Tuesday, October 25, 2016

10 Second Anime - Bungou Stray Dogs - Episode 16

Oda seeks revenge, giving Gide the fight he wanted. Dazai chooses a new life in the aftermath.

Episode 16 - "Bungou Stray Dogs"


After seeing a bunch of cute kids die in a fiery explosion, who wouldn't want to seek revenge?

Oda's separate goodbyes to each of the orphans felt like slow deliberate steps toward abandoning his pledge not to kill anymore.

I liked how Gide left a map in the children's bedroom with the word "ruin" written on it to mark the designated spot for the final confrontation. Ruin, indeed.

Ougai's meeting with the Special Operations Chief Taneda confirmed a lot of the things Dazai had figured out already, but receiving the Gifted Business License as payment for dispensing with Mimic showed how Ougai had plotted to take advantage of Mimic's rise in the world and make use of Ango as the government's double agent. Perhaps Taneda was playing a longer game in having the Port Mafia thin its own ranks against Mimic, Ougai short circuited that plan by using Oda's ability and his circumstances in taking care of the orphans.

Edogawa Ranpo! The first nod to continuity and a big hint that we'll be rejoining the current timeline of the story very soon.

Gide and Oda's fight, using gun-fu and the Singularity of Abilities, was everything it was hyped up to be. The crime story genre uses these drawn out gun battles for the opposing anti-heroes to explain their motivations, which is also the conventional way of bringing up the themes of death, loyalty, despair and hope we usually see.

Gide's story of how his military unit was set up to be war criminals was certainly tragic, but traveling the world looking for an opponent to give them a worthy death was not influenced by conventional morality. It was like a soldier's ethos broken in half after his nation-state had betrayed him.

Oda's path to revenge took a similar route, when half of his reason for living was taken away from him. He was supposed to live by saving lives instead of taking them, so he would be worthy enough to write the conclusion to the unfinished tale. Having the orphans' lives taken away from him left his ethos broken in half as well.

The real conclusion to Gide and Oda's fight was Dazai's conversion. It was rather telling that underneath all of his bandages were no wounds or bruises at all. It was a metaphor for how he had stayed in the Port Mafia too long in trying to find a reason to live. It also showed that he had not tried to take his own life in quite a while and had only been keeping up his appearance. Oda showed him that whatever brokenness he brought with him into the Port Mafia had healed long ago and he needed to move on.

The prequel ended with Dazai having to go underground for two years, which means that when we pick up Atsushi's story, Dazai had already been with the Armed Detective Agency for two years. Plenty of time to make friends and try to kill himself in new ways every week.


Oda told Gide that the author of the unfinished story was Souseki Natsume. The real life Natsume is one of Japan's most famous 20th Century writers. His last series of novels, Light and Darkness, was left unfinished at the time of his death. However, one of his other famous stories, I Am a Cat, had me thinking that maybe Natsume had latched on to Dazai to finish his story. That's the same cat from the Lupin bar. If Dazai finds a reason to live in "being a good man" like Oda requested, maybe he will finish that story one day.

Oda's remembrance of the last sentences before the ripped out pages of the last book in that unfinished series made a good jumping off point for his own last words to Dazai. "People live to save themselves. You will understand that at the moment of your own death." It sounds almost nihilistic, right? But Oda's understanding of it was that if killing or saving lives makes no difference, then choose saving lives. Be a good man, he suggested to Dazai. If moral codes come from a personal choice, then make the choice that helps people, protects orphans. It looks like Dazai took that to heart when he befriended the starving Atsushi in the first episode.

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