Having left us with the reveal of Port Mafia’s leader and the arrival of Fitzgerald’s band, Bungou Stray Dogs returns with a sudden jump to the past.
One would have anticipated a direct continuation, but it seems the show has a few things to teach us before. Four years in the past, the charismatic Dazai was a Port Mafia executive. We’ve known the fact for a while, but the details had always been mysterious; the time has come for us to learn about what seem to be his final moments in the organization.
It all starts with an atmospheric night spent with two friends, the low-ranking Odasaku and intelligence officer Ango. The three of them are tight, and Dazai feels the need to take a photo. He senses this night is the last chance for them to make something remain of their time together… a sentiment which becomes a premonition, for one of them dies soon after. Ango disappears: Odasaku is charged with looking for him, but Dazai is soon involved.
The almost nostalgic night between the three and this sudden twist set a very serious tone. This is far from the first season’s start, which spent a lot of time on comedy. While some may feel the show is stopping itself in its tracks by suddenly painting such a pensive flashback, it’s hard to judge this now.
The title, “The Dark Age”, indicates ominous developments which may prove crucial in understanding Dazai; and one must’ve felt that if the story is to conclude, Dazai will have to face his past. There may be complaints about the excitement of the first season being all gone, and some won’t like the reflective tone, but this may prove a great move should the story end on a meaningful note. We can only immerse ourselves in this story and see where it leads us.
What starts a simple investigation turns big when he finds out the people who attacked him yesterday were in fact a diversion. They were targeting one of Port Mafia’s top storage units which requires a top-secret code to access. “Was Ango involved?” is the question on all our minds; all we know is these people are from an organization named Mimic, a rare opponent to the Port Mafia. They seem highly capable, an enemy worthy of Dazai’s interest: but what is their true nature?
Its members wear an old gun named Graugeist… which also happens to be hidden in a safe within Ango’s hotel room. When Odasaku reveals this discovery, Dazai tries to calm him down: but he also has to admit he doesn’t buy Ango’s story from yesterday. In fact; making up a whole tale to cover a secret meeting which shouldn’t raise any objections from those aware of his position is a strange thing. The extent of his involvement is unknown, but he’s more than suspicious… and if he’s not dead, he probably will be soon. But who will kill him? If he’s a traitor, will Dazai have to execute him? And what consequences will this have?
There is one further question about Odasaku: he’s brilliant, but is a low-ranking member simply because he refuses to kill anyone. No matter the circumstances. The fact that the show brings this up with insistence raises interrogations. Will this, too, prove relevant?
Bungou Stray Dogs isn’t fooling about anymore. While the first season really picked up the pace in its second half, it had wasted a lot of time by then. This new season, however, seems interested in telling us valuable stories from the offset. Let’s be frank: who doesn’t want to know about Dazai’s dark past? And what’s more, this episode conveyed enough while leaving enough in the dark to engage us. Unlike a certain other show?
Bungou Stray Dogs had ended on a really good note last time around. From an excruciatingly dull exercise in time-wasting, it had become a genuinely exciting action series. And guess what? It seems it may just continue on this path, if not better. From what we can gather, the show retains what made the original good with more explanative tidbits to make for a more meaningful 13-episode ride. Much remains to prove, but at least the signs are there, and this is a great thing knowing the heights hit in Spring.
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