Title: Bungo Stray Dogs Vol. 15 Author: Kafka Asagiri (Story), Sango Harukawa (Art) Publisher: Yen Press Language: English Format: Paperback Pages: 192 Genre: Sci-Fi, Action Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Volume fifteen of Bungo Stray Dogs details the attempted escape of the Armed Detective Agency after they were framed for a murderous crime… a scheme employed by Dostoyevsky. Their escape plans are cut off when the military calls in The Hunting Dogs, an elite squad of five members, to dispatch them; however, only four of the members are revealed, stating that the fifth member is a master of disguise and may already be on the move.
From here, it is simply the escape plan put in the motion and a game of chess between the A.D.A. and The Hunting Dogs with some unexpected and shocking twists along the way that I won’t spoil.
The back half of the manga switches gears a bit to Kyouka and Atsushi as they try to find their own path to escape. In the process, they know that the agency has been framed and they take it upon themselves to find help to clear their name. Part of that help is paying a visit to Fitzgerald in order to borrow The Eyes of God; however, he’s attacked by an assassin hired by Dostoyevsky. Kyouka and Atsushi end up saving the day and learn of Dostoyevsky’s location; however, getting to him is going to be impossible… or so they think.
There is an agency member already in the same compound as Dostoyevsky. How that agency member wants to execute his plan remains a mystery!
The biggest development here comes with the introduction of four brand-new characters with The Hunting Dogs faction.
First, we have Ouchi Fukuchi who is the leader of The Hunting Dogs. I would describe him as being a composed sadist. He seems very in control but he has a wild side to his personality. In addition, he’s pretty blunt and unfiltered with his language… especially when he talked about just being able to stand back and pass gas while others do the work. Obviously crude but the design of an aristocrat. Interesting duality to his character!
Next, we have Saigiku Jouno. He would be Ranpo if Ranpo had an actual skill. Saigiku does have extra abilities than Ranpo, though. In addition to being able to analyze everything, he has heightened senses. He can feel people’s emotions, sense their heartbeats, etc. He even has the ability to hear his target’s secrets. There’s nothing more powerful to pair up with a skill of deduction than the ability to confirm your suspicions!
Next up is Tetchou Suehiro. Basically… he’s a highly-skilled sword user. His sword can bend and extend unfathomable lengths allowing him to cut anything from any distance. Of course, being a swordsman, he carries with him the same kind of stereotypical attitude found in almost any manga.
Lastly, we have Teruko Ookura. This is the most generic character of the bunch. If you’ve seen one small sadistic girl who wants to rip things limb from limb but also get infatuated over someone of higher authority than her than you already know what to expect from Teruko. Her archetype is overused way too much but still, she adds some fun to the group.
Another amazing edition of Bungo Stray Dogs! The action kept you turning the pages, making you wonder what will happen next. The Hunting Dogs are a very formidable force but I do take issue with them. It seems as if groups don’t really get any foreshadowing in this series. Most groups and factions are abruptly introduced and they’re all overpowered until our main characters just find a way to beat them. Some information about calling them in… even if it was something along the lines of “It looks as if we need to resort to using ‘them’ would have sufficed.
I’m all for dramatic entrances but when a group like this is suddenly dropped into our laps, it just feels like a deus ex machina plot device more than an actual story plot. Some build-up to their arrival, why they were called in, etc. would have done wonders for their introduction. Still, this just seems like another ‘impossible test’ for the ADA that they will eventually overcome. I will admit, though, their backs are to the wall more than ever this time and that’s what is making this story arc interesting.
It almost feels like a final boss storyline and being fifteen volumes in, you have to wonder how much longer this series intends to keep going? Hopefully, for a while longer because each volume just seems to get better and better as the story progresses! Loved this one and can’t wait for the next!