Stray Dogs and Tanaka-kun finale, Sousei 12, Kuromukuro 11

I had no idea this episode of Bungou Stray Dogs was the finale until it ended with no preview and I checked sources.

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Well, it was a good episode to end with. We have the appearance of the Guild, basically rich, gifted assholes from America with enormous power and influence in their hands. We already knew that they were the ones behind Atsushi’s kidnapping, but I didn’t expect them to make an ouvert appearance so soon, trying to buy the Agency out went the way we expected (No), and then making Kenji vanish just like that, hinted at abilities the good guys may not be able to counter. Soon others vanish too, at the Shibuya crosswalk, and Atsushi, Tanizaki, and a mystery guy find themselves in the playpen of a crazy girl named Lucy.

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Welcome to Lucy’s world.

But all season the show has shown the enemy to be supremely powerful only to reveal cracks in their facades that allow the good guys to defeat and/or befriend them. Turns out Lucy has pretty much the same story as Atsushi and Kyouka: abandoned, feared for their powers. While this doesn’t actually affect the fight this week, it shows us that the Guild has broken people working for it, and that they will be abandoned again if they fail, much like the Port Mafia. This gives the Agency a card to play in the next episode. As for this one, Anne’s sob story goes on a bit long since we’ve heard it before, and Atsushi’s panic and self-esteem attack wasn’t much new, either. More interesting is the situation itself, and Atsushi’s solution (Tanizaki helped, too–nice misdirection there), not to mention the mystery guy. When it ended I thought for sure we’d get back to Lucy’s plight, but no time, show over. Season over. Don’t know if there will be another one, but if there is I’ll watch it.

One more of Atsushi, with his usual expression at work.
One more of Atsushi, with his usual expression at work.
Dinner is an important meal, dammit.
Dinner is an important meal, dammit.

Sousei no Onmyouji isn’t ending anytime soon, but frankly the show has been getting less interesting recently. At the moment it’s just training, Rokuro and Benio having domestic squabbles (this week it’s who’s the better cook), having a new supremely powerful asshole show up (Kamui), and finally, we discover another dark secret that torments one of the characters (Kamui killed Benio’s parents). Kamui is not a smug, smiling bishie, which is a relief, but his schtick (“I’ll give you ten seconds”) is already old. What works better is not only how it hooks into Benio’s psyche, but how the cooking theme is brought into it, with Rokuro offering her the kind of domestic routine she lost along with her dead parents, because of you-know-who.

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Kuromukuro isn’t ending either, what’s more, my viewing of ep11 was delayed until today. #11 felt like a halfway point, finishing with the villains temporarily defeated and Yumiko and Kennosuke’s idylic onigiri picnic in the mountains. But there are questions to answer. During Ken’s fight with what’s-his-name, it’s hinted that he had his memories messed with, and maybe he’s not the Samurai he says he is. This makes the UN people suspicious of him (in spite of the other guy actually killing several men and taking Yukina hostage in order to hijack the Black Relic. Well, the UN are meant to be among the show’s fools), and of course it’s the truth. However, we know that Kennosuke is acting decently out of what he thinks is the truth, so in terms of the story it’s nothing to worry about unless more memories pop up and he becomes unsure.

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Then there’s the question of Yukina’s dad. She somehow figured out, with the help of Kennosuke and GPS, where his old lair was, but why it was dug out of the ground like that is anyone’s guess. The dad probably did it. I mean, who else? I’m worried about this area of the story, because while it’s part of Yukina’s story and must be dealt with, I’m afraid of a Mari Okada style story where all the mecha and the backstory become metaphors for people exploring their own feelings. Well, too soon to tell, and right now I’m genuinely curious as to what that guy’s been doing all these years.

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Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge wraps up, rather listlessly. Other closing series often add some profound, usually not terribly funny summation which breaks the mood of the overall story in favor of unneeded sentiment. Tanaka-kun tries this as well, as our tired hero realizes that he enjoys being listless more when his friends are around, espcially Ohta. But upon realizing this he is too lazy to actually act upon it–that’s the spirit! As for the ending itself. Seating arrangements in part one and a “Tanaka has a girlfriend” rumor in part two, and both feature Shiraishi more than I expected. Since Shiraishi has no chance of getting this boy, it gives the episode a sense of frustrating sadness, though she decides not to give up.

For Tanaka, it WAS a frightening glare.
For Tanaka, it WAS a frightening glare.

This show is one of my favorites for the season, and must have been one of the hardest to make. The show had to work to make Tanaka more than just a layabout who needs help with everything, but they gave him some moments of insight (and sudden action, like his rush to change seats with Miyano) which helped somewhat. They weren’t able to perfectly solve the dilemma of having a protagonist who doesn’t act, but the side characters filled the gap nicely, especially Miyano, who energized every scene she was in just by speaking, and Ohta, the best bro of the season who I think could have a series of his own if he was a little weirder. They didn’t always get the balance right–inaction and slow, deadpan humor vs nutty high school life, but it worked often enough that I’ll genuinely miss the series.

One more of Miyano.
One more of Miyano.
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