There are few anime that get me hooked enough to watch on a weekly basis — most times I save up and watch them in chunks. And despite having some glaring flaws, Dog & Scissors is one of the few that managed to keep me coming back thanks to its witty, over-the-top slapstick humour.
Good — Over-the-top Personalities
When it comes to Dog & Scissors, there are no normal, balanced characters. Everyone has a personality made up of nothing but extremes. The main character, Kazuhito, is so obsessed with books that being reincarnated as a dog doesn't even phase him — at least, not as long as he has a book to read in front of him. Hami is a girl who so believes that everything she does is such an inconvenience to others, she would gladly kill herself to make up for it — except she doesn't as that would cause a mess for others to clean up. And Suzuna is such a masochist that people being downright kind to her puts her in crippling emotional pain.
Having such extreme characters makes for an incredibly enjoyable comedy as their interactions often spiral off in unforeseen (and often hilarious) directions — and that's before you put Natsuno into the mix.
Good — When Yanderes Collide
What makes Natsuno stand out in a cast full of eccentric personalities is that she embodies two common Japanese character archetypes, the tsundere and the yandere. On the tsundere side, she is a natural sadist — especially towards Kazuhito and her masochistic manager. But, of course, beneath that is a cute and loving side — unless another girl is showing any kind of interest in Kazuhito. In that case she becomes a full-blown yandere — more than willing and able to kill the offending girl.
But more than that, Natsuno is not the only yandere in the story. Kazuhito's sister, Harumi, is very much one as well. Thus the scenes they share prove to be some of the most entertaining, not to mention explosive, of the show.
Good — A Dog in the Middle
What makes this Yandere-filled love story all the more entertaining is the fact that Kazuhito is, literally, a dog. Yet, despite this, both Natsuno and Harumi fantasize about a typical, boyfriend/girlfriend relationship with him — and I don't mean with Kazuhito in human form either. This makes for a situation rife with comedy as the two girls try to re-create all the cliché romantic situations found in many anime, this time with a dog. And as Kazuhito is interested only in books — and not real world romance in any form — his obliviousness to the whole situation only adds yet another layer to the comedy.
Bad — Hanging Plot Threads and Anti-Climaxes
Like many anime based on on-going light novels, Dog & Scissors just kind of ends without any meaningful conclusion. But what's worse is that there is no climax. Oh, it sets up for a climax but then suddenly transforms it into an anti-climax for the sake of a one-off joke.
Then there's the simple fact that numerous characters and plot lines are introduced but nothing ever comes of them. I'm sure in later volumes of the novels these are addressed and fully expounded upon, but in the anime, as it stands now, these characters and plots are left hanging.
Bad — Seems to Forget Its Own Rules
As a story with a magical twist — i.e. reincarnation, mystical scissors, transforming chainsaws — it is important that we, the audience, are taught the rules of this world. While we don't necessarily need to know how everything works, we do need to know the rules of the world and limits of certain abilities. Unfortunately, Dog & Scissors has the bad habit of ignoring the previously established rules of its own world — especially when it comes to Kazuhito's telepathic link.
As a dog, Kazuhito can obviously not talk — aside from barking anyway. However, Natsuno is able to understand him due to a telepathic link. In fact, the whole reason she adopts him at all is because she can "hear" him all the way up in her penthouse apartment and can't focus on her writing. This means the range of his telepathic broadcast is, at minimum, several blocks (and it is probably larger).
However, in the numerous instances where Kazuhito finds himself kidnapped or when he falls under attack, it is often ignored that all he'd have to do is say where he is and the chances are high that Natsuno would be able to hear and come to his rescue.
It is also established that he has no control over what he telepathically broadcasts and what he doesn't; Natsuno literally hears all his thoughts. Thus, there is really no way he should ever be kidnapped or end up in any kind of trouble without her knowing. By the same reasoning, he should be unable to keep any secret from her. This is also ignored — unless a gag of some form will result from it. Frankly, it is just lazy writing that serves to detract from the overall story.
Bad — The Elimination of Any Sense of Real Danger
The first story arc, while still clearly a comedy, is filled with high stakes danger. Kazuhito was killed off in the first episode, after all. And when Natsuno and Kazuhito (now a dog) confront the killer, the two of them are just barely able to defeat him. However, any realistic grounding the show had is thrown out the window by the second story arc which ends with a climatic scissors versus chainsaw battle — and it only gets crazier from there.
While entertaining in its own right, this absurdity serves to eliminate any sense of danger or tension from the series. No matter what the characters encounter, Natsuno is shown to be so far beyond normal men in fighting prowess that the outcome is a forgone conclusion (at least, as long as she has her scissors in hand). Unfortunately, without even the possibility of defeat, the fight scenes become little more than flashy filler.
Dog & Scissors is an anime with obvious flaws — that only get worse the more you think about them. However, I found myself enjoying it nonetheless. For whatever reason, it just manages to hit me right in the funny bone. If you like witty slapstick and crazy situations, be sure to give Dog & Scissors a try.
Dog & Scissors aired on Tokyo MX in Japan. It can be viewed for free with English subtitles at Crunchyroll.