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Analysis / Bungo Stray Dogs

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The meaning of sunset

This is more obvious in the anime than in the manga, but there always seems to be happening something important when it's twilight or sunset (meaning that the air/sky is covered in orange, yellow and red). A number of things that just happened to be at twilight:

  • Atsushi meeting Dazai.
  • Oda's death.
  • Higuchi taking up arms to save Akutagawa.
  • The crashing of Moby Dick. The fight between Shin Soukoku and Fitzgerald is actually twilight, but you can't see that due to the dark clouds and rain. Once it clears up, it's shown to be twilight or dawn.
  • Dead Apple starts at twilight.
  • The fight between Fukuzawa and Mori during the Cannibalism arc.
  • Fitzgerald talking with Buchanan and deciding that he doesn't get anything out of him.
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  • The end of season 3.

Twilight seems to be a time of change of heart, one in which the life of people is drastically changed. Note that Atsushi's eyes are also colored like the twilight/sunset.

The connection between BSD and Real Life writers

Essentially, Bungo Stray Dogs is Mundane Made Awesome. It turns books and their writers into magic, and the creators of the series have Shown Their Work by relating them, how far off they may seem. This is an ongoing list of similarities and references in Bungo Stray Dogs to real life authors.

Atsushi Nakajima
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/nakajima_atsushi_the_moon_over_the_mountains.jpg
Cover made for Kadokawa Bunko x Bungo Stray Dogs collaboration.
The real life Nakajima Atsushi is a relatively obscure author. He had an unhappy childhood, much like BSD Atsushi. He also died young. The only reason why Japanese literature courses still talk about him, is his most known work: Sangetsuki, or The Moon Above The Mountains. In it, a man strives to become a poet, and in his obsession with his goal, turns into a tiger after being driven to madness.

Now, this Atsushi, being inspired by the author, has the power to, well, turn into a tiger. Atsushi also starts out being nearly driven to madness. He is near death by poverty and considers the oppertunity to steal - more about that in the Rashoumon section. The connection his power has with this book is very direct, as in it being the exact same power. However, Atsushi starts out unable to control it. The real Atsushi was very interested by the oral and written communication, reactive and planned respectively. This is exactly what Atsushi tries to do in his ways to control it. Cited from this page, 'In Nakajima's world, to be literate means to experience agony (...)', which is spot on to Atsushi's initial mentality, as he saw his Ability (Abilities are the equivalent of being literate, remember!) as a curse. It continues describing 'which is made even more acute when the inner literate mentality is contained within an outer oral appearance. The tragedy of ‘Sangetsuki’ lies not in the transformation of the hero from literate to oral, but in the incompleteness of the transformation; the hero retains his human mentality even after his physical appearance has been transformed.' If we take 'normal' Atsushi as 'literate' and 'tiger' Atsushi as 'oral' in this sentence, it very well describes Atsushi remaining conscious as a tiger, using this power to archieve his goal.

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Most of Atsushi's enemies know him as the were-tiger (Akutagawa especially so), and they all target him due to his power - not for his personality, not for who he really is, just because his power is the key to the Reality-Writing Book. This can be likened to the real Atsushi being only known for Sangetsuki and not for the person he was. At one point he references a sentence from Light, Wind and Dreams from the author he's named after - 'I’ve never regretted anything I’ve done. I’ve only ever regretted the things that I didn’t do.'

Akutagawa Ryuunosuke
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/akutagawa_ryuunosuke_rashoumon.jpg
Cover made for Kadokawa Bunko x Bungo Stray Dogs collaboration.
The author Akutagawa Ryuunosuke wrote short stories, the most known being Rashoumon. Rashoumon 's protagonist starts out being near death, starving and contemplating the choice to become a thief (compare Atsushi!). He wants to shelter for the rain and walks to the dilapidated, eponymous Rashoumon, a gate where dead bodies are kept. There, an old woman is pulling out hairs from a dead body. The protagonist is confused, but the old woman says it's justified, because the woman she's pulling out hairs from, was someone who sold snake meat as fish and made her living that way. Now the old woman wanted to make wigs of them in order to make her living. The story ends with the protagonist robbing the old woman of her kimono to make his living.

The character Akutagawa has, strictly spoken, the power to control his own clothes. This obviously stems from the conclusion of Rashoumon, as usual. It's also obvious that Rashoumon is a Semantic Superpower, as it looks like he can control it in extreme ways - make it as sharp as a blade, make it steady enough so it can lift him up in the air, etc. It is the power of someone who will and can do anything to survive, (just like Atsushi's!) no matter what he needs to do. The protagonist of Rashoumon was ultimately able to answer the question 'Is stealing justified if it's important for my wellbeing' with 'Yes'. In Dead Apple, when the Abilities get split, Beast Beneath The Moonlight and Rashoumon immediately start fighting, because they have a similar drive to survive.

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The real Akutagawa had a banal relationship with religion, saying he can believe in the Devil, but not in God. This was the ground on which his fight with Hawthorne was grown. Akutagawa's frequent coughing references the real Akutagawa having pleurisy. Both of them had sisters, and this pose is a hidden reference as well. Both of them like figs and dislike bathouses and dogs.

Kunikida Doppo
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kunikida_doppo_musashino.jpg
Cover made for Kadokawa Bunko x Bungo Stray Dogs collaboration. (Musashino)
The real Kunikida Doppo died young, but not without leaving a lot of precious works and ideas behind. He is considered the creator of a new branch of realism: naturalism. His stories contain themes found in naturalism, stating that You Cannot Fight Fate. The only possible way you could Screw Destiny is committing suicide. This is very interesting, because the character Kunikida works together with suicide enthousiast Dazai.

The Kunikida in BSD has a very strict nature, is a Control Freak and has no time for joking around. This not only reflects them both being a Virgo, this also obviously reflects the naturalism that the real Kunikida started. Naturalism is, like said previously, a branch off realism - as in that character Kunikida's words are so real that they become real. Plus, luckily, Kunikida has the maturity and mind to use it in a right way.

In the anime, Kunikida is seen playing a huge role in the Azure King arc. The character who sets off this entire arc is, ultimately, a girl named Sasaki Nobuko. In real life, Sasaki Nobuko was a woman had a relationship with the real Kunikida.

Tanizaki Junichirou (also, Naomi and Haruno)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/junichirou_tanizaki_naomi.jpg
Cover made for Kadokawa Bunko x Bungo Stray Dogs collaboration. (A Fool's Love)
The real Junichirou Tanizaki wrote books about Japan's fascination with the west. His books were very different, as some were controversial because of the way they described sexuality, whereas others were of much calmer sentiment. One of them, Naomi (or A Fool's Love) is quite literally represented in Naomi Tanizaki, Junichirou's sister. In old times, Japanese women kept their hair short, or if it was naturally long, in a nice updo in order to show their neck, which was considered attractive. Having it loose was a taboo. However, Naomi stood out because she did exactly that. The Naomi that is featured in BSD, has long, wispy hair in a reference to that. She greatly responds with the character she's named after, in particularly her BroCon. This nicely encapsulates the sometimes uncomfortable themes Tanizaki wrote about, as there are still fans who are divided about her. In contrast, Haruno Kirako, who is from the same book, is none of that. She is coy, innocent and smart - a complete Foil to Naomi. These two characters were used by author Tanizaki to display the difference in woman, as well as to show that the protagonist's obsession with Naomi may not be a good thing after all.

On the topic of Light Snow, this Ability can be said to show the other side of Tanizaki's writing. Light Snow is called this way because it not only projects illusions, but also snow. In English, the book is translated as The Makioka Sisters because 'Sasameyuki' is a Japanese concept that cannot be translated well in English without captivating the same feeling as it has in Japanese. Light Snow corresponds with the writing style of Tanizaki, being gentle and evocative. Of course, every author wants their readers to get an image based on written word, and Tanizaki happened to succeed in doing that. Thus, Light Snow manifests itself as catching other people in illusions before they know it's happening.

Osamu Dazai
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dazai_osamu_no_longer_human.jpg
Cover made for Kadokawa Bunko x Bungo Stray Dogs collaboration.
Dazai resembles his real life counterpart more than you'd think. There are obvious things like both being friends with Oda Sakunosuke and Sakaguchi Ango, drinking at Lupin and having lives revolving around suicide, but there are several lesser-known things that correspond. A scene in the Manga, for example (which was Adapted Out in the Anime) shows him toying around with a dog. After Atsushi says: 'You're not very good with dogs, are you?', Dazai reacts with: 'Dogs are much harder to deal with than humans'. The real Dazai had such a hate of dogs, that he even wrote a 17-page story about it. His rivalry with Chuuya is based on the real Dazai's dislike of the poet, and their nicknames they give eachother stem from reality. The real Dazai also had bad luck with women, was involved in illegal activities (the communist party in his case), was lazy and didn't want to work, and was bad at cooking/cleaning. He, however, liked to paint and made a self-portrait, which was referenced here. They also share a familiar pose.

As for the book his Ability is called after, there are also some hints as to how the book translated into the power and into his life. It is a quasi-autobiography (as he makes use of an Author Avatar in it) written at the end of Dazai's life. It is a story that makes you feel like there is no hope when you are done reading it. The protagonist is basically an Author Avatar, that resembles BSD Dazai as well. The Ability is a manifestation of this sentiment, by nullifying other abilities. As a bonus, the book references Dostoyevski's book Crime and Punishment at some point, which gave fruit to the two characters being rivals as well.

Akiko Yosano
  • They are both feministic, and controversial in their way of work. The poem Thou Shalt Not Die was highly discussed because it was of an anti-war sentiment. And while the character Yosano got in some fights (versus Kajii or Chuuya), she doesn't necessarily like it. Her past may have to do with this.
  • They both had connections with Mori Ougai; the real Yosano even asked him to name her twin daughters.

Kyouka Izumi
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/izumi_kyouka_the_holy_man_of_mount_kya.jpg
Cover made for Kadokawa Bunko x Bungo Stray Dogs collaboration. (The Holy Man of Mount Koya)
The name 'Kyouka Izumi' was a pen name, just like several other ones, as it is costumary in Japan. What, however, stands out, is that 'Kyouka Izumi' is a feminine name, whereas the real author was male (and named Kyotarou Izumi). The feminine pen name might have been the inspiration to make Kyouka a girl.

Izumi Kyouka's works are often said to be that of a surrealist sentiment, as it differed greatly from the writing of the other authors of his time. He preferred tales of the supernatural. This can be likened to Kyouka's Ability be the most traditionally supernatural, as it summons a phantom. Summoning ghosts and phantoms is not abnormal in aforementioned tales of the supernatural because it is the most direct link to something not from this world.

Both incarnations of Kyouka lost their mom young (around and about nine years), which left a big blow on their young minds. They both try (or in the real author's version, tried) to honor their mother in their work. They both underwent tutelage of a certain Ozaki Kouyou, and took on their mentor's style of work. The real Kyouka Izumi collected everything that had to do with rabbits (even though he was born in the year of the Rooster, the sign opposite the Rabbit). There is a statue of the real Kyouka with a rabbit in his hands.

Nakahara Chuuya
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/nakahara_chuuya_for_the_tainted_sorrow.jpg
Cover made for Kadokawa Bunko x Bungo Stray Dogs collaboration.
First off, the real Chuuya was also called by his first name as well more than his last name. It is unknown why that is, but there is a certain memorial museum in which he is consistently referred to by his first name.

There went some thought in making his power gravity-related. Quoting from the collaboration with the memorial museum: "He’d surely be rough, but burdened with sorrow, outrageously strong, cool, with a black hat, a little short, driving the story and the readers—I thought that he’d be a character as described above. However, he did not easily appear so as I wished in the story. The hardest struggle was deciding what type of Ability he’d have. Not flames, nor ice. Not lightning, nor water. Having said so, it wouldn’t be a quiet Ability either, such as mind-reading or clairvoyance. Destroying his enemies with violent force, yet tranquil in some way, with a weight that settled in the heart, merciless, passing through all defenses to pierce into his opponent—he should have such an Ability. After an extremely long, immense struggle and examination, I reached the conclusion of “Gravity”. It could only be gravity. The Manipulator of Gravity cloaked in black, Nakahara Chuuya. In the work, he drew the story forward with his rich personality and advanced as I wished. The joint fight with the genius Ability user Dazai Osamu, whom he’s at loggerheads with, has become an eminent battle within the work. He will continue playing an active part from now on". This was because the poet he is named after, wrote poems that spoke to the heart of people. In the same link, there is a comment made about how the gravity is from the weight of words. 'Being able to control the heaviness or lightness of words at will……perhaps we can say that is the connecting point between the real poet Nakahara Chuuya and the manipulator of gravity Nakahara Chuuya.'

Gin Akutagawa
  • She is named after the main character in Akutagawa's story O-Gin. In that story, the Christian note  O-Gin throws away an afterlife in heaven to join her brother in hell. This can be likened to Gin doing anything to stay with her family, even if it means joining the mafia.

Hirotsu Ryuurou
  • The team of special ops he leads, the Black Lizards, references The Black Lizard.

Ozaki Kouyou
  • In Golden Demon, a beautiful young woman named Miya tells her fiance, Kanichi, that she is breaking off their engagement so she can marry a banker’s son who has wooed her with a big diamond ring. Enraged, Kanichi kicks Miya to the ground and vows to forsake humanity. Kanichi goes on to become a cold-hearted moneylender and Miya’s marriage to the rich man does not go well. Sound familiar?

Kyuusaku Yumeno

Others

Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • The real Fyodor liked mind games in his works as well, the plot of many stories being 'gambits upon gambits'.
  • They both seem to have a lot of knowledge about human psychology.
  • They both have a connection to Gogol, Pushkin and Poe.
  • They are both good at gambling (the real life Fyodor had a gambling addiction).
  • He is anaemic, and the real Dostoevsky died from an internal lung bleeding.
  • Both of them got arrested and detained once.
  • Both were regarded as extremely dangerous at some point.

Ivan Goncharov
  • The real author was also a censorist (one who censors stuff unfit for public), mirroring his animesona being unable to feel unhappiness.

Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • His ability and name is a reference to "The Scarlet Letter: A Romance", an 1850 work of fiction in a historical setting, written by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt. This likely inspired the character's religious nature and him becoming Fyodor's assassin over his guilt over Mitchell's condition.

Kyougoku Natsuhiko
  • The works of the author he's named after deal with Youkai, Onmyouji, demons and posessions.

Lucy Maud Montgomery
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