What They Say:
Harumi Kazuhito was the ultimate bookworm, spending days at a time with his head buried in his beloved books, and little could make him happier than perusing the pages of his favorite author, Kirihime Natsuno. Unfortunately, Harumi’s life goes to the dogs – literally – when he gets himself killed while trying to stop a robber!
Thanks to the power of a true bookworm, however, Harumi inexplicably finds himself reincarnated as a dog… which might not be so bad if dogs could read. Or if the woman who adopts him didn’t have twin predilections for playing with scissors and tormenting her new pet! But what truly makes this strange reincarnation the worst of all possible worlds is that she’s also his favorite author! The horror! Can Harumi find a way to live with this tantrum-throwing typist, or will her crazed clippings prove to be his undoing? Can he escape her constant hounding via the doggy door, or is he barking up the wrong tree?
The audio presentation for this release is pretty standard stuff as we get the original Japanese language track only in stereo, encoded at 224kbps. The series is one that is largely overacting in standard dialogue scenes that are pretty much center channel based with a few areas here and there where it bounces around a bit. The layout isn’t one that does much in general but it hits the right notes for what the show is about and it comes across about as you’d expect. The action moments show a bit more playing around with things but even that doesn’t really make it hit in a big way. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The twelve episodes are spread evenly across three discs here with minimal extras overall so there’s plenty of space for everything without any issues. The transfer is one that captures the look of the show well, though it’s not exactly a high budget show in general. There’s a nice bit of detail in some scenes when it comes to the backgrounds and books but mostly it has a kind of basic look to it. The animation is fairly standard and with one of the characters being a dog, they handle it well by having him in nearly every scene and providing a bit of a different camera view. With his coloring being a bit more basic than the norm, there’s not a lot to deal with though. While not a standout show, it’s captured well here and shows the intent and nature of the series easily enough.
The packaging for this release is definitely a very appealing one as we get a full length shot of Natsuno sitting in her chair staring out at the viewer. With her dark appearance and light skin, the skin showing and the scissors with the grin, she’s pretty interesting looking as she sits in the black leather chair with a few of her prize volumes on the arm. The background is very busy in a good way with all sorts of novel words and categories laid out across it so that you get a taste of what it’s about easily enough. The back cover goes for a far sexier version of Natsuno that doesn’t really show up in the series outside of the ending sequence but we also get a few other shots from the series. The premise is given a lot of space with a small font with black text on white that’s a little small but still readable. Surprisingly, it doesn’t list the extras here as they usually do but we get a decent production breakdown and technical grid that covers everything cleanly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this series brings us a busy but decent kind of presentation that works for the material. Done with a split screen approach, the right side swaps out the singular piece of full color character artwork for the three main women of the series with a bunch of literary words behind them in gray against white. The left sides goes for the menu navigation that’s done in big letters and numbers that has the episodes by number and title with a scissor cutting line between them and a cute pawprint as a cursor. Submenus load quickly and easily and it’s definitely smooth sailing in navigating the whole set.
The only extras for this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Based on the light novel series by Shunsuke Sarai and illustrated by Tetsuhiro Nabeshima which is at seven volumes so far, Dog & Scissors is a twelve episode series animated by Gonzo. The show is one that definitely has an odd concept to say the least but also a very odd approach. With the main male character of the series, and really the only one of any note or regularity, we see him entirely as a dog here. When we do see flashbacks of him as a person, we never see his face as it’s all obscured, which keeps us from really seeing into his soul and having to take everything from inflection and the dialogue itself. When he’s in his dog phase, there’s not a lot of real emotion there in the face unless he’s doing a wild take. It’s an unusual approach to take and I’m not sure at the end of things whether it really makes the character all that accessible.
The series revolves around Kazuhito, a high school student who has gone to Tokyo for his education and lives alone in an apartment. In an odd twist, he ended up with the room that his parents are paying for but also ended up through the manager getting the room next door to take care of. What showcases his personality is that he took the room his parents are paying for and turned it into a library to store all of the books he acquires. Kazuhito is the epitome of a bookworm who reads, reads and reads more and simply wants to immerse himself in that. While he does do a lot of the basics of life as needed, including his education, he can get behind on things because of his need to read, get new books or just peruse a bookstore. He has such a love of the printed word and what it brings that it’s pretty much all that he’s really interested in and passionate about.
But we see early on that he’s also a pretty good guy who can do the right thing, such as when he was at a restaurant reading a book and the place gets held up by a robber. He and the others do what they’re told, but there’s one young woman there who doesn’t and is about to get shot because of the tense criminal. That causes Kazuhito to leap into action and to try and disarm the criminal, but he ends up shot and killed instead. There’s plenty of shows that start off by killing the lead character, so it’s not exactly a surprise. What is a surprise (well, not really) is that he’s suddenly reincarnated inside the body of a dog. Taking on the form of a dachshund, he’s adjusting to that while still being who he is: a bookworm. He’s wants to read and nothing more and even when he starts off in the pet store, that’s all he can think about. Even before what happened to him, his family and what he’s lost. The fact that he knows who he is and can read as a dog makes it okay in his book.
What provides the additional quirk here is that he has a bond to the young woman who he was protecting, Kirihime Natsuno. Natsuno, aged twenty, is actually a very famous Japanese author with a slew of books under her pen name and is one of the authors that Kazuhito admires above all others. Because of what happened, Natsuno can hear what he’s thinking and his initial panic gets her to find out where he is and to bring him into her life. She’s pretty well off because of her works and has a great place full of books that allows the two to connect well enough, but she’s pretty sadistic in some ways as she treats him poorly even though she feels hugely guilty over the fact that her inaction during the robbery caused his death. She’s taking responsibility but has a lot of issues around it. And she handles the idea of him being reborn in this form fairly well since you suspect she can make it into an interesting story. But to cope with her guilty, she abuses him a lot with her speciality scissors she always has which she uses to sheer him (and others) as needed.
The series is one that has a few very minor arcs going through it but it’s the kind of series that doesn’t really feel like it’s doing anything in particular with them. Kazuhito has to deal with his younger sister Madoka that shows up to deal with the death of her brother and finds herself very connected to him as a dog, even though she can’t understand him. Natsuno has a stalker that comes into play a few times before it gets serious towards end which helps to finish out the show. There’s also some ongoing material with her editor, Hiiragi, that’s looking for ways to really motivate and work Natsuno in order to produce some great works. One that is really sought out is the final installment of her Deadly Sins series, Lust, which Kazuhito himself really wants to read. There’s also another author character that comes into play, Akizuki Maxi, a pop idol who also does some very popular writing and is constantly trying to get Natsuno’s attention and approval. Akizuki is all about being bright and shiny which is in stark contrast to the dark and red-eyed Natsuno.
A lot of the show is fairly episodic and there’s a lot of gags that go on with how Kazuhito says things in his mind that Natsuno hears that set her off. He’s just out of luck in being able to hide things and because of her flat nature and general looks, his comments always land him in trouble. Kazuhito has a bit of an amusing life as a dog since he’s always under threat from Natsuno, but he slowly starts doing things for others to help them, such as his sister and later with the family that owns his favorite bookstore, and we often get to see how Natsuno grows into the role of being an advocate for the Kazuhito that was in trying to fix things. It’s not a direct fix kind of thing, But you do see how Natsuno warms up to Kazuhito, even if she won’t really admit it, and she has some fun with him. There are the awkward dog/human interaction moments though since there’s some potential romantic aspects, but it’s played for laughs that don’t always work.
Dog & Scissors was a show that did not go over well during the summer season it aired and it’s easy to see why. It has its own rhythm that it works with and there’s a disconnect that’s just odd because of the lead being a dog for pretty much the whole season. He’s not entirely accessible and Natsuno isn’t much better as we don’t get much of her past and who she is. With a supporting cast that doesn’t connect well outside of Madoka and leads that are fairly one-dimensional, you pretty much have to hope that the episodic nature works well enough to make you laugh. It has its moments to be sure and I’ll admit that I liked seeing Kazuhito with his book backpack and the way his love of books is overpowering, but it’s not enough to carry the show. With some of the awkward material and no real resolution to it, it’s a series that’s just sort of there that doesn’t achieve much of anything. But sometimes that’s exactly what you need.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 10th, 2014
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.