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Bungo Stray Dogs Vol. #01 Manga Review

4 min read

The difference between a skill and a burden.Bungo Stray Dogs #1

Creative Staff
Story: Kafka Asagiri
Art: Sango Harukawa
Translation/Adaptation: Kevin Gifford

What They Say
Having been kicked out of the orphanage, a despairing young man by the name of Atsushi Nakajima rescues a strange man from a suicide attempt–Osamu Dazai. Turns out that Dazai is part of an armed-detective agency staffed by individuals whose supernatural powers take on a literary bent!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Atsushi Nakajima, recently ejected from his orphanage for reasons he doesn’t understand, is dying from starvation near Yokohama. He is about to do whatever is necessary to get some food, when he sees a pair of legs floating down the river. Unable to let the drowning man go by, Atsushi jumps in and saves the man.

What he doesn’t know is that the man, Osamu Dazai, didn’t wanted saving and is actually obsessed with committing suicide. It is here that Atsushi becomes entangled with Dazai and his colleague, Kunikida, who are members of the Armed Detective Agency. They reveal to Atsushi they are on a mission to find a man-eating tiger. Atsushi states this tiger is chasing after him and is scared.

Dazai keenly realizes what is going on, and ropes Atsushi in as bait to capture this tiger. In the full moon, it is actually that Atsushi that is the tiger, but cannot even make one scratch on Dazai due to his ability to nullify other’s abilities. The rest of the team from the Armed Detective Agency is introduced and Atsushi is brought on board.

Atsushi’s first encounter with the agency is an angry man threatening to bomb the agency and has a hostage. Atsushi is sent in to distract the bomber, and does an excellent job. It’s enough for them take care of the hostage and save the day. But, the crisis isn’t over. Atsushi touches the button for the bomb and there’s seconds before it explodes. Without a choice, he covers the bomb with his body.

The entire scenario was set up by Dazai and the president of the agency to test Atsushi’s soul. Dazai informs he passes, but if he can’t see himself in employed in such a place, he would have to repay them for his lodging and food so far. Atsushi realizes he is stuck and agrees reluctantly to stay.

From there, Atsushi gets to know the rest of the agency. He has a hard time figuring out what Dazai did before he came to the agency. Then, it’s on to Atsushi’s first official case. The agency is asked to check out some people hanging around the company of a young woman. Atsushi is warned though not to deal with the Port Mafia and certain individuals (Akutagawa) from it.

Atsushi and Tanizaki (with his sister Naomi) are lured into a trap and forced to face the very person, he was supposed to avoid, Akutagawa. Tanizaki and Naomi seemingly met their fate fast and Atsushi realizes he is the actual target of the set up. They end up clashing one on one with Atsushi transforming into a tiger. Things heat up, but Dazai steps in and cools off the battle. Akutagawa steps down by tells Dazai that Atsushi is worth seven billion yen on the black market. This wouldn’t be the last time Atsushi will be a target. The very last page reveals Dazai is ex-Port Mafia.

In Summary
This manga is a great one. In the story and art, Bungo Stray Dogs, ropes the reader in and keeps them reading eagerly to the end. I really love the diversity of characters and the bits of humor craftily weaved through the story. It’s also hard not to like charming Dazai either.

While there a many stories based on people with special abilities, this is the first time it is referred to as a skill, and not a power. I feel this word choice is important. A skill often means something can be useful. It is crucial for Atsushi to realize that all this time, his uniqueness is actually not something horrific, but can be used for something good. I’m looking forward to seeing this play out.

The manga and the anime line up pretty well at this point as well, so if you liked the anime, you will like the manga as well.

Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: Older Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: December 20, 2016
MSRP: $13.00