Bungo Stray Dogs Vol. 5 Review

Title: Bungo Stray Dogs Vol. 5
Author: Kafka Asagiri (Story), Sango Harukawa (Art)
Publisher: Yen Press
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Publication Date: December 19, 2017

The Story

Volume five of Bungo Stray Dogs was split into two stories. The first detailed Kyouka’s first job as part of the Armed Detective Agency. It was a simple errand job where she, along with Atsushi, had to bring some documents to a judge at the courthouse. Despite the task being simple, the security guard was not notified of their arrival and so, she used her ex-mafia infiltration skills to sneak inside the courthouse. She completed the mission in a rather hilarious way which sets her up as a bit of a comic relief character, but more on that later.

The second half of the manga was a three-way war between the Mafia, the Armed Detective Agency and The Guild from North America. Atsushi and Kyouka were ambushed by Kouyou Ozaki from the Port Mafia. She skewered Atsushi and used words and force to try and get Kyouka to return. She seems to be a demon user just like Kyouka and has a bit of a past with her, but it was only eluded to rather than explained.

The Guild ends up attacking while Kyouka and Kouyou are battling each other. The Guild lays waste to them all, but Atushi is rescued by the A.D.A. Kyouka ends up disappearing, but it is clear that an all-out war has been declared. The A.D.A. relocate, but the mafia looks to make the first move… and part of that move is the re-emergence of Akutagawa, which ends our volume.

There was a nice mixture of story and action in this volume. The story seemed to be very straight-forward with not too much depth to it, though. The war was already set up in the last volume and this volume simply cashed in on that setup. I did like how they painted the A.D.A. into a corner by stating that they were out-manned by the Mafia and out-financed by The Guild. Even though they are the main characters of the series, it makes them feel like they are the underdogs. I liked how Dazai said that they would have to use underhanded tactics in order to win this war. They’re like scrappy dogs in a fight and that makes things a bit more interesting.

The Characters

Kyouka got most of the character development here and, by proxy, Kouyou as well. We know that the two have some sort of history between them and that they both have the same skill. It seems to be pretty clear that Kouyou was Kyouka’s mentor at some point seeing how Kouyou stated that Kyouka is the one who can understand her. I liked Kyouka in this chapter a lot as you could sense the pain of not wanting to return to the Mafia. At the same time, she’s afraid of her Demon Snow ability for personal reasons which I will not spoil. I did like the fact that she feigned obedience in order to get a shot at Kyouka, though. That was definitely a nice touch. Her disappearance is a bit odd, but with the emotions that she went through in her battle with Kouyou, it’s not really all that shocking. I’m assuming that she will show up at a key point in this war, but with her mental stability being called into question, it’s not really clear cut if she will show back up as a friend or foe.

There was also a nice little interaction between Kouyou and Dazai. The two know each other very well and even though the interaction was brief, it added another layer to Dazai’s character. I am really liking this approach to building Dazai’s character vicariously through other characters and their own histories. Instead of just having Dazai explain everything, you get to piece his history together bit by bit like a puzzle through the interactions he has with others. That’s a pretty nifty way of building backstories!

Final Thoughts

Volume five of Bungo Stray Dogs had some great action, although it was a little brief. It didn’t need to be excessive because this only the start of a war. I got the sense that this is just a feeling out process between all three sides as they test the waters to see just what each other are capable of. The light-hearted beginning of the volume with Kyouka was a great introduction to who she is as a character so it made me a bit sad when she was written out of the story so quickly… even if it is temporary. She has that personality about her that just makes you want to give her a hug.

Another great entry into the series! I know I’ll be waiting for volume six with baited breath to see just how this war pans out. I wouldn’t be shocked if we don’t see Kyouka return next volume, either. This manga likes to slow burn things a bit so it may be best to let her character simmer and reintroduce her when it makes sense. Then again, I could be completely wrong. That’s the fun part about predictions… it’s always interesting to see if they come true or not!

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This item was provided for review by Yen Press

 

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years!