Bungo Stray Dogs
Episode 32

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 32 of
Bungo Stray Dogs (TV 3) ?

The Great Gatsby fans, this one's for you. After the crash of the Moby Dick at the end of last season, many of the remaining Guild members were left unaccounted for. (And no, I'm not talking about Lovecraft's walk into the sea/journey home.) We know where a few of them are, perhaps most importantly that Nathaniel Hawthorn joined up with Dostoyevsky, and as of recently we learned that Lucy Maud Montgomery has cleaned up her act and now works at the café on the ground floor of the Agency's building. But the most important member of the Guild was missing: leader F. Scott Fitzgerald himself.

Well, wonder no more, because after what we can assume to be months of diligent searching undeterred by the assumption of his death, Louisa May Alcott has found him. As the Moby Dick went down, Fitzgerald unconsciously used his Ability to cash in the last precious thing he had on him – his wedding ring – and save himself, but broken by his defeat and his lack of funds (which equates to lack of power given his skill), he's been living in those same slums that Chuuya started out in. When Louisa finds him, he's a broken man, convinced of his own worthlessness.

Before we get into the fun Gatsby references, however, I'm not sure I'm thrilled with how Louisa May Alcott's being portrayed. Alcott, like many of her heroines, wasn't exactly a wilting lily of a woman, although she may come off that way today if you don't take into account the time she lived in. Her most famous heroine, Jo March, is famously strong, and even her less overtly rebellious creations, like An Old-Fashioned Girl's Polly, show a strength of mind and character that stands out among contemporary children's books. (For comparison, look at the heroine of Kate Douglass Wiggins' The Birds' Christmas Carol.) So why, then, is Louisa so completely reliant upon Fitzgerald? Her one wish when she finds him again is to have him “give her orders,” something not even saintly Beth March necessarily desired. While none of the characters in the show are meant to be taken as exact representations of the authors or their works, Louisa still stands out as feeling very off when many of the other characters have at least a trait or two that is in line with either their source or their bibliography. Perhaps Alcott's books come across differently in Japanese translation.

In any event, Fitzgerald certainly needs Louisa's devotion in order to come back to himself. Whether you read that as her being the Daisy to his Gatsby or not, he certainly doesn't waste any time returning to his old, confident self. Even before we start to get into the Gatsby references, this makes for some fun scenes, not the least of which is him discovering the wonders of bargain shopping, although him just walking into some guy's apartment and sitting down to watch TV is pretty great too. But the real meat of the episode is when he confronts T.J. Eckleberg, a character from his novel. Eckleberg in the book is an oculist, or what today we'd call an ophthalmologist, and in the show he's the developer of a facial recognition software, which seems like a reasonable update. He's also accused of having killed George Wilson, the man who in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel murders Jay Gatsby. (In the book it's Wilson's wife who dies.) More interesting for fans of the author, the actual killer is Thomas Buchanan, whom Fitzgerald based on William Mitchell, a man he actively resented. Getting to ruin Buchanan in the episode can be seen as wish-fulfillment for Bungo Stray Dogs' Fitzgerald and an example of how the little details can really show the research that went into this.

In terms of the overall plot, we now know that Dostoyevsky has been sitting in a basement slowly filling a vessel with his blood, which can't possibly be good. Fitzgerald is still after the book he initially came to Yokohama for, and with Louisa and now Eckleberg, he's ready to get the Guild going again and resume the hunt. Lucy's friendship with Atsushi also may be a portent of warmer relations between Guild and Agency, because Edgar Allen Poe (and his rabies-bearing friend) and Ranpo clearly still have an amicable relationship, and Louisa does specifically send Poe to Ranpo when they need to solve Wilson's murder. Like the Mafia and the Agency banded together to fight the Guild, perhaps the Guild will now team up with the other two to fight the Rats in the House of the Dead. If Dostoyevsky is as bad as he seems, that may be the only hope any of them have.

Rating:

Bungo Stray Dogs is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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