Bungo Stray Dogs Review


Bungo Stray Dogs logo. Wiki Commons.

Mina Kohara, Voices

“Justice is a weapon. It can be used to cause harm, but it cannot protect or save others.” ~ Osamu Dazai in Bungo Stray Dogs, Season 1 Episode 7

Bungo Stray Dogs, an anime adapted by Studio Bones written by Kafka Asagiri, announced their return for season four on Nov 7. Bungo Stray Dogs is a fictional action story that follows Nakajima Atsushi, an orphan who is kicked out of his orphanage and discovered by Dazai Osamu, a worker of a special detective agency. Bungo Stray Dogs is set in a world where certain gifted individuals have supernatural powers. The series follows the Armed Detective Agency as they try to protect the city. The show centers around Yokohama, Japan. 

As someone who has watched the previous three seasons and has read the manga, I highly recommend people to watch Bungo Stray Dogs. 

Bungo Stray Dogs is especially strong in its themes and characters. The first major thing to note is that the show is a bit more on the mature side for the average action anime. While the show isn’t explicit it does cover darker themes. The show specifically highlights the relationship between two groups of people in Yokohama — the Armed Detective Agency and the Port Mafia. The two groups represent both light and dark as opposing organizations, the Armed Detective Agency, strictly the “light” of Yokohama, and the Port Mafia being a clear “darkness”. While the show’s general focus is on the Armed Detective Agency the main characters are spread between the two groups. 

Each of the characters in the two groups is well written and properly fleshed out. One of the show’s biggest themes is self-worth and the feeling that you have flaws and made mistakes that have taken away the right to be human. Every major character in the show struggles with this feeling and it’s especially clear with the main character, Atsushi. The show has some of the best character dynamics I’ve seen. The relationship between some of the characters are well built up and satisfyingly explored/executed throughout seasons two and three. 

One of the biggest aspects of Bungo Stray Dogs is its uniqueness. Even from the title, you can see that it’s rather odd. The show has its own style. Every gifted character in the show is based on famous writers. These characters’ powers are also based on the works of the author they are named after. Nakahara Atsushi is based on a Japanese author with the same name and his power is called “Beast Beneath the Moonlight,” a reference to Nakajima Atsushi’s book Moon Over the Mountain: Stories. Due to the base the powers have, the powers in the show are very unique and have a certain charm to them. The show pays attention to the sound design choices and the character designs to immerse you into the world. Due to how unique the powers are, oftentimes the characters use their powers in smart and unusual ways to win. Every character, aside from the main character, seems to be fully ingrained with their power, and each character’s personality and style shine through in their fighting. This makes the action in the show entertaining and stylistic. 

I wouldn’t recommend this show to people who are going for more lighthearted and action-heavy type shows. While the show can be lighthearted at times and does have a lot of action, I do think it focuses more on its heavier themes and the characters themselves. It’s definitely a smart show, the show gives off a sense of superiority with the way the characters act and speak. Therefore, if you’re more geared towards anime/shows with younger protagonists it might not be your forte (to note: The main character is 18 and most of the other characters are in their 20s). In addition, I wouldn’t recommend Bungo Stray Dogs if you have never watched anime before. While I don’t think it’s the worst choice, I don’t think it’s a good starter anime. For the most part, I suggest first-time anime watchers go for something meaningful but still fun and rather easy to follow along. Bungo Stray Dogs has lots of niche elements that if you’re not used to(from watching anime) it could be a bit jarring. Also, Bungo Stray Dogs tends to get dark out of nowhere and I believe it might be a bit too heavy to be the first anime you watch. However, if you recently started watching anime and don’t know what to watch next, I think it’s perfect for it. 

Overall, I think it’s a great show that leaves a lasting impression on its audience. The characters and overall feel of the show are very well done. I believe the biggest reason the writing is so unique and well done is that the shows were adapted from several light novels. I will say that if you end up liking the show you should read the manga due to it being a more accurate adaptation of the books. There are several differences in the adaptation, which is inevitable, but because Bungo Stray Dogs is a show with its subtle complexities these small differences end up meaning a lot. It’s a great show and if anything you’ll certainly find Nakahara Chuuya cool.