I told you right? I told you you would love Yosano even more once you saw. Is it just me? Am I the only one that finds this particular backstory just tremendous? Not only did I find it one of the more genuinely emotionally devastating tales but also it weaves in so well with the world-building and history of the show. It even serves to remind us just who Mori sensei is. An often reasonable and logical monster, but possibly the biggest monster the series has to offer.
And before you come at me, reasonable is used here to say that he acts according to his own internal logic and rarely gives in to emotion. In case you thought I was endorsing shooting people to prove a point. I’m not. Well only in very specific circumstances…
As I said last week, I have always liked Yosano as a character but I feel like she has been rather underused. The nature of her ability is a bit tricky to incorporate in fiction. On the one hand, she is useful in pretty much any circumstance and it would make sense that the team would always want her around, but on the other hand, she is SO useful that her presence sort of trivializes a lot of events. In the end, Kafka seems to have just generally kept her apart from everyone without any real explanation.
As such, it was a real thrill to finally learn a bit more about her 46 episodes in. And I don’t know about you, to me, it was a story that was worth the wait.
They have alluded to the great war before. And it has been mentioned a few times that Mori is a military man (just like his real-life counterpart) and that his particular goal was to create an army of gifted soldiers to give Japan the edge on the world stage. I don’t know if this was also the ambition of the historical Mori sensei but I have no reason to believe otherwise!
We’ve heard these things here and there but it was always in passing. Casual little bits of conversation here and there. Flavour and nothing more. So when you actually see it, it’s a bit of a shock. It’s war, a real war. Bungo Stray Dogs feature a lot of fighting. The word war is used for all the clashes between factions of competing gifted but all of the sudden we are reminded no this is what war actually is. And one of the more treacherous aspects of it is that it’s easy to forget how horrible it can be. When things are going well, it almost seems like it’s not so bad, doesn’t it? It almost seems like an 11-year-old girl could fit in as long as she’s kept well away from the front line. Why not?
I’m not sure how much of my reaction is tainted by my experience with the mange. I remember this part having such a huge effect on me. I remember feeling suffocated and exhausted by the constant tension of never-ending battles. I remember thinking how brilliant and utterly cruel it was to twist and explore Yosano’s gift in this way. It makes sense but it hurts.
Healers have always been a part of fiction. They are one of the most popular superhuman types and one of the standard go-to special abilities along with super strength and super senses. Just like all of you, I have seen countless healers in countless stories with innumerable variations on the same limited skill set so as to not completely cancel out any stakes the story has.
I’m not saying that this interpretation of the healing ability is unique. I think I have read the same idea before, that being too good a healer cheapens life. Heck, I think they are exploring the same idea right now in To Your Eternity. But I found it expressed particularly well in Yosano’s backstory. Coupled with the chaos and pure hell of war. Not just war but specifically a losing war. A war in which Yosano is just sending young men back out to be slaughtered. Men, that as she acknowledges herself, might have survived with injuries if she wasn’t around. It was heartwrenching to watch and somehow I felt it. I have absolutely nothing in my own life I can use to relate to any of this but I still felt it.
When he died, the soldier, it felt like a paradigm shift. Even though this is a flashback of events that happened a long time ago, it felt like things would never be the same again.
Those who have been around for a while might know that I have something of a fascination with names. Given names that is. They come up a lot in rituals and magic. I really like the symbolism of names. The soldier doesn’t have a name. Not in the anime and not in the manga either. The story is carefully written so no one ever calls him by his name and all the conversations just start casually without need for introductions. This might not stand out to most people. It flows well. But the thing is, as far as I know, he doesn’t have a name in Japanese either. And Japanese is a language that makes it very difficult to avoid saying a person’s name. After all, they can’t just be saying “you” now can they. The soldier not having a name is a very deliberate choice. You can see it in a few ways.
The most obvious one is that they are concealing his identity. And that could certainly be it. But the more poetic reading is that he just represents all those nameless soldiers that left their lives on that field. He is legion and the senselessness of the situation he was put in robed him of everything, even his name. And Yosano is trying to somehow atone for that. She will probably be trying to do so forever. It wasn’t her fault, she was simply too just.
I think that the actual creation of the tripartite is going to be one of the marquis arcs of the series. If they ever tell us about it that is. I haven’t read the novels so it’s possible that the story has been detailed in one of those. But as far as I know, we have only heard about it vaguely. To be perfectly honest with you all, I’m not even sure how it’s supposed to work.
as such, I also don’t know how Yosano is a pillar of it. I understand that Mori still wants to create his army of gifted but he’s moved on from doing so for the nation of Japan to ding so for the mafia and his own purposes. In the end though, what he’s truly after is proof of concept. Keep this in mind as it’s going to become important and yet never mentioned again.
In season 2, there is an episode with Ranpo and Yosano. I think it’s the first time we meet Poe. For most of the episode, Ranpo and Yosano are trapped in one of his books which happens to be a closed-door mystery. They sort of play off each other in a very Holmesian way. You have Ranpo as the brilliant detective with superhuman deductive skills and Yosano as the more grounded physician. It’s perfect. Or it would be if Ranpo wasn’t an absolute goofball who couldn’t pull off Holmes’ gravitas and surly attitude for more than a few minutes (thank goodness).
I remember thinking that they made an oddly compatible pair. Like they were old friends and good ones at that. It’s not that unusual, they both work for the same agency and see each other more or less every day. But somehow it felt more intimate. We’ve seen agency members pair off a lot in the show and few if any had the type of rapport that Ranpo and Yosano have. But we haven’t seen the two together since and I sort of brushed it off as Ranpo just being overly-familiar as usual.
However, Ranpo and Yosano are in fact particularly good friends. They have known each other since they were kids. And he saved her. It’s a big deal! And it makes their friendship just so much cuter.
In the end, Yosano didn’t crumble under the weight of her trauma. She still has a lot of complicated feelings about her own gift and we have seen them creep up now and then but she is doing what good she feels she can. That is truly admirable. It’s also a good way to make your overpowered character not negate all the tension immediately.
I really loved this backstory, and I hope you enjoyed it as well.
- Bungo Stray Dogs 4 ep. 38 – In the Begining
- Bungo Stray Dogs 4 ep. 39 – Fools
- Bungo Stray Dogs 4 ep. 40 – Curry Rice
- Bungo Stray Dogs 4 ep. 41 – The Great Detective
- Bungo Stray Dogs 4 ep. 42 – The Rise of the Angels
- Bungo Stray Dogs 4 ep. 43 – The Fall
- Bungo Stray Dogs 4 ep. 44 – Releasing the Hounds
- Bungo Stray Dogs 4 ep. 45 – Masterminds