There’s no shortage of anime shows to watch nowadays, but every so often, there comes along a show that you need to experience. For me, that show’s Bungo Stray Dogs.
Today, I’ll be putting forward my case in hopes of convincing you to check out this iconic piece of fiction.
Created by Kafka Asagiri and illustrated by Sango Harukawa, Bungo Stray Dogs is the story of Atsushi Nakajima — a teenage orphan recently kicked out of his orphanage and forced to live on the streets. At the start of our tale, Atsushi is living under a bridge by the riverside. On the brink of starvation, he makes the decision to turn to a life of crime to survive, however, before he can even begin, he spots a person drowning in the river. At first, Atsushi is determined to ignore them, but being the kind-hearted soul that he is, he dives in to save the person and rescues the detective Osamu Dazai.
From there, Atsushi joins Dazai at the Armed Detective Agency, helping solve cases involving the criminal and supernatural (all while coming into conflict with the various enemy agencies keen on abducting Atsushi for their own ends).
So, Why Should You Watch It?
1. A Great Story
There are few anime series out there that maintain a cohesive and enjoyable story throughout their runs. Yet Bungo Stray Dogs hooks you in and doesn’t let you go. All of the characters in the series are unique and interesting, each has their own story to tell and their reasons behind their actions, and the variety of personalities means you’re sure to find one you identify with.
Each season has a main narrative, but individual episodes are usually based around the story and development of specific characters. This makes for interesting watching, as all the pieces tend to come together towards the end of each season, culminating in some amazingly satisfying moments.
2. The Characters
If some cast members of Bungo Stray Dogs seem familiar, it’s because they’re based on real-life authors. Almost every character has a deceased counterpart. What’s more, each of these characters has a supernatural ability based on one of the authors’ literary works (e.g. F. Scott Fitzgerald has an ability called The Great Gatsby).
One of the best parts of Bungo Stray Dogs for me was researching the identities of characters I’d not heard of before (I’ve been led down more than a few Wikipedia holes). Understanding the meaning and motivations behind the characters gives the show a very unique quality you won’t find elsewhere.
Another thing that sets Bungo Stray Dogs apart from other shows is that we also get to see the human side of the villains in the show— whether it’s the Port Mafia, The Guild or The Rats In The House Of The Head, it’s the relationship bonds and the twisted-but-valiant nature of the bad guys in this show that make it what it is. Much like the protagonists, our antagonists also have their own goals and backstories that will have you conflicted about just who exactly you should root for.
3. The Animation
Bungo Stray Dogs has some amazing animation. But this shouldn’t be surprising given that it’s produced by Studio Bones (the same studio that worked on titles like My Hero Academia, Full Metal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Noragami and countless other series). You can feel the care and attention that goes into every scene, but it’s the action scenes that stand out. Even with the wide variety of abilities and combat styles featured in Bungo Stray Dogs, Studio Bones makes every character’s moment in the spotlight shine. Whether it’s exploding gravity balls, super-human strength, or a beast beneath the moonlight, you’ll look forward to any time a fight breaks out.
But it’s not just the violence that you should be excited about, the everyday interactions between characters are also hilariously animated using cartoonish expressions and interstitials.
4. The Mystery
As previously stated, Bungo Stray Dogs is a supernatural detective story. As such, there are plenty of puzzles and plots woven into each season for viewers to unravel. You’ll find yourself actively deciphering the clues alongside the cast to try and predict what’ll happen next.
The best part of this is that even though you see the story from the perspectives of both the heroes and villains, you never get the full picture. That is, until the two sides inevitably clash and bring out the other’s true potential.
There’s also the still-unresolved mystery surrounding Atsushi and his true purpose in this world (something about a connection to a powerful item that is said to be able to rewrite reality itself).
5. Soundtrack and Voice Acting
The music that accompanies a series can either set the tone or ruin it completely. The various themes used throughout Bungo Stray Dogs do a perfect job of enhancing the scenes they’re paired with. Whether it be intense action scenes or heartbreaking moments, the sheer weight and emotion sewn into the soundtrack will resonate within you, bringing forth tears of both sadness and joy.
The voice acting for the Japenese and English dubs is phenomenal. You can tell that both casts had fun while voicing their roles, especially with how many emotionally-charged moments there are in the anime. The quality of the English dub is even more astounding when you consider how large a roster of characters they need to fill. You’ll no doubt recognize voice actors such as Kaiji Tang, Max Mittelman, Patrick Seitz, Keith Silverstein, Erica Lindbeck, and Matthew Mercer, as well as a host of other VAs.
Well, those are my reasons for why you should watch Bungo Stray Dogs. While I admit that the show won’t be for everyone, I can definitely see this being an amazing series many folks will be able to think back on for a while to come. Also, don’t forget that it originally started as a manga.
To this day, it’s still ongoing, so you never know when the show might get another season. If you fancy giving this show a go, now is the perfect time to catch up.