Although I did enjoy the second season of Bungo Stray Dogs, I always felt that the Guild was a bit of a let down as a villain. None of their members really lived up to the Port Mafia and Francis himself just couldn’t hold a candle to Mori. Of course, I have a marked weak spot for Mori. Probably because I fell on my head a lot as a child.
Then again, just like a lot of characters in Bungo Stray Dogs, maybe I just never got to know him properly. This season is a real exercise in character redemption. It seems the great Francis, leader of the Guild, survived his swan dive from the Moby and we even have a decently logical explanation for it. Ever since he’s been living homeless and penniless in one of the surprisingly numerous slums of Yokohama.
We catch up with the broken man as the ever faithful Louisa has tracked him down to convince him to take up the mantle of leadership once again.
Like I said, I never really cared for Francis. He was just never that interesting a character to me. This is why I was surprised when I got just a little emotional at seeing him so defeated. He was always a personification of boisterous greed and bravado, now an unkept hollow shell of a man, who seems to have lost way more than his fortune. I was just a tiny bit sorry for him.
And it’s not just that he was boring, I also always thought the Great Fitgerald was kind of a stupid gift. It was uninspired and didn’t have much resonance with the rest of the narrative. However, the ability to transfer wealth into physical power takes on a whole new meaning and importance when you’re poor. When using your power may mean you have to go hungry. Now that’s almost poetic. Just like that, they manage to breathe some life into this lacklustre gift.
I realize that both these points become moot before the end of the episode. First Louisa manages to get Francis out of his funk and he soon regains his bluster. Was he always this fun? I know he had a big personality (like Mori but not as good…what’s wrong with me?), however, thrifty penny-pinching Francis was downright fun! And seeing him try to rebuild something with all sorts of obstacles in his way was simply more inspiring than seeing him tear down something seemingly effortlessly. For me, this character works way better as an overconfident underdog. He’s his own person now instead of just discount Mori. I should stop doing that, Mori wasn’t even in the episode.
Step one in what is probably a super complicated plan was to get a genius programmer falsely accused of murder off the hook while acquiring a security company through highly questionable stock market manipulation. This may sound like super convoluted nonsense but it actually came together pretty well and was a genuinely fun watch.
If the last two episodes felt like character building foundational work with a bit of narrative filler, this one gives you the impression that we are starting the main arc. Although there were still a lot of shenanigans, Francis’ larger plans and this face recognition technology will surely both become important elements this season.
Besides that, we also got some glimpses of the larger cast. Poe paid his old pal and rival Ranpo a visit over at the Armed Detective Agency. I was pretty excited about that. Poe’s second season episode was one of my favourites. Also, I just like Ranpo a lot and wish we would see more of him. From the little I know of the real-life authors, Ranpo just seemed like a lot of fun. Which is more than I can say for some…
All in all, I had a lot of fun with this episode. Francis’ Pheonix Wright moment made me giggle out loud. Seeing Atsushi and Kyoka grab dessert together was cute. The editing and blocking were once more really well done and the pacing made me lose track of time and get surprised by the delightful ED song yet again. Although it was a blink and you’ll miss it appearance, just that peep of Fyodor was enough to spark my attention and get me excited for the rest of the season.
Of course, everything could still go south. For one, I’m really nervous that the story seems to have rarely started at episode 7 of 12. However, I’ve enjoyed the writing and the production a lot so far and I’m hopeful for the rest.
Just like last week, I overdid it on the screenshots and squirrelled them all away in a gallery over HERE. You are more than welcomed to visit. Pictures are fun.
Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!