“Kuro no Jidai” (黒の時代)
Bungo Stray Dogs was one of my favourite anime’s so far this year, the first season was actually split into two (hence I’ll be numbering episode 1/13 , 2/14 etc) and with the beginning of the second season we continue where we left off.
Just not quite.
I have read the Manga up to date but I never read the light novels and the opening of season two is apparently one of the light novels. The story jumps straight into Dazai’s past in the Port Mafia and I can only guess that it’ll tell us why he left.
With the jump into Dazai’s past comes new characters. Whilst we get a small moment with both Mori and Hirotsu the two new characters of Sakaguchi Ango and Oda Sakunosuke take centre stage, even moreso then Dazai himself.
I enjoyed the episode immensely. Whilst I know a lot of people didn’t like the balance of the comedy to seriousness of the first season and I will agree that some things like the flashback to Atsushi’s past and being told how many people that Kyouka had killed was extremely off putting, especially as we were also being told we should forgive her, I loved the first season. The fact that this episode seemed to fix the balance between fun and drama whilst keep the darker undertone even during comedic moments and took us away from some of the repetitiveness of the first season just made this episode so much more better then anything that came before it.
Though I will admit that whenever Rampo isn’t involved my heart stops as that character gives me life.
Dazai instantly was one of my favourite characters in the first season and one reason is that there is so much more to him then meets the eye. Here we see him in full swing WITHOUT having to play the nice guy act. The way he talks is actually quite unnerving as even when he’s doing something silly you can see his mind working over time. I’ve always thought that Dazai doesn’t come across as a particularly pleasant person and as Mori even says that he can see Dazai killing him in the future to take his place at the top of the Port Mafia you can see that actually being the good guy might not be something easy for Dazai. Some of the scenes, watching him stand in the line of fire or just next to a hit squad killing people worked so well because he spent the whole of the first season playing the clown. Seeing where he came from and what he used to do will, for me, make watching the first season again afterwards awkward.
I love the developing picture of Dazai we are getting and there is so much hidden in that character that I never get bored of learning about him. As we leave episode 1 with him finding out that one of his friends, Ando, is possibly behind the group known as Mimic that is taking on the Port Mafia, we also leave it with him still firmly believing in the Mafia itself. I’m guessing Ando’s story is possibly not going to be the one that turns him from the Mafia but maybe, especially after learning a little about Oda the writer in reality, it’ll be the death of Oda.
Ahenshihael on Reddit gave a real nice run down on the two new authors and one thing that stuck out for me in the wonderful write up is that Oda and Dazai were real life friends and after Oda died Dazai was disheartened. I can see real life becoming the blueprint for Dazai’s change of heart especially as Oda himself is quite a gentle character, strange for someone in the Port Mafia, but his unwillingness to kill yet being good at his job of defusing situations and sorting out problems makes him a sweet character. Unfortunately it makes him a great target as this episode showed, he found the gun in Ando’s apartment and rather then kill the two people who had blocked him in a alleyway he would have gone down to them. I really like the character of Oda.
So the first episode was actually very different but so damn cool!
I also loved the lack of opening credits, how simplistic it made everything and how it played into the fact we’re learning about the Port Mafia.
As I said I’m now up to date with the Manga so know how the story goes but there is a bit deep inside of me that would be happy if this story did drag on for the whole second season. I know it won’t but I find the change of atmosphere and focus refreshing and fun.
My biggest gripe with the Stray Dogs story so far is that they try to tell me to feel sorry for people who I don’t want to feel sorry for, to forgive those who shouldn’t be forgiven and to understand people who don’t even want to understand themselves. My favourite characters and stories revolved around people who didn’t have a identity crisis every three seconds, Atsushi as much as I loved him overcame his inadequacies and self hatred EVERY SINGLE EPISODE. It was like a new beginning every episode with him because whatever he’d decided the episode before he’d forgotten by the next episode and was back to cowering about his past. This episode was a breath of fresh air!