Bungou Stray Dogs is an anime with a well-written plot. Not only this, but it also introduces us to interesting characters that are based on real people! Thus, fans of anime as well as Literature are blessed with amazing treats throughout the show. What is even cooler about the anime is that the characters are given their powers based on the books or attributes in the books their respective authors have written. Watching Bungou Stray Dogs, thus, doesn’t only entertain but is also very informative.
Bungou Stray Dogs is an anime adaptation of the manga written and illustrated by Kafka Asagiri and Sango Harukawa, respectively. It was adapted into an anime by the studio BONES. The story introduces us to the story of Atsushi Nakajima, who was abandoned by the orphanage he used to live at. Hungry and tired, he decides to rob someone but ends up saving a drowning man. Luckily for him, this drowning man, who was drowning willingly, invites him to join the Armed Detective Agency after solving a big mystery behind Atsushi’s true form. Here on, Atsushi meets many people with diverse personalities as well as is caught up in many dangerous situations and conflicts.
Armed Detective Agency
The Armed Detective Agency is the main protagonist among all the organizations in the anime. It consists of members coming from various backgrounds as they all fight crimes, either to seek redemption or just for fun. Regardless of their motive for joining the agency, these characters are the ones that are usually on the “hero side” of the anime. They mainly consist of characters based on real-life Japanese authors.
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Fukuzawa is the president and the one who founded the Armed Detective agency after coming across the first member of the agency. He is usually very serious and treats everyone with respect. The latter attributed to his ability “All Men Are Equal”. His ability helps him control and adjust the powers of those who cannot control them, thus, making everyone equal in the agency.
This is similar to the works and philosophy of the author he is based on. Fukuzawa was a person who was an advocate of human rights. Not only this but he also gave importance to knowledge and learning. He was also a teacher and a journalist who founded Keio University. The character, thus, is not very different from the man he is inspired from.
Perhaps the most famous character in the entire anime is Osamu Dazai. Even the people who haven’t watched the anime seem to know this character because of his unique traits. Interestingly, these unique traits are very similar to the author that whom he is based. The character is based on the post-war Japanese author, Osamu Dazai. Dazai, like the character, was suicidal in real life and has acted on his urges many times, eventually succumbing to them.
The character’s power called “No Longer Human”, which allows him to neutralize other abilities is based on his most famous book of the same name. Interestingly, the main protagonist of the book often is seen talking about the influence of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s book Crime and Punishment. This ties up the connection Dazai has with Dostoyevsky, a character further down on the list.
Next up is the character that started the story and thus, is our main guy, with most of the conflict starting and revolving around his development. Atsushi is a character who initially lacked self-confidence but still strived to understand himself. He seems to have a hero complex and is very empathetic, including towards his enemies. Atsushi is based on the Japanese author with the same name, Nakajima Atsushi.
Nakajima was known to be very self-reflective in his writing style, often coming up with stories based on his own experiences. The character’s power, called “The Tiger Beneath the Moon”, comes from Nakajima’s famous story “The Moon Over the Mountain”. The aforementioned story is said to have been published in many Japanese textbooks for the values and morals incorporated in the story.
Ranpo is probably the most interesting character here because of his ability. He is also the person that influenced Fukuzawa to establish the Armed Detective Agency and is thus, the first member to join the organization. Edogawa Ranpo’s ability, “Super Deduction”, enables him to solve any case. Although later it is found out that he doesn’t have any ability his deduction is purely based on his intelligence. Ranpo is, thus, also known as the greatest detective in the series.
The author he is based on is a Japanese Mystery and Thriller author, Edogawa Ranpo. Interestingly, in the anime, it is shown that the character Edgar Allan Poe considers the character Ranpo as his rival, and the latter often wins his way out of their friendly duels, thanks to his intelligence. However, in real life, the author Edogawa Ranpo was highly influenced by the works of the author Edgar Allan Poe. Even his pen name, Edogawa, was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s name. In turn, the famous character Conan Edogawa’s name was inspired by the Japanese author.
Yosano is another interesting character from Bungou Stray Dogs. She is also one of the earliest members to have joined the Armed Detective Agency. Yosano is one of the boldest characters in the anime and is confident in herself as well as her abilities. She is someone that doesn’t look down on other people but has the habit of threatening those, especially men, who look down on her.
The author she is based on was similar to the character’s demeanor. Pen named, Akiko Yosano, was a feminist as well as a social reformer of her time. Belonging to the post-classical period in Japan, she was deemed to be a controversial person because of the bold feminist themes in her work.
Former member of the Port Mafia, Kyoka Izumi is a character usually seen wearing a poker face. She comes from a background that forced her to obey whatever she was told to do, including killing people. Thanks to the influence of Atsushi, as well as Fukuzawa’s ability to keep her powers in check, she was able to find a family in the Armed Detective Agency.
Kyoka Izumi is a character who is based on a male Japanese author, Kyotaro Izumi. He used Kyoka as his pen name. Izumi Kyoka was not only an author with a distinct writing style but also a major stylist of his time. He was known for using surrealism themes as well as themes of Romanticism in his works.
If the Armed Detective Agency is the main protagonist organization in the story, then Port Mafia is the main antagonist. Port Mafia is a villain organization and the main cause of abundant problems for the Armed Detective Agency. Also known as “Night Wardens”, they usually get away with whatever they do because of a business permit they own. However, Port Mafia also sometimes works as an ally to the Armed Detective Agency when both organizations are threatened by a third party.
Also Read: How Many Chapters Are There In Bungou Stray Dogs Manga?
The current leader of Port Mafia, Ogai Mori, can be called a confusing character. When he first appeared, he sided with Atsushi in escaping Lucy Maud Montgomery’s trap. Not only this, but he appeared to be a helpful man with high intelligence. However, towards the end, we see a more sinister side to him as his real identity is revealed.
Ogai Mori is a character with an interesting power called Vita Sexualis. It allows him to summon Elise, that is capable of protecting him as well as fighting battles using different medical equipment. Ogai Mori is inspired by a famous Japanese Army Surgeon named Rintaro Mori. His daughter, who also turned out to be a writer, wrote stories that later inspired the Yaoi genre.
A villain one can sympathize with in the series is the character Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Akutagawa was someone meant to be feared at the start of the series. However, when confronted by characters like Atsushi and Osamu Dazai, we get more insights into his character. Being one of the powerful characters in the series, he possesses the power called “Rashomon”. Rashomon allows Akutagawa to create a creature out of his overcoat that can stab and slice others as well as protect him.
Another interesting thing about Akutagawa is that he looks up to Osamu Dazai, however, the latter doesn’t really acknowledge Akutagawa a lot. In real-life, the author Osamu Dazai looked up to the author Ryunosuke Akutagawa. In fact, the death of his favorite author caused Dazai to lose his interest in life.
A character that is probably most liked among all of Port Mafia is Chuuya Nakahara. Chuuya Nakahara appeared as a short and feisty character who lived life by doing whatever he wanted. After the influence of his former partner, Osamu Dazai, he joins the organization as an Executive. So far, he is one of the strongest characters when it comes to martial arts and he also takes pride in his ability.
He has the powers to manipulate gravity and is called “Upon the Tainted Sorrow”. His character is inspired by Dadaist poet Chuuya Kashimura. His poems has a major influence in Japan which also gave him the title “Japanese Rimbaud”. Like Osamu Dazai, Chuuya Nakahara too died young.
Ozaki is a character that probably many viewers dislike. However, it is said that if the audience dislikes a villain, then that makes the villain a perfect character. However, good villains also have a tragic past and the same can be said for Koyo Ozaki. Ozaki was the one that “raised” Kyoka Izumi, and they both seem to possess similar powers.
Her past includes her trying to escape Port Mafia, and because of her failed attempt, she appears cynical, especially towards Kyoka. Her ability is called “Golden Demon,” which enables her to summon a creature with a sword that she can control at will. Like Kyoka, she is based on a male Japanese author named Ozaki Tokutaro, with the pen name Ozaki Koyo.
One of Port Mafia’s previous members is Sakunosuke Oda. It is very interesting to find out that Osamu Dazai left his old life behind because of the influence of Sakunosuke Oda. Not only this but Oda’s ability lived up to its name “Flawless” until his last moments. It allowed him to predict the next 5-6 seconds of the future. He is a character who wasn’t really fit to be in Port Mafia, not because he lacked skills but because his philosophy was something that fit well with the ideals of the Armed Detective Agency.
The real-life author, Sakunosuke Oda, was friends with the authors Osamu Dazai and Ango Sakaguchi. As shown in the anime, they used to meet at bars to hang out. Although appearing for only 3 episodes, he made a major impact on the audience.
Another ex-member of the Port Mafia is Ango Sakaguchi. Ango was good friends with Oda and Dazai, however, he also was a man full of secrets. It is revealed that Ango Sakaguchi is a traitor but what is more hurtful was that he left Oda to die. His ability is called “Discourse on Decadence” and it allows him to read memories after coming in contact with objects.
As the name suggests, the author Ango Sakaguchi was one of the major influencers of the Decadence age in Japan, along with his author friends Oda Sakaguchi and Osamu Dazai. His character design is very similar to the appearance of the author he is inspired from.
The antagonist organization of the second season is called The Guild. This organization consists of characters based on famous American Authors. The Guild is more or less very similar to Port Mafia, however, they are an organization based in North America.
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
The Guild is an organization run by Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. He appears to be a confident man when making deals because of his trust in his superpowers. His ability known as “The Great Fitzgerald” is one of the coolest abilities in the anime. It allows him to become stronger depending on the amount of money he spent.
This ability is based on one of the famous works of the author his character is inspired from. F. Scott Fitzgerald was an American author belonging to the “Lost Generation”. He was known for using flamboyant and hedonistic themes in his works. “The Great Gatsby” is his most famous work.
Louisa May Alcott
Fitzgerald’s loyal teammate is the character Louisa May Alcott. She appears to be a very timid character, but her intelligence and thinking often help her teammates out of danger, thus, she is considered to be the team’s strategist. The character possesses the power called “Little Women,” which is one of the most prized powers in the guild according to Fitzgerald. She can make time pass at 1/8000th speed when she sits alone in a room.
This power is very useful in intense battles. Louisa May Alcott is based on the American Feminist writer of the same name. Her most famous book is called “Little Women” which has been one of the most influential texts in the study of early feminism.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft
The most peculiar character from The Guild is Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Lovecraft can be similar to the character Edgar Allan Poe, however, he leans more towards the lethargic side. Howard Lovecraft can be seen complaining most of the time because he hates doing work and wishes to just get done with the task and go back home. His character also exhibits many odd behaviors and is most anxious.
Although Lovecraft isn’t a very enthusiastic fighter, his ability is cool. It allows him to change a part or all of his body into a monster. Judging by the tentacles his monster form possesses, we can derive that this is inspired by the author, H. P. Lovecraft’s famous work “The Call of Cthulhu”. Interestingly enough, his “ability” isn’t really an ability since Osamu Dazai could not nullify it.
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Another female character with an interesting power from The Guild is Lucy Maud Montgomery. Her character was perhaps intriguing when we were first introduced to her. Among all the guild members, she was the first one to make her move to capture not only members of the Armed Detective Agency but also a member of the Port Mafia.
Lucy’s power is called “Anne of Abyssal Red”. This power is inspired by the series “Anne of Green Gables” written by the Canadian author L. M. Montgomery. It allows her to create an alternate-surreal place where she transports those who she kidnaps. The ones who are kidnapped find it very difficult to escape this place unless they are very strategic. Lucy’s character, however, undergoes change as she is influenced by Atsushi’s philosophies.
Hawthorne is a character that is more or less similar to Doppo Kunikida, however, Nathaniel is more strict when it comes to ethics, especially religious ethics. The character’s power is very similar to the themes put out by the author Nathaniel Hawthorne in his famous book “The Scarlet Letter”.
His powers also called “The Scarlet Letter” allows him to turn his blood into whips covered in holy words. With this, he can attack as well as defend himself in battles. Although Nathaniel first appeared to be a member of the Guild, after his defeat from Akutagawa, he joined Dostoyevsky as an assassin.
Rats In The House Of The Dead
Finally, we come to the most interesting organization led by an equally interesting character, Rats in the House of the Dead. This is an underground organization that is the ultimate enemy of both, the Armed Detective Agency as well as Port Mafia. This organization consists of many characters inspired by Russian Authors. The aforementioned character, Nathaniel Hawthorne, ends up being affiliated with this organization.
The Rats in the House organization is led by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Fyodor appeared as a mysterious character. His demeanor always stays calm and confident even in the most dangerous situations. He is often seen talking about how being sinful is an inherent nature of man, a philosophy which is seen in the book from which his powers are inspired. “Crime and Punishment” is a book written by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Interestingly, the character Dazai has claimed to have met Dostoyevsky only once. Not only this but surprisingly, the latter is considered to be a great threat to the former. In real-life, both Osamu Dazai and Fyodor Dostoyevsky used Existential themes in their works. As mentioned above, Dazai’s “No Longer Human” and Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” are somewhat tied together. Thus, giving the characters intertwining pasts.
Although the members of the Rats in the House of the Dead are very peculiar, the character Ivan Goncharov is the weirdest one among them. Interestingly, he asked Fyodor to “remove” his unhappiness through surgery. As a result, he is seen wearing a bandage around his head and always smiling. Even in intense battles, he is capable of keeping his calm demeanour.
He is inspired by another famous Russian author of the same name. The author, Ivan Goncharov’s work “The Precipice” inspired the powers of this character. He can control and manipulate the Earth element, which allows him to create huge monsters out of rocks.
Pushin is a character that doesn’t really seem like a threat, however, he is someone that caused both Port Mafia and the Armed Detective Agency to run around everywhere in search of him. His ability, called A Feast in Time of Plague, enables him to pass on a virus in a person’s body with help of a third person. Not only this but when passed to two people at the same time, the only other way to survive is to have the two people battle in a deathmatch.
Alexander Pushkin is named after the greatest Russian poet Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin. He is also known as the founder of modern Russian Literature. Along with being a poet, he was also a playwright. His famous play “A Feast in Time of Plague” inspired the ability of the character.
Also Read: Osamu Dazai from Bungou Stray Dogs: Character Analysis and Facts