What’s Up, Dawg?
The only thing better than some light summer reading is some all-seasons anime viewing! But just as it’s difficult to judge a book by its cover, it’s also hard to tell at a glance if an anime is a good fit for all fans. Each week “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog” provides additional info and cultural context for a title in Crunchyroll’s online anime library in order to help viewers decide whether or not they’d like to try out an unknown series.
What’s Dog & Scissors?
Dog & Scissors is 2013 TV anime with direction by Yukio Takahashi and animation by GONZO. It is based on the Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyo (“How to Use Dog & Scissors”) series of light novels written by Shunsuke Sarai and illustrated by Tetsuhiro Nabeshima, which are published in Japan by Enterbrain under their Famitsu Bunko imprint. Crunchyroll describes the story of Dog & Scissors as follows:
One day, Harumi Kazuhito was killed in a robbery. However, his fascination with books allowed him to miraculously come back to life – as a dachshund dog. As he lamented his loss of ability to read books, before him appeared a sadistic woman, Natsuno Kirihime, who used scissors as a lethal weapon. But, not only can she hear Kazuhito’s thoughts as a dog – she also happens to be a novelist he was a huge fan of. What is to become of this dog’s life?
Dog & Scissors is the story of an obsession with reading so strong that not even a shotgun blast to the face can stop it. It’s a thoroughly odd comedy that explores grief, social ostracism, and sado-masochism as well as the pleasures of the creative process, the inner workings of publication, and the special relationship shared by authors and their readers.
Supplementary Japanese Vocabulary: Tsundoku
Have you ever purchased books with the intent of reading them, only to end up ignoring them in favor of purchasing more books, until your bookshelves are overflowing with stacks of unread material? The Japanese have a helpful phrase for this phenomenon: tsundoku, which is written with the Kanji characters for “reading” and “to pile up.”
Under ordinary circumstances, main character Harumi Kazuhito could be said to suffer from tsundoku since he keeps an entire spare apartment room full of books, except that even when reincarnated in dachshund form, Harumi reads at a prodigious rate. A more apt example of tsundoku can be found in the READ OR DIE series with the character of Yomiko Readman.
Nothing But a Hound Dog.
Dog & Scissors is a comedy, and it makes extensive use of recurring jokes. Some of these gags – such as Harumi getting his fur snipped in embarrassing patterns for making fun of the size of Natsuno’s breasts – are pretty well-worn in terms of comedic conventions, but the best gag in Dog & Scissors involves how it inverts the standard “manzai” pattern.
Traditional manzai comedy features two performers: a boke (“fool”) who says and does ridiculous things and a tsukkomi (“straight man”) who acts as the voice of reason and reacts to the boke‘s foolishness, often with a snappy comeback that expresses surprise or incredulity. In Dog & Scissors, Harumi is the tsukkomi, meaning the show features a dachshund playing it straight in strange situations.
If the particular breed of comedy in Dog & Scissors doesn’t work for you, you may still enjoy watching the series simply to experience how truly, utterly weird it is: aside from the “reincarnated as a dog” premise, the show also features fights where people translate fiction into martial arts forms, a chainsaw-wielding little sister, and death-match style writing contests where the participants demonstrate legendary techniques and authorial superpowers.
All of this is presented in a very matter-of-fact manner, which increases the sense of the bizarre. Sensitive viewers, take note: one of the characters in Dog & Scissors is a socially anxious and suicidal author whose struggles are played for laughs, so if this sort of material bothers you, it may be best to steer clear.
The Dog Days of Summer.
Crunchyroll currently streams Dog & Scissors in 76 territories worldwide, including the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Brazil, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The series is available in the original Japanese language with English, Latin American Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles. Dog & Scissors is also released on home video in North America by Sentai Filmworks, and this version includes an English language dub.
Dog & Scissors is definitely an acquired taste, and its eccentric style of humor may seem to some viewers to be barking up the wrong tree, but if you’re in the mood for something that is unapologetically weird and if the series is available in your area, then please consider giving Dog & Scissors a try.
Is there a series in Crunchyroll’s catalog that you think needs some more love and attention? Please send in your suggestions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or post a Tweet to @gooberzilla. Your pick could inspire the next installment of “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog”!
Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.