Title: Bungo Stray Dogs Vol. 7
Author: Kafka Asagiri (Story), Sango Harukawa (Art)
Publisher: Yen Press
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Volume seven of Bungo Stray Dogs continues the three-way war between The Guild, the Armed Detective Agency, and the Port Mafia with the main focus being on The Guild themselves. Before we get to any of that, the previous volume left us on a cliffhanger where the Mafia confronted Dazai and asked him to rejoin their ranks. As I predicted, Dazai immediately shot down the offer from them.
However, in his discussion with them, he learns that the Mafia has unleashed Kyuusaku Yumeno (also known as Q) from his cell. This move shows how desperate the Mafia is to end this war once and for all. Q’s power is a bit contrived but if you manage to harm him in any way, shape or form, he can place a hand-shaped bruise on your body. As long as that bruise is there, he can tear the head of a voodoo doll in half and activate a curse which causes you to become mind controlled and go into a berserker rage.
Q is the mysterious person the Atsushi encountered at the end of the last volume and he is easily overtaken by Q’s curse. Dazai shows up and uses his No Longer Human skill to destroy the doll, this freeing Atsushi’s mind and causing Q to go on the run. Things take an unexpected turn when Q is captured by Steinbeck of The Guild. He tangles Q up in his vines and uses those vines to connect Q’s skill with over half of the city’s population!
In addition, Francis Key Scott Fitzgerald, leader of The Guild, confronts Atsushi after he is sent on a mission to find Kyouka. When he’s attacked, Kyouka appears and saves him! Kyouka called the police and looked to use them as a shield in order to protect Atsushi from The Guild, but Fitzgerald tracks them down after escaping and ends up kidnapping Atsushi anyway. Kyouka ends up getting arrested and so it ends my happy reunion with my favorite character.
It appears that The Guild is searching for a book and that Atsushi is the key to finding it. Fitzgerald has possession of Q’s doll and tears its head off causing the entire city to plunge into complete and total chaos! Atsushi escapes with the assistance of Lucy’s Anne’s Room ability and makes it to Dazai who cancels the curse once again. It’s then and there that our volume ends with Atsushi proposing that in order to combat The Guild, that the ADA joins forces with the Mafia.
WOW! There was just SO MUCH going on in this volume that I can’t believe they were able to cram all of that into 192 pages. The overarching story of this volume is The Guild’s true intentions and the lengths they are going to achieve their goal but we had some character development, the re-emergence of Kyouka (and her subsequent disappearance again), the introduction of Q, reintroductions of Lovecraft, Steinbeck, and Lucy… the beginnings of a possible partnership between the Mafia and the ADA, curses going off everywhere… this was just one great big ball of excitement and it was handled extremely well!
While there was a lot to take in, it was presented neatly and cleanly so that you had time to digest what was going on before moving to the next plot point. This could have easily been a huge mess but Asagiri and Harukawa did an amazing job keeping everything concise and easy-to-follow!
Like in most series with a growing protagonist, we have Atsushi in the development stage where he’s beginning to reflect on who he is and what he wants to become capable of. These are the moments where the imminent big turn in development or the next level of power is achieved. We saw a hint of that when he gave into the inner tiger in his psyche and he transformed into a full-fledged tiger to survive the fall after escaping from the Moby Dick flying base that The Guild had conjured. Despite “giving in” to the tiger, he easily transformed back into human form meaning that this inner tiger isn’t as malicious as, let’s say, the nine-tailed fox in the beginning of Naruto.
I think it was the fact that on the verge of giving up, Atsushi thanked the tiger for everything up until that point. Maybe those words swayed the tiger to not fully consume Atsushi? This is probably the catalyst that may allow him to continue to grow his powers. Time will tell on that one, but some definite seeds were planted in this regard.
Seriously, though… I’ve waited a couple of volumes to see her return to see how she developed and she was around for about the length of a cup of coffee then ends up getting arrests, disappearing into the abyss once again.
I was also hoping that she had some loftier reason for disappearing but apparently, she had simply just wandered the back streets and alleys that she used to call home. She used that time for self-reflection and came to the conclusion that the Armed Detective Agency is where she belonged. Despite this, her instinct to kill hasn’t been kept in check and when one of the officers she called recognized that she was wanted, she had zero hesitation in attempting to kill him on the spot. Atsushi interjected and stopped her from going any further but that led to his capture by Fitzgerald and Kyouka’s subsequent arrest.
We didn’t even have time to savor her return or for Atsushi to swear that he will protect her and make her feel human again and all of those other contrived scenarios that exist inside my head and are not proven or canon or confirmed or anything!
Q’s a little ball of excitement, isn’t he? There are some people who just want to watch the world burn and Q is one of them! Being only 13, it’s only natural that he wants to have fun and play all the time. By playing, I mean cursing people and watching them kill and maim others. My only complaint is that they built Q up to be this unstoppable monster… the secret weapon of the Mafia that was so terrible that they had to keep him locked up in a cell out of fear for their own safety… and he gets beaten by a tree.
I understand Steinbeck’s power is pretty strong but with the buildup they gave Q, I wouldn’t expect anyone to hold a candle to him in terms of power with the way he was built up. I would say that is the only letdown in this whole volume but on the flipside, it showed us just how big of a threat The Guild is.
Normally, I do enjoy a volume of Bungo Stray Dogs but this time around, I ENJOYED a volume of Bungo Stray Dogs. We finally learned why The Guild is operating in Japan but it opens up more questions about the book that they are after. The thought of a partnership between the ADA and the Mafia is kind of baffling but I can actually see a temporary cease-fire in order to expel The Guild. Whatever the case will be, it’s pretty obvious that Dazai is going to be that bridge between the two factions and them coming together is going to rest squarely on his shoulders.
Then again, it could be a quick and simple denial in the same fashion that Dazai refused to rejoin the Mafia. Or… it would lead to the two factions joining together but the payment for doing so would be for Dazai to rejoin the Mafia against his will, simply for the greater good. There are a lot of interesting directions that this could go in. One of the more interesting pieces is Lucy. She made a promise to Atsushi that he would come back and get her out of Anne’s Room. If and when he does that, does she become the newest member of the ADA like Kyouka? Will something happen to her before any of that happens?
So many questions! This is what makes Bungo Stray Dogs so great! The ability to offer so many tantalizing scenarios and to let you predict what will happen. My only regret is having to wait for volume eight to roll around!
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This item was provided for review by Yen Press