Bungou Stray Dogs is a seinen manga written by Kafka Asagiri and illustrated by Sango Harukawa.
The target audience for this series is in the 18-30 years old male demographic, though like most stories, it has caught the attention of readers from various age groups. It is considered as a hidden gem by those who are a fan of the series, both the manga and the anime adaptation.
BSD is an ongoing series with 84 English translated chapters as of this writing. Mangadex’s records show that there are 300,000+ readers of the series, with a 10,000+ bookmarks on the main series. Comparing it with more popular series, manga readers might consider it as a mediocre series with a simple storyline. But it is not the case. Bungou Stray Dogs is a well-written visual novel that portrays the life of those who chose to live in the dark to survive. Its complex and intricate storyline, revolving around multiple characters, makes it quite a read.
BSD is available in multiple online and physical shops. Digital downloads and paperback issues can be purchased from merchant sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This is proof that many readers are supporting the work. Bungou Stray Dogs is also featured in manga and anime websites with lots of supporters.
Anime and Movie Adaptation
So far, the manga has been adapted into three seasons. The fourth installment is said to be released sometime on 2021. There have been no official statements but fans are hopeful since the previous seasons have been a success.
The movie adaptation, Dead Apple, is also a success. The events have happened after the end of season 2. Hence, it is advisable that fans watch the anime adaptation in this order: season 1, season 2, movie, season 3.
There are spoilers in the movie and watching it before finishing season 2 would make the series confusing. Hence, make it a point to watch the movie adaptation after completing the first two seasons.
There are also other versions of Bungou Stray Dogs. While the main series has been adapted into multiple series of anime, the Dead Apple series has been adapted into a movie.
Bungou Stray Dogs: Beast (BEAST – White Akutagawa, Black Atsushi) is also an interesting version of the series since the MC is portrayed by Akutagawa. Another spinoff is Bungou Stray Dogs Gaiden, written by Kafka Asagiri with illustrations by Oyoyo.
There are light novel adaptations of the manga series written by Kafka Asagiri and illustrated by Sango Harukawa. Readers can purchase digital and hard copies of the novel.
Mangadex Description: Nakajima Atsushi was kicked out of his orphanage, and now he has no place to go and no food. While he is standing by a river, on the brink of starvation, he rescues a man whimsically attempting suicide. That man is Dazai Osamu, and he and his partner Kunikida are members of a very special detective agency. They have supernatural powers, and deal with cases that are too dangerous for the police or the military. They’re tracking down a tiger that has appeared in the area recently, around the time Atsushi came to the area. The tiger seems to have a connection to Atsushi, and by the time the case is solved, it is clear that Atsushi’s future will involve much more of Dazai and the rest of the detectives!
The series has a lot of protagonists, with Atsushi Nakajima as the central figure. Some of the popular characters are Osamu Dazai, Doppo Kunikida, Kyōka Izumi, Ranpo Edogawa, Ryonosuke Akutagawa, Ogai Mori, Chuya Nakahara and Ango Sakaguchi.
Osamu Dazai is considered as the most popular character in the series, followed by Chuya Nakahara and Atsushi Nakajima. Due to Dazai’s charm and wit, readers have identified with the character more than the main protagonist. He is seen as the brain behind most of the events that are taking place in the story, planning things in advance to their advantage and to protect the city of Yokohama.
Despite having a central protagonist, this visual novel did not lack in showcasing the other cast. Background stories of the characters have been beautifully portrayed, captivating the readers. Character development is also quite evident in the storyline, making readers appreciate and value the characters even more as the story progresses.
Even the antagonists are portrayed quite well in the series, making it hard for the readers to hate even the rivals of the main characters.
The story features three groups: Armed Detective Agency, Port Mafia and Special Ability Department.
The manga and the anime adaptation have slight differences but the story remains the same. The characters are well-portrayed and the storyline is not confusing even though it is a complex one, involving multiple characters.
What’s good about this series is that it does not focus only on a single character. The MC (main character) is also not the strongest one, making it an interesting story. It is considered that Osamu Dazai is the strongest followed by Chuya Nakahara. But since Atsushi is still a growing character, there is possibility guarantee that he will grow to be the strongest one and surpass those who are stronger than him.
Another great thing about this series is that you cannot hate the antagonists. The writer, Kafka Asagiri, was able to create characters that are charismatic despite their flaws. This is particularly true for the Port Mafia members. The motives behind their actions are what make this manga a good read. It does not merely justify the actions of the antagonists. It does not try to sway the readers to pity the characters and make them love the antagonists despite their wrongdoings. The writer was able to incorporate purposes behind the actions of the characters that do not aim to simply ask for pity for the characters.
The history behind the current circumstances of the characters and the groups they belong in is also complex. The hostility of the two groups, the Armed Detective Agency and the Port Mafia, against each other is rooted in a deeper purpose. This resulted in the complicated relationship between the two. The involvement of the third group, the Special Ability Department, makes the story even more interesting.
Since this is a fantasy novel, the ability and superior intelligence of some of the characters cannot be easily seen as absurd. But unlike other action manga, the superhuman powers of the characters are not as overpowering. There are limitations to the abilities of the characters and training is a requirement for the abilities to develop.
Overall, Bungou Stray Dogs is a good read. It brings its readers to a different realm, though it is set in Japan at present time. It delves into the multiple facets of lives, immersing the readers into the despair, happiness, successes, sadness and anguish of the characters.
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Photos: from Mangadex