“Following the conclusion of the three-way organizational war, government bureaucrat Ango Sakaguchi recalls an event that transpired years ago, after the death of the former Port Mafia boss. Osamu Dazai, still a new recruit at the time, was tasked with investigating rumors related to a mysterious explosion that decimated part of the city years ago—and its connection to the alleged reappearance of the former boss.
Due to circumstances out of his control, he is partnered with Chuuya Nakahara, the gifted yet impulsive leader of a rival clan known as the ”Sheep,” to uncover the truth behind the case and shine a light on the myth of Arahabaki—the god of fire who might just lead Dazai to the case’s solution.
Meanwhile, in the present day, it is business as usual once again for the Armed Detective Agency. Their peaceful break will not last for long, however, as enemies old and new gather their strength and prepare for another face-off.” – MAL Synopsis
I really wanted to love this season. I’ve been really invested in this series as a whole for weeks now and this season was looking to be the best yet. In most regards that is true, yes this is the best season that this series has to offer so far. I’m really glad that’s the case a very underwhelming movie that released before this. The end of Season 2 and Dead Apple built a lot of hype around Dostoyevsky and what he was scheming. That build-up kind of pays off, but as with other seasons there are flaws here that bog down the whole experience. And that almost makes this season more annoying to talk about because it was so close to being great.
It’s a must have at this point. There are 4 absolutes in life. Death, Taxes, Orphanage flashbacks, and starting a season off with banger flashback episodes. This time around the first 2 episodes show the early days of Mori’s reign over the Port Mafia with a young dejected Dazai by his side. Both episodes serve to add more to Mori, Dazai, and Chuuya’s characters and set the tone for this season which while it still keeps its comedic moments, is definitely darker than the previous 2 and the movie. also a slight glimpse into the overall politics of the Port Mafia and the other organizations in the city which will be built upon later. Two really good episodes. Episode 3 might be the best in the series and maybe one of my favorite anime episodes period.
A present-day episode revolving around Dostoyevsky escaping from a Port Mafia executive. Everything about this episode was great. Animation, sound, music, the tone. This episode was as close to perfect as you can get and it was a brilliant true first introduction to a great villain. You could honestly not have seen a single episode of this show and I’d still recommend this episode by itself. With that being said, in hindsight, this episode was the first to highlight a problem I was gonna have in this season. But the rest of the season is Dostoyevsky’s plan being put into action and with that, there’s a lot of great moments, a lot of interesting fight matchups between the port mafia and the agency. All of that mixed in with some really good character moments and Dostoyevsky being a great villain really elevate this season higher than the others. Unfortunately, big issues still arise.
I don’t know if it would be labeled under pacing, editing, writing, or all three. But this season has characters jump from one event and location to another seemingly at random with no buffer or even slight mention sometimes of how they ended up there. There’s a scene where Atsushi and Kunikida were talking on some steps about a certain event. I think before that there was a scene where Aktugawa was walking away from a battle. With no mention of how we get to this scene, the next thing you know they’re all in a van driving to a location. That’s just one example out of the bunch that occur during the tail end of this season. It’s jarring and it’s a reason why the ending was so bad. After I finished watching I didn’t really think much of it but after sitting with it for a few days the way this season ends is very abrupt. During the last episode, I was fully expecting things to not be wrapped up and to be waiting for season 4 to finish off this story arc. But no it all gets wrapped up in a nice little bow all of a sudden which leaves a bad taste in my mouth for the season overall.
The character’s introduced this season are great and the character progression for the mainstays is really good. Along with getting some great backstory for Dazai and Chuuya and how they met. later in the season Mori and Fukuzawa get fleshed out more as characters which also, in turn, explains a lot about how the city runs and the dynamics between the three main organizations within the city, those being the Port Mafia, Detective Agency, and the government.
I had to look it up just to make sure, but the movie Dead Apple is indeed canon. So all of that great Atsushi character growth carries over to this season and it’s noticeable. While I liked him in previous seasons, this season he’s genuinely a really good character. The way he interacts with others and how he handles situations has noticeably changed and I love it. But the stand-out this season by a country mile is Dostoyevsky. Dude is just sinister, methodical, and intimidating. He exudes all of those traits every time he’s on-screen and even when he’s not. The actions that he forces others to take through various forms of manipulation are crazy. He’s the sole reason why this season was as dark and a major reason as to why this season is as good as it is.
As always great voice acting, the animation this season is consistently pretty good. The soundtrack is great this season. The opening is definitely the vest yet and the ending is pretty solid. Overall the things I would talk about in this section are par for the course for this series which I’m glad that so far it’s staying consistent.
This season was so close to being a 9 and early on had the potential to be a 10/10. It got off to such a strong start and Dostoyevsky is a great villain who steals the show, but the issues with this season are too jarring to me to not bring the score down coupled with an ending that I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion is bad. Man, it kind of feels like a kick in the face after just how good the season was up until those moments. Overall I still think as a whole this season is the best of Bungo Stray Dogs yet, but it could’ve been a lot better.
Bungou Stray Dogs – 8/10