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Manga / Bungo Stray Dogs
aka: Bungou Stray Dogs

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Bungo Stray Dogs (Literary Master Stray Dogs) is a Seinen manga by Kafka Asagiri and Harukawa 35 (pronounced "Sango") which began serialization in 2012. It also has novels and an anime in 2016, running for a Spring cour and a Fall cour. Its official anime website is here.

Atsushi Nakajima is kicked out of his orphanage. To make matters worse, there are rumors of a tiger on the loose and when he gets to a river, starving and with nowhere to go, there's a guy committing suicide.

Well, trying to commit suicide.

The man attempting suicide is Osamu Dazai, a member of the Armed Detective Agency. He and Doppo Kunikida are out to find the tiger before anything (casualties, damage or the large bounties for said tiger) gets worse. These two, along with all the people at the Agency, have supernatural powers and Doppo has a sneaking suspicion that Atsushi's part of the big picture.

Not only that, but every single character has a name that corresponds to an author of (a) famous literary work(s) and their powers are based around the works they're known work, at the minimum.

The character design has a vibe of The Roaring '20s, but the story is set in the present day.

It has absolutely nothing to do with a Fullmetal Alchemist prototype.

Literary stray tropes:

  • Action Girl: Akiko Yosano (see Combat Medic below), Kyouka Izumi (Little Miss Badass) and Ichiyou Higuchi (Dark Action Girl).
  • Ambiguously Gay: Edgar Allan Poe's obsession with Ranpo could easily be interpreted as romantic and Edgar hasn't shown any interest in women thus far.
  • Anime Accent Absence: Everyone in the Guild, an American-based organization, seems to be able to communicate in flawless Japanese. This is never commented on.
  • Animorphism: Atsushi can transform into a tiger.
    • Natsume Souseki, as revealed in chapter 50.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The characters are based on Japanese and Western writers and their superpower names are based on the books that they wrote. Other than that, fictional characters like Tanizaki Naomi are also based on the writer's published books.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Junichirou Tanizaki. Don't hurt his sister. Ever.
    • Ryuunoske Akutagawa. Actually, he can be pissed off almost by anything. What triggers him most is realization that Dazai has found a more capable subordinate than him.
    • Mentioning Dazai when Chuuya is within range is the easiest way to get him pissed off.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: In manga vol. 5 artist Harukawa 35 confirms that evil characters in Bungo Stray Dogs have darker eyes than the good ones.
  • Blinding Bangs: Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: The interactions between Dazai and Kunikida when they're not working on a case often play out like this.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Oda to some Elite Mooks once he goes on a revenge mission against Mimic.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Junichirou and Naomi Tanizaki. Quite onesided on Naomi's part.
  • Bungled Suicide: Dazai is notorious for this, constantly attempting various methods of suicide only to end up getting interrupted or messing them up himself.
  • Calling Your Attacks: How one activates their ability.
  • Casting a Shadow: Rashomon, which is controlled by Akutagawa's jacket...cloak...thing.
  • Character Tics: Akutagawa coughs a lot and covers his mouth after that. Half of the time you see him speaking his mouth will be covered.
  • The Chessmaster: Dazai, Ougai, and Fyodor are the most notable throughout the series (Dazai is quite notorious for this in universe, while Ougai plays the Obfuscating Stupidity card at times), plus Gide and Oda in Dark Era due to their abilities.
  • Combat Medic: Akiko Yosano, who has to make sure the person she's healing is half dead first. She can even heal herself which is extremely handy, but painful.
  • Comfort Food: Chazuke (tea on rice) for Atsushi.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Most characters, but notably Atsushi, Kyouka, and Lucy.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The terrorist organization Decay of Angels murders several government officials in extremely gruesome ways, based on the signs indicating the imminent death of angels in Buddhism:
    • A legislator was skinned alive then had his skin back sewn on inside-out.
    • A deputy commander in the coast guard had his face melted by an extremely corrosive poison; the cause of death was shock due to the intense pain.
    • A secretary had an air compressor stuck into their mouth, causing their blood and nerves to burst from their pores.
    • A first-class official for the military police and abilities secret service was injected with a drug that drives its victims to suicide then locked inside an empty room, driving them to kill themselves by bashing their head against a wall.
    • Finally, several government agents are captured and restrained in a device that uses chainsaws to slowly cut them in half. The Armed Detective Agency are given a chance to stop this, but it was a trap and they ended up being framed for the murder by Fyodor.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: The Guild. A bunch of international people named after real life authors who have awesome powers, live swanky lifestyles and kick tonnes of ass. The Port Mafia qualifies as well, with many of its higher-ranking members even dressing like Roaring Twenties gangsters, most notably Chuya.
    • However, averted by Kyouka, who once was a pawn of the Port Mafia and at present still lives in fear of them despite her Heel–Face Turn, Dazai, who used to be a Mafia executive but now wants nothing to do with them, and in the Dark Era, Oda, who worked for the Mafia mostly for the paycheck, and Ango, who was a sleeper agent keeping tabs on the Mafia for the government.
  • Dan Browned: The real Dan Brown appears and his character's power involves reasoning and it is just as bad as his books' reasoning, the only difference is that everyone can actually see through the hogwash.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Chuuya's true ability, Corruption, which will kill him and heavily damage surroundings unless Dazai is nearby to cancel its effect.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dazai is the master of this. Ranpo, too, to an extent.
  • Death Glare: Akutagawa and Chuuya practice it a lot, Dazai and Ogai also have their moments.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Deconstructed. Ranpo defeated Edgar Allan Poe in the past and Ranpo's egotistical sore winner showboating made Edgar hate the man he had admired until that moment. It wasn't until Ranpo defeated him a second time and treated him kindly in the aftermath that Edgar began to like him again.
  • Enemy Mine: The confrontation with The Guild has two big fights, which involve this trope. Dazai and Chuuya vs. Lovecraft and Steinbeck; Atsushi and Akutagawa vs. Fitzgerald.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Applied to an entire organization- the Port Mafia doesn't seem to have a proper name, they're referred to as the Port Mafia because they're a mafia that controls the ports.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Port Mafia's headquarters is a complex of five black skyscrapers that glow red at night.
  • Evil Wears Black: Port Mafia, with few exceptions. Also Lovecraft.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Ranpo Edogawa. Usually his eyes can be seen only when he is using Super Deduction or is greatly surprised.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Atsushi's bangs are cut at an angle with a long thin lock on one side, and Chuuya's hair is significantly longer on one side than the other.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Several characters, including Dazai, Kunikida, Yosano, and Fukuzawa, due to their abilities not directly applying to combat or enhancing their combat skills. Dazai's ability also forces this on other people.
  • Guardian Entity: Kyouka's, Kouyou's, Lucy's, and Mori's abilities all manifest some form of this.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Dazai in the first episode/chapter, when he holds Atsushi in his arms. The fangirls weren't convinced.
  • Historical In-Joke: There are plenty of scattered references to the characters' namesake writers' lives and works, but the most prominent is that Tanizaki and Akutagawa both have younger sisters and Mori has a young girl in his care, all three of whom are named after the title characters of stories by the writers that the three men are named after.
  • Innocent Bystander: Subverted. That funny man who gets in trouble with Atsushi and Junichirou turns out to be mafia boss Mori Ogai.
  • Ironic Name: Applied to the Armed Detective Agency, who are armed with superpowers but aren't exactly detectivesnote . The only aversion to this would be Ranpo Edogawa whose "power" is just his awesome intellect. Yeah, that Ranpo Edogawa, listed under Awesomeness by Analysis.
    • None of the characters of Bungo Stray Dogs are described as dog-lovers, some of them actually hate dogs or are credited as cat-lovers.
  • Lighter and Softer: The anime heavily plays up the comedic aspect of the series and downplays the grim nature of the manga.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Several chapters use the exact or modified title of the works by famous Japanese and Western authors. If it is the case, then the character named after this particular author will play an important role in the chapter.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Split into Cast Herds by organization.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Lovecraft, obviously. It manifests as Combat Tentacles.
  • Mad Bomber: Kajii Motojirou. He also qualifies for Mad Scientist.
  • Master of Illusion: Junichirou Tanizaki, with his power Light Snow. Note he's a good guy when this is normally a bad guy trope.
  • Meganekko: Louisa May Alcott.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Akutagawa introduces himself to Atsushi on their first encounter.
    Akutagawa: It is a pleasure to meet you. I am Akutagawa.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Everyone, from the protagonists to the one note characters, is named after a famous author or a character from an important literary work.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Man Eating Tiger which is the initial name for Moonlight Beast, Golden Demon, Anne of the Abyss... some of the ability names can be really scary, even the ones inspired by harmless-sounding books.
  • Nice Hat: Chuuya Nakahara. The poet he's named after also wore a similar hat. Also Natsume Soseki.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: Happens at least once with Chuuya and Akutagawa.
  • Power Incontinence: Atsushi at the beginning of the story and Chuuya when he unleashes his true ability. Kyouka can only control her ability through very specific means until she properly joins the Agency and Fukuzawa is able to use his ability to give her full control over it.
  • Power Limiter: Fukuzawa's ability allows him to limit the effectiveness of his subordinates' abilities, including outright nullifying them.
  • Power Nullifier: Dazai's power, No Longer Human, is the temporary version. Fukuzawa's also allows him to do this to his subordinates.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Kyouka does this once, asking if she can be accepted into the Agency.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Agency. An orphan who can become a tiger, a mafia runaway, a suicide-lover, the list goes on...
  • Reality-Writing Book: The MacGuffin Fitzgerald is seeking. Atsushi's ability is supposedly the ticket to finding it.
    • Kunikida's notebook is a minor type 3 example, his ability allows him to create small objects by writing in it.
  • Rewriting Reality: Kunikida's Ability, Doppo's Poetry. His notebook is a type 3 Reality-Writing Book that can be used to create physical objects.
  • Rule 63: Kyouka Izumi and Ozaki Kouyou were male in real life. Here they are female characters.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Lampshaded for the Guild, and kind of exaggerated in case of Fitzgerald's ability. He can spend money to increase his combat strength.
  • Secret Test of Character: Passing one is a requirement for joining the Agency.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Many of the characters dress like they just walked out of the 1920s, even though the series is set in modern times. That means that many of the men sport longcoats, waistcoats, and suits, while the women wear fashionable skirts and kimonos.
    • Majority of the authors the characters were inspired by were writing around the 20s, which could explain the outdated attire.
  • Signature Sound Effect: Curiously, every Akutagawa appearance is accompanied not by an Evil Laugh, but by coughing. It isn't pointed out yet if he is seriously ill, it could be asthma or something worse.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Many characters whose names include the Japanese long o- or u- sound are sometimes spelled with the extra u and sometimes not (for example, "Junichirou" and "Chuuya" versus "Junichiro" and "Chuya," with both spellings being technically correct). This also applies to the title, which is sometimes spelled "Bungou" despite the official spelling used by Crunchyroll being "Bungo".
  • Spin-Off: The chibi comedy Bungo Stray Dogs Wan!, the novel series Bungo Stray Dogs Gaiden, a movie and a stage play.
  • Suicide as Comedy: Dazai's morbid fascination with suicide and frequent bungled or interrupted attempts are almost always played for Black Comedy.
  • Super Strength: Kenji Miyazawa, but he has to be running on an empty stomach first. Fitzgerald as well, with his strength proportional to the amount of money he's spent. Atsushi has a more limited version based on partial tiger transformations.
  • Support Party Member: Among the Agency, Dazai, Ranpo, and Junichiro all fill this role, due to their skill sets and abilities being oriented more towards tactics or reconnaissance than combat. Yosano fits as well, as a Combat Medic.
  • Take That!: It's pretty obvious the writer isn't very fond of Dan Brown, who makes his power the ability to reason improperly.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: During the conflict with the Guild, Dazai and Chuya team up to fight Lovecraft and Steinbeck (and argue with each other the entire time), and Atsushi and Akutagawa team up to fight Fitzgerald (but only after a fight that culminates in them realizing that they understand each other better than they thought they did).
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: We start with the Detective Agency (The Good) vs. Port Mafia (The Bad), and then The Guild (The Evil) arrives. The best thing is that The Guild arc doesn't seem to lead to Friendly Enemy status, despite attempts to forge an alliance between the Agency and Mafia. After the Guild largely disbands, the Rats in the House of the Dead arrive to take their place as The Evil.
  • The Napoleon: Among the adult characters Chuuya Nakahara is the shortest one and extremely hot-tempered. It is hard to tell though if he does have Height Angst because of this, as only Dazai jokes about his height and they clearly can't stand each other.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Every time Akutagawa meets Atsushi, he delivers variations of his 'Weaklings should die' speech. It deeply affects Atsushi at first, but he manages to overcome it later. The two effectively give each other one before teaming up to fight Fitzgerald.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Atsushi clearly goes through Character Development during the course of the story from a humble orphan to a valuable member of the Agency.
  • Trademark Favourite Food:
    • Crepes for Kyouka, specifically with strawberries and cream. Atsushi's gotten crepes for her twice. She's also extremely fond of boiled tofu.
    • Atsushi's is ochazuke, a Japanese dish made with rice, tea, and savory toppings.
    • Ranpo loves candy and soda, and is rarely seen at the office without something sweet close at hand.
    • Chuya likes alcohol, particularly expensive wine.
  • Translation Trainwreck (or lack of knowledge): Why Dazai's and Kunikida's abilities end up translated as "human elimination" and "lone poet" (or "the matchless poet" in the official Yen Press translation of the manga) sometimes. note 
  • Volleying Insults: Several duos of characters can be named, but Osamu Dazai and Chuuya Nakahara's relationship truly stands out. They can't spend a minute without insulting each other. At times their dynamic can be seen as variation of Like an Old Married Couple.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: This trope is going crazy in case of Motojirou Kajii's ability. First you were made aware that his ability is making lemon-shaped bombs, that is quite handy, but later you learn that it isn't his real power. The real one is not being harmed by lemon-shaped bombs, which could make him a loser in the Superpower Lottery if he wasn't using exactly this kind of bombs.
  • We Meet Again: Atsushi and Akutagawa gets one (by the end of chapter 33.)
  • Word Salad Title: Bungo is Japanese written language, Stray Dogs is self-explanatory. While characters are based on real writers or poets, few of them can be called "stray". The author said that they wanted a title that sounded like the name of a rock band.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Mostly in the form of Improbable Age, Kunikida is the biggest victim of this (he used to be a math teacher before joining the Agency, despite being only 22 years old and one of the Agency's earlier members, looking like he's reaching thirty), but the timeline of the also 22-year-old Dazai's backstory (or what's known of it at least) is inconsistent and improbable as well.

Alternative Title(s): Bungou Stray Dogs