This week plunged us right back, head first, into the story of an old god of destruction, the ghost of an evil man and fifteen year old Chuuya and Dazai chasing after them. Almost immediately, I prefered this episode to the last. And that’s saying something because I quite liked the last one.
Do you guys like my gif. I’ve been making them lately. Also – all the spoilers, if you haven’t seen the episode, it’ll be like you did after reading this!
We open on a dizzyingly well animated action scene as Chuuya and Dazai have to deal with the armed welcome committee they encountered at the mansion. Of course I always knew that Chuuya has an extremely powerful gift, but I had never quite gotten my mind around all the potential applications. Seeing him fight multiple enemies with childish glee was impressive and mesmerizing. It gave me a new appreciation for just how cool gravity manipulation is.
And a few minutes later, I got a whole new appreciation for just how terrifying Dazai is. There’s always been something uncomfortable about Dazai’s character. Bungou Stray Dogs tends to be bloodless and lighthearted in general so his personality has always been skimmed over or used for laughs but Dazai is not o.k…. Not at all. He pushes way past anti-hero into actual villain territory pretty often. I guess what Mori said last episode was true. Those two really are alike.
About 5 minutes in and I was fully captivated. The visuals were stunning, the character developments riveting and the atmosphere somehow managed to be disturbing, ominous and yet cheerful all at once. Superimposing ll that violence over such a beautiful lush garden on a sunny afternoon. Good move.
I don’t remember exactly when it cut in, but we also got an OP for the first time this week. It was decent. I quite liked the song. The visuals were mostly stylized still images. No special but good.
Turns out the ability user they were visiting, and those armed guys were trying to take out, was none other than Rando. I had to look it up last week to find out it’s actually Arthur Rimbaud (french poet – good one – died quite young). There was something both sneering and incredibly fitting at watching the eternally cold Rimbaud dispassionately throwing books into his fire lace to keep warm. As a big fan of the poet, that scene resonated with me. I like to think that he would have enjoyed it.
Basically this s what we know so far. 8 years ago, a god like creature named Arahabaki almost destroyed an entire city with an explosion of *black flame* then disappeared. In the past weeks, there have been sightings of those black flames again with the Port Mafia’s old boss at the center. Rimbaud was a witness at one of the last sightings.
Dazai is pretty sure the whole thing is an elaborate hoax. A simple chemical reaction can make ordinary flames look black and there are many ways to make people think they saw someone who isn’t there. Especially in stressful conditions. But who would be putting on this hoax.
As for the armed guys. They’re just a rival faction. Rimbaud’s new loyalty to Mori is helping calm down and unify the Port Mafia. If he were to suddenly be dispatched (especially in a see of black flames) that could spark mutiny in the ranks and greatly weaken the organisation. I dunno why I bothered writing about these guys. Chuuya already took care of them.
Dazai isn’t the least bit thrown off when Rimbaud tells him what what he saw was definitely not a hoax, but it wasn’t the od boss either. He describes his encounter with Arahabaki and is visibly still shaken by it.
At this point I was intrigued. BSD is very loose with it’s rules. There definitely could be a great old god out there. Heck, there could even be a vengeful mafia boss ghost. This should really not be playing in the show’s favour. Universes where everything’s possible tend to get boring, and flashbacks with characters we know have no long term stakes. Yet, I’m eating this up so far. It’s well paced and interesting. They manage to make this bonker story just convincingly enough for me to want to find out what happens next.
Well what does happen next is some comedy relief banter between Chuuya and Dazai. Chuuya has a running gag that he’s only 15 and is going to get taller. it’s cute. They also make some silly bet at an arced, because they’re kids. Whoever figures out who’s behind it all first, get to boss the other one round. It’s always hard to tell with Dazai, but I think he might actually like Chuuya.
Some bad timing means that Chuuya has an unfortunate encounter with some Sheep members and gets himself thrown out for collaborating with the Port Mafia. One thing I noticed throughout the episode, is that everybody seems to know Chuuya. No one knows Dazai. I wonder why he’s so popular!
Usually when shows have genius characters that can figure/plan everything out, there’s a fair bit of contrivances and intuitive leaps going on. It’s very difficult to consistently write these archetypes in a satisfying way. Dazai is no exception. But this time it worked. Because it was very simple. That’s the key to making your mysteries impactful. keep them straightforward.
Dazai is throwing Chuuya a party to celebrate his new freedom with Rimbaud as the only guest. Let’s face it, neither of these guys have many friends. While waiting for the guest of honor Dazai an Rimbaud chat a bit and the conversation falls n the bet. At this point Dazai reveals he’s won and he knows the culprit.
In traditional sitcom style, Dazai calmy points at Rimbaud as the traitor both men just pleasantly chat while Dazai explains. This is where I was expecting a flood of coincidences and hard to follow mental contortionist but no. Simple answers are the best answers. Rimbaud’s description of the events of the previous week insisted on him seeing the sea. Yet he would have been in the middle of the crater. The sea is clearly not visible from there. The scene he described, could only have taken place before the xplosion 8 years ago.
And speaking of explosions, Chuuya sure knows how to make an entrance.
Seems Chuuya also figured out it was Rimbaud behind it all but how? He simply says that all the other witnesses described seeing the boss’ face while Rimbaud described the actual Arahabaki and is simply not possible….
The episode ends on a shocking reveal. The fact that there was something that Dazai had not anticipated! I know, jaw dropped!
But you must be asking yourselves. What exactly aren’t you ready for Irina??? Well basically this felt like an ending. That season 2 opening arc I keep droning on about was adapted from a light novel rather than the manga proper. It was a side story meant to give Dazai a bit of background. Thi explains the shift in tone and pacing. It was riveting. A bit of research has revealed that the present episodes are also adapted from a light novel. It’s entirely possible that the last second reveal marked the end of this particular journey and that next episode will bring us back to the present.
And I’m not ready. Sure I would love to see the rest of the gang again but I still have so many questions. I can guess Rimbaud’s motivations. He was not quite as loyal to Mori as he seemed and considering Mori staged a coup, he’s made plenty of enemies. There’s no need to go into that much deeper but, what about Chuuya. His character is up in the air right now. Not to mention Dazai who is rather worryingly unhinged at this point. Why did Mori bring them together in the first place.
And beyond the questions, I’m still enjoying this more mature and severe story. It has consequences and a lot of questionable morality. I enjoy shades of grey. I’m not ready to say goodbye to the comedy duo of angsty teenage Dazai and Chuuya. I hope to see them again next week. Fingers crossed!
in the meantime, you can see them in the dozens of screencaps I took!