Given that the source material is ongoing (this episode animates the most recent chapter of the manga), this could be the “darkest before the dawn” trope at play. Just because Bungo Stray Dogs is happily annihilating basic shounen story markers at every turn (with the notable exception of the Dragon Ball Minute, where five minutes can take five episodes to unfold) doesn’t mean it will eschew all of them. The absence of so many characters may be worth remembering. Kiyoka and Lucy haven’t been seen for quite a while, nor has Yosano or Ango, and the same goes for Fitzgerald and Alcott, to say nothing of Poe. It also feels important that Mori and Elise haven’t been active; just because most of the Port Mafia has been turned doesn’t mean its leader has either. So there is still hope.
That doesn’t take away from this ruthless episode, however. This is one case where the choppy format really works. We get just enough of one person’s storyline to start to feel either secure or panicky, then switch abruptly to someone else’s without getting any resolution. It keeps the pace at a good clip, making it harder to process both the horrors and the hopes each respective story has in its grasp. After all, we can’t be thinking too hard about the fact that the angle we see Dazai’s headshot from could just as easily be him getting shot in the ear as anywhere more deadly or that Atsushi is dangling not too far from where Aya dropped the table.
At least we got confirmation that Dazai should be able to unvampire the vampires by touching them and that Dostoyevsky is absolutely insane. The latter is probably the most crucial information dropped this time because it is tempting to think that there’s something more to him. And he could still be lying about whether or not he was taken over by his Ability because the note saying “help me” in Russian is a pretty strange detail. Russian novels like Dostoyevsky’s are notoriously long and challenging, filled with twisting plots and character motivations. Why should Dostoyevsky himself be any different in this show? He’s got his fingers in so many pies that we have to wonder which one is his true goal.
We have one episode left of this season. It could be an anime-only ending, designed to get us through until the manga catches up, or it could be that the animation studio got advance news of the author’s plans for the series. Either way, it’s unlikely that things will be resolved next week. But we can still hope they’ll give us a glimpse of light.
Bungo Stray Dogs is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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