Bungo Stray Dogs
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 35 of
Bungo Stray Dogs (TV 3) ?
In some ways, this episode of Bungo Stray Dogs is structured more like a typical episode of Fairy Tail – it jumps between characters and fights (both metaphorical and actual) with rapidity, never spending too long on any single one. It's certainly not my favorite structure, but it does make sense in this particular case, because there is a lot going on. We're closing in on the end of the season, and at least this cannibalism plot needs to be resolved.
That's not only because the lives of the leaders of the Agency and the Mafia are at stake, but also because the uncertainty is taking an emotional toll on the members of both groups. That's something we can count on being part of Dostoyevsky's plans; the easiest way, after all, for him to get rid of the two organizations is to set the charges for them to explode from within. We can see evidence of this in his very clearly targeted attack on Kunikida last week – he deliberately exploited Kunikida's relatively recent trauma in order to debilitate one of the Agency's strongest fighters, and since the Agency is much smaller than the Mafia member-wise, that's a very big hit to their power. They're down both Dazai and Kunikida, which puts them at a major disadvantage. (And just in case his little suicide bomber didn't do the trick, Dostoyevsky is thorough enough that he also took out, or made Kunikida think he took out, Katai for insurance.)
Unfortunately for the leader of the Rats, he has counted without the outside help the Agency is able to get from former Guild members. We knew Lucy would help Atsushi, and she certainly has with Anne's Room as a safehouse, but Rampo has been keeping an ace up his sleeve as well – a book that once again uses Poe's Black Cat in the Rue Morgue ability to get Chuuya out of the way. While this also takes the Agency's strategist out of the picture for a bit, he's really done his job by getting them to the point where they can fight back, and Chuuya is the major threat to everyone's safety with Dazai in the hospital. Chuuya's also probably the character I would give the least chance of surviving a mystery, Golden Age classic, early Poe invention, cozy, you name it; it really doesn't seem like his best genre. That he's up against Rampo pretty well seals his fate – even if Rampo weren't channeling his serial detective Kogoro Akechi (while dressed like one of the Boy Detectives), he'd be screwed, because Chuuya's all about action, while mystery is about thought.
In the end, though, none of this may matter. Fukuzawa and Mori are looking towards a bigger picture, and having their organizations wipe each other out is not, at the end of the day, going to help anyone but Dostoyevsky. But both groups are so invested in saving their leaders that they can't see that; in fact, I'd almost argue that they can't imagine carrying on under new leadership, even though both sides have proven that they have people capable of it. This moves the two men to, apparently independently, leave their safehouses and go to a crumbling manor in the forest, there to duel to the death of one or the other, thus preserving the alliance they had because it will have been something they decided for themselves.
It isn't a perfect plan, obviously. There's no guarantee that anyone remaining will be level-headed enough to understand why they did it or that they'll believe the survivor of the duel. Kunikida's not the only one mere steps away from the edge, and with Rampo in the book with Chuuya, that's another cooler head out of commission. Akutagawa has shown some restraint in his fight with Kyouka (and he does seem truly happy for her, even if he's not sure he understands the change in both her and Dazai before her), but I don't think he can be counted on to keep that calm if Mori dies. But every plan comes with its risks, and Fukuzawa and Mori's may be the best one they've got right now.
Whether or not it works, whether or not Katai managed to leave a clue for Kunikida before Dostoyevsky came for him, and whether or not Kunikida can keep it together in the face of another tragedy all remain to be seen.
Bungo Stray Dogs is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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