Friday, June 5, 2009

DOGS: Bullets & Carnage OVA 1-2

OMG! I had no idea they were making an OVA of this crazy manga. I read like the first three chapters of this manga. It feels like years ago. I remember it being entertaining carnage (beautiful art, almost zero background) but it's the sort of story that you can easily put down and forget about. So when I saw this one suddenly crop up on, you can imagine my surprise. Of course, I had to watch it.
01: Weepy Old Killer
More Screencaps from Dogs: Bullets & Carnage OVA 01

Through a letter from Kiri telling him that Ian killed the boss, Mihai finally returns to his hometown after ten years. He is met at the station by Kiri, a former prostitute and restaurant owner. While they talk, Mihai's past as a gunman for the mob and a father figure to the boss' son, Ian, is revealed. His relationship with the latter, however, falls apart when Ian killed Milena, Mihai's prostitute girlfriend, ten years ago. As news of Mihai's arrival in town spreads through the mob, some mobsters, who are against Ian's leadership, plot to take him out while he goes to meet Mihai at the cemetery. Sure enough, Ian shows up at the cemetery where Milena is buried and comes face to face with Mihai after ten long years. He is about to have his goons shoot him when Kiri, who has secretly followed Mihai, warns them of an assassin. The warning, however, comes too late as Ian gets hit first, the bullet shooting clean through the wound and hitting Mihai as well. Both Mihai and Ian act quickly as they whip out their guns and start shooting down the assassin. In the aftermath, a fatally wounded Ian reveals that he killed Milena because he was afraid to lose Mihai, the only father he had ever known. For his part, Mihai admits that he did not shoot Ian that day because he was afraid of losing him, too. A few days later, Mihai is out walking when he bumps into a boy. He starts to apologize but notices the blood on the snow and on his hand. The boy tells him that now everybody who knows something is gone. The scene closes with Mihai lying alone in the snow.

02: Gun Smoker
More Screencaps from Dogs: Bullets & Carnage OVA 02

While on a routine assignment taking adultery photos for a client, freelancer Badou, through a series of events involving cigarettes, accidentally takes a compromising shot of a crime boss engaged in S&M. As a result, he ends up being chased all over the city by the crime boss' underlings. He desperately calls up Heine for some help but the latter just hangs up on him, leaving Badou at the complete mercy of the mobsters. Fortunately, before they could kill him, Mihai, who has a bad sense of direction, stumbles upon them and unwittingly rescues the freelancer. Badou proposes to hire Mihai as a bodyguard to protect him from the mobsters but has virtually no money to make the former gunman even remotely interested. Seeing that he has no other option, Badou prepares to make a deal with the mobsters for the photo but his camera with the film still inside accidentally gets destroyed during the subsequent shooting. With nothing else to bargain with, Badou decides to throw caution in the wind and just searches around for some smoke. He finds one from the body of a dead mobster but even that is taken from him. Finally reaching his limit, Badou steps out of the restaurant, but instead of surrendering, he suddenly takes out his guns and starts shooting like a maniac. He only stops when everyone else but the crime boss is dead. Pointing his gun at the cowering crime boss, he asks if he has a cigarette. The crime boss gives him one and Badou is in happyland. In the end, the crime boss decides to drop the matter but his secret is discovered any way and he becomes a laughingstock of a rival mob.


After the melancholy of Mihai's storyline, it was kind of jarring to suddenly get treated to Badou's comical antics. But the OVA really follows the actual chronological order of the first volume of the manga, subtitled Stray Dogs Howling in the Dark. Which means the next episode will be about Naoto, the ninja assassin orphan girl with a shrouded past. Cool.

Now back to the show. This seems like a pretty faithful adaptation. It's animated by David Production, a name that is only recently familiar because of the currently running series, Ristorante Paradiso. While there's nothing special about the visuals (the characters are a fair replica of their manga counterpart), it is a pleasure to finally see these people in action. There aren't a lot of fight scenes in these two episodes so I can't really give an accurante judgment on how the studio handled the action sequence. But based on what little I could see, I'm pretty sure they'll be able to handle the next two episodes' more closed-quarters-combat style action sequences. My only problem with production is the ending theme. It's totally out of place.

DOGS is a character-centric story, with the four main characters only loosely connected with each other. The plot seems to revolve around a place "down below" that at least two of the characters are searching for, for one reason or another, but other than that, I know nothing. The fact that it deals with the underground reminds me of another anime that is all about the mafia underworld, Baccano! But where the latter was pointedly over-the-top with the violence and the insane plot twists, DOGS seems tame by comparison. Yeah, sure, there are some shooting and crazy gun-toting nicotine-addicts but its level of craziness can't compare to the absolute insanity that is Baccano!

Then again I don't think DOGS is meant to be a counterpart for Baccano! The two animes do have their similarities but they are definitely not of the same class. DOGS follows a more or less linear plot and seems more somber in its treatment of characters, especially Mihai whose backstory, though typical, is what got me into the series as a matter of fact.

All in all, this looks like a higly entertaining OVA series. The show is for people who don't mind anti-hero characters for leads and a little blood and violence. Here's to hoping the next ones prove to be just as entertaining.