Bungo Stray Dogs Season 4
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 42 of
Bungo Stray Dogs (TV 4) ?
Community score: 4.5
Another season, another mysterious group of Skill users. This week's episode introduces at least the name of Decay of the Angel, an ominous-sounding gang that somehow involves Dostoyevsky (who clearly likes this sort of name; see “Rats in the House of the Dead”) and a fellow calling himself Nikolai. This combination almost certainly means that he's 19th-century Russian author Nikolai Gogol, a writer known for surrealist works, one of which is a short story called “Diary of a Madman.” Since his look can be described as “Mad Hatter,” that's another possible clue to his identity. He's also definitely bad news: he pops up after Rampo solves the crime and gets Mushitaro to admit to his role in it when it was looking like everything was going to be okay. But instead of being en route to a potential new job (or prison), Mushitaro finds himself at the mercy of someone who doesn't appear to have much to give.
It's a good misdirection that ties in nicely with the overall theme of this storyline. Rampo's solution to the murder of the mystery writer relies on the idea that it was all a performance piece, a method for the deceased to go out on his own terms and move beyond the boundaries of his genre. He told Mushitaro that he didn't like or was frustrated with how all mysteries get slotted into a subgenre, and he wanted to create one that couldn't be seen as following proscribed guidelines. Mushitaro's skill, Perfect Crime, allowed him to do that: if Mushitaro helped his friend commit suicide and then used Perfect Crime to clean things up, both author and novel would form what he saw as a new form of mystery: one that reaches beyond fiction into the real world. (And to prove that no idea is really new or unique, that's a good way to describe Anthony Horowitz's TV adaptation of his novel Magpie Murders.) That Rampo still solves the case is a blow and a relief at once: Mushitaro doesn't have to live with the pain of having murdered his friend unacknowledged, but it also proves his friend's attempt to was futile.
Rampo understands this. It's why he had Poe create a space where he could speak to Mushitaro alone, allowing him the solace of solitude, and it's also why he goes out of his way to offer him a way out. Just as Fukuzawa gave Rampo a path to salvation, he's trying to pay that ideal forward, maybe even more so because Rampo sees himself as operating under the handicap of just being really, really smart rather than Gifted. Yes, it all helps his goal of getting Kunikida out of prison, but at least some part of him is doing this for Rampo's peace of mind, which helping Mushitaro will give him. The imagery of him describing Mushitaro's tears and burning the manuscript that could convict him is stark and melancholy, striking in its sadness.
Dostoyevsky never lets people have nice things, though, at least not without a fight. It wouldn't be surprising if he saw how this whole thing would play out and had Nikolai ready to act accordingly. Decay of the Angel may prove both snarkier (“Who was murdered?” “You!”) and more insidious than previous foes the Agency has faced off against, and they're going to need all hands on deck because these decayed angels may not have anywhere they fear to tread.
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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