Bungo Stray Dogs Vol. 4 Review

Title: Bungo Stray Dogs Vol. 4
Author: Kafka Asagiri (Story), Sango Harukawa (Art)
Publisher: Yen Press
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 176
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Publication Date: September 19, 2017

The Story

Volume four of Bungo Stray Dogs wound down the events after Akutagawa’s latest attack. Dazai ended up escaping the mafia, but he’s too lazy to explain how he even did it! Meanwhile, Akutagawa sustained severe damage with multiple muscle and organ wounds. While Akutagawa is in a comatose state, he is kidnapped by a rival gang. Higuchi ends up going alone to save him, but the rest of Black Lizard backs her up.

On the flipside (which happens a lot in the beginning of this volume since we are switching between stories), Kyouka is accepted as part of the Armed Detective Agency while Atsushi is paired up with Kenji to go out and solve a mystery of cars suddenly exploding. We get to learn about Kenji’s personality and abilities, which I will touch on in the character’s section.

Once we get those stories out of the way, we head into the next major arc of the series. A special abilities agency from North America, known as The Guild, were the ones who put the kidnapping order out on Atsushi. Before Kunikida can even think about setting up a meeting to discuss the reasoning, their boss, Fitzgerald conveniently shows up… after parking his helicopter in the middle of the street. He offers to purchase the A.D.A, but the offer is refused Fitzgerald responds by sending a message by making an entire building disappear. This sends the A.D.A. into a frenzy… especially after they learn that Kenji has been kidnapped.

Atsushi and Tanizaki are sent to look for information, but Naomi tags along. Naomi ends up getting kidnapped right in broad daylight. Just when they figure out who did it, the two of them are transported to “Anne’s Room.” Anne’s Room is the creation of Lucy Maud Montgomery, a member of The Guild. She has the ability to create virtual spaces for her and her autonomous doll, Anne, to play in. Her game is simple… get the key and unlock the door to win, but they have to deal with a very, very fast Anne who is playing a game of tag with them. Atsushi is about to give up when a former doctor, who elected to stay behind, lectured Atsushi about not giving up. Thanks to Tanizaki’s illusion ability, they were able to trick Lucy and forced her to release everyone.

The volume closed with the doctor heading back to mafia headquarters and revealing himself as Ougai Mori, the port mafia boss! Ougai claims that everyone… the guild and the armed detection agency, must die.

I enjoyed the bit of filler that we got as it gave us some nice character building for Kenji. While the new arc started off with a fresh enemy, it looks as if this is doing to turn into a three-way struggle. Plus, I’m interested in seeing what Lucy’s fate will be since failure has a zero-tolerance policy in The Guild. The story is really getting interesting and it seems that next volume is going to be very action-oriented!

The Characters

Kenji, as aforementioned, got some development in this volume. We learned of his ability which is just like Shizuo Heiwajima’s ability from Durarara!! In other words, he has insane strength to the point where he can pick up cars and toss them with ease! Unlike Shizuo, though, Kenji’s strength only activates when he’s hungry. The rest of the time, he’s sleeping! Kenji’s attitude is a little too pure, though, but it’s understandable because he is a country bumpkin who doesn’t even understand the concept of money. Still, his personality is a bit infectious and he does add a nice dynamic to the rest of the A.D.A’s team members.

Fitzgerald is your typical stuck up snob of a character who believes that money can buy anything. As we saw in this volume, when money can’t buy him the things he wants, he resorts to underhanded tactics to get people to change their minds. In this case, making entire buildings and people disappear. It is still unknown when his abilities are since the disappearances were, most likely, the work of Lucy. The guy seems a bit generic for a villain though, but we’ll see how it pans out.

Speaking of Lucy, she’s kind of a schizophrenic. Her backstory is similar to Atsushi’s in the fact that she grew up an orphan, but was ridiculed for her power. She creates these dimensions so she can play with her doll Anne, but she also uses those powers to do the work of The Guild. She seemed genuinely terrified of failure and when Atsushi almost trapped her within her own dimension, the thought of being alone scared her enough to get her to release everyone from her dimension. Abandonment issues aside, it makes me wonder if the A.D.A. will take her in, much like they did with Kyouka. It’s apparent that she has nowhere to go now so it’s a possibility. She might end up being a wild card in the upcoming battle!

Higuchi confessed her love for Akutagawa without saying a word! She didn’t go save him just because Akutagawa was her senpai. If that really was the case then her actions and her dialogue in this volume was one heck of a troll job by Asagiri-sensei! I liked how she thought that nobody respected her because she was pretty useless compared to Akutagawa, but in the end, her team came and backed her up anyway. Even though Black Lizard are the enemies here, it’s still nice to see that they, too, are human like anyone else. It was a pretty nice dynamic and was, honestly, my favorite piece of character development in this volume!

Final Thoughts

Volume four of Bungo Stray Dogs is another exceptional entry into the series. While things were a little slow this volume, it was doing its job in getting us to care about the characters while giving us our next big arc. So far, the volume is building up The Guild to be a pretty big threat, but the issue here is that one of their members, Lucy, was defeated already… through trickery and logic rather than brute force. It is an interesting way to defeat an enemy and something that is a bit unconventional by battle manga standards, but that’s what made the outcome refreshing. The only downside is that a member of this all-powerful guild was defeated in the same volume that they were introduced. Doing something like that doesn’t really instill a lot of confidence in taking them as a serious threat.

I’m still snickering over Dazai stating that he’ll explain how he escaped and never did. Even when he was asked, he completely dodged the question! This is why he’s one of my favorite characters! All that aside, Bungo Stray Dogs continues to be a great series and I am really looking forward to volume five!

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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! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.