Bungo Stray Dogs Season 4
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 41 of
Bungo Stray Dogs (TV 4) ?
Community score: 4.5
The flashback may be over, but Rampo is still center stage as the action of the present day resumes. This is partly because Kunikida, the usual leader, is in jail, unfairly charged with the death of the little girl who blew herself up. He seems to have more or less given up, a totally fair reaction to the trauma he suffered, but Rampo has no intention of letting him wallow in prison and self-loathing. And since he's already in trouble with Fukuzawa, why not keep pushing the envelope?
This episode, Kunikida aside, is a mystery lover's fever dream. It stars three of the genre's luminaries: Edgar Allen Poe (genre creator), Edogawa Rampo (father of Japanese mystery fiction), and Mushitaro Oguri, a Golden Age stalwart. If you are at all familiar with Oguri's works, you'll know that one of his books is called Perfect Crime, making him the best possible opponent for our great resident detective. Sure, using his clue-erasing Skill breaks Van Dine's and Knox's Commandments, but a little thing like that won't stop Rampo – much to Oguri's discomfort and horror.
In many ways, the plot of episode forty-one is designed to complement the three that came before it. In the first arc, we saw how Rampo became a founding member of the Agency and how he came to appreciate his own intelligence, or at least to stop seeing it as something that made him Other. Now he's thrown into a different type of discomfort because his “Skill” doesn't work when Oguri activates Perfect Crime, turning the murders from fair play to something more like Poe's early detective stories, where the detective doesn't share all the information with the readers. If you think about it, he does give us some hints as to how he knows Oguri is the killer: the victim would almost have to wear a smaller shoe size than the killer if the shoe was to fly off, and some of Oguri's uncomfortable body language could be due to achy feet. As far as Oguri is concerned, however, Rampo's just scary, a Great Detective who can solve a crime when all clues have been removed. He's the perfect definition of the archetype, from his Holmesian observation to his bizarre quirks – he's a Poirot with candy rather than a luxuriant mustache, as deceptively harmless as Miss Marple.
Not that any Golden Age detective would wear a bear costume, but that's what helps to make Rampo in his present-day incarnation so much fun. He has joy in almost everything he does, which often obscures his serious goals. Yes, he's playing the Agency mascot, but that gives him a disguise to wear to visit Kunikida. Sure, he gets bored waiting around, but that puts him in the right place at the right time for Oguri to send his victim tumbling. (The use of the Scooby Doo mask could reference the fact that Oguri is part of the group that wrote about mad scientists in his mysteries.) Rampo himself is as much a mystery as any he solves, and that's something we can appreciate more now that we know his past.
Essentially, this two-episode arc eases us back into the main story. Oguri is working with Dostoyevsky, but he's not part of the Rats in the House of the Dead. Just pay attention to the man behind the curtain, because, just like the stories that run in the mystery magazine Poe is reading (where Another was serialized), nothing is ever quite what it seems.
Bungo Stray Dogs Season 4 is currently streaming on
Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.
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