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September 17, 2010

Bento Bako Bonus: Dogs: Bullets & Carnage vol. 4

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Dogs: Bullets and Carnage
Author: Shirow Miwa
Publisher: Viz Media (Viz Signature)
Volume: Volume 4 (ongoing), $12.99
Vintage: 2009 by Shueisha, Sept. 14, 2010 (this week) from Viz Media
Genre: Action, drama

It’s taken me a few days to figure out what I was going to write for this review, and truthfully, now that I’m sitting down with it I still don’t know.  Volume 4 is my first exposure to the series, so I’m missing character backgrounds (which I’m using Wikipedia to help remedy) and the early plot.  The cover summary doesn’t help, and the volume drops you right into the aftermath of what appears to have been a significant event (judging by the myriad of injuries).  So bear with me, if you please, and we’ll explore this together.

Dogs follows the lives of four main characters: Heine, the white-haired genetically modified gunman; Badou, the journalist, photographer, and information broker, searching for his brother’s killer (seen on the cover); Naoto Fuyumine, a female sword wielder who is often with Heine (well, at least in this volume); and Mihai, a retired assassin.  The world of Dogs is a dark place, divided into the Above world and the Below world, with the Below world filled with the unsavory aspects of society, and ruled by an organization that performs genetic experimentation and is known for using extreme violence.  These characters search for a way into the Below, in order to discover the secrets of their pasts.  Volume 4 brings some of the characters closer to their answers, Badou specifically, but these answers will be very hard to come by.

Liza gives Badou a new job to hunt down some information regarding the kidnapping of children.  Memories of his past come back to haunt him as he digs for information that may be related to the incident that caused his brother’s death and the loss of his own eye.  Unfortunately the only information he manages to dig up is a name: Giovanni.  Badou goes back to his brother’s place to try and find a lead, but only finds a cryptic message.  It’s Mimi who gives him his next lead, the name Magato Fuyumine, a dangerous assassin working for a mysterious man known as “Herbst.”  When a pair of tickets to the theatre arrive for Badou, he’s brought face to face with the man who may have all the answers he’s been searching for.  Meanwhile, a group of strange trains has appeared on the local tracks, threatening calamity.

There aren’t serious faults with Dogs.  It’s just rather flat.  I had a difficult time drumming up interest to read it, and again to get myself to write about it.  I was bored.  The art is great; it’s a treat to look at (and the guys are easy on the eyes).  There’s a minimal amount of stuff going on in the panels, so even the action scenes are easy to follow.  Unfortunately the word balloons aren’t alway so easy to follow.  And the story just isn’t that interesting, at least not within this volume.  There are also several attempts at humor that really aren’t particularly humorous.  Badou isn’t so bad; at least he’s got a real past that is laid out on the pages.  A dead brother, an amnesiac woman, a search for a mysterious man and the reason for his suffering.  And it’s nice to see an older character like Mihai, whose troubles are a little more normal, like being sent out on errands as punishment from his wife for coming home late.  I did want to note that Dogs came wrapped in plastic, with a Mature rating.  I’m going to assume this is because of the violence, though I’ve seen far worse.  Unless there is something in previous volumes that warrants that treatment.

Next week I plan on looking at Deadman Wonderland, Black Bird, and Grand Guignol Orchestra, so be sure to come back for those.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



  1. the premise seems interesting but from what you’re saying here it’s the execution of everything that has this volume falling flat on it’s face.

  2. Jade

    Hee, your review on Black Lagoon had me considering giving this series a shot again. I keep hearing the same things about it though: everything seems to work ok, but it’s just not that interesting.

    One interesting thing you pointed out in contrast to Black Lagoon is the clean action shots. This is my biggest peeve with Black Lagoon since the action scenes are often so overworked you can barely tell what’s going on. I understand that it communicates a feeling of hectic chaos, but it really saps a lot of the legibility. Would you prefer that, or the just plain serviceable art here in Dogs?

  3. Kristin

    Hm…. Well, a lot of action titles I’ve read, from Bleach to Trigun, all have that overworked feel in action panels. Some are worse than others, but it seems to be a staple of the genre. I’m not overly fond of it in any case, because it makes it so hard to tell what’s going on. Which may be the point. As you said, a feeling of chaos. Or at least, chaotic ~motion~. When it doesn’t get in the way of the story, I don’t mind it.
    But I’m not sure I prefer the clean/plain visuals in Dogs. It’s hard to say…. Though obviously easier to see what’s going on, that may have had something to do with the dull nature of the book as a whole.

  4. Jade

    I don’t think Bleach is that bad, but I can’t stand Trigun because the action is such a mess. I want scenes to be engrossing, but I need to be able to tell what’s going on more. Black Lagoon is odd because it’s not sloppy, it’s supposed to showcase the carnage and mess interspersed with cool poses as opposed to telling the story of the action. I guess I’m ok with it there because there’s skill and intent involved in the decision to make it a mess.

    Now that I think about it in that light, I’m guessing that Dogs isn’t consciously sacrificing B.Lagoon style mess for legibility, it’s probably just plain dull, haha.

  5. […] [Volume 4 review.] […]

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