Bungou Stray Dogs is a number of genres. It is an action anime, it is a superpower anime, it is a detective anime but it is not a comedic anime try as it might. And it tries.
Being only the second and third episode there is still a lot of characters to be introduced. We are introduced into one major character who is part of a much larger faction. The Port Mafia is the counterpart to the Armed Detective Agency. The head of the Port Mafia is Akutagawa, someone that Atsushi is advised to avoid at all costs. Plotlines dictate that they must meet.
This resembles Hamatora to almost a tee. What is different between the two is the characters. Dazai is the sanest suicidal character ever while Kunikida is the high strung sidekick. Two characters that are part of the Armed Detective Agency are also introduced. Their relationship is odd, and even Kunikida advises against trying to pin down what exactly is going on. Naomi and Junichiro are supposedly brother and sister, but Naomi hounds Junichiro in a very physical way. He usually responds with an awkward shriek but she over powers him.
The characters at the end of the first episode are not introduced or mentioned in the following episodes.
Under a rouse of being a client Atsushi, Naomi and Junichiro are lured to a dead end alleyway where the Port Mafia attacks them in an attempt to capture Atsushi, the were-tiger. When Dazai questions Akutagawa, behaving all chummy, we find out that Atsushi has a 7 billion yen bounty on his head, and that Dazai is EX Port Mafia! Earlier in the episode it is revealed that no one knows what Dazai did before he was in the ADA. Kunikida was a math teacher and Junichiro and Naomi were students. No one in the ADA knows about Dazais past.
The comedy in the episodes is very forced. It comes out of the characters being loud, or violent towards each other. A few ‘comedic scenes’ were instigated by Dazais dry humor and purposefully crude words. This causes Kunikida to overreact and I guess hilarity is supposed to ensue. Its very forced and relies on the ‘loud angry’ kind of humor. The comedic elements in the first episode were fleshed out better.
The art style it interesting in and of itself. The outline thickness changes a lot, depending on the tension in the room. In normal scenes the outline is simple, but when characters deadpan the camera or have that general look of (-_-) the outlines thicken and thin very artistically on that character. The remaining characters and scenery does not change. The coloring of the characters was very pop-art like, meaning there was one color for everything. The hair was one color, the clothing was one color. The details and shading created a more advanced look, but there was no 2 shades of blue in the hair or something similar. This pop-art style coloring matched with the random thick lines of the outlines. It is a very artistic anime.
The details in the characters fluctuate to a massive degree. When characters deadpan the camera there is almost no detail, but when the character is in pain or angry the little wrinkles on the bridge of their nose twitch. The detail included in Dazai is the most telling, because his emotions range from super serious to suicidal to playful. His mood can always be told by the amount of detailing on him. He seems to hold back information as well, in both he third and first episode he withholds information from Kunikida in order to manipulate others to following a plan he concocted but failed to share. Although, if not for the love of suicide, I would think Dazai was a rather unoriginal character. We see a lot of smart characters who out think and underwork their subordinates. Those characters are often considered cool. Nevertheless, with the revelation of Dazai being a former Port Mafia member, He may end up being the protagonist instead of Atsushi. It is often the main character who has a secret tie to the enemy team is it not?
Not a lot has been revealed or progressed with Atsushi. He has a small monologue scene in which he has to stop a bomber and ends up breaking down about finally having a roof over his head, and how he doesn’t want to die, but we already knew that about his character. He is still pathetic and a crybaby. He’s cute though, and easily manipulated. His Were-tiger abilities have been explored a bit more. We see that in tiger-mode Atsushi is able to heal himself, even regenerate limbs (and shoes apparently) instantly upon transforming into a tiger.
The backgrounds of the episodes were motionless again with faceless characters in the back. The background was blurred slightly during conversations to draw focus to the speaking characters. The backgrounds were very artistic. When Junichiro activated his power the background became matrix-like.
The music varied a lot during the episodes and was very noticeable. Often it was too loud, and the genres changed a lot. There was some jazz music and some videogame/Mario music . Every action required a sound effect as well. Every step, every hand movement, every turn required a sound effect. It wasn’t noticeable after a while, the sounds were just so common it became background noise.
Overall I am more interested in Dazai than any other characters. He seems to be the type to secretly be evil or to secretly be a double agent. Or perhaps his sister was killed because he was in the Port Mafia. We know all we need to about Atsushi for now.
The art style is entertaining and fresh. The comedy is forced. Hopefully the relationship between Dazai and Akutagawa is explored more in upcoming episodes.