It’s good writing not to just give away the punch line right from the start. I’ve tried to become a better blogger by reading a number of writing guides and essays for post format. They suggest vague titles that give you a good idea of the content but don’t give away too much. Your posts are supposed to build up to something then end on a punch. You want to give your readers a reason to keep on reading so the payoff has to come at the end.
Don’t just show your hand right off the bat. And all I have to say about My Ill Deeds Are the Work of God (the episode’s title in case you’re confused), is dayum….
As has been pointed out by astute readers, so far I have had a marked weak sport for the episode arcs of Bungo Stray Dogs which are based on Light Novels rather than the manga proper. It’s not that I don’t like the main storyline, I obviously do, but the mini arcs have been more satisfying for me, so far. This is why I wanted that opener to last as long as possible. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to the main action of this season.
Not that many of you read these reviews, and I assume less bother to go through the comments, but those who have know that I was eagerly looking forward to Dostoyevsky’s grand entrance. This is not just some national kinship between russians and surprisingly it’s not entirely due to my appreciation of the character design either. Rather it has to do with the myriad of connections between Bungo Stray Dogs’ narrative and the real world counterparts of the characters.
This anime has led me down a rabbit hole of classical literature and authors biographies like no other. I thought for a while of creating a post entirely on the subject but instead, I’m going to pepper the easter eggs I particularly like in my reviews, whenever pertinent. And the reason I was looking forward to this season is because of the novel No Longer Human.
No longer Human is the name of Dazai’s ability. It is also the best known novel of the real world Osamu Dazai (although my favourite is Otogizōshi). In this book, which is widely acknowledged to be a lightly fictionalized autobiography, we follow the slow and seemingly inevitable decline of a young man called Ōba as he becomes increasingly disenchanted with people in general and himself in particular. Right before the last act, as Ōba seems to be slowly getting his life back together after a particularly dark period, he is visited by an old friend and bad influence that hammers the last nail in his coffin and sends him swan diving into oblivion.
The scene that marks the final and ultimate turn for Ōba shows him and Horiki (said old friend) discussing Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It is a pivotal moment in Ōba’s life and therefore Dazai’s, and Dostoevsky is a symbol of it.
Bringing the two together in the narrative of Bungo Stray Dogs was bound to be interesting as the story has been delightfully meticulous in integrating the real life events and works of the authors that serve as namesakes to the cast.
But we have not yet seen these two together. In fact, apart from a few brief glimpses (guest appearances really) of Mori and Koyo, all the characters in this episode were complete strangers to me. I had no connection or attachment to them, aside from my feelings for real world Dostoevsky, whose entire bibliography I had to read for school at one time or another. It was a simple establishing episode to introduce Fyodor’s character, ment as mostly informational. And I was mesmerised.
I cared and feared for those people whose names I can’t tell you. I was a little nervous throughout those conversations. Ace, the Port Mafia executive vying to overthrow Mori was a decent enough bad guy, with an interesting design but an impractical power, while Karma (I had to look up his name) seemed like a promising conflicted villain. I can’t say that the characters themselves were all that special but something in the pacing and presentation made me constantly worry for them. Especially Karma.
And that something is Fyodor. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t exactly a one man show. Those two were fantastic foil that really brought out the potential of the character. But boy is Dostoevsky the antagonist I’ve been waiting for. He’s chilling and exhilarating at once. His presence is bound to revitalize this franchise. And his voice actor is tremendous. I don’t usually go for these lighter more sing songy voices but his delivery was spot on. How can such a pleasant tone be so scary? He might just be my favourite in the cast.
From the little we know he seems to be the disturbingly calm mastermind with a lighthearted attitude but deadly intent, type. That was a lot of words in a row. I do not know how to identify types properly. Basically, he falls into the exact same category as Dazai, Mori and to a lesser extent Ranpo. Maybe someday I’ll tell you about the real Dostoevsky he had quite a life, although nothing compared to those Japanese authors. Honestly, true to life biographies may have been more extravagant and difficult to believe than the show!
The other thing we know about Dostoevsky is that he is ruthless. Much more than is usual for this series and that explosive ending caught me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting things to be quite that intense in the main story. Suffice it to say that this season has my full attention right now. And after getting a bit of a better look at Fyodor, as much s I do want to see the confrontation with Dazai, I really want to see him take on Mori. So far, that does seem to be the plan!
Besides that, we got ur first look at the min OP and EDs. hat OP sure was fancy with all the CG and stuff. I actually liked it even though I sounded snippy just there. I did notice someone that looks a bit like Natsume Soseki (we saw him with Oda in season 2). Soseki is possibly one of the best known classical Japanese novelists and I’m surprised he hasn’t been ore present in the series so far.
Speaking of Oda, we also see him in the ED. Not sure if it’s just an image for fans of the show or whether we’re actually going to see him a bit again this season. Either way, I was glad he isn’t forgotten. I do have a soft spot for the man.
All in all this was a powerful start to the third season and I can’t wait to see more. I hope you’re all enjoying it as much as I am. Let’s share this ride!
Of course I took a ton of caps but this is actually a lot less than I thought I would have ended up with. Discipline!