Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 12

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Let’s start this final episode review with a trend that I’ve been noticing for quite a while now: Terrible cold opens. They’re not funny, cute, or interesting in anyway shape or form. There’s nothing of value in it from an entertainment standpoint. So why do some shows insist on having them? Using this show as an example: Atsushi wakes up, smells food and notices Kyouka. Then he says “Huh?”…and that’s it. What purpose did that serve? After the opening theme plays we learn that Kyouka is staying with Atsushi, a fact that was completely meaningless to the episode as a whole. Even if it was something important to acknowledge for next season, which I can almost guarantee it’s not, they could’ve made that point with one sentence. Instead, Bungo Stray Dogs decides to waste our time with the most innocuous shit, like a sharing a room with a cute girl.

And from there we move on to the American business deal thingy, or whatever you want to call it. These guys want the Agency’s permit for gifted people or something, then the dude outright explains what it is to the person he’s trying to buy it from. The exposition could be important to the audience, but it makes no sense as to why a character in his position would say that.

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Luckily, aside from the unneeded cold open and stupid business transaction, I can’t say I had too many gripes with this episode. For the first time all season I found a villain who actually seems cool. Starting from that great elevator scene, she immediately comes off as the most mysterious and menacing character this show has ever seen. We find out her power has something to do with making people disappear, and we don’t learn anything else about it until Atsushi and the others find themselves the victim. So I guess I’d call that a very good way to keep me intrigued throughout the episode.

Moving on to the dimension that this villain created, I must say I’m quite pleased with the subtlety of the approach here. From a busy intersection to an isolated nightmare world in less than a second, there is no obnoxious plotting or exposition to get to this point. Now, there are a few lapse in logic here, like why would she decide to give them a fighting chance? And how did that whole door mirage thing work if he still got sucked into it? But if you just ignore that, it’s a pretty good time. There’s a cool fight, and they mentioned orphans without bringing up the flashback! And the villain herself seems like an interesting character with just the right amount of depth to keep me interested and not sick of her.

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There’s also that twist at the end…and it’s fine, I guess. It showed that this episode was not an end to the season whatsoever, and seems to make this season feel like it just existed to set up the next. And I think I’ll save what I have left to say for my final, overall review. So stay tuned for that. And thanks for reading.

+ Cool villain

+ Great elevator moment

– Useless Cold Open

– Blunt exposition for no apparent reason

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Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 11

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Let’s start with the intro for a bit before jumping into the main two parts. It was…odd? I know Bungo Stray Dogs is no stranger to getting weird and comedic, but it’s starting to feel like it’s not on purpose any more. Early in the season this show would usually start with a joke that leads to the next part in the plot. The intro scene we saw this week serves only one purpose, which is to confirm that Kyouka is now part of the team. While that’s totally fine and a point that needed to be made, Bungo Stray Dogs had to turn a simple gesture into a poorly delivered dramatical punch to the crouch. The boss shows up and Kyouka asks to join them and brings up that Ryuunosuke said she was only useful for killing so she wanted to prove him wrong but oh no she’s killed 35 people, an arbitrary number that’s supposed to define just how much of a killer she is, but they were using her and it wasn’t her fault and now Atsushi is asking on her behalf as well because his word means something to the boss or whatever and then we get back and forth close-ups on the boss and Kyouka’s face and he says yes and that’s it. Quite an unnecessary mouthful, but there you have it.

The Mafia Part

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Okay, this could be an interesting plot development. The Mafia is divided or something. I’m actually not entirely sure what was going on here but the blonde evil chick and her lackeys are back, character’s we’ve spent literally one episode with. I don’t know them and I certainly don’t care what happens to them, and actually I was hoping the story was going in a different direction when it was revealed there was unrest in the ranks. Honestly, I was hoping for a reset, for the higher ups we haven’t met yet to just kill the enemies we’ve already come to sort of know. The only one even worth keeping is Ryuunosuke, because he’s has the most screen time, plus some sort of relationship to Dazai. But instead of a clean wipe, we get this: Blonde chick whose name I’m not going to bother looking up fights to save Ryuunosuke but fails in her attempt to run straight at a group of armed men and somehow defeat them, but it’s okay because just as we hear a gunshot and assume she’s dead it turns out to be the other dudes coming to save the day, hip-hip-hooray, and she gets to Ryuunosuke and cries all over him. Where they go from here is completely beyond me, but I hope they drop the melodrama and go right for the action.

The Farm Boy Part

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So Atsushi and Kenji go out to investigate what’s up with some weird exploding car accident or something. As to why they aren’t using all their resources to take down the mafia that’s been tearing this city apart, who the fuck knows? Let’s focus on this piddling little crime even though it’s the second to last episode of the season. Starting with the character just introduced, even though it’s the second to last episode of the season (I know I said it twice), Kenji is an honest and gullible farm boy with a heart of gold to match his glowing exterior. His power is super strength, but only when he’s hungry. And that’s all you really need to know about him. They eventually find themselves surrounded by a gang who thinks they’re onto them when in reality Kenji wasn’t suspecting a thing. I guess that part was a little funny. Then Kenji goes all Shizuo from Durarara!! on their asses and that’s it.

And then after the credits we get a nice Dazai gag which I also thought was a little funny.

Come back next week for the final review, and then the overall review probably a few days later. Thanks for reading.

+ Kyouka is cute

– ^The only nice thing I can say about this episode

Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 10

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Okay, I’m going split this episode into two parts: “The Dazai Part” and “The Explosion-y Fight Part”. And before I start getting into it, I must say that this show has really not been doing it for me. A lot of the characters are pretty stale and one dimensional, and Atsushi is becoming (or already is) a Mary Sue. The comedy is tired, consisting of mostly characters acting silly or shocked with cartoon-chibi face bubbles to express the absurdity. We haven’t gotten a good Dazai suicide joke in a while either. The action is mediocre and the plotting has been a series of awful setups with only decent payoffs. I’m having a hard time enjoying this show, and the logical leaps I have to take only hinder my experience further. And I know I’ve given a lot of claims without much evidence, but that’s because I’m saving my final thoughts for the full season review. This was just a sort of glimpse into how I’m feeling about the show right now. But I digress.

The Dazai Part

So this was hard to follow. Dazai planned to be caught and sent a letter to the executives of the mafia to ensure his safety. The reasoning here is that he has dirt on them and if he were to die it would all be released. Now, I’m a little skeptical about this part, because the way it was put made it seem like the mafia actually does have to hide from the law. The information leaked would be enough to prosecute them. But the thing is, up until now it didn’t seem like the mafia was hiding from anyone. They cause bombings and shootouts in broad daylight, sometimes directly in front of a police station. Also, they have super powers. So my question is: Who would prosecute them? The Agency can’t seem to squelch them, so what could the government do? And even before all that, why hasn’t Dazai just leaked the information already? Isn’t he supposed to be a good guy? It could be because Dazai holds that information to cover his own ass, or has some other plan in mind. I don’t know where this is going, and although that may be on purpose, at this point it just seems nonsensical and annoying. The one good thing that comes from this part is that we get a glimpse at what seems to be a greater villain and scheme in the overarching plot of the show. That’s good, because Port Mafia seems like a bunch of ineloquent pricks. Just because they’re bad guys doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to relate to them on some fucking level. I don’t even know what their motives are. It’s assumed to be greed, like most evil groups, but I’ve never seen them steal anything besides Atsushi.

The Explosion-y Fight Part

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Speaking of Atsushi, he’s apparently an excellent fighter now. Could’ve at least used a training montage beforehand, but I guess he’s just a natural when in a pinch. The major plot hole before this fight is ridiculous. We just pick up where Kyouka breaks him out and she apparently rigged bombs on the ship at some point in time too. Then Kunikida comes in when Atsushi gets away from Ryuunosuke and there’s this really phoned moment where Atsushi has to make a choice between saving himself and saving the girl. And then he says “she said the crepe she had with me tasted great”. Okay. *looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong sigh*…You know what? No. It’s not okay. What a stupid line.

On to the actual fight, it’s also full of lame one-liners. There’s a lot of lackluster dialogue going on during this, because you can’t just have a cool fight with no words being spoken, right? (sarcasm) There needs to be some sort of theme to drive home. And that theme is self-worth. I guess it’s one of the major themes of the entire show, which I probably should’ve seen coming. I mean, that same orphan flashback played like 20 times so far. But yeah, the bad guy tells the good guy that the cute girl was worthless and that made the good guy think about how people once called him worthless and that gave him even more strength to push on and win this fight even though he was impaled like twice. It’s a decent looking fight, but the writing coated it with some very mediocre paint. The one thing I did like about it was the tie-in to Ryuunosuke and Dazai. They have a history and Ryuunosuke apparently loves him or something so it kills him when Dazai says that his new subordinate is better. It’s a tad more interesting than anything else going on here.

And that’s all I really have to say about this episode. I really hope it gets better because I don’t like having to write a negative review week after week. But what do you think? Do you still like this show? Or are you kinda falling off like I am? I’d love to hear other opinions, so feel free to leave them in the comments below. Other than that, thanks for reading and be sure to come back next week!

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Ooooh, a loli! Maybe this show will get better!

Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 9

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This week’s episode, in a word, was…unpleasant. To be honest, I’m just sitting here trying to come up with something good to say about it, and I…I just can’t. It seems like Bungo Stray Dogs has just been getting worse and worse now, and to me it has been such a disappointment, considering I actually thought this show had promise. The show is terrible when it comes to setup, its tone is completely off balance and every once in a while it’s just completely voids itself of logic and reasoning. But my hang-ups aside, let’s get into what made this episode in particular such a miserable waste of time.

There are two major wastes of time in this episode aside from the cool, mysterious things happening to Dazai. Waste of time #1 was the date. Atsushi takes Kyouka on a date and nothing happens. It’s just a cute, fun, montage-worthy time, lacking in any substance or reasons for me to give a care. This might’ve at least been a good time for Kyouka and Atsushi to bond in some way. Instead they play a crane game and ride ferris wheel. Because that’s never been done before (sarcasm, because I actually have seen it been done before, so much so that it’s kinda cliché). Oh, and I forgot to mention that this all started with Atsushi taking her to the police station. He decides not to though, but they end up there anyway. And then the mafia shows up in broad daylight to capture Atsushi. In front of a police station.

Okay. I’m not even going to question it anymore. The mafia is the most one-dimensional, blunt opposing force ever, and I guess I just have to accept that. Mafia equals bad. Not clever or interesting. Just bad.

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Onto waste of time #2: That part where the agency squabbles over whether or not they should’ve even bother to save their comrade, Atsushi. If this was a video review, this would be where I pause to express my skepticism and discontent. Although, I probably would’ve paused for that broad daylight thing too, and maybe two skeptic pauses is too much for one video, especially back to back-okay look, this is stupid. It’s episode 9, and now’s the time you decide to think over the value of a teammates life? Just shut up and go get him. But no, instead it takes them much longer to even leave their office space. Some sort of convoluted process goes down in efforts to locate Atsushi, there’s an office full of dead people (for some reason), and then finally the one-shot, ass-wipe detective Ranpo solves the mystery in a matter of seconds (like, he wasn’t even doing anything and yet they used him as a last resort).

Why even waste our time with all of that if you’re just going to use a simple solution in the end to move the plot forward? Can’t you find a better use with your screen time than this bullshit? I want to learn about Akiko and Kyouka and Dazai and maybe even Atsushi, so long as it stays away from the same recurring orphan flashbacks. If this show isn’t going for the intellectual, well thought out route, why not at least give us more action? Or sex? Or comedy? Or something even remotely entertaining?

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But instead we get this. Here are the three major points to take away from this episode: Atsushi is captured, the Agency is coming after him, and Dazai is doing something on the side. Here are some minor points: Kyouka probably feels bad about it and Ranpo’s a dick. Outside of these things, I can’t really find anything worthwhile about this episode. Almost no entertainment value whatsoever.

Well, that’s just my opinion. I just couldn’t enjoy myself with this week’s episode. But props to you if you could, and feel free to tell me why in the comments below. Or just tell me I’m right and this episode was a total shit-show. Or maybe something in-between. Maybe I’m just in a sour mood.

Thanks for reading, I hope next week is one thousand times better.

Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 8

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Yet another lousy setup for an episode, and it seems to be a reoccurring theme. Bungo Stray Dogs just doesn’t seem to know how to make a good trap. First a client leads them to an alley. Trap. Then they investigate an abandoned hospital. Another trap. And now this. They’re on a train…that’s it. Akiko and Atsushi just happen to be on a train and the mafia decide to attack it. Quite frankly, this setup is actually a little better than the alley way trap, because at least they didn’t walk right into this and make themselves look incredibly stupid for trusting a random stranger. It’s still a weak plot however, and perhaps only goes to show how brash and incapable Port Mafia is at the coming up with even a decent evil plot. Instead it’s just another bomb thing, something this series just can’t seem to move on from. Seriously, there’s been like three bomb threats so far. How about a fire or something?

Point is, the mafia is Team Rocket if Team Rocket just straight up killed people and didn’t spout mad rhymes. Or maybe I’m not giving them enough credit, but more on that later.

Actually, scratch that. All I really wanted to say was that the cliffhanger was interesting. There’s really nothing else pertaining to the mafia that I wish to comment on at this time.

I really wished we learned more about Akiko Yosano in this episode than we did. Basically, we didn’t learn anything. Her power was explained a bit with nothing new added to what I already learned. She can heal people who are half dead, which means to patch you up she needs to first almost kill you. Maybe this wasn’t explained previously in the show, I did read her MAL page prior so I guess this episode might have been somewhat enlightening for her as a character. Still, the way she operates isn’t demonstrated and how she saved herself isn’t explained either. An explosion of that magnitude probably should’ve been an instant death, yet she survived it and her clothes remained intact as well. Unless there’s something the show’s not telling us yet, that deadly fake out made no sense at all. Also, the villain she was matched up against seemed kinda stupid.

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Onto our newest character, Kyouka Izumi joins the mix! She’s a kimono wearing assassin girl that killed 35 people and worked for the mafia. Also, apparently she killed her parents or something. Her whole introduction was just incredibly weird and uncalled for. She just drops in exposition during the fight when no one even asked for it. Here’s my name, occupation, and deep dark secret! These quick interjections of characteristics were in no way satisfying to me, and I feel the ending of the confrontation would’ve been much more interesting if she had never said a single word. Atsushi thinks she’s pure evil until he sees her tearing up as she jumps off the train and sacrifices herself, and it’s at that moment that Atsushi gains the strength to save her, leaving it up to the next episode to explain what her deal is. They could learn about each other and find out that they’re both orphans, but the difference is that Kyouka murdered her own parents and Atsushi is shocked, or it turns out Atsushi killed his parents too maybe. I don’t know, I’m just spit-balling ideas that I think would be a lot more entertaining than what actually happened this episode, which was surprisingly little. The two things to take away are Kyouka is saved and Dazai is in trouble.

The Little Things

-Enough orphan flashbacks! There hasn’t been anything new to come out of those flashbacks since the very first episode and I’m sick of it!

-The pulse lighting in this episode was pretty annoying to me. You know, when they’re riding through the tunnel and periodically passing lights, causing the car they’re in to flash for a moment. Except it’s not a flash, it’s a pulse and it’s very distracting for me. It just kept making me worry there was something wrong with my monitor.

-Lemons for grenades was actually a pretty good idea. Here’s why: All of the characters in Bungo Stray Dogs are actually based off of literary figures (novelist, poets, etc.). The bad guy that Akiko was fighting was Kajii Motojiro, a Japanese author from the Showa period. One of his most well-known pieces was titled “Lemon”. Hence, lemon grenades.

-I felt the dialogue was a bit flat at times this episode, so much so that I could barely pay attention, I was so bored.

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Despite all its flaws, I still this week’s episode had a nice conclusion. But maybe it’s not enough to redeem itself this time. I was really disappointed that we didn’t get even a slightly deeper look into who Akiko Yosano is, and I just hope that her time in the spotlight isn’t over yet.

+ Trains…for some reason

+ Intriguing Dazai cliffhanger

– Annoying lighting

– Akiko still not fleshed out

– Chatty assassin

Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 7

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“Love for the Disease Called Ideals”

Intriguing title, to say the least. Coming from last week’s cliffhanger, today’s episode actually managed to make sense of the situation and put my worries to rest…sort of. Don’t get me wrong, there were plot holes (or rather plain lacks of reason) and explanations glossed over for the sake of time. Really, the whole setup was kinda lousy, but it hit the points it needed to for the glorious payoff at the end.

A bomb threat from a mysterious unknown, somehow connected to the bombings of a past case that ended with the perpetrator and several officers in smithereens. That’s all it really needed to be, but Bungo Stray Dogs decided to make things a little more convoluted. A hacker for the agency had a father who was killed in the past incident. Okay. Kunikida was originally on that case. That’s interesting. Kunikida feels like he needs to fill in for the lost father of the hacker. Wait, what? Just kidding, he’s over that. Alright. Then there’s the hospital and the driver who was being manipulated. This was all in order to smear the Agency’s reputation, somehow. They save one woman from the hospital, and I called it in my mind that she would turn out to be the mastermind, although I don’t understand why she pretended to be the victim at all. Before that’s revealed, the bomb threat is issued and a time limit is given for the Agency to stop it. If they fail, this will ruin their appearance. And you know, lots of innocent people will die. But mainly, the bomber is only interested in ruining the Agency.

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This is probably my biggest problem with the entire story. It just doesn’t make sense that the Agency’s reputation would have anything to do with this. Law enforcement gets commended for their heroic deeds. That doesn’t mean they get reprimanded for failing. After all, so long as they tried, they didn’t do anything wrong. And only person to be blamed is THE FUCKER THAT DID IT. So I’ll chalk that up to bad writing.

And you know what else is bad writing? Implying that characters had sex when they didn’t! Okay, that’s actually not a bad thing. I’m just mad that Dazai’s not getting laid.

Onto a different, seemingly bold scene, I liked the three-way going on in the car. Three characters having three separate phone calls appeared to be an interesting and risky storytelling maneuver. A bulk of outside information dumped simultaneously across three people could have resulted in a very sudden change in direction. It also could have convoluted the story even further, and make way for some more unwanted exposition. Bungo Stray Dogs took an even easier way out of this however, because two of the phone calls were essentially the same, and only one piece of information of any significance was actually given to point them in a specific direction.

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They have to stop the bomb through some other means. In finding these means, Kunikida and Dazai get caught in combat. This is where the callback from the previous episode shines through. Why are two such incompatible people on a team? Well, the answer is simple. It’s because Dazai and Kunikida are total opposites that they are so in tuned and work so well together. Dazai lacks combat strength and Kunikida lacks the aptitude toward facing other ability wielders. And so the two swap opponents and finish the fights with ease.

But this isn’t where the contrasting in personalities end. In fact, it’s only the beginning, because their skills aren’t the only thing polarizing each other. Their very ideology comes into play as the case comes to a close.

I knew that the chick was going to be the mastermind behind it all, and I appreciated the subtle misdirects nearing the end that made the reveal come off as a lot more fresh than I would have thought it to be. Dazai arranges a meeting between the bomber and them, sort of a blackmail that ensures the “Azure Messenger” to come out of hiding. As Dazai and Kunikida are waiting, the hacker steps into the light. He’s not the bomber, he just intercepted the message Dazai sent and decided to join in. It all felt incredibly clever, as my original guess had been briefly thrown off, only to be blasted back into shot with surprising gunfire. The girl walks in and reveals she was behind the whole Azure King/Messenger thing. She shoots the hacker, Dazai pulls out his pistol, and now they’re at a standoff. After some conversing and brief exposition, Dazai lowers his weapon and drops it. Then there’s gunfire again. But this time she’s the one to fall. The gun dropped into the lap of the hacker, who was dying, yet still holding on and longing for vengeance.

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Why did Dazai let this happen? Kunikida can’t stand it, there must’ve been another way, a better way.

“Who was wrong?!”

“No one was wrong. This was the only possible outcome.”

“Shut up! You could’ve saved her! Are you saying this is justice?!”

“Justice is a weapon. It can be used to harm, but it cannot protect or save others. What killed Sasaki-san was, in the end, the justice of the Azure King…and of you.

Kunikida-kun, as long as you pursue your ideals, the flames that burned in the Azure King will one day take root in you…and raze everything around you.”

“Still! I’ll still push on until I push past it!

Do not underestimate my ideals!”

And then the music hits its first lyric and the credits roll.

A really great ending to a two part-er that really adds to the wonderful dynamic these two characters have going on. This is the first time we’ve seen their ideals clash, and hopefully it will not be the last.

+ Excellent ending

+ Excellent ending misdirects

+ Excellent ending music cue

– Subpar setup

– Flawed reputation logic

– Dazai didn’t get laid

Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 5

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We got a huge revelation this week in Bungo Stray Dogs. Apparently, this detective agency only has one actual detective! The rest are just sort of there…I kid, of course. Each member brings a specific value to the group that justifies them being there, redeeming them of their more undesirable quirks. Kunikida is a skilled fighter, but has some anger issues and a pony tail. Dazai is also very skilled at…uh…something, yet is consistently trying to kill himself. Atsushi is a noble weretiger that also hates himself and acts quite nervous/awkward/clumsy fairly often.

And now there’s Ranpo, a cocky jerkwad that utterly lacks common sense. It’s okay though, he makes up for it by being a masterclass detective, so excellent in fact that it has earned him utmost respect from all of his colleagues. Basically, the others put up with his bullshit because he gets the job done. This mentality seems to justify every character’s place in the agency. That, along with a shared sense of justice and ideals, demonstrated in the second episode by Atsushi’s test.

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Anyway, Ranpo seems like kind of a boring character until the very end, so before we get there, let’s talk about the Dazai suicide joke of the episode. It was weaker than usual, and this time I saw it coming. Probably at the point they mentioned it was a man, maybe sooner. Am I just getting wise to the act? I hope not, because I really appreciated the gag. This week’s joke may have just led up to the punchline a little too slowly, so I was able to figure it out in time. Perhaps going a bit faster will fix this problem, but I don’t know. I guess you could say I’m worried. Please don’t take suicide jokes away from me!

So Ranpo’s gift comes off as totally boring. It’s boring for a detective to skip all the steps and get right to the solution, and I don’t think there’s a way around that. Luckily, his power isn’t real at all, Ranpo is just incredibly deductive. Weirdly enough, he still believes he has a power and I don’t quite understand how that works. At the end of the episode, most of the deductions were explained by Dazai, how Ranpo knew exactly what happened and so forth. I say “most”, because there are still some points left that Dazai couldn’t even explain. This is how they show Ranpo’s skill level compared to everyone else, and to be honest, it just seems lazy because nothing is really there for the viewer to come to their own conclusion on what happened. The genius detective knows more than you, but he won’t explain it because he’s a dick. All you need to know is that he’s better than you and everyone else in the show. Ha, ha, *fart noise*.

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I can’t say I’m too pleased with this entire episode being dedicated to Ranpo, especially since a lot of it was just shit talking a stubborn police officer. Seriously old man, just let the master detective solve the case, don’t let your stupid, misplaced sense of pride get in the way of your job. So yeah, that annoyed me. But the episode as a whole I thought was alright, the mystery intriguing enough and we got a few jokes out of it as well. I just hope Bungo Stray Dogs gets past its introductory phase soon, because I’d hate for all of this time to be wasted on characters that the show ends up not knowing what to do with. I already episodically reviewed Myriad Colors Phantom World. Don’t make me do it again.

+ Nice mystery story

+ Detective isn’t actually OP

– Not every deduction is explained

– Predictable Dazai joke