I’m not going to like the next few episodes of Bungo Stray Dogs. I didn’t particularly llike this one either. Not as in I didn’t think it was a good episode or anything. But things are starting to look rough for the Agency and I don’t think I’m spoiling much by saying it’s going to get a heck of a lot worse before it gets better.
The Decay of the Angel is a foe like none before and to know that its roots date back to the very founding of the Armjed Detective Agency just makes it seem that much more imposing. Strap in folks, it’s about to be one heck of a bumpy ride!
I also took way too many screencaps as susual. I apologize to all the folks with slower internet. My bad!
Is this the first time we see Fukuzawa in a suit? It doesn’t have anything to do with the episode but I would like to encourage this. More suits for Fukuzawa.
Things started off pretty idyllically, didn’t they? The Armed Detective Agency was always something of a liminal organization. It’s the balance between the Port Mafia of the night and the Home of Ministry Affairs, Special Division for Unusual Powers of the day. As such it never really gets any recognition. Everyone views it as kind of a potential enemy. To get an official award was a huge deal… a turning point if you will.
But man is it ever short lived. The murder mystery involving several layers of subterfuge and misderection was actually the calm before the storm. It’s going to be that type of arc…
I really can’t stress enough how good a choice it was to use the Secret Origins of the Armed Detective Agency as an opening arc for this season. It really creates such great context for everything that’s happening.
For instance, without that bac kground, we might not realize how truly odd it is for Ranpo to go against the chief like that. Fukuzawa is not only Ranpo’s mentor and ersatz father figure, he might actually be his first friend. And the Armed Detective Agency is the only realy home Ranpo has ever known. Breaking ranks is a big deal and it can only be motivated by the completely terrifying thought of loosing the thing that means the most to him.
Did anyone else notice the conspicuous absence of Dazai? I don’t know what that guy’s actual job is but I want it.
And just like that, there he is. Betting on horses….
You know how there are certain shows where you can instantly tell when a characetr is going to be “important” because they look completely ridiculous or exaggerated compared to everyone else. I’m just asking for no particular reason. For the record, when reading the manga I just thought this was a fairly average looking blonde guy. Sometimes colours play against you. I think it would have been better to keep his character design as subtle as possible.
And look at Atsushi using his powers responsibly. Our little cub is growing up!
At this point we could all see the trap was set. Well at least some type of trap was set…
Superhuman stories have a tradition. They always deal with the mistrust and alienation from “normies”. Whether you want to see it as a civil rights allegory or a gay rights story or just a general rallying cry and power fantasy for those of us who felt like they didn’t quite belong (which I think is pretty much everyone at this point), sooner or later you’re going to get an US vs THEM storyline.
Bungo Stray Dogs has largely avoided that thus far. Generally speaking, you can pretty much count the non-gifted characters in the entire show on one hand and one of them is Ranpo so… you know…
That’s actually something I like about the series. Not that I mind the misunderstood superhero trope but it has been done a heck of a lot. It’s a theme that resonates easily with most people so I do understand the appeal for a writer. However, isn’t it nice that aside from the occasional power getting out of hand, BSD has managed to use the setting differently. Powers being more of a playful plot device and a fun way to wink at the historical figures on which the characters are based, rather than an actual commentary.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t take all that build up and piece together a good commentary at this point. Now that the universe has been so thoroughly established. And having the gourvernment turn against you is a pretty traditional way to go about it.
The other classic trope is that since a fight between superhuman and non super humans seems rather lobsided, you need to have some evil msuperhumans. Traitors to the cause. Those who would turn on their own kind.
Can you feel the pressure building.
Dostoyevsky was bad enough. By far the most formidable foe the series has created. Apparently single handedly being able to best pretty much everyone in Yokohama and to this day, his arrest feels like a very hollow victory. Let’s face it, he really didn’t look like he was particularly upset by it. And as a mastermind, his freedom might not be all that necessary for him to cause big trouble.
Especially when you add in someone like Gogol to the mix.
BSD is a show where they never really bothered to balance out the powers. There are huge discrepencies from one person to the next. And really, aside from a few exceptions like Atsushi, most characters have powers that are only useful in very particular circumstances. But not Gogol. Granted, it looks like he really learned how to make the most of his gift but man, he just came off as ridiculously powerful. Not in the scary way that Fifi does but in the brutish direct force sort of way. When you combine the two, things start looking not so great. And when you think that we have 3 more players to go, well it feels bleak indeed.
And twist, kinda. Betrayal upon betrayal and who is leading who? Or is it whom. I whish I was the type of person who could use whom correctly.
It’s though writing these reviews when I know what’s coming up. Because so so much is coming up. In one episode we had the gourvernment officially recognizing the Agency only to have it revealed that the very same gourvernment officials consider the Angency to be dangerous deviants and are working hard to take them down and get them behind bars. And then, these same officials get used as pawns in an even greater consipiracy to destroy the Agency and possibly the existence of gifted all together.
Oh I forgot to write about the book… We’ve actually been hearing about the book since season 1. It’s a legendary artifact that can alter reality. One of the most powerful tools in the canon. But it’s been either beleive to have been lost and possibly destroyed or to never have existed in the first place. And now they have a single page of the book.
Honestly you guys, things have just started and already I don’t see how the agency can get out of this. And their greatest hope right now is their one non gifted member. Bleak might not be strong enough a word…