“You’re right that all people are sinful and foolish, but isn’t that what’s so great?”
Bungo Stray Dogs, written by Kafka Asigiri and illustrated by Sango Harukawa, is a manga series, but today I’ll be reviewing the anime adaptation. The story takes place in Yokohama, Japan and the first character introduced is the protagonist, Atsushi Nakajima, who has recently been kicked out of an orphanage. Asigiri takes names and character traits from famous authors and draws them as characters with special abilities named after their most famous books.
The story begins with Atsushi walking down a riverbank dressed in rags and starving. He sees a man floating down the river and jumps in to save him. Atsushi is then dumbfounded by the stranger’s reaction to being saved, and learns his name, Osama Dazai. Dazai works for the Armed Detective Agency (the Agency), a group of people who have supernatural abilities and use them against crime. Across from Atsushi and Dazai stands another Agency employee, Doppo Kunikida.
The two members treat Atsushi to some food, and talk about their job, which is to catch a man-eating tiger that has been terrorizing the Kantō Region of Japan. Atsushi then explains that he thinks the tiger is following him and is sent out with Dazai to go and catch it. They later discover that Atsushi has the ability to turn into a tiger, and he joins the Agency.
The Agency consists of nine gifted members including their president Yukichi Fukuzawa. He is a stern yet caring man, and his ability allows him to subdue abilities so that they are controllable. The other members are Junichirō Tanizaki, Akiko Yosano, Kenji Miyazawa, Ranpo Edogawa, Dazai Osamu, Doppo Kunikida, and of course Atsushi Nakajima. Each of these members possesses a gift except Ranpo. His ability, Ultra Deduction, is not an ability at all but instead just extreme intelligence.
The Port Mafia is a criminal organization run by Ōgai Mori that often clashes with the Agency. Mori is a frightening heartless individual who is not afraid to get blood on his hands if there’s something he wants. Mori has mentally tortured both Dazai (hence the fact that his previous job was an executive in the Port Mafia) and Yosano (former doctor) and is known for murdering or attacking people using his old scalpel. During the first few episodes of the anime, we are introduced to Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, a slender and sickly man who holds the dangerous ability, Rashōmon. Akutagawa later uses this ability to harm members of the Agency.
Another gifted organization that is an enemy to both the Port Mafia and the Armed the Agency is the Guild, a North American group led by Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. They try to destroy the two groups, but later help the agency out in an investigation. The guild eventually disbands after getting defeated and no longer pose a threat.
I loved this series, and I hope to continue reading the manga where the anime left off. Bungo Stray Dogs is actually a very funny series, and I thoroughly enjoyed each episode. It’s one of the only anime series that makes me anxious about what’s going to happen, and each episode is beautifully animated and drawn.
I still laugh every time I re-watch the series knowing that an anime character adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe and other famous authors exist. I definitely recommend this series to anyone who likes action, comedy, and sci-fi.
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