Bungou Stray Dogs – A Review

Bungou Stray Dogs – A Review

Original title: Bungou Stray Dogs

Release date: April 7, 2016

Genre: Action/ Comedy/ Drama

I was first introduced to Bungou Stray Dogs through a friend of mine in my early days of watching anime. Having watched Black Butler and Jujutsu Kaisen prior to that (both of them having no similarity other than being supernatural), I was a bit hesitant to try any other anime fearing they would, to put it in a rather blatant manner, “ruin my taste.” Finally, however, when I decided to watch, it immediately became my favourite. And to my luck, the 4th and 5th seasons of the anime franchise were soon released in the following year. I ended up binge-watching the entire story several times and developed a fresh obsession over it. Ever since, I have made it a habit to recommend every one of my friends to watch it. Better if I use this opportunity too, don’t you think?

What is Bungou Stray Dogs?

Bungou Stray Dogs or “Literary Stray Dogs” is originally a Japanese manga series written by Kafka Asagiri and illustrated by Sango Harukawa, adapted into an anime television series produced by Studio Bones. The anime franchise, which kicked off in 2016, four years after the initial release of the manga, gained immense popularity throughout the following years, while multiple light novel adaptations and stage plays have also paved the way to its success. Bungou Stray Dogs is a story about people with supernatural powers called “abilities” living in the city of Yokohama in a slightly altered timeline of Japan during the 1930s. Revolving around a detective agency called the “Armed Detective Agency,” which handles all the violent and mysterious cases that the police deem too dangerous or tricky, the main plot covers the agency tackling cases involving other gifted individuals, including the mysterious Port Mafia.

How it unfolds…

Our story begins when Atsushi Nakajima, an 18-year-old was driven out of his orphanage, he was raised and pursued by a ferocious beast. On the verge of starvation, he meets Dazai Osamu and Kunikida Doppo, two members of the Armed Detective Agency, an organization run by ability users. This meeting turns out to be a huge turning point in his life as he is later offered a position at the agency. (And yes, our little protagonist too is a “Gifted”, meaning he is also an ability user.) And then a lot of stuff happens. A lot of crazy stuff. (No Spoilers!)

If I am to be so bold, Bungou Stray Dogs is a one-of-a-kind show. It’s weird, but weird in a good way. Most of the characters in the series are not entirely good or bad. They’re all gray characters, meaning they have a mix of both good and bad traits. It makes for an interesting story, and it’s fun to analyze all the different characters and their moral standings. So, you can hate a certain character while also falling in love with them. Just like how the majority of the fandom is entangled in a love-hate relationship with Dazai Osamu. Speaking of Dazai, it is not entirely wrong to say that he is, in fact, the face of the story. We have our little Atsushi-kun too, but you will soon notice how Dazai snatches the spotlight at times. He is easy to love. I mean, how can you not fall in love with a 22-year-old genius detective who is goofy, hilarious yet mysterious and well, a suicide maniac… that becomes less hilarious if you are aware of his past? The more you watch, the more you get to know him, and the more you are exposed to his dark past and his bipolar personality. (He is a man to be feared, yes.)

It is not just Dazai and our protagonist, Atsushi, in this mysterious agency.  We also have our Agency’s President, Yukichi Fukuzawa, a sword master and a former assassin, ex-Math teacher, Kunikida Doppo, quick tempered and hardly could withstand Dazai’s antics, the childish genius Edogawa Ranpo, the greatest detective of all time, Yosano Akiko, agency’s doctor, a sadist, Tanizaki Junichiro, with his rather problematic relationship with his sister and lastly, our country boy, Kenji Miyazawa. Now, who makes our heroes (Yes, I’m talking about the Armed Detective Agency) shine under the sky of Yokohama? Creating tension throughout, the masterminds of Yokohama’s underworld, Port Mafia, appears as the main villain in the initial stages of the story. Both organizations, housing presidents and subordinates blessed with brains and brawns, would not fail to leave the audience in wonder with their schemes and attacks.

Wanna know something interesting about Bungou Stray Dogs?

Now, what if I say you can watch Edgar Allan Poe with his little pet Racoon trap people inside his mystery novels? Or Mark Twain shoot people with rubber bullets? If not, Bram Stoker, cause the whole world suffer from a deadly virus that turns people into Vampires? Some of you might have guessed it already from the mentions of Japanese namesakes, but yes, almost all the characters from Bungou Stray Dogs are inspired by real-life authors from different periods! This is actually one of the main factors that makes the show very much interesting and popular. Their character traits are heavily influenced by those legendary writers, and it would not take much time for the audience to recognize certain references if they are familiar with the classics. Let’s take Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s character for instance; it is believed that his character is actually based off on the real-life author and shares a combination of traits from all three of his character creations: Raskolnikov, Svidrigailov, and Porfiry, “maybe more of Svidrigailov than the rest.”

(Who knows? Perhaps you will find your favourite author in there too!)

Animations, Sound tracks & the Voice Actors

If you are somewhat familiar with anime, you may already know that their animation styles differ from one another. Sometimes, this is one of the factors that makes each anime unique and memorable. Bungo Stray Dogs, too, has its own unique animation style which stands out from other anime. The series often combines action, supernatural elements, and character-driven narratives. To experience the visual storytelling and animation quality, you should definitely try this one!

Speaking of Bungou Stray Dogs’ sound tracks, they consist of a blend of orchestral, electronic, and rock elements, creating a unique and interesting music style. The music is often used to enhance the tension and drama of an action-packed scene or to elicit a particular emotional response from the viewer. The OSTs have been praised for their diverse and creative composition and for how effectively they complement the unique atmosphere of the series. So once you’ve listened to their opening and ending themes, you’ll find it hard to skip any of them.

Besides animations and soundtracks, once the topic of anime is addressed, hardly anyone can leave the subject without the mention of voice acting. Japan houses many exceptionally talented voice actors. In the anime production of Bungou Stray Dogs too, many famous voice actors have contributed in awarding the best experience to its viewers, leading to the overall success of the series. The voice of Mamoru Miyano, who in this series voices Dazai Osamu’s character, is a fine example of how far the voice acting of a character can reach. People may not have heard of Bungou Stray Dogs, but they sure recognize who Dazai Osamu is.

Why do I like “Bungou Stray Dogs”?

Before we wrap up, let me tell you my reasons for my obsession with this one anime.

As we already know, almost all the characters in the anime are based on real life authors. And I find this one fact very interesting. At the time I first watched the anime, I was somewhat familiar with a few Japanese authors, and seeing their namesakes used in an anime, in such a way that also made references to their original work made me dig deeper into their careers as literary enthusiasts. And I found myself in a sudden obsession with classics. To be honest, I wasn’t much into classics before, despite the fact that we are expected to follow them. But after watching the anime, I was left with an urge to read the work of those authors. (At this very moment too, I have my copy of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment beside me, waiting to be read.)

Trust me, you won’t regret watching this!

If you’re into action and drama-filled anime, I would highly recommend Bungou Stray Dogs! Once you start watching it, you can do nothing but keep watching the whole series again and again (I just recently finished watching it for the fourth time), and maybe we can be friends too!

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I watched Bungo Stray Dogs too. It was enjoyable, I can’t wait for the 6th season to come out. I asked ChatGPT when it will come out, and it says in 2024 or 2025.

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