Have you ever wondered how famous literature authors would look like if they were to be anime characters? Well Bungo Stray Dogs is an anime that explores such scenario. Its entertaining and comedic story follows a special group of individuals (whose names are based on famous authors) with unique abilities that are named after literature titles.
Atsushi Nakajima was kicked out of the orphanage he was living at because of some mysterious events that seem to happen around him. The young child, wondering how he will survive in the outside world starving. As he sits by the riverbank, he saves a rather suicidal and eccentric man from drowning, by the name of Osamu Dazai, who happens to be working for a firm of gifted investigators . As Dazai and his partner Doppo Kunikida are investing a case that seems to be related to Atsushi, he helps them resolve the mystery and is later forced to join their Agency. Thus, Atsushi gets to work on several weird and unusual cases, surrounded by his new co-workers and their unique abilities.
What does ‘Bungo’ mean?, It is a Japanese written language established during the Heian period, circa 900–1200 CE, and was commonly used until circa 1900. The transliteration of Japanese 文語 (ぶんご) ‘writing language’.
From the first episodes of Bungo Stray Dogs, the plot establishes a blend between action, special abilites, mystery and comedy. The focus of the show is mainly on Atsushi, where we get to learn a bit more about his past and his ability, ‘Beast beneath the Moonlight’, an ability that transforms him into a ferocious were-tiger. As he joins the Armed Detective Agency, we are slowly introduced to the rest of its members through different cases that many enemies; Dazai: the funny and intelligent suicidal maniac; Kunikida: the strict perfectionist ex-math teacher; Ranpo: the non-gifted but amazing detective; Tanizaki: the ‘illusionist’ with the obsessive sister; Dr. Yosano: the medic who plays a vital role in the well being of the organization’s member, and Kenji: the insanely strong and carefree country boy. This is where the Port Mafia comes into play, the most powerful organization of Yokohama’s underworld that seems to be after Atsushi and his powers, since there is a great bounty for his head in the black market considering how powerful the were-tiger is especially in the hands of the bad guys. Atsushi gets to deal with many of the Port Mafia agents, with his main enemy becoming Akutagawa, a mysterious member of Port Mafia who seems to have a history with Dazai and who seems to despise Atsushi with all his heart and soul.
Bungo Stray Dogs started as a very promising series but unfortunately failed to deliver on all of its aspects. Although I admit the anime series really does have satisfying fight scenes and incredible detective work and the characters have unique personalities and talents (from materializing things by writing them in a notebook to a power called Rashoumon that devours time and space) and highly entertaining comedy (Dazai eating mushrooms and tying up Atsushi thinking that he is a rainbow pill bug), the mystery part of the show lacked in many cases. Despite the last few episodes where we actually get to see how Dazai is associated with the Port Mafia, the new threat that came into town and the ‘declaration of war’ by the Leader of the Port Mafia, I can’t really say that the previous cases had much intensity in them.
Even though Bungo Stray Dogs is not the best anime story I’ve seen, there is still so much charm to it. For some reason, I can’t help but get attracted to it: the lovable, well-designed characters and the amazing voice acting really won me over. The plot might be lacking at some points, but it doesn’t fail to amuse me. So any day anytime I definitely won’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.