Disaster Report: Dog & Scissors
So stop me if you’ve heard this one before: there’s a story about a teenage boy. He’s not particular good at social graces, lives alone for entirely contrived reasons, and generally doesn’t have a high opinion of himself. Then one day he unexpectedly does a good deed; maybe he saves a child or stops a criminal. The nature of the deed doesn’t really matter as the end result is that he ends up dead, only to be reincarnated in some wacky form which puts him into contact with at least half a dozen pretty girls who all fit within any number of otaku-friendly stereotypes. Naturally, this is all based on a series of light novels by no one you’ve heard of in particular.
What I’m trying to say is that Dog and Scissors is not a very original show. Indeed, the only thing that would make it more predictable would be to send the protagonist to a fantasy world that may or may not be a literal video game. Nonetheless , it does have a few qualities to distinguish it from the dozens of other shows with similar premises. For example, this time the protagonist reincarnated as a dog. There’s also the fact that Dog & Scissors is seemingly purposefully committed to being 12 episodes of the loudest, fatuous, and tedious nonsense possible.
There’s ostensibly a plot about a Kazuhito Hirumi, an obsessive bookworm who finds himself at the business end of a shotgun. He ends up reincarnated as a long-haired dachshund who ends up in the possession of Kirihime Natsuno, a.k.a best-selling author Shinobu Akiyama. She wasn’t looking for a pet, mind you; she was just interested in getting a test subject for her sadistic tendencies and her ever-present set of silver shears. I wish I could give you more of a plot summary beyond that, but one of the major flaws of this series is that it doesn’t really have any idea of what its plot should be. Is it a series of half-baked mysteries centering around our canine protagonist and his mistress? Is it a demented sort of romance between a sadistic tsundere and a snarky boy in a dog’s body? Is it something of a harem series, since so much of the supporting cast are cute girls who serve either as Kirihime’s rivals or figures from Kazuhito’s past? Is it a bawdy comedy making the most of the implications of being someone’s dog? Dog & Scissors can never truly decide, so instead it tries to be all of them. The show seems to jump almost at random from one concept to another, something doing so drastically within a single episode. Since it can’t commit to any one narrative, all of them are neglected as a result, leaving the show utterly adrift from beginning to end.
The one thing Dog & Scissors does commit to is pounding what few “jokes” it possesses deep into the ground. I say “jokes” because despite what the writers may believe, none of these reoccurring gags are the least bit funny. Most people would be turned off by the fact that many of them revolve around Kirihime (and occasionally others) threatening to torture and kill Kazuhito with shears or other sharp objects. Others would find themselves driven to the brink of madness over this show’s obsession with mocking Kirihime’s bust size (even when she isn’t in the scene). It also seems to think that fanservice and talk of S&M are jokes onto themselves, which suggests that for all of this show’s talk of kink its writer is still very much stuck in an adolescent state of mind.
Its approach to character writing is no different. All of our cast members can be summed up in one or two quirks, all of which are hammered into the viewer’s eyes and ears as frequently and loudly as possible. This means that most of the women on this show are mind-bogglingly annoying, be it Kirihime’s masochistic editor Suzuna, Kazuhito’s obsessive little sister Madoka, rival author and wanna-be idol Maxi, the apologetic, suicidal sadsack classmate Hami, or the handful of lesser though no less irritating secondary characters. The only relief from the nonsense comes during the brief moments where Kazuhito tries to be sentimental, but since these revelations are just as hackneyed as the rest of the story, they are in no way effective. Overall, the show’s sense of humor lies in a bizarre uncanny valley of humor – an unfunny valley, if you will. It lacks the structure and focus necessary for traditional humor, but it’s too stupid and repetitive to be truly absurd or random.
Not shockingly, the show also looks terrible. This was made by Studio GONZO, an animation studio that has sunk deeply in quality since the days of Last Exile and Gankutsuou. At their peak, they were notorious for the uneven quality of their shows, but ever since the 2008 recession their output has been positively dire. Dog & Scissors is no exception to this trend, with its inconstant (and sometimes After Effects-assisted) animation and gangly character designs. Even the opening is grating, a cacophony of chatter, squeaky singing, loud noises, books, and dog eared girls dancing badly. In some ways, it’s the perfect 90 second summary of the show, but mostly it should be a warning to any fools who dare to watch it. The only thing remotely good about this show was Sentai Filmworks' dub for it, to my great surprise. The writing and direction lends the show a touch of snark and irreverence about itself, and the voice cast is full of many of Sentai’s best and brightest, including Blake Shepard, Luci Christian, and Brittney Karbowski. Their efforts aren’t enough to polish this turd to brilliance, but it did help to make watching it a little more palatable.
For something that was so tedious to watch, it’s shocking how little there is to say about it. Despite only being four years old, it’s already been relegated to the trash bin of anime fandom’s memory, a show to be skipped over while browsing the HiDive library. Whatever shock value or curiosity the title might merit evaporates the moment one watches it. It is simply nothing but animated sound and fury, signifying nothing and loved by none.