Bungo Stray Dogs, (Translate to literary Stray Dogs,) is a Manga written by Kafka Asagiri, (Which is an awesome name,) and illustrated by Sango Harukawa. Which has been serialized in Kadokawa Shoten’s Seinen manga magazine Young Ace since 2012. The story follows the members of the “Armed Detective Agency” as they try to protect Yokohama.
Multiple light novels have been published, and an animated adaptation by Bones aired in 2016, in two seasons. The third season was aired in 2019, and the fourth season has been announced. There are two movies. One of them is live-action. There is a spinoff TV series as well, which aired in 2021.
Atsushi Nakajima is an orphan who has been kicked out of his orphanage. He found a man floating in a river, who revealed himself to be a member of the Armed Detective Agency, an organization which employs people with special powers.
The Agency is hunting a tiger, (How the hell did a tiger get in Japan?) which has been rampaging since it appeared two weeks ago. Atsushi reveals that the tiger has been following him. After using him as a bate, it is revealed that Atsushi is the tiger, who can transform into a tiger in the light of the moon. Thus, he is called a weretiger.
A mafia group starts to hunt Atsushi, and declares war against the Agency. Meanwhile, Atsushi tries to adjust to his life in the agency, and learns to control his power.
My watching experiences:
First, let’s talk about the weretiger as a power. The werewolf is tried and tested, but tigers are new. And I totally approve.
But why won’t anyone transform into a wereagle, or wereowl? Discrimination I say.
Second, Osamu Dazai. This guy, he wants to kill himself. When Atsushi rescues him, he was trying to commit suicide by drowning. Doppo Kunikida, the colleague of Dazai, is hilarious as well, especially his reactions to Dazai’s pranks. (Though, the pranks and jokes don’t last long, as the show shifts to serious mode.)
For most of the first season, Atsushi was on the sidelines, only working as an assistant to the experienced members of the Agency. During which they investigated some kidnappings, and let me brag a bit.
I totally found the culprit guys, on both times. this is the sort of success which causes me to look around in paranoia, expecting something bad to happen to balance the good thing out.
Anyway, enough of the bragging. While Atsushi didn’t have control over his power at first, as the first season went buy, he got really good control over it, as he displayed in the final fight at the very end of the season.
Season 2 starts out with the backstory of Osamu and his friends, shown through the POV of Otasaku mostly. After we learn how Osamu left the mafia and joined the Armed Detective Agency, the normal story resumes.
In this season, we see a three-way war between the Guild, led by the man who put the bounty on Atsushi, the Port Mafia, and the Armed Detective agency. I won’t tell everything which happened during the war, but I’ll say that it concluded in a most satisfactory manner.
Season 3 begins with another flashback, this time showing how Chuya Nakahara got recruited into Port Mafia, and how the team of Osamu and Dazai is formed, and how Mori took over Port Mafia from the former boss.
Fyodor Dostoevsky is the antagonist of this season. After the leaders of the Agency and Mafia get infected by a virus, a skirmish breaks out between the two organizations. Meanwhile, the Agency tries to track down the user of the ability which infected both leaders with this virus.
The villain of the previous seasons, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, returns, and takes over “Eyes of God”, a company which specializes in face recognition technology.
Much like other shows, I did not know what to expect while starting to watch this show. The first season starts out slowly, but it keeps hinting that it’ll be something by the end of it. and it delivers. Though I do feel that first and second seasons should have been a single season together.
I never felt that the plot was dragging. The characters are all interesting and complex, and unlike a lot of the Japanese media, there is very little “Understanding” or “Moral lessons” in this show.
Another thing which I like is that the characters are named after authors, both from Japan and foreign. Which is actually great. I’ve learned many names which I didn’t know before watching this show.
Though I suppose I should add this fact that if you expect the main character to take center stage all the time, then this might not be for you. The other characters are equally developed, and they get a lot of screen time, during which Atsushi is missing. But to be honest, it didn’t bother me personally. Things might be different for you though.
The openings and ending songs are also great, though the ending from season 1 is my favorite.
With a killer soundtrack, great plot, awesome fights, and very little “Understanding” kind of plot, this one comes heavily recommended. Though I do like to add that this show isn’t for kids.
Special mention goes out to the fight of Otasaku in season 2. I never thought that a gun fight could be so great.
There are rumors of a fourth season. Whenever it appears, I’ll be here to review it. *Raises the glass* “To stray dogs!” *clink*
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