Bungou Stray Dogs: not worth the read


The manga Bungou Stray Dogs has all the aspects needed to make great. The characters are interesting and dynamic, the art is nice, the plot is continuing to unravel the farther you read. There’s a balance of comedy and angst. Even with all of these aspects, however, the manga has completely failed to hold my interest.

The main character, Nakajima Atsushi, is an scared orphan who was thrown out by his formar orphanage after years of mental abuse. With no where to go, he travels aimlessly and without resorces for two weeks before pulling a suicidal man, Osamu Dazai, out of the river. Atsushi claims to have been chased by a man-eating tiger since before he left his former orphanage, the same tiger that Dazai is looking for.

We then learn that Dazai is actually part of a detective agency consisting of those with super-human abilities. He convinces Atsushi to help the agency bait the tiger into attacking while promising to keep Atsushi safe. Atsushi is still terrified of the beast, and the only reason he is able to go with the plan is due to the incentive of cash and being free from the tiger.

When the tiger appears in a empty warehouse away from all people, we find out the truth behind it and learn the abilities of other detectives. The fight was underwelming, same with the information revel. When Atsushi begins to hear the tiger moving around, he begins to freak out. Dazai tells him repeatedly to calm down, and explains his logic about what the tiger truly is. A large amount of the time is spent on explanation of what Dazai deduced until he is interrupted by a giant tiger leaping at him. Dalai easily avoids all of the tiger’s attacks and once he’s cornered, it only takes one finger for Dazai to stop the beast. The fight, which should have been there to reveal the characters abilities and further their personality traits, ended with an out of control tiger and a person who used no energy to subdue the tiger.

From there, author Kafka Asagiri continue to introduce the personalities of other characters as well as their abilities. Multiple chapters are dedicated to this introduction where Atsushi is still overly cautious, even when he begins to get along with the other detectives. The mental trauma from his childhood continues to make it hard to allow himself to relax around others. It is during these introductory chapters that we learn of the main villain group, the Mafia. The goal of the Mafia is to capture the main character and collect the bounty on his head. The intro to the mafia only increased the mental strain placed on Atsushi.

Kafka used different tactics to make the Mafia look to be a terrible group. First there was a scientist that wanted to know what death felt like, and thus killed many people in the hopes that one might stay partly alive long enough for him to question and obtain information from. He called death something that science couldn’t explain and would blow people up until they wished for death.

A second tactic the author used was turning a young girl into an unwilling assassin. Atsushi saved her from herself and from the bomb she had allowed to be strapped to her chest. After a day of fun with the girl – going to the amusement park, eating sweets – Atsushi was supposed to bring her to the police station so she could do time for her multiple crimes. This is when a Mafia member comes to kidnap Atsushi and thank the young girl for unknowingly being bait.

These tactics are the main difference from what I see in most manga. Many times, manga will have features meant to redeam the main villains or show something about the villain that allows them to be loved or appriciated by the reader. There is a posibility that this difference is one of the reasons why Bungou Stray Dog was unable to interest me the way most manga do. I love it when the author shows why a villain became this way, or how maybe the villain is not as bad as they were first expected of being. This manga only makes the villains look worse and further their hate.

Throughout the manga we see teasers about Atsushi’s past with the orphanage. They tend to show no new information, opting to have him remember more of the same insults such as ‘the lives of those who can’t save anyone have no value’ and ‘you bring calamity upon those around you simply by living’. After three volumes we still see no evidence of his mental development or moving past what he went through.

The plot takes a large amount of time to start up, and even when it does we have no clue what is going to be happening and what the goals of the mafia are. The first sign of a plot has a group of high class ability users that have a high bounty on Atsushi’s head. They are searching for something called the Promised land. Despite the author mentioning this place, we do not hear anything more about it for a long while after. Instead, the authors continue with jokes and attempting to create a greater interest in the characters. These chapters come off as fillers and feel like they are only there to increase the views on the manga instead of further plot.

The manga isn’t able to decide what genre it is wanting to follow. At one point we’re following the detective work, which was ridiculous in how they went about solving mysteries. The characters did not actually investigate so much as wait for people to give them information. The next second it’s a comedy, using poor jokes that managed to get a few laughs, mainly due to it’s extreme change of mood. It then changes to horror and gore, where

The extreme differences in personalities from one person to the next was interesting at first, but after a time of no development of any of the characters it became extremely boring. This is the main reason the entire manga became a disappointment. None of the characters were truly relatable to my life, and others in our school felt the same way. While the characters had dark pasts or mental issues, it didn’t seem as though anyone in the series actually cared about the issues that were shown. With so few characters actually caring about these issues, it was hard for me and other readers to care about it as well.

All in all, the manga was average in almost every way, from art to plot to the characters. Since none of the characters were relatable, it went from average to boring, ending with my final score of 4/10.