Title: Bungo Stray Dogs Vol. 9
Author: Kafka Asagiri (Story), Sango Harukawa (Art)
Publisher: Yen Press
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Publication Date: December 11, 2018
Volume nine of Bungo Stray Dogs sees the end of the three-way war between the ADA, The Guild, and the Port Mafia. Akutagawa is set to take on Atsushi when Dazai provides a distraction that allows Atsushi to pass through to Fitzgerald, the Guild’s leader. Fitzgerald reveals his skill as being able to increase his power based on how much money he consumes. It’s a completely one-sided beatdown of Atsushi until Akutagawa joins the battle. Akutagawa actually ends up wanting to fight Atsushi but Fitzgerald’s ego won’t let him play second fiddle in this battle.
Akutagawa and Atsushi end up playing verbal volleyball with each other, complaining about each other’s weaknesses. Oddly enough, their squabble allows them to work together against Fitzgerald. Their combined power causes Fitzgerald to summon and consume his entire net worth but even that alone wasn’t enough to bring down their combined strength. The problem is that the Moby Dick is still plummeting with Kyouka on board as a prisoner. She comes up with an idea to crash the drone that Dazai is in into the Moby Dick to set it off course and crash into the sea rather than the city. This meant sacrificing her life for the sake of saving everyone.
Needless to say, I raged pretty hard until I the inevitable plot device kicked in and revealed she was safe and sound.
Curse you Asagiri-san!
With the war over, the members of The Guild start to go their separate ways with Steinbeck being the only one who wants to try and keep the ranks of the guild in order. Lovecraft wants to just go to sleep while others just begin making plans for their own futures. Meanwhile, Kyouka becomes a full-fledged member of the ADA while Akutagawa escapes punishment from the Mafia for going rogue. As long as he produces results, they don’t have any issues with his actions. While one door closes, another door opens. Dazai mentions that a greater evil is coming and we catch a glimpse of a new character named Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who wants to set a plan in motion for the creation of a better world. Our volume comes to an end with a glimpse of our newest big bad.
I really loved how the manga wrapped up this arc and immediate set the next story in motion. There wasn’t much “story” in this volume aside from that as the main focus was on the action in the final battle of this three-way war. The action was pretty good but I felt that Fitzgerald was overhyped as a final boss. He claims his power can be enhanced by the amount of money he consumes… yet he consumes his entire fortune to power up and isn’t able to do much with that power. Was that an inside joke about his wife Zelda spending too much of his money and he didn’t realize it? Or was it just some moral lesson about money not being able to buy true happiness and power? No matter the reason, Fitzgerald didn’t really come across as an end boss or a leader of a powerful faction like The Guild. I was hoping for something more grandiose than what we received. I guess that would be my only complaint from a story aspect.
As far as character development goes, Atsushi and Akutagawa clearly took center stage here. Their back and forth squabbling during the battle was a clever way to give hints to their character’s psyche. In Atushi’s case, he feels that he’s worthless based on his past. Abused as a child and abandoned in an orphanage where he was abused even more really weighed heavily on him. Despite being an idealist, he doesn’t put much value into his own life and that was simply pissing Akutagawa off, which became the driving force behind him wanting to kill Atsushi.
On the other hand, Akutagawa becomes mush whenever Dazai’s name is brought up because Akutagawa really looks up to him and wants nothing more than to be recognized by Dazai. That was the main reason behind him going rogue because while Akutagawa possesses tremendous power, he feels that he is weak since he was never recognized by someone he looked up to. When Atsushi told him he was positive that Dazai recognized him, it allowed the two of them, albeit temporarily, to work together. You could see a love-hate relationship forming between Atsushi and Akutagawa where the two of them are starting to have respect for each other but at the same time, there’s no way for them to exist as friends at this point and time. While the building blocks of a partnership are there, they are FAR from ever getting to that point as neither truly believes that they can co-exist just yet. Makes you wonder if there will be a time, though…
Fitzgerald got some quick backstory about how his wife, Zelda, is in denial about their daughter’s death, thinking that she’s off studying abroad somewhere. Fitzgerald uses his money to manipulate others but not because he truly enjoys controlling people but he’s trying to use people to find a certain book that is said to be able to perform resurrection. His true desire is to make his wife happy by bringing their daughter back and that’s the sole reason behind his attack on the city and for everything he has done up until now. The love for one’s family (or anything) for that matter can drive people to madness and Fitzgerald is a classic example of that.
And now it’s time for my part of the review where I just rant about Kyouka!
DON’T EVER SCARE ME LIKE THAT AGAIN, ASAGIRI-SAN!
Ever since Kyouka was introduced, you felt sorry for her. All she has ever know was killing. She was used by the mafia for that purpose and exploited to carry out their deeds. When Atsushi broke her free from that, you could tell she was genuinely moved but before anything could come of it, she disappeared, came back, and got captured. Then she decided to throw away her life for the greater good and it would have REALLY sucked if her story ended there because there was no chance for redemption. Thank God for plot devices because that ended up saving her and allowing her to have that redemption story!
Plus… that huge hug between Atsushi and Kyouka! SHIP IT!
I can see the next volume of Bungo Stray Dogs being a bit of a cooldown volume despite the way this one ended. It gives us a nice glimpse into the future but if you want to do pacing correctly, you need to take your foot off the gas here a little and let all of the events from the three-way war sink in. I would think that the next story arc will truly be at the end of the next volume was we get a little bit of lightheartedness first. Then again, that’s just what I think would happen and since I don’t read ahead on scanlation sites (although this series is good enough to tempt me to do so, I still resist), I could be completely wrong and we’ll just go full speed into the next big battle.
Still, there’s a lot of questions raised about Fyodor as well as that book that Fitzgerald was after. Given the fact that Fitzgerald was never truly confirmed to be dead, I’m sure his story is far from finished. With the Guild disbanding, though, if he is still alive, what is he going to accomplish alone? Still, if he’s reintroduced later, it will be rather interesting to see what they do with his character. Until then, we’ll just have to move forward into the next arc which is looked pretty good. Then again, this manga is pretty amazing so I’m sure you could have an entire volume of Atsushi chasing his tiger tail around in a circle and I’d still read the heck out of it.
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This item was provided for review by Yen Press