Dog & Scissors
Gunned down during a robbery, book-loving Kazuhito Harumi finds himself reincarnated as a dachshund. The good news is that he gets adopted by the author of his favorite series of books, "Shinobu Akiyama"; the bad news is that "Shinobu Akiyama" is actually the pen name of Natsuno Kirihime, a Goth-dressing sadist who's surrounded by wackos (and is a bit of one herself.) Natsuno can somehow read Kazuhito's thoughts even in his canine form. The good news here is that he has someone to talk to. The bad news is that it's her. Kazuhito finds himself not only in danger from the capricious Natsuno, but also in the middle of literal battles between Natsuno and her literary rivals.
"As authors, as humans, how can you build up the expectations of your readers only to finish in such a half-assed way?"-Kazuhito
Substitute "viewers" for "readers" in the above quote and it would often apply to this show. Dog & Scissors belongs to the same general class of show as Excel Saga, one that mostly relies on extremely weird characters (often supercharged parodies of anime stereotypes) engaging in utterly nonsensical behavior. Actual jokes seem optional; Excel Saga had them, as did Strange+, but Dog & Scissors only has a few that land on target, though there were others where the intent seems OK but the timing seemed a little off. Case in point: we're in a small bookstore, and the owner proudly says, "You'd have a hard time finding these books at a major bookstore!" I know humor is a personal thing, but in Dog & Scissors the comment occurs after we've seen some of the book titles; I personally thought it would have been funnier to have the comment first, then see the titles. (Still, a lot of thought obviously went into those titles, so the show CAN pull it off- when it's not content to be "half-assed".)
Dog & Scissors has adopted the strategy of having a relatively sane character (Kazuhito) dropped into a den of lunatics, and they've made him rather visually appealing too; that's one attractively-rendered dog. Sadly, none of the other character designs are anything special. And as for the personalities of the other characters...
We'll start with Natsuno herself, I suppose. She's usually icy toward Kazuhito (especially in the early part of the series), but to be honest the "sadism" she does to him is just cutting off his fur, which seems to always come back by the next scene anyway. (It has the same recuperative powers that Wile E. Coyote used to have.) Oh, and she sometimes wraps him in a sack and suspends him from the ceiling. On the other hand, she sometimes (albeit VERY rarely) drops her "tsun" entirely and acts like he's her fiancé. (He's a DOG, lady.) Alcohol particularly brings this out in her. It can also bring other stuff out of her, but I'm not going there- even though the series DID.
Then we have Suzuna Hiiragi, Natsuno's editor. Oh God, what a piece of work SHE is. When we first see her, she's indulging in a full-blown hallucination. Her major character trait is that she's ALSO a full-blown masochist, who particularly likes being abused by Natsuno. She doesn't get manic when she's being indulged in this (like Taro Sado did in MM!), but instead her mouth gets a kind of- serrated- appearance, drool appears, her eyes get red and glazed, and in general she gets such a fearsomely creepy countenance that sensitive viewers might have nightmares for weeks. Later we see her, and some fellow masochists, in hooded robes, dangling over a buffet. (Don't ask, I didn't understand it either.) I kept wondering if Sado's face might have been found under one of those hoods.
We have Madoka, Kazuhito's sister, to prove that not all the bizarre personalities belong to Natsuno's circle. Madoka seems to intuitively know that this dog is Kazuhito, even though she can't read his thoughts like Natsuno can. Her dream is to make curry for Kazuhito, every day, for eternity. Like most of the females in this show, pride, or embarrassment, easily drives her to violence, and she ends up in a duel with Natsuno. Madoka is armed with an extremely oversized kitchen aid that can transform into a chainsaw or a cannon; Natsuno is armed with her scissors. Natsuno is supposed to be quite a hotshot with those scissors in battle, but I would bet that in a scissors duel with Mysterious Girlfriend X's Urabe, Urabe would hand Natsuno Natsuno's rear in thin slivers.
We also have Maxi Akizuki, an idol star/singer who's also a major literary rival of Natsuno's. (Pop stars as public intellectuals? I could believe Madoka's kitchen helper before I could believe THAT. Madonna's book Sex might have been a best seller, but nobody thinks it was a major contribution to world literature. At least I HOPE not.) Maxi's catchphrase is "Shining!", she's blonde, dresses in white (the contrast with Natsuno's Goth-black is emphasized, in case we miss it), and she has a coterie of black-suited sycophants who are always shouting "Everything is as you say, Maxi-sama!" She's not used as intensively as Hiiragi or Madoka (I was grateful for this), and to tell the truth she did have one line, during an attack, that was so apropos and yet so utterly clueless that I had to laugh.
I won't discuss the maid who sings in public and yet gets homicidal toward anyone who actually hears her, and will instead consider Hami Osawa. Unlike the majority of females in the show who become violent when embarrassed (or even Hiiragi, who is incapable of being embarrassed), Hami when embarrassed or ashamed (and she shames awfully easily) constantly offers to kill herself. I really felt guilty laughing, but she carries this to such ludicrous extremes that I couldn't help myself. On the other hand, while Hami is incapable of overt violence toward others, that doesn't mean she's incapable of violent intent toward Natsuno, and how hers comes out is actually rather clever.
(I guess I should qualify things and note that Kazuhito is not the only sane person in the cast- the bookstore owner's daughter, Sakura, is too- but she's given so little to do that she's practically just an extra rather than a cast member.)
On balance, I completely hated the first part of the show (except for Kazuhito), but thought the story became a bit more coherent later on, and I hated Hami less than most of the others, so I got all gracious and went for (barely) two stars here. Let's say that in the end I didn't consider it a complete failure. Judged by Excel Saga standards, instead of "Fail, Fail, Fail!" let's call it "Fail, Fail, Half-Assed." — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Given some of the potential themes (sadomasochism, bestiality), it's actually quite tame. Kazuhito goes on a great deal about Natsuno's flat chest, and when one of her bras goes missing, he of course wonders why she even bothers. She IS used for fanservice in the show, but almost all of this is just in the closing credits. OK for mid-teen and up.
Version(s) Viewed: Stream courtesy of crunchyroll.com (Japanese with English Subtitles)
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Dog & Scissors © 2013 Shunsuke Sarai/Enterbrain/GONZO
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