Complete Review: Is Bungo Stray Dogs Worth Your Time?

Bungo Stray Dogs is a Japanese seinen manga series written by Kafka Asagiri and illustrated by Sango Harukawa.

The series focuses on Atsushi Nakajima, a man with the ability to shapeshift into a tiger. He joins a group of people with superhuman powers who undertake diverse tasks from running a business, solving mysteries, and working for the mafia.

Bungo Stray Dogs - Review
Bungou Stray Dogs | Source: Fandom

An anime television series adaptation by Bones aired in 2016 and currently has three seasons out as of 2019. Bungo Stray Dogs was well received in Japan can be seen by the 4.1 million manga books sold.

1. Quick Review

Atsushi Nakajima is thrown out of his orphanage because of the unexplainable incidents that occur around him. As he wanders around deliberating his future, Atsushi happens upon Detective Dazai Osamu.

Atsushi unknowingly saves the Detective from committing suicide. Through Osamu, Atsushi learns about an unusual mystery that is linked to him. As many strange phenomena take place, he is convinced to join Dazai’s supernatural agency. Thus, Atsushi sets out on a new path dealing with several strange and unusual cases, surrounded by his new co-workers and their unique abilities.

Bungo Stray Dogs can be categorized as a dramatic mystery series. The well-paced story keeps you on your toes as the suspense keeps building with each passing episode. The well-detailed characters’ features highlight their exaggerated and comical expressions.

2. Info Card

Bungou Stray Dogs

Air Date: April 7, 2016 Status: Airing Studio: Bones No. of Seasons: 5 No. of Episodes: 61
Watch Bungou Stray Dogs on:

3. Is it worth watching?

The series has an undeniably good plot and great characters. However, the various elements sometimes get overshadowed by one another. The flow from serious scenes to sudden comical incidents is a little abrupt.

An interesting fact of the characters is that their names are based on real Japanese authors. The show uses a vast spectrum of music ranging from jazz to J-pop that fits the tone of the series perfectly.

I. Plot

The story of Bungou Stray Dogs is centered around the protagonist Atsushi. He is kicked out of his orphanage because of mysterious occurrences that surround him. Clueless about his future, Atsushi wanders around aimlessly when he coincidently saves the life of Detective Dazai Osamu who was trying to commit suicide.

When Atsushi converses with Osamu, he learns that the detective works with a group of supernatural investigators. The protagonist’s life takes a crazy turn when he agrees to work with Osamu’s agency filled with eccentric characters.

Bungou Stray Dogs is a primary example of a supernatural series that is able to deliver a great concept. The characters are a group of individuals with their own unique talents and personalities.

II. Characters

Atsushi Nakajima

Bungo Stray Dogs - Review
Atsushi Nakajima | Source: Fandom

Atsushi Nakajima is the main protagonist of the Bungo Stray Dogs series.

Upon getting kicked out of his orphanage, Detective Osamu recruits him as a member of the Armed Detective Agency. Atsushi’s life is now filled with eccentric cases and odd co-workers who possess supernatural abilities.

He possesses the ability to turn into a tiger. He is enthusiastic and high-spirited, caring deeply about his fellow co-workers at the agency.

Osamu Dazai

Bungo Stray Dogs - Review
Osamu Dazai | Source: Fandom

Osamu Dazai is a member of the Armed Detective Agency and recruits Atsushi to become a part of their agency.

Dazai is described as a mysterious person whose true motives are never revealed unless he believes that it is necessary.

He has total confidence in his abilities and believes that he will make it through any battle or sticky situation. Dazai’s character is overly dramatic and tends to make jokes even in the most serious of situations.

III. Setting

  • Location:  The story takes place in the office of the Armed Detective Agency. As the protagonist starts working with the agency, he begins solving crimes and incidents that occur all over the city of Yokohama.
  • Animation: The series boasts high-quality animation with well-executed action scenes. Throughout the show, we observe great fluidity and flawless quality in the design.
  • Artwork: The gorgeous art style of the characters and bright color palette makes them all the more memorable. The intricate costumes, hair, eyes and facial features are unforgettable. The chibi artwork adds to the character’s comical expressions.

IV. Theme Songs

  • Opening theme songs :
TitleOriginal ArtistGenreEpisodesReference Links
“Trash Candy”GranrodeoAlt. Rock, J-Pop1-12Youtube
Apple Music

The series’ OP is a strong start to the show with Granrodeo’s pulse-pounding metal riffs. It stands out as one of the most impressive and powerful songs in the show. The visuals give the viewers a quick glance into the characters’ personalities and supernatural abilities.

  • Ending theme songs :
TitleOriginal ArtistGenreEpisodesReference Links
“Namae wo Yobu yo”Luck Life  Pop, Rock1-12Youtube
Apple Music

The ending theme song is a melodious contradiction to the intense opening theme. The visuals are simply fantastic with the characters’ supernatural abilities being depicted in the background as their shadows and the lyrics create a sense of emotions and empathy for the characters.

  • Original SoundTrack (OST):  The soundtrack uses various genres of music from jazz to J-Pop. The OSTs used in the protagonist’s flashback scenes and fight sequences build the essential emotional sentiment and intensity for the show.
  • Background score: The BGM used in the battle sequences and during the investigations build the perfect ambiance for mystery and supernatural suspense.
  • Sound effects: Bungo Stray Dogs succeeds in accompanying the supernatural powers and characters’ movements with brilliant sound effects. The creators establish a realistic experience with quality sound, especially when it comes to Atsushi’s transformations.
  • Voice Acting: The characters in Bungo Stray Dogs are well-animated with distinct features and expressions. The voice actors did a wonderful job creating the tones and different emotions to suit these expressions.

V. Action Sequences

Bungo Stray Dogs has well-executed action scenes with great fluidity and remarkable power moves. The wonderful art style and design of the characters made the fight scenes more attractive. The series’ fast-paced flashy action keeps you on your toes.

Bungou Stray Dogs (Season 1) - Official Trailer

Throughout the series, we get to witness the power of various members of the Armed Detective Agency. With a diverse set of characters, every fight is unique as they use not only their strength but also their wit to defeat their opponents. One of the most remarkable scenes is watching Atsushi’s transformation into a tiger, accompanied by thrilling sound effects and smooth animation.

4. Grade

Bungo Stray Dogs 4/5

Story: A

Cinematography/Animation: A+

Art: A+

Music: A+

5. Final Thoughts

Studio Bones upholds its remarkable reputation with Bungo Stray Dogs’ fluid animation and an interesting story. The characters are well-written and designed beautifully. The show is filled with dark comedy as the characters tread on a thin line between good and evil. If you’re looking for a supernatural series with rich OST and a great storyline, then look no further because Bungo Stray Dogs is the show for you.


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