Title: Bungo Stray Dogs Vol. 10 Author: Kafka Asagiri (Story), Sango Harukawa (Art) Publisher: Yen Press Language: English Format: Paperback Pages: 192 Genre: Sci-Fi, Action Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Volume ten of Bungo Stray Dogs acts as a transitional volume in the wake of the war with The Guild. We are taken on four separate adventures with the first being Atsushi taking Ranpo’s place on a murder mystery. This serves as a nice vehicle for some of Atsushi’s backstory as the man who died is known as The Director, the person who oversaw the orphanage that Atsushi used to live in… and the man who tortured Atsushi to no end while he was there. Dazai ends up summoning an informant for Atsushi to talk to and it ends up being Akutagawa! Atsushi learns of the truth behind The Director’s death but still has an internal struggle of how he should feel about it.
In the second scenario, Kunikida is on one of his precious “cannot break no matter what” schedules. Dazai tries to tell him that there’s a new case but Kunikida refuses because he would lose his schedule if he were to take it. When Kunikida makes it to the train station, he recalls Dazai’s words about a bomber planning to give a briefcase to a passerby. Kunikida breaks his schedule to thwart the bomber’s attempt at destroying the train but it ends up being a trap carefully laid for him. The culprit is someone Kunikida knows from a prior arrest he made. I won’t spoil the ending but I will say I was really disappointed in it because it just smelled like they pulled a plot device out of thin air to resolve the issue. I really don’t like Deus Ex Machina type stuff.
The third scenario has the ADA recover the device that controlled the Moby Dick during the way with The Guild. It’s discovered that the device was hacked so Kunikida turns his attention a man named Katai… a former member of the ADA who can control any electronic device with super fast precision and timing…. But only if he’s under his futon. He can’t use his skills because he’s lovesick so Atsushi and Kunikida end up looking for the girl to deliver a love letter to her. Let’s just say they get intertwined with the port mafia and the end result was pretty hilarious!
Finally, the fourth scenario looks to be the beginning of a brand-new major story arc. The Port Mafia captured a man named Dostoyevsky. He is the one who was responsible for hacking the Moby Dick’s control device. One of the Mafia’s leaders, Ace, volunteers to question him. Ace’s power turns the life force of men under his command into jewels. He wants to add Dostoyevsky to his collection of servants but Dostoyevsky has other plans. I won’t reveal how but just know that he ended up outsmarting Ace and looks to destroy both the mafia and the ADA!
I liked the little side stories but this main arc feels like we just finished a story similar to this… maybe because we did. The only difference is that it’s one man versus an entire group. Makes me wonder if we’re going to see another ADA/Mafia truce in order to take down, yet another, common enemy. I’m all for repeating the same premise for a story but to do it back-to-back like this is a little excessive. Maybe I’m overthinking it and this is going to be completely different but as of now, it doesn’t look to be that way.
The Director really abused the hell out of him while he was in the orphanage but he did out of tough love. Despite his motives on the surface, deep down he wanted to teach Atsushi how to survive in a world that might reject him. He needed the strength to depend on himself in case no others would accept him. That was the lesson he tried to teach but Atsushi couldn’t really see that. He had grown to hate The Director more than anything else in life. Still, after his death, I don’t think Atsushi still fully understood what his true intentions were by torturing him. I mean, it’s not hard to sympathize with Atsushi when he was forced to have a nail driven through his foot into the floor just for taking some candy from the trash…
We were introduced to two new characters although I’m not sure if they will become permanent. First was a girl named Aya who was given the briefcase that contained the bomb. Even though she had no idea what she was doing, she had a strong sense of justice and wanted to pursue the bomber, much to Kunikida’s chagrin. She seemed more like a plot device more than a new character but one could hope to see if she plays a role later on down the line.
One person who might end up doing so is Katai. He has a pretty cool skill and being a former ADA member, it’s a possibility we may call upon his services again in the future. If so, maybe he’ll rejoin the ADA unless that is an impossibility thanks to something that happened in the past that they have not yet talked about. I know I found his ability pretty interesting and I could see how it would benefit the ADA greatly should he rejoin. Guess we’ll have to wait and see but it was kind of sad to know that he was lovestruck and wanted to confess knowing full well that he would be rejected. He’s fully aware that he’s not meant for love but still, he tries. That’s kind of heartbreaking.
Not sure how I feel about the new “big bad” Dostoyevsky yet. His power seems really cool but it seems like it could be manipulated quite easily. I don’t know how he intends on taking down the Port Mafia and the ADA. Even if he has information on all of their skills, it’s not a guarantee that he will win. The only interesting facet of this is that he has information on the Mafia boss’ skill which has been kept confidential. This is a very easy set up for an info dump and some backstory on him so I’ll be looking forward to when that happens.
All in all, this was a pretty docile volume of Bungo Stray Dogs which was to be expected. Coming off of a major arc, we needed to have a cooldown period and that is exactly what we received here with Volume 10. We got some pretty nice side stories, some of which were pretty hilarious, we got some backstory on our main character, and we set up a new main villain and the beginning of a new major arc. Everything that could possibly want in a transitional volume was here and it was delivered perfectly!
Looking forward to where this new arc takes us. I just hope it’s not just a copy/paste of the ADA vs Mafia vs Guild story. I hope and pray for a unique twist on this one!