Bungou Stray Dogs becomes yet more intense in a spectacle which nearly sees Yokohoma drowned in a sea of flames.
Kyouka is here to save the defenseless Atsushi: as such, she merely destabilizes Fitzgerald so they can flee. She then expresses her resolve: she’s come back from hiding to protect the place she belongs – the Agency –, even if it means using her bloody power. The problem? She’s still young and incontrollable. When their hopes of being carried away by the police as harmed innocents are dashed by a report that there’s a serial killer in the area who looks a lot like Kyouka, she attacks one of the policemen, forcing Atsushi to take her away in a hurry.
This allows Fitzgerald to intercept them, and without her ability, Kyouka can only watch Atsushi being taken away in the Guild’s Moby Dick. She’s desperate, thinking once again the light Atsushi has shown her is but a curse forcing her to hang on to unrealizable wishes. But we all know that Atsushi will not give up on her, and that she will in the end be able to peacefully bask in said light.
There is a certainly a lot of intensity on display: Kyouka comes back full of hope only to be thrown right back into despair. However, the development brings her noticeably closer to Atsushi: while she used to be this killer who served no purpose except bring bloodbaths about, here she is the one being left behind, her power useless. “Useless” is also the way Atushi often thinks of himself. Surely this makes our protagonist all the more able to save her.
The following movements are important. The first is Hawthorne waking up from his coma to a Mitchell in critical condition. Seeing this, he blames Fitzgerald, and decides to leave the Guild for good in a quest to restore the honor of her friend’s family. He certainly was a powerful opponent to Akutagawa, and could prove important in this messy three-way conflict.
This puts Fitzgerald into a rage that sees him activate the emergency plan. Now you may wonder what it is, and it’s very simple: they’re burning the city. They don’t need it, after all: they only require Atsushi as their tiger beetle in search of a book allegedly located in Yokohama that would be immune to any ability. If it is, then they don’t have to worry about the city and its people.
The other movement is the launching of this nefarious plan. The impressive aspect is that Q, despite his terrifying powers, is easily captured by Lovecraft. Being a man who knows horror better than anyone, Q is nothing to him. This goes to show what a terrible opponent he will be in the future. Steinbeck expects the kid what the plan is: using his power, he’s connected him to every tree in Yokohama. Fitzgerald has the doll, and the moment he rips it apart, many will be cursed. In time, the city will be mere memory. We see the despair lurking behind Q: he can’t stand the suffering this power has imposed on him, and the moment Steinbeck explains this by God’s lack of love for the kid, he pours all his strength in cursing everyone.
Perhaps this is the greater complexity in all this: unlike the Mafia and the Agency who must protect this city as it is the center of their business, the Guild are guided by a much more personal goal. They don’t mind exploiting weak people’s desires, for the consequences are nothing to them.
Meanwhile Atsushi is in a prison cell, but that’s without counting on Lucy’s help. Remember her from the first season? It seems she’s essentially a maid now. At any rate, she and Atsushi have known the same suffering, the same loneliness; and seeing his resolve, she agrees to give him the doll and let him escape. Here is, along with Kyouka, another girl with a tragic fate who may yet be saved by our ever-benevolent Atsushi. It seems the manga’s author is particularly fond of girls in desperate situations.
His escape starts badly when his parachute is destroyed by Twain; but the spirit of the tiger is there to rescue him, and they start a thrilling chase in which Atsushi is winning… until Twain, like a pro FPS player, shoots an oil truck. It’s nearly over for Atsushi, who’s far from Dazai… but of course the series’ true hero arrives in timely manner to stop the curse and launch signal-jamming gas he had set up all over the city, putting an end to the Guild’s attack for now. Just how perfect is this man?
That said, the doll is still broken, and they still have Q: the city is far from safe, and the Guild’s retreat only temporary.
Atsushi had always been a pawn to what the plot orders him. Yet for the first time he seems to reclaim his hero’s gown to give Dazai the plan he believes is the only way of beating the Guild: an alliance with the Mafia.
Although it seems nearly impossible given their longtime drift, it makes sense in the exceptional circumstances… and it’d help Dazai face his past.
All in all this was a good episode that went to the heart of Bungou’s quality: excitement. The story moves fast, there’s action and a constant sense of emotional instability from everyone. There’s a lot to speak of, and while not all of it may be very profound, it’s enough to make the episode engaging; which is an especially good performance knowing Dazai barely appears, the likes of Atsushi, Fitzgerald, Kyouka and Lucy carrying the episode surprisingly well.
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