Title: Bungo Stray Dogs Vol. 12
Author: Kafka Asagiri (Story), Sango Harukawa (Art)
Publisher: Yen Press
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Volume twelve of Bungo Stray Dogs takes a pretty dark turn with this impending battle between The Port Mafia and the Armed Detective Agency. As outlined in the previous volume, both leaders were infected with a virus skill and the only antidote is to have one of them die. Dazai, who can use his ability to cancel the skill, was taken out and is currently recovering after life-saving surgery. This situation plunges the two factions into war.
Ranpo wants to change the rules of the battle and hunt down the skill-user to bring an end to this conflict without a single drop of blood being shed; however, The Mafia was prepared for that and set up an intricate false trail of leads that even stumped Ranpo! The only thing that remained was war. Battles waged on between the two factions until something happened… both Mori and Yukichi rose out of their beds and, as if a silent calling was leading their way, met at an undisclosed location only known to them. A duel was issued where the survivor would end up saving the two factions from killing each other!
While the volume doesn’t end there, it does to a great job setting up its shocking and cliffhanger ending. The story took some pretty dark turns here to which I, also, won’t spoil but it certainly shows just how far Kaska Asagiri will go in order to add impact to a story.
Although this was a volume heavily built up to be a battle, there was more dialogue and strategy being laid out than actual fighting. The fighting was done on multiple fronts so all we received were snippets… which was reminiscent of the way Sui Ishida handles big-stage fights in Tokyo Ghoul… the only difference here is you actually understand what’s going on! Each snippet was impactful and each told their own story while connecting and furthering the overarching plot. Balancing the strategy and discussions in between the action also helped smooth out the pacing of the volume and made it an enjoyable experience.
Kunikida’s mindset was the focal point in the early parts of this volume and they are in direct correlation to the darker tones I mentioned before. It shows how having those experiences impacted him and how he tries to find the resolve to do what is necessary. It makes the walking schedule seem more human and that’s always a good thing!
Mori and Yukichi both received some development here. Before their duel, they take a trip down memory lane so we get to see their origins. It also leads us down a path that explains the origins of the Mafia, ADA, and another faction that we haven’t had much on until now: The Military Police and Special Division. We’ve known about them this entire time but we never really delved into their history and their significance to the story. While nothing major came about it, we have a better understanding of their role.
Kyouka didn’t receive much development but through her battle, it was reaffirmed how much she had changed since leaving the mafia. A certain someone’s words to her during her battle had some kind of effect on her. What that effect is remains to be seen but it was like she was made to realize something.
This volume struck a great balance between building off of the amazing beginning to the story arc from the last volume, providing us action which is the direct result of the conflict set up, and furthered the story all while giving us a history lesson and some character development. This felt like a mix between an info dump and an action volume but it blended together nicely and created a smooth reading experience that kept you engaged!
As the battle wages on, the ending here will certainly set up another path that will steel the course of the battle; however, what that course is remains to be seen. The way the virus skill is depicted, other than paying a visit to Dazai, I cannot imagine how they are going to move forward in a way that will appease both factions. For once, I can’t really take a stab at what will happen. Whatever it is, if it doesn’t involve Dazai or capturing the skill-user, then it’s probably going to be a Deus Ex Machina plot device… I truly hope that’s not the case.
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This item was provided for review by Yen Press