Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 12: The Precipice

Well, I got to give it to them, it’s not perfect but Bungo Stray Dogs did manage to tie up most of the loose ends. Not only that but they found a way t make use of all those background episodes, even brought back Francis. His episode remains my favourite in what has been a consistently strong season. I still want more and this ending felt abrupt, but the story doesn’t seem as unfinished as I would have thought a week ago. You win this time! That’s 2 for me and 2937761 for you…

 You probably did not see this coming at all, but you can find my gallery for this final Bungo Stray Dogs SEason 3 episode by following his here link to my blog! But first. let’s talk finale!

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep12 (30)
glad you agree

We hit the ground running as the episode completely skips over the OP to plunge us right back into the heart of the action. Atsushi and a now stricken but impressively lively Akutagawa are chasing after Pushkin to force him to cancel his ability. As the action ramps up, we get a beautiful classical music score to drowns out all other noise. Admittedly I really love Tchaikovsky so I may be biased, but I thought this score really added a lot to the scene. Not for the first time this season, I was impressed by the use of music, which is definitely not something I could say for previous seasons. (Aside from the great EDs).

As fun as the chase was, it turned out to be a bait and switch as the main antagonist of the episode soon showed up and Akutagawa and Atsushi were forced to turn their attention to him, letting Pushkin escape. It took me a while to figure out this guy was supposed to be Goncharov. In classic Bungo Stray Dogs style, the character completely subverts his namesake.

Ivan Goncharov was by all accounts a dour and bitter man. He had a very public feud with Ivan Turgenev (another Russian author) who he accused of plagiarism and defamation, both of which have so far not been substantiated. And bear in mind this was the mid to late 1800s when it was very difficult to have a very public anything. You had to put an effort in. Stick around not moving for like 5 minutes just to get a photograph… This man was dedicated to his discontent! Also, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who was about a decade younger, considered him one of the great Russian authors of the time and had a lot of respect for the man, while I’m not sure Goncharev ever even mentioned him at all. 

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep12 (23)
you had to be there

Most of the episode is dedicated to the fight between these three men. It’s very well animated and fun to watch, but as we have never really met Goncharov before this moment, there’s little to no emotional connection there. He’s not particularly threatening like Fyodor (ok but who is? good point me) I mean we don’t know anything other than h seems to have a pretty powerful gift. His character could have been replaced by an earthquake with relatively little impact on the plot.

On the upside, we did get a chance to see the two upstarts bond a little. I have to say, unlike a lot of characters this season, Akutagawa did not get much in the way of development. I found this very surprising.  mean, we learned a bit about his family and that was great, but he was really secondary in that story. Instead what the narrative did is give him a few very brief but significant interactions with key characters. Key for him at least. First Gin, then Kyouka and Dazai. In all of these exchanges, Ryo reacted in unexpectedly relatable ways and by the time this episode rolled around he had been so humanized that it was believable that he would put himself in danger to protect Atsushi. If it meant victory of course. Not just cause it’s the right thing to d. Let’s not go crazy!

I have to admit, on its own the whole Atsutagawa fusion bit was pretty silly. Dare I say even a touch stupid. However, by now, the season had built up enough good will in my book, that I really didn’t care. I just saw it as fun. I also really like the Ying Yang motif they put in that tar pit scene!Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep12 (6)

it’s not perfect, but I see it

Despite the fact that the Goncharov confrontation probably took up most of the episode in terms of screentime, it’s the final at that really stuck in my mind. Pushkin escapes the tunnels only to be greeted by pretty much the entire Port Mafia and Armed Detective Agency front lines. Let’s just say that pesky cannibalism virus was expediently dealt with. Meanwhile, we find out that Fyodor has been peacefully enjoying his tea in a completely different part of town and normally, that would be it. A traditional cliffhanger to bait us into watching another season as our heroes are out of immediate danger but the real villain rides off into the sunset.

Except this isn’t a normal show and we still don’t know if one of the main protagonists isn’t the real villain. Dazai is a constant wrench in the works. So who better to be waiting for Fyodor in that caffe? Awww, don’t worry about it, I’ll tell you who. Francis, that’s who! Not only did they bring him back (not the young programmer though), but they even gave him a logical reason to be there. That was a very good…what’s the opposite of a plot hole? A plot hill?

It was a good ending. Heck, I’m impressed they managed to pull off anything resembling an ending at all. There was action, we got to see all our favourite characters and even a mega happy ending with everyone dressed in fancy clothes. A rare smile from Fukuzawa became my favourite gif of the season. There were a couple of nice Chuuya ones as well…

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep12 (34)
beautiful sunset once again

But you know, even with Dostoyevsky seemingly outwitted at the last minute and being escorted out by an entire swat team of government agents, h didn’t seem particularly defeated. Just momentarily thrown off. When I said they pulled off an ending what I mean is that they created a natural break in what is obviously a larger narrative. There is clearly more to this story. And if the quality in direction and production keeps up, I desperately want to see the rest. I think I want to see the rest either way, actually.

As the end scene played over that wonderful closing music. It really is fantastic! I immediately started to miss the series. I guess it’s yet another manga I have to buy now. Please Bones, make another season!

 

 

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

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Top 5 Anime Characters in the Mafia

Tuesday's Top 5

There’s something about a good gangster story that really draws in the viewers. Unfortunately there aren’t a huge number of anime that deal with the mafia or gangsters and even then, most of my favourite characters in those stories aren’t actually in the mafia, so this list was a little tricky to put together. Ultimately though I’ve picked my top 5 anime characters in the mafia and I’d love to know who some of your favourites are.

Number 5: Nero Vanetti from 91 Days

Nero is an interesting choice because he’s a character I find hard to get a read on and yet I enjoy watching him. He’s carefree to a point and brash but he’s also very loyal to his family. Avilio abuses his trust and uses him and yet when the betrayal is revealed Nero struggles with it because of his loyalty to his friend, even if it isn’t returned. Ultimately Nero is just an interesting character to watch and while he makes many mistakes he comes back from them each and every time.

Number 4: Jolly from Arcana Famiglia

Alright, I’m not a huge fan of La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia as an anime feeling there were a lot of wasted opportunities and plenty of potential left languishing. However, there were some great characters scattered about being utterly deprived of a half-decent plot. One of those characters is Jolly. He makes only sporadic appearances in the story but his impact and influence on the rest of the cast is clear to see. Jolly might be the right hand man in the family but his personal agenda and his experimentation put the rest of the members on edge and this makes him fascinating to watch.

Number 3: The Fourth from Kamisama no Memochou

The Fourth, or Souichirou Hinamura, is full of surprises. While on the surface he seems the typical gangster running his group, he’s got an interesting skill set including repairing stuffed toys. However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t an incredibly dangerous character to try to get close to and don’t even think of trying to betray him. While The Fourth is a peripheral character in Heaven’s Memo Pad he gets some substantial character development including his own back story and he remains one of the most interesting members of the cast.

Number 2: Claire Stanfield from Baccano

So many great characters in Baccano it was hard to narrow it down to one for this list, but ultimately I had to go with Claire. The incredibly talented murderer definitely dances to the beat of his own drum but has an interesting personal morality that plays a part in all his decisions about who to kill and who to leave alive, even if he leaves them emotionally scarred for life. In a zany cast of larger than life characters Claire managed to leave a definite impression.

Number 1: Oda from Bungo Stray Dogs

Again, the Port mafia is full of a lot of incredibly interesting characters but the one who has had the greatest impression on me is actually one we only saw for a handful of episodes as part of an extended flash back. Oda’s story is tragic to be sure but it left a lasting impression on the audience and on the other characters. It certainly left a lasting impression on Dazai. I know it is too late but can we please have more Oda, I loved watching his story unfold and just got so drawn into his character.

That’s it from me but as I said before I’d love to know who your top picks would be for anime characters in the mafia.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 11: Generations

Stop me if you’ve heard this before but this season of Bungo Stray Dogs is just amazing. Everyone, please go by a manga or DVD or something and show the franchise some love. Mama is gonna need a season 4 of this. For this time, and this one time only, I will be mama. This is how much I am loving this season!

Also, this episode looked great. Not that Bungo Stray Dogs is not a generally stylish show with great visuals but the flashback scenes were particularly fun to watch so I more or less created a stop motion of the episode. You can see it  HERE, on my blog. 

Dazai
Yes, sir!

I think someone owes me a round of applause. Remember when I said that Fukuzawa and Mori must have been close at some point? O.k., it wasn’t exactly hard to guess. Still, I’m going to take the credit for this one. Indeed, the two men have a shared history and although it would probably be a stretch to call them friends, they were for a time at least, allies.

We have seen Mori and Fukuzawa share scenes in previous seasons of Bungo Stray Dogs but none of those encounters had the weight and complexity of what we saw in this episode. Mori is a lot of questionable things but he isn’t a troll. What I mean by that is that he doesn’t just throw fake accolades around. When a younger Mori addressed Fukuzawa as Fukuzawa-dono, I believe it was sincere. He really does respect the leader of the Armed Detective Agency.

And although Fukuzawa is as always more restrained and less sociable, he did admit that the two of them have a lot more in common than not. In the end, both are intelligent, powerful men that recognize each other’s talents. Two men with very different visions but the same goal and the same mentor. The uneasy partnership of convenience between the two was wonderful to watch and I would have enjoyed an entire arc on their past adventures. Oh, for those that haven’t seen it, the episode opened on a flashback of Mori and Fukuzawa’s first meeting…

Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3 ep11 (2)
wh sort of Detective Agency?

We know that a man named Natsume brought them together as the first protection for their beloved Yokohama. And the foundations for what would become a fragile peace are laid down as Mori wrestles the out of control Port Mafia into his iron grip, the government enforces the Special Ability Department and Fukuzawa founds the Armed Detective Agency to keep the balance. 

In time, both men would find someone the would choose as a successor. Fukuzawa saw a lot of himself in the diligent and hardworking Doppo. And he was right. Although Kunikida was close o broken last week, he pulled himself together and managed to think things through. He let his detective skills guide him and realized there was still a chance for Katai. Mori, on the other hand, was drawn to Dazai. Of course, since Dazai is a lot like him he proved unreliable and untrustworthy but that has never particularly bothered Mori. Almost as if it was all part of the plan. And for all his faults, Dazai is resilient as well, having rested long enough, it was time for him to get up and start hunting down some Russians. That’s a weird sentence for me to type.

There is one more generation to go. One more mismatched pair of powerful ability users that represent the ying and yang of Yokohama. The ones that will take up the reigns and march onto the front lines. Of course, that would be Atsushi and Akutagawa. Throughout the episode, we saw each player get ready and each pair come together for the battle ahead.

Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3 ep11 (17)
some took a little convincing

I also wondered early on in the season if we were finally going to see Natsume Soseki this time. We saw essentially hs outline in season 2 but we do see him clearly in the opening credits. Although as the episodes wore on, I thought that might just be a red herring. Turns out I was wrong! He makes a full unveiled appearance in this episode and does not disappoint. From the little we do see, he seems to be a mix of Mori and Fukuzawa’s personalities, which I’m not complaining about. And he has the best voice. Well second best. Fyodor is still best voice!

To be honest, this felt very much like a penultimate episode. All the main characters are coming together and getting ready for one final confrontation as time is running out. We are introduced to last-minute powerful but ultimately distant characters to shake things up a little. We even met Pushkin who did not look like I thought he would. Ok, ok… I’ll admit this is a bit jerky of me but Bungo Stray Dogs is a bishie banquet,  didn’t realize the artists working on this show could even draw a character that was not delicious looking. Turns out they can.

We only really see Pushkin in the last minute or so, as such I don’t have much of a read on the actual character. I did like how he outsmarted Atsushi and Akutagawa, though. The episode ended on a pretty good cliffhanger but ultimately ineffective since we were running out of time anyway.

Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3 ep11 (22)
We don’t often see Mori flustered

My best guess is that Dazai and Doppo will join the fight next episode, we saw them getting ready to do so. Atsushi will save someone but I’m not telling you who because spoilers and they will get to Pushkin before the virus runs its course. I don’t think they will kill off either of the bosses and I hope they don’t since I like both characters a lot. On the other hand, the inherent conflict from such a move would hold so much narrative potential!

But another season is absolutely required. For one, Francis is still just hanging out in some high rise building somewhere in town, making money on the stock market. Natsume till needs to be fleshed out and explained. And although they might conceivably catch Pushkin, I really don’t see Fyodor going down that easily. Not in the next episode. There hasn’t been enough set up for it!

To the few of you who are watching this season, I’m happy for us! We are having a great anime time!

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 10: A Strange Time To Burry Hatchets

This season of Bungo Stray Dogs is just knocking it out of the park as far as I’m concerned. The only thing I can seriously fault it for is that there are only two episodes left which means we are definitely not resolving the greater arc. The Rats n the House of the Dead will live to dance another day. 

Don’t worry, I’m going to give you all my deep thoughts and insights on this week’s episode (that should buy me a dozen words or so), but if you would also like some visual aids, the full screencap gallery of this week’s episode can be found HERE, on my blog. Also as this is an episode review, there will be spoilers.

Bungo Stray Dogs season 3 ep 10 (3)
essentially my life’s moto

Thing’s were looking grim last week. When we left off, the Armed Detective Agency had failed to find the gifted virus wielder and were gearing up for plan B. Said plan being an all-out bloody confrontation with the Port Mafia, in order to murder their ailing leader. And of course, the Mafia was getting ready to do the exact same thing on their end. Pretty much the exact thing both leaders were desperately trying to avoid.

However, Ranpo still allowed room for one small contingency. Sure, it may seem like the only viable option left for the Detectives was to take matters in their own hands and then strangle them. But just in case there was still a small chance for peace, he did send Atsushi off to see if Katai had any leads. Deeply traumatized from having failed to save a small child right in front of him, Kunikida also decides to avoid battle and joins Atsushi.

For me, Kunikida’s little breakdown was just a touch too dramatic, although perfectly justified, but I was happy to go along with it because Hosoya, Yoshimasa (Doppo’s voice actor), really went all out this episode. He’s always good but he outdid himself. His performance as a man undone going from uncontrolled emotion to stoically restrained guilt and pain was impressive. It brought a lot of depth to a generally bland character. (I still like Kunikida though, sometimes you want vanilla).

Bungo Stray Dogs season 3 ep 10 (8)
but if you don’t it will be a boring episode, you have to have priorities

From here, the episode splits between the two groups. Atsushi and Kunikida go to Katai’s home only to find it empty. A black box reveals that Fyodor has gotten to him first but if Dostoyevsky bothered to make a move, then Katai must have been onto something.

This is where the patient structuring of this season starts to pay off. That carefree episode 5, where we were first introduced to Katai and his one-sided crush was more than mere filler. By presenting the character outside the strict confines of the current story, it humanized and gave him an existence beyond a mere plot element. Bungo Stray Dogs was patient, taking an entire episode to set him up slowly. The gave us all this background and flavour that wasn’t really needed for us to understand what’s going on but we sneakily got a little connected to the character.

At least I did. I was really surprised by how affected I was to find he had been “erased”. Not that many series can make me care this much about a character. Certainly not one we’ve only seen in a handful of scenes. Something makes me think Katai will be back though. Maybe how prominent he is in the opening credits.

Bungo Stray Dogs season 3 ep 10 (4)
I have a feeling this is how I’ll go too

while this is happening, the rest f the Agency detectives are going in for a head-on attack of the Port Mafia headquarters. Gunfire and superpowers are just spraying all over the place. I thought to myself, I shouldn’t like this. Bungo Stray Dogs has carefully nurtured particularly affable villain personas for the Port Mafia members and as such I don’t really want to see either side get hurt. On top of that, seeing these two organizations fight is kind of lame. 

I mean it’s a throwback to season 1. We’ve already been there, done that. Without Mori and Dazai or Fukuawa on the other side to escalate the stakes, it’s just a series of skirmishes that don’t add much more than noise and fury. It’s so expected, like a worn out shonen trope. And oh my was it fun. Why? I’ not sure. It wasn’t happy or funny. I couldn’t quite root for anyone clearly. But it was engrossing and energizing. I wanted it to go on. I’ve been talking about the framing of visuals this season, but the direction of the action is also stellar.

And then we got to our second payoff. Adorable Kyouka, trying to get to Mori on her own, finds herself in a one on one combat against her former….mentor? Akutagawa. As I mentioned previously, up until episode 6 of this season, Kyouka was pretty much limited to being a trope. A pleasant one but still, the show had not bothered to develop her beyond the standard stereotypes of her role. But another seemingly fillerish episode managed to give her a rich complex backstory and a very interesting emotional upheaval to deal with in just a few brief minutes. This went a long way to making her conversation with Akutagawa so much more meaningful now. The same scene even managed to give Akutagawa some depth at the same time. It was an odd moment to make peace, and a little pretty as well.

Bungo Stray Dogs season 3 ep 10 (31)
he means it as a compliment

I’m just going to mention that in the meantime, Ranpo and Chuuya have managed to get themselves stuck in one of Poe’s books. I hope we see their adventure because they seem like a hilarious match up.

The Final act of the episode had the two organization patriarchs take matters into their own hands. In many ways, they are quite similar. And as they naturally came together n this stunning abandoned house to kill each other, I couldn’t help but think they must have been good friends at some point. They just know each other so well.

I skipped over a few things, I talk about the visuals on my gallery post. There was also a good payoff scene with Lucy’s character as well and a cryptic line from Dazai is hinting at yet another setup. We saw that in a twisted way Akutagawa sees himself in Kyouya and was trying to save her as his own “mentor” had saved him. In short, everything is coming together quite well. Even in an action-heavy episode, the plot is tightening its strings. I should really look into the writing team. If you are one of the few that are following along, how do you feel about the fact that the season is almost over? 

 

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 9: Not Playing Fair

I tell you, Friday could not come soon enough this week. Well, that’s true of pretty much every week but this week had the added thrill of me looking forward to Bungo Stray Dogs with bated breath. Not only did last week’s episode end on a pretty great cliffhanger but I’ve also been listening to the fantastic ED all week. It’s Lily by Luck Life. Turns out the band is behind most of Bungo Stray Dogs’ EDs and they’re all very good. I recommend you give them a listen.

And before we start, for those of you who are more picture type people than word type people, you can find my gallery of screencaps for this week’s episode over HERE, on my blog.

For those of you who don’t remember, or unknown reason Fyodor has maneuvered another gifted to use his power to infect both Fukuzawa and Mori with a virus that will kill both of them unless one dies first. When episode 8 left off, the Mafia was getting ready to invade Fukuzawa’s hospital room and destroy the Agency members standing in their way.

So far I have only recapped episode 8 a bit for context but now we are getting into the disturbingly named Cannibalism pt1 episode and there will be spoilers. All the spoilers! I’m just going to describe everything that happened! Ok, not EVERYTHING. But close.

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep9 (14)
you have been warned

and so, the Mafia members are gearing up for the attack when Psych! Turns out it was all an illusion of Tanazaki’s Light Snow. All the other actual Agency detectives(?) actually managed to escape with Fukuzawa through the world’s quietest gaping hole in a concrete wall. Of course, Ranpo has a full proof plan and that plan is to leave Tanizaki behind as a hostage and security, buying the rest of them time to find the virus gift user and neutralize him. Poor Tanizaki, he seems to get a lot of these thankless jobs. In season 1 he was constantly put in harms way over the flimsiest reason and in season 2 he barely made an appearance. Once again here he is, being a pawn. It’s a little mean.

The Agency team split up, leaving Doppo and Atsushi to hunt down Pushkin n the city slums. Oh boy…Pushkin! Dostoyevsky is one thing but Puskin is a whole other bag of worms. Before you think I’m being dismissive, let me make this clear, Fydor Dostoyevsky, both the author and the character is tremendous and more than just a little frightening. An excellent choice for an antagonist. However, Pushkin just fits in so well with the Japanese authors. His writing is no dissimilar to Doppo’s earlier works before his switch to naturalism. As for his life, well let’s just say there are a few tragic patterns that come up disturbingly often if you read the biographies of the Port Mafia and Armed detective Agency namesakes. And Pushkin’s own pattern is quite similar. Just a touch more Russian.

We also hear the name of Fydor’s organization, if you could call it that. Fyodor doesn’t strike me as a man who has partners or associates. He doesn’t quite have the personality to even have lackeys. But it does seem like he did at least use a few other gifted and bring them together under the name The Rats in The House of the Dead. I think we may have heard the name before but it’s the first time I paid attention to it and I loved it! For those who may not know The House of the Dead is an autobiographical novel by Dostoyevsky, which makes this name just so whimsical. I wish it was the name of my high school band.

Oh boy, we are barely 5 minutes into the episode. Am I getting worse at this? Ok…Top Speedo! Doppo and Atsushi find Pushkin quickly but it turns out the dude has a horde of little brothers and sisters armed to the teeth, who are all protecting him. Good news: little kids can’t aim automatic weapons at all! Star trooper levels of firearm proficiency. Bad News: shooting little kids makes you feel kinda bad about yourself.

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep9 (27)
at least it’s what the show leads you to believe, I have no proof

We also get our first glimpse of Dostoyevsky’s powers when Doppo and Atsushi come across a little girl in a tunnel, wearing grenades as jewellery and ready to blow herself up to stop them. Doppo stays behind to talk the girl down as Atsushi races ahead to catch up with Pushkin. As Doppo and the girl talk we see her have a vision of Fydor, or maybe a memory, urging her to protect her brother. It’s still rather vague but it would seem that Fyodor has some mind control or manipulation power. Maybe some memory alteration as well. I’m not entirely sure all those kids were really related. Whatever the details though, the true threat lies in his prodigious strategist skills. At one point, Ranpo states that going against him is like what it would be to go against Dazai. Scary.

I slowed down again! Uhhh…o.k…there’s some tragedy, some sad, this creepy cello music that really suits the mood and gets extra points when it turns out it’s actually being played by Fyodor. The bam! Atsushi catches up to Pushkin except it turns out it isn’t Pushkin and they have all been royally played. With time running to and their backs against the wall, they have no other choice but to give up on Pushkin for the moment and try to retrieve Tanizaki unharmed. Well reasonably harmed. Poor Tanizaki.

This is where the episode switches to his point of view and makes me eat my words. I’ve always seen Tanizaki as one of the more docile members of the Agency and for lack of a better word, one of the weaker ones, at least in combat. He’s more of an infiltration guy not so much of a warrior. And boy did I eat my words. It was great to see Tanazaki finally get some glory. The fight scenes were fun and lively and his gift was finally shown as the powerful tool it is. I was cheering for him.

All the way to Mori’s room. I was conflicted as he stood over one of my favourite characters. Mori lying there helpless in that big bed with a knife poised over him. Perfectly mirroring the scene of the end of the last Port Mafia boss that we’ve seen so many times by now. Fortunately for Mori, a bit of Koyou ex machina saved his hide. Less fortunately for Tanizaki and I’m just going to say that at this point, the Armed Detective Agency members are getting suspiciously resilient.

Bungo Stray Dogs s3 ep9 (6)Tanzaki
don’t worry, you’re fine, somehow

However, the show said I see your Koyou ex Machina and I raise you a Kyouka ex machina! Yay, everybody’s saved well not really. Tanizaki is seriously hurt, Dazai is still in the hospital, both Mori and Fukuzawa are still set to die in about a day and I think Doppo might not be ok at all… My yay may have been premature!

We close out on Fyodor and Shousaku Katsura who he has taken hostage for some reason. That was the kid with the huge grudge against Doppo who put the bombs in the subway. And this guy asks Fyodr what we all want to know “What is your goal?”.

Despite my occasionally snippy comments, I did like this episode. It was fast-paced and unnerving. Hearing that child cry was very affecting and I am more attached to the characters and eager to see what comes next. I do wonder why we bothered with that fantastic return episode for Francis if we’re just not going to see him again. It really feels like BSD is just banking big time on a season 4.

Narratively, this was one of the weaker episodes. There were some holes in there, a few things got seriously glossed over and it just seemed sloppier than what we’ve seen s far. But it was still very fun to watch. Hopefully, this will be the case again next week!

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 8: This is Bad For My Heart

This week has been pretty crazy for me. I’ve hardly had time to watch any anime at all. In fact, I haven’t watched anything since Monday. I was a little anime starved and as I have been enjoying Bungo Stray Dogs so much lately, I was really looking forward to this episode for many reasons. You should know, there’s going to be spoilers, I can’t avoid it. Lot’s happened!

As I said last week, I am loving the solid build up we’ve been seeing but I worry with the season being only 12 episodes, we will either get a very rushed conclusion or, more likely, no conclusion at all. That’s really the only thing that I can fault the season with. If it was 26 episodes I would be happily watching also without a care in the world. That’s also the only reason I’ve been urging the plot to start in earnest. 

However, as soon as I saw the opening scenes, I changed my mind. It was Fukuzawa. Aside from Mori, Fukuawa has to be my favourite character. At least potentially. We really know next to nothing about the man and I have been desperate to now more ever since the first season. It should be noted that Fukuzawa Yukichi, the real-life inspiration for the character was also a fascinating and admirable figure. I really need to write about the actual authors someday…

Bungo Stray Dogs ep33 (3)
the mullet conspiracy strikes again

As I was saying, Mori and Fukuzawa are my favourites. I’ve been lucky to catch up with Mori a bit this season so the thought of spending an episode with Fukuzawa, to even things out, was wonderful. If they can make his as entertaining as Fitz was last week, this will be one to remember.

Yeah, that was not fun to watch. It seems someone is dispatching gifted (sounds like a certain Dead Apples movie) and Fukuzawa has just become the next victim. For a second I almost dropped everything and went on google to make sure he survives but I resisted the urge. Fukuzawa does, in fact, survive the initial attack, but he’s left in critical condition with an array of unexplained symptoms.

What struck me in these scenes was how calm Doppo was. Everyone else is understandably frazzled, while Ranpo is downright devastated but Kunikida is thinking things through, as rationally as possible. He’s stepping up to his role as second in command of the Armed Detective Agency quite admirably.

Bungo Stray Dogs ep33 (7)
do you think he just copied his boss’ hairstyle?

I was a little bummed about this turn of events. Thankfully I got Mori just in time to distract me with his scruffy bumbling act. Dishevelled Mori is best Mori. When that explosion happened I almost gave up. But of course, Mori was fine. It was all part of the plan. How could I think that Mori would be taken in so easily…

I got my hopes up. We know that the two bosses have a shared history but we’ve never really delved into it. This would be the episode that showed us where it all started. Mori would hunt down the gifted killer as Fukuzawa was fighting for his life and at the last second, the Port Mafia would share some crucial information to save the life of the Agency president. The episode would be intercut with flashbacks of when the two were best friends and how they had a falling out.

In case you think I have some insight, I’m making all of this up. It’s quite possible that Fukuzawa and Mori were never friends at all. Nevertheless, that was the split second headcanon I created while watching Elise drop Mori on his hiney in the middle of the street.

Bungo Stray Dogs ep33 (14)
sometimes anime has some odd camera angles. Not this time though

And then it all came crashing down. Not just Mori. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Fyodor as a character. He is an envigorating villain that has revitalized the franchise. As much as I am enjoying Demon Slayer and Kibutsuji in particular, Fyodor is my pick for the top antagonist of the season. His delivery is just so chilling to me. At first, I thought his open attack on Mori seemed just a little too plain for such a character but on second thought, it fits him so well, especially when you find out the twist.

At this point, we finally see the return of Dazai. This season did something weird with who was arguably the main character or at least deuteragonist of the franchise. Unlike everyone else, the third season of Bungo Stray Dogs set about dehumanizing Dazai in the opening arc by really insisting on the more unpleasant and unsettling aspects of his personality, and then help him back in all subsequent episodes. As a result, I feel like I know this Dazai less than I did before and I’m never sure if I can trust him at all.

This makes for a much more interesting character. Rather than the smart mouth anti-hero archetype we see everywhere, we now have a viable compromised hero. Someone who can keep the audience on their toes and has enough history to make a heel turn completely believable. As much as I want Dazai to be a good guy, he just isn’t. And that’s kind of amazing.

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and then maybe I’ll tell them, maybe I won’t

What followed was one of those genius on genius conversations that are so hard to write without ending up sounding quite stupid. This one was o.k. as far as they go. The discussion itself wasn’t special but it was elevated by Fydor’s consistently spectacular voice acting and one really great twist.

It seems that the actual plan was to infect both Mori and Fukuzawa with a gifted parasite. An invader that incubated within a host for 8 hours then kills them. But this parasite is actually linked. It needs two hosts and if one of the hosts dies, the parasite dies as well, leaving the other host home free. In other words, for Fukuzawa to live Mori must die or vice versa.

And now, both the Armed Detective Agency and the Port Mafia know this!

See, it’s a great twist. Simple enough for me to explain with a few sentences. It has the potential to create a huge conflict but at the same time completely changes the nature of the two entities’ relationship. They are at each other’s throats more than ever but are also in the exact same situation and sympathize with one another like never before.

And just as everything was coming to ahead, that fantastic opening riff of the ED rang through. Man, I love that song. I’m not sure how my heart made it through this rollercoaster. I’ve absolutely no clue how I’m supposed to wait an entire week to find out what happens!

One quick side note, Chuuya seems to be second in command for the Port Mafia. Considering how badly his last leadership role went, I wonder if he’s really up to it…

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My screencap addiction may actually be starting to pay off. I’m picking up on things in the stills I would never have seen otherwise. You can see for yourself  HERE if you like.  

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 7: Francis the Frugal

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.

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don’t agree with me now!

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.

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nevermind, I take it back

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.

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sounds like my last evaluation – also this season is fast becoming a gallery of window framed scenes and I’m not complaining!

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.

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It’s not even close!

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.

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!