Welcome to today’s Anime Rant, a series review for the third season of Bungou Stray Dogs!
The art style is more stylized than realistic, with unusual but visually pleasing elements like the shapes of characters’ pupils and the color gradients for their eyes. For comical lines and moments, the way it switches to a lower quality art style is intentional, and I think it’s kind of cute. As for character designs, they are some of my favorite in all anime of the last five years or so.
Sometimes the art is lower quality compared to other times. For example, there are a lot of shots where characters in the background are drawn faceless. Lower quality shots and scenes occur more frequently in episodes 5-12 than in the first 4. I can forgive that, though. The backgrounds, scenery, anime aesthetics, and special effects were great, realistic, and detailed. The city scapes of Yokohama, the ocean, and surrounding areas are dazzling in episodes 2 and 3. I love the visuals for Randou’s ability in episode 3, and the stained glass hallway scene at the end of that episode was spectacular. I’ll give you more examples, too.
Look at the beautiful sunset in the park toward the end of ep 6, or in ep 11 when Atsushi and Kunikida are talking. I could spend hours taking screenshots of every new setting, especially city views, or suburban areas like near Katai’s home in ep 5. All the greenery is always wonderful. The cafe where Dazai discovers Fyodor in ep 12 looks so pleasant. So does Uzumaki, the coffee shop frequented by the Detective Agency. I can’t stop taking screenshots of the views. The the city at night lit up with red and purple spectrum colors looks fabulous at the start of ep 8. Everything is gorgeous in episode 11– even the destroyed manor where Fukuzawa and Mori fought.
I love how the abilities of Francis and Louisa look in episode 7. In the tense fourth episode, the creative use of lighting and shading, plus changing colors and silhouettes, is most effective for establishing the right moods. In general, I like the camera angles and shots used. It’s beautiful when there are explosions of power, or when everything lights up as a character activates their power. The colors for scenes like that are stunning.
The fight scenes in the early episodes of the season were fantastic in terms of colors, lighting, smooth movement, and good choreography. The same is true for the action sequences in episodes 8-12. My favorite battles were: Hirotsu vs. Chuuya in episode 1; Randou vs. Dazai and Chuuya in episode 3; Akutagawa vs. Nathaniel in episode 8; Tanezaki fighting the Port Mafia in episode 9; Fukuzawa vs. Mori in episode 11; and all the actions scenes in episode 12. They each look extremely well done to me.
(Note: I’m not a visually oriented person, nor do I have experience judging the quality or detail of animation. Take my opinion on visuals with a grain of salt. Or maybe a whole salt-shaker.)
The seiyuu cast for BSD 3 and their performances are just as amazing as they were in season 2. Taniyama Kishou is the seiyuu for Nakahara Chuuya. His voice-acting is amazing, with him being very in-character, and having an unusual capacity for yelling. Take, for example, his yells when he loses to Dazai at an arcade game (ep 2). Dazai, btw, is voiced by the famous and Miyano Mamoru. It’s pretty amazing that he can make his voice pass for that of a 15- or 16-year-old. But I preferred his performances as young adult Dazai (22 or 23 years old). He always gives so much color and life to his roles, and can expertly control the tones and emotions in his voice.
Here are a few more of the seiyuu that impressed me most. Mori Ogai’s VA, Miyamoto Mitsuru, mixes comedic and menacing airs into his acting with equal talent. He has a deep, distinctive voice which I find sexy. Hosoya Yoshimasu plays Kunikida Doppo, and does a splendid job as usual with his varied roles. I personally really like the sound of Atsushi’s voice, done by Uemura Yuuto. One of top 10 favorite male seiyuu, Ishida Akira, voices Fyodor. Ueda Hikaru does surprisingly well playing Louisa. The famous and widely respected seiyuu and singer, Hanazawa Kana, plays Lucy. I can’t begin to describe her talent.
Moving onto other audio components, sound effects in BSD 3 are good, and the music makes me want to buy the OST ASAP. Anytime I stop to notice the music playing, I love it. An example is in ep 1, where at 07:31 there is a stirring, beautiful song of battle. The music you can hear at and after 08:45 in ep 2 is a melody of awe, mystery and marvel. In ep 3, at 02:21 is a jazz-like track that fits perfectly with the weird chaos of Randou’s battle with Chuuya and Dazai. The short piece starting at 20:41 in ep 4 is quiet but eerie, much like Fyodor himself. In episode 6, we hear a light-hearted comedic piece beginning at 02:35. A few more examples are below.
At 20:07 in episode 7, a wonderful piece of music starts with lively violin and/or cello for when Francis bursts into the courtroom. There is a long, varied track playing in the background from 06:55 to 09:27 in episode 8; it sounds awesome and fits perfectly with the changing scenes. There is an emotional piece with violin/cello appearing in ep 9 at 07:08, for when a child dies after a gun backfires. From 20:35 to 21:57 in episode 11, a piece plays that starts quiet and turns intense. It’s got a little metal in it. In episode 12, the shows uses “Waltz of The Flowers,” a classical piece from The Nutracker, composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
There is a nice insert song around 6 minutes into the last episode, but so far I haven’t found the name of it or who does it. Speaking of songs, though, let’s review the OP and ED. “Setsuna no Ai” by GRANRODEO is the opening song; it’s memorable and cool. But I think the ED, “Lily” by Luck Life, is the better song. It’s so inspiring. The visuals for both the songs are great as well.
The characters in Bungou Stray Dogs are noteworthy to say the least. Considering how many characters there are, they are all stunningly well developed. Most have interesting or entertaining character concepts, and are excellently written. The details put into each character are surprising. For example, in episode 8, we learned about Nathaniel and what’s been happening to him. However, some other characters didn’t get the time or exploration I was hoping for, such as Kunikida and the doctor, Akiko Yosano. Still, overall, the characters aspect was top-notch.
Now, let’s mention some different highlights for the characters. The dynamic between Chuuya and Dazai in episodes 1-3 are highly entertaining, and their dialogue simple but well written. In episode 6, we learn about Atsushi’s recently deceased father figure from the orphanage, and Atsushi’s feelings about it. Also, the truth about Demon Snow and the death of Kyouka’s parents was revealed, making Kyouka reflect on many things. All of that was in episode 6.
There was a little bit of character development for Lucy in episodes 5 and 6. I don’t appreciate the way Lucy was set up as Kyouka’s rival for Atsushi’s love interest, but that’s a minor tick. Episode 7 focused on Francis and Louisa, and made me realize I liked them a lot– Louisa especially. She’s freakin’ adorable. I wish we’d seen more of her. In addition, there’s a great scene where Kyouka and Akutagawa face off in episode 10. It shows how much Kyouka has grown as a character. Baskstory and character information is given for Mori and Fukuzawa in ep 11. Fukuzawa is the more admirable and virtuous one, but Mori is more fascinating to me.
Atsushi and Akutagawa, both very interesting characters imo, got some character development and interactions in episodes 11 and 12. The two of them loathe each other, but team because they’re trying to save the lives of their beloved bosses. Akutagawa aspires to be the best gifted of all, but despite being so strong and often merciless, he’s slightly fragile, too. He relies on the approval of others, and he especially wants to impress Dazai. Atsushi is still stuck in the way he was raised, for better or worse. He doesn’t feel like he has the right to live unless he’s helping to save other people.
Next we’ll look at three particular characters. A series needs a good villain, and BSD 3 has just that. Fyodor is impressive, creepy, and mysterious. From ep 4, you get a general understanding of his personality and the way he works (using mind games, memory, and intellect). We still aren’t certain what Fyodor’s ability is, but it likely has to do with blood manipulation. The reasons for his actions are to bring “the freedom of death” to people in criminal organizations like the Port Mafia. But his aspirations don’t stop there. He also wants to acquire the legendary book that can alter reality. With that, he would made a world free of crime and sin.
Dazai is a fascinating character. He started working for the Port Mafia at and became the group’s youngest ever senior executive. Even at fifteen, he was fascinated with death, dealing with suicidal ideation and fantasies of painless suicide. He got a thrill at first from killing others, as we saw in ep 2. After joining the Port Mafia, Dazai become more interested in living, as evidenced in ep 3 (7 years before the present). Of course, after the death of Oda (4 years before the present), he quit the Port Mafia and joined the detective Agency. From then on, Dazai didn’t kill people. But I wish we knew his whole story and all of what he was thinking at each stage.
I’m intrigued by the gods and godlike beings in fiction. So it was satisfying to learn so much about Chuuya– how he ended up joining the port mafia, for one thing– but mostly about how he’s a god incarnate. He says he is Arahabaki, a god of fire, who was pulled from another world by Randou. This god has no personality or will, but is like a natural disaster, according to Chuuya. So why does he also exist with a human boy’s form? Chuuya-kun certainly has personality and will. Randou suggests it’s because Chuuya is a human vessel chosen to keep Arahabaki under control. The full extent of his divine abilities is unknown.
The Story category includes structure, pacing, originality, and personal interest level. It also encompasses themes, world-building, and series-specific elements such as comedy, sexuality, mystery, or action. As far as for BSD is concerned, world-building is replaced by ability-building, or inventing fairly original abilities and having the characters use them in new and creative ways and combinations. That’s one metric by which I judge the story; and just as in past seasons, BSD 3 lived up to my expectations and went beyond. For series-specific elements, this show is adept at mixing just enough light comedy into the seriousness.
As with last season, a third of the series is dedicated to stories in the past. First is 7 years ago, eps 1-3. Then, ep 4 takes place an unknown amount of time ago, when Fyodor escaped from the Port Mafia. This 4th episode felt out of place at first, but it was handled and presented so well overall that I loved it, and felt admiration for the makers of the series. I did not, though, find episode 5 to be a case of quality storytelling. It felt like a filler. The introduction of Katai was important, but not crucial. Lucy isn’t very important to the story either. The only key purpose was to hint that Fyodor was the one who hacked the Moby Dick controls at the end of last season.
Episode 7 is another cause to complain about the structure of the story. It’s a whole episode about Francis and Louisa, all of a sudden. In the end, there was a reason for it: Francis’ acquisition of Eyes of God turned out to be Dazai’s ace up the sleeve. Still, I don’t think an entire episode was needed for the return of Francis, especially not smack-dab in the middle of the season.
Episodes 8-12 cover the actual exciting arc of this season. That being said, there still isn’t quite enough action for me. I was very impressed with the structure and handling of the last episode. It’s everything I could want in a season finale, including intense action, great moments for the characters, tying up of loose ends, and a smooth resolution that doesn’t feel too rushed. If the structure had been a little better, and there were a few more good action scenes, I’d give the story aspect a 9/10. But it’s still great as-is.
Themes in BSD 3rd Season were also interesting and presented well. They included dedication, loyalty, the value and meaning in living, and how no faction or character in the series is entirely evil. Chuuya becomes loyal to Mori and dedicated to protecting the city. Atsushi is dedicated to saving others. Louisa is endlessly loyal and dedicated to Francis. Akutagawa is dedicated to improving and being the strongest, and he’s extremely loyal to the Port Mafia.
For an example of that third theme, Dazai says in episode 1 that there’s no value in the act of living. But by episode 3, he’s interested in living. For him at age 15, meaning and value in life comes from being part of an organization where death is always close. Throughout the series, many characters deal with the meaning in their lives. Finally there’s the idea that nobody is entirely evil. Even someone like Mori has “noble” intentions, or at least great love for the city. Similarly, not even Atsushi’s father figure at the orphanage was not completely horrible, since he protected the other children from the tiger.
There was so much to enjoy about BSD 3rd Season. First of all, I fucking love Mori Ogai. He is my current male anime crush. I also like how he won the fight with Fukuzawa in episode 11, even if some consider it “dirty.” Anyway, I’m not exactly sure why I love him so much, but I know some of it is the sexiness of his voice, and another part of it is I find his character fascinating. He started as an underground doctor and then rose to the top as the boss of the Port Mafia. He’s a sociopath, yet he genuinely wants to protect the city. He’s also sometimes funny and awkward. As you can see below, included are a few stupidly unnecessary images of my husbando.
Another thing that never ceases to make me happy is the premise of Bungou Stray Dogs, having characters named after famous writers. Most of the characters have a personality trait, ability, or something in their backstory that is related to or similar to real facts about that historical author or their works. For example, probably the most most well-known of Osamu Dazai’s works is No Longer Human, a story about a troubled young man with suicidal ideation. That’s why Dazai the anime character also has suicidal ideation and a dark past.
I do have a very minor tick to mention. Bungou Stray Dogs is considered a seinen series because of dark elements like child death, or sexual elements like Tanezaki and Naomi’s relationship. But sometimes, the series feels very shounen. For example, there are occasionally off-putting parts in a fight scene where a character narrates what trick or ability he or his opponent just used. Randou does it once in the fight with Dazai and Chuuya. Ivan does it in episode 12 fighting Atsushi and Akutagawa. As stated, however, that’s an insignificant complaint.
Going back to things I enjoyed, all of the categories (art, sound, characters, story) contributed to my appreciation of this series. There were also particular scenes that struck me as moving or exciting or amazing. To list all my favorite scenes would be a bit much for this article, so let me give just a single example. One of the best moments in the season was in episode 8 when Dazai confronts Fyodor. They are evenly matched opponents, but this time, Fydor won the battle of wits and intellect. It was thrilling to see two such brilliant characters facing off.
Here’s somethign randomly noticed that gave me a few smiles. The cat who turns out to be Natsume-sensei appears now and then prior to episode 10. I noticed him twice, at least, in the early episodes. (Ep 1, he’s in the alley next to Mori’s clinic. Ep 2, he’s in the burned house where Dazai and Chuuya face off with Randou.) That’s about it for this category.
Score for Bungou Stray Dogs 3rd Season: 8.8/10.0 Magnificent
Thank you oh so very much for taking the time to read my review. It means a lot to me. This is Anime Rants, wishing everyone a safe and reasonably happy week. Mata ashita, ne!
Images from: Bungou Stray Dogs 3rd Season. Dir. T Igarashi. Bones. 2019.