In the second season of Bungo Stray Dogs things get way more dark and serious, and frankly that was the most appropriate route that this anime could take. It has great character development, many insights for the events of the past, and introduced many new exciting, unique characters and a new organization.
Diving into Dazai’s past when he was the youngest senior executive of the Port Mafia, we witness the unraveling of a tragic story between him and the lowest ranking member, Sakunosuke Oda, as well as the intelligence agent Angou Sakaguchi who despite their differences have become great friends. However, one day, after the disappearance of Angou, things get a serious turn that ends up in great casualties. Back to the present, the battle between the Agency, the Guild, and the Port Mafia continues but when the lives of everyone in Yokohama are in danger, secret alliances will lead to the survival of the ‘fittest’.
So this season covers three different story arcs: the Osamu Dazai and the Dark Era the Guild Arc; Double Black; and the Yin Yang. The first arc (which was probably the best out of the three) takes place four years before the events of the first season and acts as a prequel to the anime that shows Dazai’s past from when he was a member of the Port Mafia. We get to see him interacting with already established characters like Chuuya, Akutagawa, Ogai, etc. but at the same time we are introduced to Odasaku and Angou. Now from my point of view, Odasaku is the most important character in the story since he is the reason behind Dazai’s character development and probably the main reason why this season turned to be darker than the previous one. Despite the fact that you can’t help but sympathize with his character, it was his resolve, personality and his relationship with Dazai that made Dazai what he is today. He gave him reason to develop himself and use his skills for the sake of others, which makes Dazai to not look like a comedic character with suicidal attempts but as someone with a strong personality and determination who changed his ways to find inner peace.
The second arc carries on where the story was left off in the first season and things get way more obscure and sinister. There is a war between three organizations: the Armed Detective Agency, The Guild, and Port Mafia where each is trying to annihilate the other two. More action, way more violence and a lot of new interesting characters were introduced here, and it’s worth mentioning that The Guild has characters named from a lot of authors that the audience might be acquainted with: Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, etc.
The third and last arc that the anime covers presents how different but yet how similar Atsushi and Akutagawa are in terms of personalities, hence the Ying Yang reference. They do try to achieve the same things but they are also held back by different insecurities about themselves: Akutagawa thinks he is weak and seeks Dazai’s approval while Atsushi thinks he is worthless and cannot let go of his past. And before the season ends, we are introduced to Fyodor Dostoevsky, who seems to be the next main antagonist of the Agency and the Port Mafia.
Long story short, this season was so well-done in terms of storytelling that managed to glue me on my screen.
The animation standards were pretty high in the first season, but in the second one it’s pretty clear that Bones invested more of their budget. Animation-wise everything is significantly improved with a lot of more detailing in the characters, action scenes, and backgrounds.
The voice acting in this season was so good. The previous season had great voice acting as well, but in this one, it blew my mind. Suwabe Junichi did an amazing job with Oda’s character. His performance was just outstanding.
I really enjoyed all the new characters, but I had a special interest on Lovecraft and Q. Lovecraft was just funny, but Q (aka Yumeno Kyuusaku) really creeped me out. His powers called ‘Dogra Magra’ share the same name with the title of his most significant novel that exemplifies modern Japanese avant-garde gothic literature. In the story, the protagonist wakes up in a hospital with amnesia. He finds out that he was the subject of an experiment by a now-dead psychiatrist, and the doctors are working to bring back his memories. It is not clear whether he was a psychotic killer or the victim of a strange psychological experiment, but it is told that he killed his mother and wife and that he inherited his psychotic tendencies from an insane ancestor. I mean can you imagine how messed up this character actually is?
When a show that, admittedly, had a lot of flaws and was pushed to the sidelines gets a second season, there is always a feeling of caution towards it. What some would consider a waste of time for the last season, dedicating your time to another thirteen episodes can be quite the commitment. Well let me tell you, it is one of the best decisions you can make. Throwing aside the flat comedy and going ham with the action, drama and animation has re-sparked the light in Bungo Stray Dogs.