How would you rate episode 54 of
Bungo Stray Dogs (TV 5) ?
Community score: 4.1
Hey, remember when ‘ first season aired and a bunch of us looked at Akutagawa’s character design and wondered if he was Bram Stoker? Well, that comes back to bite us, and if this week’s episode is to be believed, it may not have been a coincidence that more than one person jumped to that conclusion years ago. In the grand tradition of several of the series’ characters, dear Mr. Stoker’s Ability comes from his most famous character, the great Dracula himself, meaning that the Decay of Angels has a vampire on their team. That’s anything but good news.
After Fukuchi cut down Akutagawa last week, it was hard to think how Atsushi would get them out of that mess, and the answer turns out to be worse than you might have thought: he doesn’t. Akutagawa is left bleeding out on the deck of the Boswellian while Atsushi escapes in a submersible, and it’s up to Fukuchi to save our Dazai-worshipping friend. As you may have guessed, he does that in the worst way possible: feeding him to Bram, which in turn revives the man as a vampire. Mimicking the popularity of vampire fiction, Bram’s Ability is incredibly contagious, and each new vampire turns more vampires in a particularly toothy version of the zombie apocalypse scenario. Even worse, the newly turned seem to hold on to at least a vestige of their humanity, or at least their human knowledge, which means that by the time this episode ends, the entire world is dancing to Fukuchi’s tune.
The appropriate thing to say now would be, “Oh, shit.”
Things have looked bad before in , but this is an entirely new order of magnitude, and not just because Dazai is currently rotting in self-imposed jail, taking away the easiest option for Ability-based stopping the scourge. (At least, the easiest if we assume that Dazai touching Bram would nullify all vampires, which seems logical given that killing Bram should also do the trick.) Possibly Yosano could help too, but that assumes that vampirism is looked at as a deadly disease or injury, and in her case, getting to the source of the problem would be difficult since the vampires have taken over a large swathe of the world when the episode ends, including much of the Agency’s other half, the Port Mafia. To call the situation nearly hopeless feels like an understatement.
The show does an outstanding job of creating that feeling this week. Tachihara’s storyline, in particular, is impressively done, from the subtitles letting him drop an appropriate f-bomb to the roller coaster of his fight with Fukuchi. It looks like he’s going to win until it all goes horribly sideways, and that’s a triumph not only of a fight scene but in terms of making us care about a character who, up until the whole Decay of Angels/Hunting Dogs plot, has been so firmly in the background. We go from barely remembering his name to screaming over his demise (or turning), which is some impressive storytelling.
Tachihara does get the best line in the episode, though, which is all he deserves after what he goes through: he says that no matter how powerful, a sword is just metal in the end. In context, it’s about how he’s uniquely suited to fight Fukuchi. In practice, it’s an important reminder that nothing is as all-powerful as it looks. And if swords are just metal, then pages are just paper. Maybe that’s something that needs remembering.
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