet still enjoying the viewing.

He finally found his sister (shudder) - Wandering Witch
Not everything is sweetness and light in Wandering Witch.

I was definitely surprised when a content warning came up prior to episode 9. Given the generally easy going nature of the series I was wondering what kind of a dark turn they were about to take. Admittedly, the episode is a little more bloody than earlier ones, but overall it wasn’t a major departure from the tone of the show and it didn’t signify that the anime was about to derail itself and take on an entirely new tone for its finale.

I’m still kind of looking at the MA15+ rating that AnimeLab has on the series and wondering just why. I could certainly understand an M and recommending it for mature audiences, but using the restricted for over 15’s rating seems a little excessive given the generally relaxed viewing experience. Of course I could say more on that but realistically the Australian ratings and warnings system and anime just don’t ever make sense and that’s about to launch me into a tirade that definitely needs its own post or three so I’m just going to move on.

Overall, I found the characters in this story to be interesting enough and their cute appearances made for easy watching. Elaina is a decent protagonist, though I feel the 12th episode pointing out her qualities as a main character was a little too much of a wink-wink moment to the audience. Fran as a mentor and recurring character is always welcome. Saya, and her fondness for Elaina, is a little excessive but fortunately her appearances are usually diluted by major happenings.

Other characters appear for an episode and then Elaina moves on and each works within their setting. While none of these characters are likely to stick with me much beyond the watching, they were very enjoyable to spend a day with.

The reunion of Fran and Elaina - Wandering Witch
Elaina and Fran reunite.

Visually this show is actually pretty impressive. The magical fights, when they occur, are suitable full of flash and bang, characters move relatively fluidly, the broom flying sequences are usually superbly done, and the settings are picturesque. Other than a mild complaint that a lot of the extras from town to town feel recycled, there’s little to really criticise. Admittedly, this isn’t action packed and while there are some fights, there’s also a lot of sitting and drinking tea, reading books, or just kind of wandering around. Still, there’s some really lovely scenes and sequences to be found.

The music also complements the overall tone with the OP being a very relaxing number and definitely lulls you and prepares you really just to be open to the journey ahead. Background music was largely forgettable but seemed appropriate within the scenes. Elaina’s voice acting (Japanese only viewed) worked very well as the sometimes narrator and also for her character giving her a definite bit of pride and occasionally demonstrating that she could be shocked or sulky depending on the situation. Most of the other characters really only got to hit one note, but they hit it well.

Wandering Witch isn’t a perfect show by any means. It isn’t particularly deep or mind-blowing, and it certainly isn’t making any of the list topping anime shake in their boots. That said, it is a very enjoyable viewing experience and sometimes that is all you need.

Images used for review from: Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina. Dir. T Kubooka. C2C. 2020.

After finishing the show, and writing my review, Scott (Mechanical Anime Reviews) made a comment on twitter about dropping the show. When I asked why he pointed me to a post he wrote at the time Elaina was airing (that I would have read if I’d been around at the time). For those who want a more critical view of the show this review might be a nice place.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 12: The Precipice

bungo stray dogs s3 ep12 35

Well, I got to give it to them, it’s not perfect but Bungo Stray Dogs did manage to tie up most of the loose ends. Not only that but they found a way t make use of all those background episodes, even brought back Francis. His episode remains my favourite in what has been a consistently strong season. I still want more and this ending felt abrupt, but the story doesn’t seem as unfinished as I would have thought a week ago. You win this time! That’s 2 for me and 2937761 for you…

 You probably did not see this coming at all, but you can find my gallery for this final Bungo Stray Dogs SEason 3 episode by following his here link to my blog! But first. let’s talk finale!

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep12 (30)
glad you agree

We hit the ground running as the episode completely skips over the OP to plunge us right back into the heart of the action. Atsushi and a now stricken but impressively lively Akutagawa are chasing after Pushkin to force him to cancel his ability. As the action ramps up, we get a beautiful classical music score to drowns out all other noise. Admittedly I really love Tchaikovsky so I may be biased, but I thought this score really added a lot to the scene. Not for the first time this season, I was impressed by the use of music, which is definitely not something I could say for previous seasons. (Aside from the great EDs).

As fun as the chase was, it turned out to be a bait and switch as the main antagonist of the episode soon showed up and Akutagawa and Atsushi were forced to turn their attention to him, letting Pushkin escape. It took me a while to figure out this guy was supposed to be Goncharov. In classic Bungo Stray Dogs style, the character completely subverts his namesake.

Ivan Goncharov was by all accounts a dour and bitter man. He had a very public feud with Ivan Turgenev (another Russian author) who he accused of plagiarism and defamation, both of which have so far not been substantiated. And bear in mind this was the mid to late 1800s when it was very difficult to have a very public anything. You had to put an effort in. Stick around not moving for like 5 minutes just to get a photograph… This man was dedicated to his discontent! Also, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who was about a decade younger, considered him one of the great Russian authors of the time and had a lot of respect for the man, while I’m not sure Goncharev ever even mentioned him at all. 

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep12 (23)
you had to be there

Most of the episode is dedicated to the fight between these three men. It’s very well animated and fun to watch, but as we have never really met Goncharov before this moment, there’s little to no emotional connection there. He’s not particularly threatening like Fyodor (ok but who is? good point me) I mean we don’t know anything other than h seems to have a pretty powerful gift. His character could have been replaced by an earthquake with relatively little impact on the plot.

On the upside, we did get a chance to see the two upstarts bond a little. I have to say, unlike a lot of characters this season, Akutagawa did not get much in the way of development. I found this very surprising.  mean, we learned a bit about his family and that was great, but he was really secondary in that story. Instead what the narrative did is give him a few very brief but significant interactions with key characters. Key for him at least. First Gin, then Kyouka and Dazai. In all of these exchanges, Ryo reacted in unexpectedly relatable ways and by the time this episode rolled around he had been so humanized that it was believable that he would put himself in danger to protect Atsushi. If it meant victory of course. Not just cause it’s the right thing to d. Let’s not go crazy!

I have to admit, on its own the whole Atsutagawa fusion bit was pretty silly. Dare I say even a touch stupid. However, by now, the season had built up enough good will in my book, that I really didn’t care. I just saw it as fun. I also really like the Ying Yang motif they put in that tar pit scene!Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep12 (6)

it’s not perfect, but I see it

Despite the fact that the Goncharov confrontation probably took up most of the episode in terms of screentime, it’s the final at that really stuck in my mind. Pushkin escapes the tunnels only to be greeted by pretty much the entire Port Mafia and Armed Detective Agency front lines. Let’s just say that pesky cannibalism virus was expediently dealt with. Meanwhile, we find out that Fyodor has been peacefully enjoying his tea in a completely different part of town and normally, that would be it. A traditional cliffhanger to bait us into watching another season as our heroes are out of immediate danger but the real villain rides off into the sunset.

Except this isn’t a normal show and we still don’t know if one of the main protagonists isn’t the real villain. Dazai is a constant wrench in the works. So who better to be waiting for Fyodor in that caffe? Awww, don’t worry about it, I’ll tell you who. Francis, that’s who! Not only did they bring him back (not the young programmer though), but they even gave him a logical reason to be there. That was a very good…what’s the opposite of a plot hole? A plot hill?

It was a good ending. Heck, I’m impressed they managed to pull off anything resembling an ending at all. There was action, we got to see all our favourite characters and even a mega happy ending with everyone dressed in fancy clothes. A rare smile from Fukuzawa became my favourite gif of the season. There were a couple of nice Chuuya ones as well…

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep12 (34)
beautiful sunset once again

But you know, even with Dostoyevsky seemingly outwitted at the last minute and being escorted out by an entire swat team of government agents, h didn’t seem particularly defeated. Just momentarily thrown off. When I said they pulled off an ending what I mean is that they created a natural break in what is obviously a larger narrative. There is clearly more to this story. And if the quality in direction and production keeps up, I desperately want to see the rest. I think I want to see the rest either way, actually.

As the end scene played over that wonderful closing music. It really is fantastic! I immediately started to miss the series. I guess it’s yet another manga I have to buy now. Please Bones, make another season!



Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 11: Generations

bungo stray dogs season 3 ep11 4

Stop me if you’ve heard this before but this season of Bungo Stray Dogs is just amazing. Everyone, please go by a manga or DVD or something and show the franchise some love. Mama is gonna need a season 4 of this. For this time, and this one time only, I will be mama. This is how much I am loving this season!

Also, this episode looked great. Not that Bungo Stray Dogs is not a generally stylish show with great visuals but the flashback scenes were particularly fun to watch so I more or less created a stop motion of the episode. You can see it  HERE, on my blog. 

Yes, sir!

I think someone owes me a round of applause. Remember when I said that Fukuzawa and Mori must have been close at some point? O.k., it wasn’t exactly hard to guess. Still, I’m going to take the credit for this one. Indeed, the two men have a shared history and although it would probably be a stretch to call them friends, they were for a time at least, allies.

We have seen Mori and Fukuzawa share scenes in previous seasons of Bungo Stray Dogs but none of those encounters had the weight and complexity of what we saw in this episode. Mori is a lot of questionable things but he isn’t a troll. What I mean by that is that he doesn’t just throw fake accolades around. When a younger Mori addressed Fukuzawa as Fukuzawa-dono, I believe it was sincere. He really does respect the leader of the Armed Detective Agency.

And although Fukuzawa is as always more restrained and less sociable, he did admit that the two of them have a lot more in common than not. In the end, both are intelligent, powerful men that recognize each other’s talents. Two men with very different visions but the same goal and the same mentor. The uneasy partnership of convenience between the two was wonderful to watch and I would have enjoyed an entire arc on their past adventures. Oh, for those that haven’t seen it, the episode opened on a flashback of Mori and Fukuzawa’s first meeting…

Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3 ep11 (2)
wh sort of Detective Agency?

We know that a man named Natsume brought them together as the first protection for their beloved Yokohama. And the foundations for what would become a fragile peace are laid down as Mori wrestles the out of control Port Mafia into his iron grip, the government enforces the Special Ability Department and Fukuzawa founds the Armed Detective Agency to keep the balance. 

In time, both men would find someone the would choose as a successor. Fukuzawa saw a lot of himself in the diligent and hardworking Doppo. And he was right. Although Kunikida was close o broken last week, he pulled himself together and managed to think things through. He let his detective skills guide him and realized there was still a chance for Katai. Mori, on the other hand, was drawn to Dazai. Of course, since Dazai is a lot like him he proved unreliable and untrustworthy but that has never particularly bothered Mori. Almost as if it was all part of the plan. And for all his faults, Dazai is resilient as well, having rested long enough, it was time for him to get up and start hunting down some Russians. That’s a weird sentence for me to type.

There is one more generation to go. One more mismatched pair of powerful ability users that represent the ying and yang of Yokohama. The ones that will take up the reigns and march onto the front lines. Of course, that would be Atsushi and Akutagawa. Throughout the episode, we saw each player get ready and each pair come together for the battle ahead.

Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3 ep11 (17)
some took a little convincing

I also wondered early on in the season if we were finally going to see Natsume Soseki this time. We saw essentially hs outline in season 2 but we do see him clearly in the opening credits. Although as the episodes wore on, I thought that might just be a red herring. Turns out I was wrong! He makes a full unveiled appearance in this episode and does not disappoint. From the little we do see, he seems to be a mix of Mori and Fukuzawa’s personalities, which I’m not complaining about. And he has the best voice. Well second best. Fyodor is still best voice!

To be honest, this felt very much like a penultimate episode. All the main characters are coming together and getting ready for one final confrontation as time is running out. We are introduced to last-minute powerful but ultimately distant characters to shake things up a little. We even met Pushkin who did not look like I thought he would. Ok, ok… I’ll admit this is a bit jerky of me but Bungo Stray Dogs is a bishie banquet,  didn’t realize the artists working on this show could even draw a character that was not delicious looking. Turns out they can.

We only really see Pushkin in the last minute or so, as such I don’t have much of a read on the actual character. I did like how he outsmarted Atsushi and Akutagawa, though. The episode ended on a pretty good cliffhanger but ultimately ineffective since we were running out of time anyway.

Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3 ep11 (22)
We don’t often see Mori flustered

My best guess is that Dazai and Doppo will join the fight next episode, we saw them getting ready to do so. Atsushi will save someone but I’m not telling you who because spoilers and they will get to Pushkin before the virus runs its course. I don’t think they will kill off either of the bosses and I hope they don’t since I like both characters a lot. On the other hand, the inherent conflict from such a move would hold so much narrative potential!

But another season is absolutely required. For one, Francis is still just hanging out in some high rise building somewhere in town, making money on the stock market. Natsume till needs to be fleshed out and explained. And although they might conceivably catch Pushkin, I really don’t see Fyodor going down that easily. Not in the next episode. There hasn’t been enough set up for it!

To the few of you who are watching this season, I’m happy for us! We are having a great anime time!

Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 10: A Strange Time To Burry Hatchets

bungo stray dogs season 3 ep 10 14

This season of Bungo Stray Dogs is just knocking it out of the park as far as I’m concerned. The only thing I can seriously fault it for is that there are only two episodes left which means we are definitely not resolving the greater arc. The Rats n the House of the Dead will live to dance another day. 

Don’t worry, I’m going to give you all my deep thoughts and insights on this week’s episode (that should buy me a dozen words or so), but if you would also like some visual aids, the full screencap gallery of this week’s episode can be found HERE, on my blog. Also as this is an episode review, there will be spoilers.

Bungo Stray Dogs season 3 ep 10 (3)
essentially my life’s moto

Thing’s were looking grim last week. When we left off, the Armed Detective Agency had failed to find the gifted virus wielder and were gearing up for plan B. Said plan being an all-out bloody confrontation with the Port Mafia, in order to murder their ailing leader. And of course, the Mafia was getting ready to do the exact same thing on their end. Pretty much the exact thing both leaders were desperately trying to avoid.

However, Ranpo still allowed room for one small contingency. Sure, it may seem like the only viable option left for the Detectives was to take matters in their own hands and then strangle them. But just in case there was still a small chance for peace, he did send Atsushi off to see if Katai had any leads. Deeply traumatized from having failed to save a small child right in front of him, Kunikida also decides to avoid battle and joins Atsushi.

For me, Kunikida’s little breakdown was just a touch too dramatic, although perfectly justified, but I was happy to go along with it because Hosoya, Yoshimasa (Doppo’s voice actor), really went all out this episode. He’s always good but he outdid himself. His performance as a man undone going from uncontrolled emotion to stoically restrained guilt and pain was impressive. It brought a lot of depth to a generally bland character. (I still like Kunikida though, sometimes you want vanilla).

Bungo Stray Dogs season 3 ep 10 (8)
but if you don’t it will be a boring episode, you have to have priorities

From here, the episode splits between the two groups. Atsushi and Kunikida go to Katai’s home only to find it empty. A black box reveals that Fyodor has gotten to him first but if Dostoyevsky bothered to make a move, then Katai must have been onto something.

This is where the patient structuring of this season starts to pay off. That carefree episode 5, where we were first introduced to Katai and his one-sided crush was more than mere filler. By presenting the character outside the strict confines of the current story, it humanized and gave him an existence beyond a mere plot element. Bungo Stray Dogs was patient, taking an entire episode to set him up slowly. The gave us all this background and flavour that wasn’t really needed for us to understand what’s going on but we sneakily got a little connected to the character.

At least I did. I was really surprised by how affected I was to find he had been “erased”. Not that many series can make me care this much about a character. Certainly not one we’ve only seen in a handful of scenes. Something makes me think Katai will be back though. Maybe how prominent he is in the opening credits.

Bungo Stray Dogs season 3 ep 10 (4)
I have a feeling this is how I’ll go too

while this is happening, the rest f the Agency detectives are going in for a head-on attack of the Port Mafia headquarters. Gunfire and superpowers are just spraying all over the place. I thought to myself, I shouldn’t like this. Bungo Stray Dogs has carefully nurtured particularly affable villain personas for the Port Mafia members and as such I don’t really want to see either side get hurt. On top of that, seeing these two organizations fight is kind of lame. 

I mean it’s a throwback to season 1. We’ve already been there, done that. Without Mori and Dazai or Fukuawa on the other side to escalate the stakes, it’s just a series of skirmishes that don’t add much more than noise and fury. It’s so expected, like a worn out shonen trope. And oh my was it fun. Why? I’ not sure. It wasn’t happy or funny. I couldn’t quite root for anyone clearly. But it was engrossing and energizing. I wanted it to go on. I’ve been talking about the framing of visuals this season, but the direction of the action is also stellar.

And then we got to our second payoff. Adorable Kyouka, trying to get to Mori on her own, finds herself in a one on one combat against her former….mentor? Akutagawa. As I mentioned previously, up until episode 6 of this season, Kyouka was pretty much limited to being a trope. A pleasant one but still, the show had not bothered to develop her beyond the standard stereotypes of her role. But another seemingly fillerish episode managed to give her a rich complex backstory and a very interesting emotional upheaval to deal with in just a few brief minutes. This went a long way to making her conversation with Akutagawa so much more meaningful now. The same scene even managed to give Akutagawa some depth at the same time. It was an odd moment to make peace, and a little pretty as well.

Bungo Stray Dogs season 3 ep 10 (31)
he means it as a compliment

I’m just going to mention that in the meantime, Ranpo and Chuuya have managed to get themselves stuck in one of Poe’s books. I hope we see their adventure because they seem like a hilarious match up.

The Final act of the episode had the two organization patriarchs take matters into their own hands. In many ways, they are quite similar. And as they naturally came together n this stunning abandoned house to kill each other, I couldn’t help but think they must have been good friends at some point. They just know each other so well.

I skipped over a few things, I talk about the visuals on my gallery post. There was also a good payoff scene with Lucy’s character as well and a cryptic line from Dazai is hinting at yet another setup. We saw that in a twisted way Akutagawa sees himself in Kyouya and was trying to save her as his own “mentor” had saved him. In short, everything is coming together quite well. Even in an action-heavy episode, the plot is tightening its strings. I should really look into the writing team. If you are one of the few that are following along, how do you feel about the fact that the season is almost over? 


Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 9: Not Playing Fair

bungo stray dogs s3 ep9 12 fyodor

I tell you, Friday could not come soon enough this week. Well, that’s true of pretty much every week but this week had the added thrill of me looking forward to Bungo Stray Dogs with bated breath. Not only did last week’s episode end on a pretty great cliffhanger but I’ve also been listening to the fantastic ED all week. It’s Lily by Luck Life. Turns out the band is behind most of Bungo Stray Dogs’ EDs and they’re all very good. I recommend you give them a listen.

And before we start, for those of you who are more picture type people than word type people, you can find my gallery of screencaps for this week’s episode over HERE, on my blog.

For those of you who don’t remember, or unknown reason Fyodor has maneuvered another gifted to use his power to infect both Fukuzawa and Mori with a virus that will kill both of them unless one dies first. When episode 8 left off, the Mafia was getting ready to invade Fukuzawa’s hospital room and destroy the Agency members standing in their way.

So far I have only recapped episode 8 a bit for context but now we are getting into the disturbingly named Cannibalism pt1 episode and there will be spoilers. All the spoilers! I’m just going to describe everything that happened! Ok, not EVERYTHING. But close.

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep9 (14)
you have been warned

and so, the Mafia members are gearing up for the attack when Psych! Turns out it was all an illusion of Tanazaki’s Light Snow. All the other actual Agency detectives(?) actually managed to escape with Fukuzawa through the world’s quietest gaping hole in a concrete wall. Of course, Ranpo has a full proof plan and that plan is to leave Tanizaki behind as a hostage and security, buying the rest of them time to find the virus gift user and neutralize him. Poor Tanizaki, he seems to get a lot of these thankless jobs. In season 1 he was constantly put in harms way over the flimsiest reason and in season 2 he barely made an appearance. Once again here he is, being a pawn. It’s a little mean.

The Agency team split up, leaving Doppo and Atsushi to hunt down Pushkin n the city slums. Oh boy…Pushkin! Dostoyevsky is one thing but Puskin is a whole other bag of worms. Before you think I’m being dismissive, let me make this clear, Fydor Dostoyevsky, both the author and the character is tremendous and more than just a little frightening. An excellent choice for an antagonist. However, Pushkin just fits in so well with the Japanese authors. His writing is no dissimilar to Doppo’s earlier works before his switch to naturalism. As for his life, well let’s just say there are a few tragic patterns that come up disturbingly often if you read the biographies of the Port Mafia and Armed detective Agency namesakes. And Pushkin’s own pattern is quite similar. Just a touch more Russian.

We also hear the name of Fydor’s organization, if you could call it that. Fyodor doesn’t strike me as a man who has partners or associates. He doesn’t quite have the personality to even have lackeys. But it does seem like he did at least use a few other gifted and bring them together under the name The Rats in The House of the Dead. I think we may have heard the name before but it’s the first time I paid attention to it and I loved it! For those who may not know The House of the Dead is an autobiographical novel by Dostoyevsky, which makes this name just so whimsical. I wish it was the name of my high school band.

Oh boy, we are barely 5 minutes into the episode. Am I getting worse at this? Ok…Top Speedo! Doppo and Atsushi find Pushkin quickly but it turns out the dude has a horde of little brothers and sisters armed to the teeth, who are all protecting him. Good news: little kids can’t aim automatic weapons at all! Star trooper levels of firearm proficiency. Bad News: shooting little kids makes you feel kinda bad about yourself.

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep9 (27)
at least it’s what the show leads you to believe, I have no proof

We also get our first glimpse of Dostoyevsky’s powers when Doppo and Atsushi come across a little girl in a tunnel, wearing grenades as jewellery and ready to blow herself up to stop them. Doppo stays behind to talk the girl down as Atsushi races ahead to catch up with Pushkin. As Doppo and the girl talk we see her have a vision of Fydor, or maybe a memory, urging her to protect her brother. It’s still rather vague but it would seem that Fyodor has some mind control or manipulation power. Maybe some memory alteration as well. I’m not entirely sure all those kids were really related. Whatever the details though, the true threat lies in his prodigious strategist skills. At one point, Ranpo states that going against him is like what it would be to go against Dazai. Scary.

I slowed down again! Uhhh…o.k…there’s some tragedy, some sad, this creepy cello music that really suits the mood and gets extra points when it turns out it’s actually being played by Fyodor. The bam! Atsushi catches up to Pushkin except it turns out it isn’t Pushkin and they have all been royally played. With time running to and their backs against the wall, they have no other choice but to give up on Pushkin for the moment and try to retrieve Tanizaki unharmed. Well reasonably harmed. Poor Tanizaki.

This is where the episode switches to his point of view and makes me eat my words. I’ve always seen Tanizaki as one of the more docile members of the Agency and for lack of a better word, one of the weaker ones, at least in combat. He’s more of an infiltration guy not so much of a warrior. And boy did I eat my words. It was great to see Tanazaki finally get some glory. The fight scenes were fun and lively and his gift was finally shown as the powerful tool it is. I was cheering for him.

All the way to Mori’s room. I was conflicted as he stood over one of my favourite characters. Mori lying there helpless in that big bed with a knife poised over him. Perfectly mirroring the scene of the end of the last Port Mafia boss that we’ve seen so many times by now. Fortunately for Mori, a bit of Koyou ex machina saved his hide. Less fortunately for Tanizaki and I’m just going to say that at this point, the Armed Detective Agency members are getting suspiciously resilient.

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep9 (6)Tanzaki
don’t worry, you’re fine, somehow

However, the show said I see your Koyou ex Machina and I raise you a Kyouka ex machina! Yay, everybody’s saved well not really. Tanizaki is seriously hurt, Dazai is still in the hospital, both Mori and Fukuzawa are still set to die in about a day and I think Doppo might not be ok at all… My yay may have been premature!

We close out on Fyodor and Shousaku Katsura who he has taken hostage for some reason. That was the kid with the huge grudge against Doppo who put the bombs in the subway. And this guy asks Fyodr what we all want to know “What is your goal?”.

Despite my occasionally snippy comments, I did like this episode. It was fast-paced and unnerving. Hearing that child cry was very affecting and I am more attached to the characters and eager to see what comes next. I do wonder why we bothered with that fantastic return episode for Francis if we’re just not going to see him again. It really feels like BSD is just banking big time on a season 4.

Narratively, this was one of the weaker episodes. There were some holes in there, a few things got seriously glossed over and it just seemed sloppier than what we’ve seen s far. But it was still very fun to watch. Hopefully, this will be the case again next week!


Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 8: This is Bad For My Heart

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This week has been pretty crazy for me. I’ve hardly had time to watch any anime at all. In fact, I haven’t watched anything since Monday. I was a little anime starved and as I have been enjoying Bungo Stray Dogs so much lately, I was really looking forward to this episode for many reasons. You should know, there’s going to be spoilers, I can’t avoid it. Lot’s happened!

As I said last week, I am loving the solid build up we’ve been seeing but I worry with the season being only 12 episodes, we will either get a very rushed conclusion or, more likely, no conclusion at all. That’s really the only thing that I can fault the season with. If it was 26 episodes I would be happily watching also without a care in the world. That’s also the only reason I’ve been urging the plot to start in earnest. 

However, as soon as I saw the opening scenes, I changed my mind. It was Fukuzawa. Aside from Mori, Fukuawa has to be my favourite character. At least potentially. We really know next to nothing about the man and I have been desperate to now more ever since the first season. It should be noted that Fukuzawa Yukichi, the real-life inspiration for the character was also a fascinating and admirable figure. I really need to write about the actual authors someday…

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the mullet conspiracy strikes again

As I was saying, Mori and Fukuzawa are my favourites. I’ve been lucky to catch up with Mori a bit this season so the thought of spending an episode with Fukuzawa, to even things out, was wonderful. If they can make his as entertaining as Fitz was last week, this will be one to remember.

Yeah, that was not fun to watch. It seems someone is dispatching gifted (sounds like a certain Dead Apples movie) and Fukuzawa has just become the next victim. For a second I almost dropped everything and went on google to make sure he survives but I resisted the urge. Fukuzawa does, in fact, survive the initial attack, but he’s left in critical condition with an array of unexplained symptoms.

What struck me in these scenes was how calm Doppo was. Everyone else is understandably frazzled, while Ranpo is downright devastated but Kunikida is thinking things through, as rationally as possible. He’s stepping up to his role as second in command of the Armed Detective Agency quite admirably.

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do you think he just copied his boss’ hairstyle?

I was a little bummed about this turn of events. Thankfully I got Mori just in time to distract me with his scruffy bumbling act. Dishevelled Mori is best Mori. When that explosion happened I almost gave up. But of course, Mori was fine. It was all part of the plan. How could I think that Mori would be taken in so easily…

I got my hopes up. We know that the two bosses have a shared history but we’ve never really delved into it. This would be the episode that showed us where it all started. Mori would hunt down the gifted killer as Fukuzawa was fighting for his life and at the last second, the Port Mafia would share some crucial information to save the life of the Agency president. The episode would be intercut with flashbacks of when the two were best friends and how they had a falling out.

In case you think I have some insight, I’m making all of this up. It’s quite possible that Fukuzawa and Mori were never friends at all. Nevertheless, that was the split second headcanon I created while watching Elise drop Mori on his hiney in the middle of the street.

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sometimes anime has some odd camera angles. Not this time though

And then it all came crashing down. Not just Mori. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Fyodor as a character. He is an envigorating villain that has revitalized the franchise. As much as I am enjoying Demon Slayer and Kibutsuji in particular, Fyodor is my pick for the top antagonist of the season. His delivery is just so chilling to me. At first, I thought his open attack on Mori seemed just a little too plain for such a character but on second thought, it fits him so well, especially when you find out the twist.

At this point, we finally see the return of Dazai. This season did something weird with who was arguably the main character or at least deuteragonist of the franchise. Unlike everyone else, the third season of Bungo Stray Dogs set about dehumanizing Dazai in the opening arc by really insisting on the more unpleasant and unsettling aspects of his personality, and then help him back in all subsequent episodes. As a result, I feel like I know this Dazai less than I did before and I’m never sure if I can trust him at all.

This makes for a much more interesting character. Rather than the smart mouth anti-hero archetype we see everywhere, we now have a viable compromised hero. Someone who can keep the audience on their toes and has enough history to make a heel turn completely believable. As much as I want Dazai to be a good guy, he just isn’t. And that’s kind of amazing.

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and then maybe I’ll tell them, maybe I won’t

What followed was one of those genius on genius conversations that are so hard to write without ending up sounding quite stupid. This one was o.k. as far as they go. The discussion itself wasn’t special but it was elevated by Fydor’s consistently spectacular voice acting and one really great twist.

It seems that the actual plan was to infect both Mori and Fukuzawa with a gifted parasite. An invader that incubated within a host for 8 hours then kills them. But this parasite is actually linked. It needs two hosts and if one of the hosts dies, the parasite dies as well, leaving the other host home free. In other words, for Fukuzawa to live Mori must die or vice versa.

And now, both the Armed Detective Agency and the Port Mafia know this!

See, it’s a great twist. Simple enough for me to explain with a few sentences. It has the potential to create a huge conflict but at the same time completely changes the nature of the two entities’ relationship. They are at each other’s throats more than ever but are also in the exact same situation and sympathize with one another like never before.

And just as everything was coming to ahead, that fantastic opening riff of the ED rang through. Man, I love that song. I’m not sure how my heart made it through this rollercoaster. I’ve absolutely no clue how I’m supposed to wait an entire week to find out what happens!

One quick side note, Chuuya seems to be second in command for the Port Mafia. Considering how badly his last leadership role went, I wonder if he’s really up to it…

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My screencap addiction may actually be starting to pay off. I’m picking up on things in the stills I would never have seen otherwise. You can see for yourself  HERE if you like.  

Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 7: Francis the Frugal

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Although I did enjoy the second season of Bungo Stray Dogs, I always felt that the Guild was a bit of a let down as a villain. None of their members really lived up to the Port Mafia and Francis himself just couldn’t hold a candle to Mori. Of course, I have a marked weak spot for Mori. Probably because I fell on my head a lot as a child.

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don’t agree with me now!

Then again, just like a lot of characters in Bungo Stray Dogs, maybe I just never got to know him properly. This season is a real exercise in character redemption. It seems the great Francis, leader of the Guild, survived his swan dive from the Moby and we even have a decently logical explanation for it. Ever since he’s been living homeless and penniless in one of the surprisingly numerous slums of Yokohama.

We catch up with the broken man as the ever faithful Louisa has tracked him down to convince him to take up the mantle of leadership once again.

Like I said, I never really cared for Francis. He was just never that interesting a character to me. This is why I was surprised when I got just a little emotional at seeing him so defeated. He was always a personification of boisterous greed and bravado, now an unkept hollow shell of a man, who seems to have lost way more than his fortune. I was just a tiny bit sorry for him.

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nevermind, I take it back

And it’s not just that he was boring, I also always thought the Great Fitgerald was kind of a stupid gift. It was uninspired and didn’t have much resonance with the rest of the narrative. However, the ability to transfer wealth into physical power takes on a whole new meaning and importance when you’re poor. When using your power may mean you have to go hungry. Now that’s almost poetic. Just like that, they manage to breathe some life into this lacklustre gift.

I realize that both these points become moot before the end of the episode. First Louisa manages to get Francis out of his funk and he soon regains his bluster. Was he always this fun? I know he had a big personality (like Mori but not as good…what’s wrong with me?), however, thrifty penny-pinching Francis was downright fun! And seeing him try to rebuild something with all sorts of obstacles in his way was simply more inspiring than seeing him tear down something seemingly effortlessly. For me, this character works way better as an overconfident underdog. He’s his own person now instead of just discount Mori. I should stop doing that, Mori wasn’t even in the episode.

Step one in what is probably a super complicated plan was to get a genius programmer falsely accused of murder off the hook while acquiring a security company through highly questionable stock market manipulation. This may sound like super convoluted nonsense but it actually came together pretty well and was a genuinely fun watch.

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sounds like my last evaluation – also this season is fast becoming a gallery of window framed scenes and I’m not complaining!

If the last two episodes felt like character building foundational work with a bit of narrative filler, this one gives you the impression that we are starting the main arc. Although there were still a lot of shenanigans, Francis’ larger plans and this face recognition technology will surely both become important elements this season.

Besides that, we also got some glimpses of the larger cast. Poe paid his old pal and rival Ranpo a visit over at the Armed Detective Agency. I was pretty excited about that. Poe’s second season episode was one of my favourites. Also, I just like Ranpo a lot and wish we would see more of him. From the little I know of the real-life authors, Ranpo just seemed like a lot of fun. Which is more than I can say for some…

All in all, I had a lot of fun with this episode. Francis’ Pheonix Wright moment made me giggle out loud. Seeing Atsushi and Kyoka grab dessert together was cute. The editing and blocking were once more really well done and the pacing made me lose track of time and get surprised by the delightful ED song yet again. Although it was a blink and you’ll miss it appearance, just that peep of Fyodor was enough to spark my attention and get me excited for the rest of the season.

Of course, everything could still go south. For one, I’m really nervous that the story seems to have rarely started at episode 7 of 12. However, I’ve enjoyed the writing and the production a lot so far and I’m hopeful for the rest.

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It’s not even close!

Just like last week, I overdid it on the screenshots and squirrelled them all away in a gallery over HERE. You are more than welcomed to visit. Pictures are fun.

Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

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

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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!

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.

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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.

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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 .

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what is she looking at?

Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

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

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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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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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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.

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Junji Ito Collection Episode 4: Did I Ever Mention I Find Puppets Creepy?



Once again we get two creepy stories with neither one really pushing into actually being scary so much as strange and a little unsettling. What horror I did find in the second story came from my own dislike of puppets and marionettes which was firmly embedded when I was a child. And, just saying, but that puppet was so creepy looking I can’t imagine anyone actually taking it with them when they ran away.


The first story this week was kind of nothing. Creepy cursed object story but as usual this anime doesn’t take the time to build up the suspense of atmosphere and merely walks us through the events. While they are dark and the end is kind of tragic, it never really gives us a chance to feel for any of the characters leaving the end of that first story fairly empty.


And so this series continues to be watchable but not really all that good.

Thanks for reading.

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Karandi James.