Bungou Stray Dogs is prime proof that supernatural fiction can still work in attractive fashion. The show stars a group of characters as part of the group known as the Armed Detective Agency, who specializes in missions to solve dangerous cases. It offers a select group of individuals with their own unique talents, traits, and ways that makes us wonder about their everyday life style. Then, we also meet Atsushi Nakajima, the main protagonist who got kicked out of his orphanage and ends up becoming a member of the Agency himself. It’s like fate connected his life together with these individuals in a story of innovative wonders.
If you’ve seen The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or something along that line, then watching this show will feel a bit familiar. On paper, it’s a pretty cool looking show with a cast of badass characters named after famous literary works. Not only that, their special powers are also based off of their well-known literature. The first episodes establishes a blend between mystery, supernatural, and black comedy. In fact, the show easily crafts a mood that is rather comical with the way Osamu Dazai is introduced. I mean think about it, the guy tries to commit suicide in an absurd fashion until Atsushi decides to save him. Throughout the show, his relationship with Dazai can be viewed as bizarre. This also expands to many other characters because truth to be told, Atsushi really is like the new kid in class.
Other characters he gets associated with such as Junchirou Tanizaki, Doppo Kunikda, Ranpo Edogawa, Akiko Yosano, and Kenji Miyazaza also brings the best and worst out of him. Throughout the series, it’s also shown that he is perhaps the most “human” out of all the characters. He is very ordinary and has low confidence in himself from the beginning. The revelation regarding his own powers also makes him feel like he’s a walking curse and that misfortune follows those who he encounters. Now you’re probably asking why you should care. The main factor is that Atsushi needs to realize that not everyone can be saved. Kunikda realizes this and constantly reminds himself and others that it’s a cruel world they live in. And that’s a lot to say about the show. The world setting of Bungou Stray Dogs has mafias, underworld organizations, and crimes that goes beyond imaginations.
The story structure sets up the show nicely with its first two episodes. I will emphasize that as part of the series, comedy also plays a large factor to perhaps decide whether you’d like to continue watching or not. For some, this can be very entertaining in the form of popcorn comedy. For others, it can be distracting and even annoying. Director Igarashi Takuya puts his talent at the table and his previous work with Ouran Koukou Host Club can feel familiar to those who recognizes it. That is to say, the comedy may not be suitable for everyone, in particular the timing. The adaptation itself is also quite faithful with panel by panel. It also brings in the violence that gives the show a darker tone mixed in with the humor and jokes.
As some may expect, the Armed Detective Agency also attracts enemies. This is where the Port Mafia comes in as they are introduced. Working from the shadows with mysterious origins, we also meet Ryunosuke Akutagawa, mysterious member of Port Mafia who seems to have a history with Dazai. Other members introduced in the mafia also shows their ruthlessness and lack of care for human life such as terrorist bomber Momojiro Kaji. The point is that the show makes them the main antagonists for the first cour, an antithesis to what Atsushi believes in. At one point, he even meets a young girl known for the murder of 35 people yet still hopes there’s some redemption for her.
Bones helms the series and once again shows that they are capable of capturing the magic of supernatural genre. Character abilities not only looks cool but also decoratively presented in fashion that is extraordinary. Speaking of the characters, each of them has some unique appearance that makes them stand out in one way or another. From the carefree expressions of Dazai to the mischievous Akiko, it has something to offer for anyone. There’s also a prominence of male characters with bishounen-like characteristics so female fans may find this series a nice sight to look at. The action speaks pretty much for itself with good amount of violence, and choreography.
Soundtrack is a nice way to make the show more entertaining as well. From the OP song by Trash Candy to the battle OST, it gives the pleasure of what supernatural battles are all about.
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