Up until an hour ago, I still didn’t know if I would be doing a seasonal roundup post tonight. Cutting it real cose, I know. Actually, I was pretty sure I would. I figured I’d get home, watch a few episodes of anime and start the consuming process of hunting down every current season episode review I can find, when faith threw a wrench in the works.
You know how these things go. You got your plans all settled and somehow you end up doing something completely different. Whether it’s instantly dropping everything you were going to do because a show you’ve been waiting for forever has finally come back, or whether it’s somehow ending up working for a criminal organization you had sworn to destroy. Life is just quirky that way sometimes. There will be episode 1 spoilers.
I like Bungo Stray Dogs quite a bit. I’m a fan of Bones as well. But even I will admit that the series has its ups and downs. It’s often more fun than anything else. Like smart or thought provoking or powerful. But at it’s best, it’s pretty tremendous.
For me, that “best”, happens to be the opening arc of season 2 (the Dark Era arc). This handful of episodes show the full technical and artistic potential of Bungo Stray Dogs and I was really hoping we would see more of that in season 3….Well it seems someone out there took me literally!
First though, let me just say I had forgotten how pretty Bungo Stray Dogs is. Season 3 did not get any sort of visible animation boost but it’s simply not needed. The colors are so rich and saturated, the lines crisp. The slightly angular designs remain both traditionally attractive and eye catching, while looking great in movement. And boy was there a lot of movement. Fantastically animated mouvement. I also particularly liked the soundtrack this episode. It was playful and unusual.
So yeah…Bones knows how to put together an anime. Big surprise! I guess if you haven’t seen the episode, you can be comforted by the fact that Bones still knows how to make an anime! YAY! The only element that may put some viewers off, is that much like Dead Apples, faces clearly disappear as soon as there’s a little distance. I had figured this as a cost cutting initiative but I’m not so sure anymore. It may be a design choice. I’m only saying this because I was disappointed to note it at first, but by the middle of the episode, I kind of liked the effect. It had an artsy feel to it and made you appreciate the full body of the charac…this sounds so pervy, I don’t mean it that way guys…
When I say someone out there took me literally, I mean that this first season 3 episode mirrors last season’s opener. Once again we are brought back in time to when Dazai was still part of the Port Mafia. Further back in fact as Mori has just seized he leadership and is trying to establish control, with a teenage Dazai by his side.
In the meantime, a young upstart with a powerful gift of controlling gravity is out to destroy the mafia for the ravages the previous boss has wrecked on the city. This fifteen year old Chuuya is brash and violent, and also deeply cares about the people in his town as well as those that chose to follow him. He dislikes being called a leader and minimizes his abilities calling himself simply lucky to have been born with a good gift.
Flashbacks to the youths of popular characters is a pretty easy way to please the fans. Well, I’m not complaining! Not to mention that Dazai and Chuuya are excellent candidates. Chuuya is rarely seen in the previous seasons but has a lot of presence and viewers were dying to find out more. He was also the breakout character of the movie Dead Apples so it’s a great time to put him front and center.
The young emotionless Dazai is also interesting. His past is still fairly mysterious and yet so important to the context of the plot that whatever clues we get are precious. And then there’s Mori. One of my favourite characters. His simple presence is a wild card in any scene and opens up so many narrative possibilities. And he’s just fun. Like Sherlock Holmes but evil. You know, more evil…
The plot brings everyone together through a weird little twist. Apparently, the old boss Mori prematurely retired seems to be back from the dead and slightly miffed. Well t least there have been sightings but it’s hard to tell. There are also whispers of ancient kamis turning rage into black flames. Of course, a logical man like Mori is unlikely to fall for that but still, coincidences are wrackin up and it bears a little investigation.
Who better than two 15 year old boys who are constantly bickering. One oddly yet not really suicidal and the other openly hostile. Smart move Mori. But we all know Mori sensei has his reasons, he always has his reasons, he’s just not going to share them with us yet!
It was a good first episode. It set up both the action and the potential mystery quite well. I do want to know whether people are coming back from the dead or whether something else is at play here. I also want to know what this Arahabaki is. How did a young Chuuya go from despising the Port Mafia and swearing to murder every member, to joining them? Where is Elise? The questions are all set up nicely with just enough meat on the bone to wet your appetite.
But it was hardly perfect. It was quite exposition heavy and had it not concentrated on more charismatic characters, it would probably have tipped right into tedious. The episode felt the need to reestablish a lot of the foundations of the story so we once again saw Mori’s coup in detail. The characters sort of explained their personalities to each other out loud, clearly and only for the audience’s sake. It was a bit graceless. And with so much to establish, it ended up being very dialogue heavy.
All and all though, I’m quite happy with this start. I think it shows good potential and I can’t wait to see where it leads!
Did you guys watch the first episode? did you like it?
Of course I have more pics! I wouldn’t leave you guys hanging!