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Bungo Stray Dogs Season 4
Episode 49

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 49 of
Bungo Stray Dogs (TV 4) ?
Community score: 4.6

©Kafka ASAGIRI, Sango HARUKAWA/KADOKAWA/Bungo Stray Dogs Partners

Dostoyevsky is a very smart man, and that is, of course, what makes him such a dangerous one. He can foresee how others will react and thus make them all dance on their strings according to his movements. Are the strings of peoples' loyalties entirely tangled at this point? Yes, but you get the feeling that between Dazai and Dostoyevsky, they know precisely who is manipulating which marionette.

Right now, that isn't something we could say about any of the more obviously active participants in the story. The Hunting Dogs think they know what's going on and are enthusiastic in the pursuit of their duties, but they may actually be the least aware of anyone. Of the major players, they're the only ones still fully trapped in Decay of Angels' use of the page, with their leader either not knowing along with them or allowing them to remain in the dark for his own reasons. His sit-down with Fukuzawa should make us all at least a little suspicious. Sigma, the amnesiac in charge of the Sky Casino, may suspect that he's being danced to his doom, but he also is desperate to keep that from happening…which is precisely why Dostoyevsky put him in charge of the venture. There's no one more dangerous than a man who has nothing to lose and that rockets Sigma to the top of the list of people who would defend the casino with their life.

This is a messy story arc that's coming through very clearly now. (Note that “messy” does not equate to “bad.”) There are enough crosses and double-crosses to make you dizzy, and very few people can be trusted to be honest about who they are and what they're up to. It seems fairly significant that we have two distinct mentions of someone named “Lazarus” in the episode, with one clear shot of a profile of a “Richard Lazarus,” because in real life, Richard Lazarus was a psychologist best remembered for his transactional table of stress and coping, also known as cognitive-mediational theory. In the simplest of terms, Lazarus studied the way that people process environmental stress, which is, in many ways, what we've seen all along in this arc. Yosano's reaction to her trauma, Kunikida's response to the threat to and framing of the Agency, and even Lucy's willingness to help Atsushi and Kyoka all trace back to stressors in their pasts and present. The entire storyline is about how people react to the terrible situations they're thrown into, making this not just about the current time and place but just as much about what brought everyone to where they are in the first place. Opening the season with Rampo's past set the stage, just as Dazai and Ango's friendship with Odasaku opened the door in the first place and continues to play a key role in their actions.

The late Terry Pratchett wrote in his novel Johnny and the Dead that the town you just drove through is still in the rearview mirror. What that means is that we never truly leave the past behind. The lack of a past, such as Sigma is dealing with, is unsettling, leaving us unmoored in the present. That's truly what makes The Book so dangerous – it can create a new past out of whole cloth that people believe is there behind them. For Dazai and Dostoyevsky, this has the feel of a very cerebral chess game. But the tangled web of loyalties, facts, fictions, and fears is getting stickier for the folks on the ground. There's a lot to resolve and little time to do it in – even if everything could easily be fixed with the stroke of a pen.


Bungo Stray Dogs Season 4 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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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