Bungou Stray Dogs – S1 – Review

Bungou Stray Dogs

Bungou Stray Dogs follows the story of Atsushi, and his adventures with the Armed Detective Agency. Detective Agency? So it’s a detective show right? Yes and no. While they do solve cases, the focus isn’t necessarily on the mystery behind the case but rather the character interaction and action that happens along the way. You see, when they say Armed Detective Agency, what they’re primarily armed with are their own supernatural abilities. That being said, where does this show go with it? 

My first impression and feeling with the first two episodes, was that this was going to be more or less episodic. It starts with Atushi meeting the Agency through the suicidal but lovable Dazai, and the uptight ideals-man Kunikida; both of which I found myself liking fast. Anyhow, with their fated meeting, Atsushis integration to the Agency begins. So when the third episode came along and introduced the antagonist in the form of Akutagawa and the Port Mafia (who we’ve seen in the OP and EDs) that’s when it hit me that this might actually be a straight forward Good versus Evil kind of show which slowly builds up to a finale.

Bungou Stray Dogs is not a straight forward story about Good versus Evil, not in the traditional sense anyway. What happens here is while they do have a main antagonist, they also keep up with the whole detective agency thing, and solve multiple cases as they carry on. These cases for the most part don’t add much (if anything) to the overarching story, and serve more to get us acquainted with the other characters in the Agency. This isn’t a bad thing as in these episodes we get some fun character interactions, that are a joy to watch; special shout out to episode 7. In the end, when it comes to characters, if you’re name isn’t Atsushi, Dazai, or Kunikida you’re role in the long run is minimal, and at best you serve only to further Atsushis growth.

Speaking of which, Atsushi is an orphan that for the majority of his life was called useless, and good for nothing. Because of this he has very low self confidence, so when someone finally starts to believe in him, it’s nice to see his confidence grow. Even if it does mean shoving the same flashbacks in our face more than we’d like, granted in less and less frequency as the show continues on, symbolizing his growing confidence. Dazai on the other hand, we first meet floating down a river with his feet sticking out… that’s right the first time we see him he’s trying to drown himself. Amusingly enough though, for a suicide enthusiast he’s actually quite cheerful, and is the first one to believe in Atsushi. Then finally, Kunikida is our strict by the book, naive… hot head? Or is he rather calm and collected? Well it depends on if he’s with Dazai or not, but at least he’s consistent with his ideals. Although the two are partners, their personalities are in conflict, which makes for great amusement and a lovable duo.

Dazai and Kunikida

Dazai and Kunikidas relationship on the surface

The action in Bungou Stray Dogs is fine. It’s competently animated and no one’s pulling some magical plot move that saves the day, although we get do dangerously close to that territory. Definitely appreciated is that for a story with supernatural abilities is seeing characters using their heads instead of just winning by sheer force, granted when it comes to our heroes, they kind of have to.

All in all, Bungou Stray Dogs  jumps around from mystery, to mystery, to Port Mafia, and back again to mystery. It knows where it wants to go, but it doesn’t seem to quite know how to go about it, and boy does it show in the last 3 episodes. While we do get a nice climax, and what could have served as a decent ending, it persists with a final Agency member episode, and what very well could be counted as the first episode of the next season. So until Fall comes around, the ending we have now is quite frankly very dissatisfying, but I still look forward to seeing more of these characters.

Side Note: I really love the Ending Song Namae wo Yobu yo (Call out the Name) by Luck Life.

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