Bungo Stray Dogs (文豪ストレイドッグス )
Written by Kafka Asagiri & Illustrated by Sango Harukawa
Bungo Stray Dogs is an anime that has a swinging audience. Some people absolutely love it and others are quick to despised it. I am actually a huge fan of Bungo Stray Dogs and I feel like this anime was meant for me because it combines two of my favorite things: anime and literature.
If you have been reading my posts for a while now, you would know that I am an avid reader of Japanese literature. My focus is on classical Japanese literature, but I do know a thing or two about modern Japanese literature. And so while watching this series, my literary nerdiness came out every time I heard an author’s name or book title. In this post, I will mention some interesting “facts” presented in Bungo Stray Dogs that I think will perk non-readers’ curiosity and make them pick up a book or two.
1. In the anime, Osamu Dazai’s obsession with suicide is actually a reflection on the author’s actual life. Throughout his life, Osamu attempted suicide and he finally succumbed to it on June 13, 1948, by drowning. In the first episode, Atsushi Nakajima saves a drowning Osamu in the river.
2. In the anime series, the characters are named after famous authors and their powers are named after book titles. For example, Osamu Dazai’s power of negating other people’s powers is called No Longer Human, the last completed work of Osamu Dazai.
3. Natsume Soseki is referenced in season two as an old man that gave advice to Sakunosuke Oda about becoming a writer. When I was watching the first season, I was surprised that Natsume Soseki’s name wasn’t used as a name for a character. Natsume Soseki played an important role in modern Japanese literature and he influenced other Japanese authors. Some of the themes he discusses in his literature include modernization, westernization, individualism, the struggle between duty and desire, and overcoming economic hardship. However, despite him not being a main character in the series, he does play a pivotal role in Sakunosuke Oda’s life. I think this incident is a metaphor to how Natsume Soseki impacted Japan’s modern literary movements and its authors.
4. The concept of changing one’s narrative is woven throughout the series. A person has the power to write and rewrite their life. For example, rather than continuing a life of crime in Port Mafia, Osamu Dazai, followed his friend, Sakunosuke Oda’s request and decides to use his power to save people.
5. The anime characters, Sakunosuke Oda, Osamu Dazai, and Ango Sakaguchi are great friends while in Port Mafia. They actually represent three famous authors that make up Buraiha (The School of Irresponsibility and Decadence). These writers focus on an identity crisis after post-WWII Japan within their works. This is somewhat reflective towards the mindsets of these anime characters as they all seem to lose their identity and purpose with being part of Port Mafia and would often declare themselves as “Bungo Stray Dogs.”
6. The relationship between the anime characters, Junichirō Tanizaki and Naomi, is more than a brother and sister relationship. They seem very “intimate.” Tanizaki wrote the novel, Naomi, which is about an older man’s love and obsession with a young girl named Naomi.
7. The Guild (America) wants to control Yokohama, Japan where the Armed Detective Agency and Port Mafia reside. This kind of reminds me of western literature’s influence and the birth of “modern literature” in Japan.
8. The anime character, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, is literally Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. His power, which is also named after his most popular book, The Great Gatsby, allows him to have incredible strength when spending an enormous amount of wealth. It’s funny how in the end, no amount of wealth could make him win a fight against Atsushi Nakajima and Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. In the end of The Great Gatsby, no matter how much money Jay Gatsby had, he couldn’t win the heart of the girl he loved, Daisy.
These are just some literary fun facts and observations I found while watching Bungo Stray Dogs. If you like books, especially Japanese literature, as much as I do, you will find this quirky anime to be a lot of fun to watch. You can watch Bungo Stray Dogs on Crunchyroll.
Are you a literary nerd? Share some of your thoughts on Bungo Stray Dogs in the comments!
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