Based on the light novel series by Shunsuke Sarai and illustrated by Tetsuhiro Nabeshima, Dog & Scissors is a twelve-episode series animated by Gonzo. The light novels had about seven volumes out when the show aired and they wrapped up in 2015 with seven more, so it certainly did well enough overall to continue past the anime. Sadly, for fans of the anime, the novels were never picked up nor did the short run of manga that was produced. And it’s not a surprise as the show is one that definitely has an odd concept and 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 are 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 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.
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 are some potential romantic aspects, but it’s played for laughs that don’t always work.
This series didn’t over well during the summer season it aired and I struggled with it a year later when I watched the DVD of it in a binge format. Sometimes a show can change when you get it all at once. I tend to appreciate a show that has its own rhythm but there’s a disconnect that’s just odd because of the lead being a dog for pretty much the whole season. It’s been done more in the years since with things like slimes and vending machines but it’s still too off-putting for me. 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 but also ends up being a series that is utterly forgettable until you see its name and you remember why you forgot it.