Bungou Stray Dogs is a series about a superpowered detective agency… yet how much actual detective stuff is even happening?
Hey guys. Sup?
Season 6: The Mystery of Love continues!
We left off basically talking about rom-coms, so let’s shift gears and talk about a… mys-com? Mystedy?
…This is the first season of Bungou Stray Dogs.
Aw. At least it’s cute that you tried so hard.
Bungou Stray Dogs: Really A Mystery?
Y’know, Riley, the more I think about it… is this really a Mystery?
Well… they’re detectives, so…
Sure, but how much of the show is actually about them doing detective… stuff?
W-well… there’s that one episode! Where they solve the murder mystery!
Look, I just wanted to talk about this one, okay! I didn’t think that far ahead…
No kidding. Well, the listings do call it a mystery show. Though I guess the real mystery is how it passes for one. It’s more of an action show, isn’t it?
Well, it does have mysteries, so it still qualifies.
Yeah, but they’re pretty much all really small things, y’know? Like… take the murder mystery. That was way too easy to figure out. It’s obvious it was the cop.
It did feel kinda like baby’s first mystery. The bomb plot too, now that I think about it. It’s kinda funny, though.
Looking back, I didn’t solve ‘em the same way. When it came to the murder plot, I solved the main question with actual evidence the story presented to us.
That’s what made it obvious, right? In any good whodunnit, the answer is always one of the characters the audience has been introduced to already. In that case, we only got introduced to the two cops, really.
Exactly. The more aggressive and confrontational one was obviously a red herring, narratively. But if you look beyond the basic storytelling, then he also just never says or does anything all that useful for figuring it out. They manage to trick the other one into saying some damning stuff, though.
Well, that’s all true. But you could probably solve it pretty much entirely on storytelling, right?
Yeah. That’s how I solved the bomb caper, anyway.
The same rule applies. In that whole thing, we’d only really been introduced to three characters. Well, one of them is removed from the story pretty early and dies before the whole thing’s over.
One of them just wouldn’t make sense, given the information we’re given about them.
And the last one – a supposed civilian – gets an awful lot of attention from the detective agency.
Technically the thing that makes the attention matter is that she keeps getting all that attention after her role in the story is pretty much over.
The point is that it all comes down to that classic line. “Once you’ve eliminated the impossible, then whatever remains – however improbable – must be the truth.”
Right. None of these things are stretches. Even the very first “mystery” of the series. Obviously, the whole reason you never see Atsushi and the Tiger in the same place is that they’re one and the same. That’s just basic deductive reasoning… and a healthy bit of trope knowledge, I guess.
Honestly, with all those dime-store mysteries, I just found myself wanting to know more about-… WAIT!
Uh… what is it?
Riley! That’s it!
Rila, we’ve talked about this. When you say “It,” I’m usually stuck listening to a coffee-fueled dissertation for the next hour.
No! Listen! That’s the mystery! All throughout Season 1, of the anime, we’re treated to a bunch of discount capers, right?
They’re a distraction! From the stuff that matters!
There are tons of actual mysteries that are introduced. There’s the obvious thing about Dazai’s past.
Though that’s not much of a mystery for long.
No, but it’s not really delved into within the first season, alone. It’s set up. The audience is left wondering so much. What happened to him? Why is he suicidal? Why did he switch sides? Sure, most of it is answered eventually. But the fact that it’s not answered right now, for first-time watchers makes it a mystery!
Fair enough. I think the bigger thing for me, though, was actually with Atsushi.
Oh! You mean…?
Yeah. The orphanage. I’m sorry but… what the hell kind of orphanage looks like that? Nah, that whole thing was sus and they never addressed it. It’s good backstory, though. Simple but effectively used and exploited to get as much out of Atsushi as possible.
Right! That! So that’s the mystery of the anime!
The real mystery is just buried under all the non-mystery, huh? Well, I guess it makes sense. Even when we start cracking open the cases, a lot of ‘em don’t really play out like you’d expect a caper to, anyway. Structurally, I mean.
True. Usually, there are two methods. Things we kinda touched on in previous episodes.
Right. On the one hand, a case might go out of its way to show its audience the clues so they can figure it out and feel smart. Usually, the characters aren’t the focus of these. But the murder mystery episode that used this method leaned pretty heavily on Ranpo and played up his super deduction “power.”
Other times, though, they don’t really go out of their way to show you everything at all. You focus on the detective and they gradually reveal things they noticed that you were never expected to see because you weren’t even shown. The murder mystery implies this kind of thing happened but it never actually brought up any details we weren’t shown.
It was the bomb caper that played out in that style. Though it was a bit of a twist since the main detective wasn’t the one who figured it out.
In the end, it managed to check all and none of the boxes at the same time.
Kind of an anti-mystery, huh? Everything that’s right in front of you actively takes attention and screentime away from the way more pressing stuff that’s building up in the background for later.
A lot of it goes back to what we talked about with Sakurako. “The mystery of the individual.” But I think this goes a little bit further than that.
Well, sure. There’s also the mystery of the world, itself. If we’re being honest, the world of Bungou Stray Dogs is pretty enigmatic and impenetrable in a lot of ways. Though it does provide the illusion of being pretty normal, at times. Albeit, with superpowers.
Either way, it’s pretty fascinating, right? I don’t want to say that all the small mysteries are necessarily there to distract the audience from the bigger ones, though. Wouldn’t be doing a very good job if they were.
No. But they at least help to establish the tone of Bungou Stray Dogs as being set in a world of mystery.
It’s pretty obvious what the series is actually doing. It’s all about the characters. So each mystery is used as a lens to focus on and establish the characters through.
The murder mystery and capers like it are Ranpo’s turf. The bomb threat delved pretty heavily into Kunikida’s character. Even the train bombing thing focused pretty hard on Yosano and was set up in a way that let her deal with the main threat. Overall, it’s an effective way to settle the audience into the cast while getting us ready for the real mysteries of the series, I think.
Buuut, what do you guys think? Did you have fun with the mysteries of the show?
We can talk about the next two seasons if ya want us to! I’d be totally down for that!
Of course you would… Anyway! Let us know, down below! And don’t forget to give that like button a zap!
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I’m Rila, signing off!
I’m Riley, bowin’ out.
Thanks for watching!
Keep up the awesome! And…
Rila – Mocha Vampire