Sora AmamiyaFumihiko TachikiKengo KawanishiBungou Stray Dogs
Bungou Stray Dogs: Season 2
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2016: B
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2016
Director: Takuya Igarashi
Writer: Yoji Enokido
Original creator: Kafka Asagiri, Sango Harukawa
Actor: Mamoru Miyano, Yuto Uemura, Ami Koshimizu, Asami Seto, Atsushi Ono, Chiaki Omigawa, Fumihiko Tachiki, Haruka Kudou, Hikaru Ueda, Hiroshi Kamiya, Hiroyuki Kagura, Hiroyuki Yoshino, Houchu Ohtsuka, Jun Fukuyama, Junichi Suwabe, Kana Hanazawa, Kaori Nazuka, Kengo Kawanishi, Kensho Ono, Kisho Taniyama, Mina, Mitsuru Miyamoto, Rikiya Koyama, Shiina Natsukawa, Shinichiro Miki, Shunsuke Takeuchi, Sora Amamiya, Sumire Morohoshi, Takahiro Sakurai, Takayuki Sugo, Tarusuke Shingaki, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Wataru Hatano, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Yu Shimamura, Yuu Hayashi
Keywords: Bungou Stray Dogs, anime, superhero, fantasy
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: episodes 13-24
Website category: Anime 2016
Review date: 31 May 2017
bungo stray dogs
The show gets serious. Well, sort of. Up to a point. (This is the one where everyone's a famous dead writer transported to the 21st century and dropped into or near the Japanese underworld, with superpowers inspired by their literary work.) Season 1 was pretty silly, with a light tone and lots of comedy despite being set in a world of torture, gangland killings and children being used as assassins. Season 2 is just as cheerful and is still a lot of fun, but it also has:
(a) a prequel story set entirely within Port Mafia, back in the days when Dazai was one of their most feared operatives. (Put it this way. When he possibly tortures someone for information in ep.17, that's after he's joined the good guys.) This is played pretty straight. It's a strong story, with villains and anti-villains who take their motivations seriously and aren't all going to survive to the present day.
(b) a three-way gang war between the Armed Detective Agency, Port Mafia and the Guild. The Agency are the good guys, if your definition of "good" stretches to people like Rampo, Akiko and Dazai. Port Mafia are gangsters. The Guild are Americans. This is two-thirds of the season and has a more complicated storyline, with lots of combatants and superpowers. The Guild entertained me the most, partly because they provide lots of new, strange characters and partly because they're based on American authors and so I know them better than the Japanese authors of Season 1. I particularly liked:
HOWARD PHILLIPS LOVECRAFT - heh heh. Do not bully Lovecraft. Do not shoot Lovecraft. (He won't mind or indeed possibly even notice, but it'll be a waste of bullets.) Lovecraft is a tall, dozy space case who seems to lack emotions and can usually be mistaken for the harmless weirdo standing at the back.
THE ONE WHO CHALLENGES RAMPO - this made me laugh. Perfect.
This show's cast just keeps growing. Not everyone's going to get a spotlight episode this year. Dazai's practically taken over as protagonist from Atsushi, but that's okay because he's cool. He's a frontline fighter despite what only having an anti-superpower, but he's also nearly as clever as Ranpo. There's less goofball Dazai comedy, though, and I don't think he gets a single suicide attempt this season.
Atsushi is still crucial, though. He's struggling with his crippling self-esteem issues, while trying to do the right thing and also being powerful enough to get sent alone on a life-or-death mission for the season finale. His relationship with Kyouka gives the show its heart, for me, but let's also not forget Lucy Maud Montgomery. Funnier than either of those, though, is him and Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Everyone I've mentioned in this paragraph is broken to the point of near-suicide or mass murder, but Akutagawa combines this with a truly appalling attitude and a deserved reputation for being the most bloodthirsty killer in the show. He made me laugh when he turned up at one point near the end, because it looks as if he's there to save the day. Heh, no. That's not his intention.
Characters who are mostly sidelined this year include Kunikida, Tanizaki and... well, quite a lot of the Armed Detective Agency, actually.
It's pretty good. It also ends with a massive set-up for Season 3, which may or may not happen. (If it doesn't, you can always read the manga or light novels.) Its drama is stronger than Season 1's, with a gang war storyline, less comedy and no filler episodes. I like it. I care about the people I'm meant to care about and I'm happy to see them coming to terms with (some of) their demons. It's a show I enjoyed and would like to see more of.