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Bungou Stray Dogs Episode #09 Anime Review

4 min read

Bungo Stray Dogs Episode 9It’s not often you get the chance to beat on your old boss.

What They Say:
Kyouka was made into an assassin by those who abused her ability, and Atsushi can’t help but feel sympathy toward her. Unable to turn her in to the military police, Atsushi ends up taking her out on a date. Meanwhile, Akutagawa is busy berating his former supervisor–Dazai.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the way things progressed in the previous episode, the potential was definitely laid out, but now it’s confirmed that the plot has officially arrived for Bungou Stray Dogs. Atsushi has a member of the Port Mafia in tow, not as a prisoner but as a victim he hopes to save, Dazai in the opposite position, only he is an actual prisoner, and both tables are about to be turned to some degree. Big things are going down now, and it looks likely that the issues at hand will form the foundation for the last several episodes of this first season. At any rate, it’s the first time in the series that things have really come together to tell a focused story that makes use of everything that had been set up prior. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have gotten around to something of this magnitude sooner, but it survived decently enough on the content it did have going for it.

The character of Kyouka is important both for her plot relevance and for being the catalyst for Atsushi to finally start acting like a protagonist. She has a charm (moe, you could say) that captures his heart and sympathy and drives him to do whatever he can to help her, knowing that she has killed dozens of people in a short period of time but also accepting her as the victim of the Port Mafia’s manipulation. Although the correct course of action as dictated by an even more pragmatic than usual Kunikida is to turn her in after gathering information, he can’t bring himself to do it and instead asks her on a date of sorts, revealing her inevitable dere side. His choice is ultimately in vain, though, as the Port Mafia isn’t making things so easy. On the other side, Akutagawa is laying into a chained-up Dazai, mostly to provide exposition around Dazai’s former status in the Port Mafia. His rank and relationship to the current villains of the series are obviously meant to make Dazai seem like the most interesting character, although there’s really nothing that ties into his character, making it seem fairly arbitrary that he happened to be assigned this history. The change in his situation comes while Akutagawa is busy attending to the other on-screen events and Dazai’s former partner comes to pay him a visit and reveal that the man he knew wouldn’t be in this situation unless it was part of a greater plan. So before long, the hunters and hunted have switched, putting Atsushi in the position of needing rescuing rather than Dazai.

My main draw to this series before it began was that Taku Iwasaki was doing the music, and while some of his distinctive electronic styles have been on display prior to now, especially when vocals are included, this episode is the most striking example of his richer orchestral pieces that are just as recognizably Iwasaki while sounding nothing like his more contemporary sounds. While this is the more understated of his different styles, it’s often more powerful when it hits, which is what these moments need to feel heavy without the strength of writing to really pull that off in the ways it probably should. At least it remains worth watching for one reason or another.

In Summary:
We’re deep into the major plot developments now, both Atsushi and Dazai caught up in Port Mafia matters and the rest of the Armed Detective Agency required to get involved by extension. It’s good to see the series feel like it has more of a solid path than it has for much of its run, even if the events that play out aren’t terribly exciting in the grand scheme of serial anime storytelling.

Grade: B-

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
Roku 3, Sceptre X425BV-FHD 42″ Class LCD HDTV.