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Video Game / Bungo to Alchemist

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The person depicted on the logo does not appear in the game.
Bungo/Bungou to Alchemist (文豪とアルケミスト "Authors and Alchemists"), or BunAl (文アル) for short, is a browser Card Battle Game developed by DMM released on 1st November 2016, with a gameplay revolving around RNG-based battles and collecting characters of various types and rarities. Sounds similar?

However, instead of controlling Anthropomorphic Personification of historical Japanese objects, players assume the role of an Alchemist and control famous Japanese authors (文豪, bungō) against an unknown force known as the Taints (侵食者, shinshokusha), which has corroded literature and made them disappear from people's thoughts. The player can either send authors to delve into tainted books to destroy the Taints inside and purify the books (有碍書, yūgaisho).

In April 2020, the game received an anime adaptation entitled Bungo to Alchemist ~Gears of Judgement~, part of the Spring 2020 Anime lineup.

Not related to Bungou Stray Dogs. Compare/contrast Namu Amida Butsu! -UTENA-. For the anime adaptation, compare Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu.


Bungo to Alchemist features the following tropes:

  • Always Accurate Attack: While normal hits have a chance of missing, critical hits are guaranteed hits.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Upon reaching a certain point when strengthening the authors, you'll be able to unlock an alternate outfit for them. Some events also have alternate outfits as rewards.
  • The Anime of the Game: One released in 2020.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Many from the great Jul 28, 2021 update.
    • Massively frustrating hunger bar/feeding and fatigue mechanics is gone, but unfortunately this means the Dining Hall is also gone. A later update brought it back as part of strolls.
    • Authors no longer sustain permanent damage or permadie, and thus the repair feature goes along with it (a later update brought it back as part of strolls). Author HP is restored to full every sortie.
    • Route branching is also no more, cutting down the Random Number God element of sorties.
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    • The previously game-breaking bow class is nerfed to kingdom come, namely by significantly lowering their high evasion rate. However, this presents a new frustration as this class is very fragile and loses HP quickly.
    • Costumes now actually serve a purpose – they change the authors' elements, and costume levels also affect performance.
    • Getting a costume now means getting the author period, albeit without base costume. Prior to this, costumes unlocked before the author will be kept in a backlog.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The desperation attack and the dual attack.
    • The former allows the authors to attack an enemy for massive damage, however it requires the authors to be in a weakened (耗弱, kōjaku, attained after receiving enough damage, shown when the author has a blue sign) or breakdown (喪失, sōshitsu, attained after taking some damage when weakened, shown when the author has a purple sign, author may die at this state) state, and since the author is unable to attack during weakened and breakdown, it's basically a Death-or-Glory Attack.
    • While the latter doesn't require a weakened/breakdown state, but 2 authors getting a specific bar which is gained by taking damage filled up, due to the randomness of the battles, there are chances that the bars might be used up in a battle which can be defeated by normal attacks instead.
    • Whip-types period, given that they're mechanically the Expy of Touken Ranbu's naginata. They hit all enemies in one move, which sounds cool in theory, but this comes at the cost of a frustratingly low damage growth rate and high miss rate.
  • Back from the Dead: All of the authors are already dead in real life, and in layman's terms, the alchemist's job is to reincarnate them, so they're technically this.
  • Badass Adorable: The younger-looking authors.
  • Badass Bookworm: Basically all of the cast, since they're authors.
  • Bishōnen: Almost every single writer can be considered as this, save for a few exception.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The authors don't bleed when they're injured.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: A lot, if not most of special dual attack lines are this.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The bow and gun classes; though their attacks are more realistic than most examples by missing from time to time, they are still never depicted as running out of their respective ammo or even having any means to store the arrows/bullets when they go out to battle.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Being aimed toward a female audiences, dialogues confirm that only male authors are present in this game, and all of them are designed in various styles of good-looking.
  • Cast Herd: The authors are grouped based on their literary factions or movements.
  • Character Roster Global Warming: Inverted, the bows are the class slowest to receive new writers and having the fewest writers period.
  • Coffee Shop A.U. Fic: Achieves this in canon twice with Café Royale and Café Noir events, which are basically writers exploring and keeping Taints out of Coffee Shop AU Fics, the latter of which is written by Kume Masao.
  • Clock Punk: Cogwheels are an extremely common aesthetic motif in this game, and the anime even has the subtitle of Gears of Judgement.
  • Clothing Damage: Downplayed. While it is a visual representation of the authors' condition like in Touken Ranbu, it is much less subtle, with only few torn parts and dirt instead.
  • Combination Attack: During battle, the authors have a gauge which increases when they take damage. When 2 authors have a full bar, they will perform this, dealing a huge amount of damage to all enemies.
  • Character Development: Getting Awakening rings, this game's equivalent to kai ni and kiwame. The writers would get a side story in which they recount their adventures and learn valuable lessons. Putting on an Awakening ring gives the writer a new outfit and new dialogues.
  • Chromosome Casting: Not just the characters, all the actors voicing them are male. The only exceptions are Romi Park and Rie Kugimiya as Edward Elric and Alphonse Elric respectively, but they're not native to BunAl canon.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Before the Jul 28, 2021 update that does away with perma-damage and death altogether, after a battle in a node, the game will show 2 buttons, with the left being continue into the next node and the right being return. Due to how similar they look (the only difference being the kanji on it), some players might accidentally click the opposite of their intended decision. This could be dangerous when an author is in a breakdown state, as they might be Killed Off for Real should the player continue. Luckily the game would give you reminder when you decide to continue upon having a heavily injured author, potentially avoiding such situation, and if you're on auto, the mission will simply be aborted. If the captain is in breakdown, it will be aborted, auto or not.
  • Death-or-Glory Attack: The desperation attack. See Awesome, but Impractical.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: The base behind the dual attack, as in order to be able to perform the dual attack one must be injured enough.
  • Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: Authors belonging to literary factions will likely dress in matching clothes or wear matching accessories:
    • Ozaki Clan: Kimono Fanservice with autumn-leaf-pattern haori.
    • Decadent: Biker fashion.
    • Neo-Thought magazine: Classy Cravat with jeweled fasteners.
    • Neo-Sensation: Plain kimono with checkered scarves.
    • Proletariat: Steampunk fashion.
    • Shirakaba: Mostly white clothes in a Princely Young Man style.
    • Mita Bungaku magazine: Waistcoat of Style.
    • Kitahara Clan: Student-style kimono with shirts underneath.
    • Masaoka Clan: A cluster of camellias worn anywhere on the body.
    • Morning Star magazine: A crescent-moon-and-star badge.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: Starting from July 2021 major update, enemies and writers are assigned elements in a beating order of Fire → Wind → Earth → Water.
  • Excuse Plot: The "purifying books from the Taints" plot of the game can be considered as this, as the game is more of you collecting Bishōnen authors so far.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Most of the time, the player is referred to as "librarian".
  • Fake Difficulty: The branching requirements can sometimes be this. Upon reaching the Ni-shelf, 2 of the book needs 3 of the same weapon types (blades for Ni-2 and guns for Ni-3), which basically force you to train another if you don't have enough leveled authors of said kind.
  • Food Porn: Prior to its removal, the dining hall feature seemed to exist mostly for this, with recollections on the side.
  • Gameplay Grading: The game would grade you after you purify a book (obtainable by reaching either a dead end or the boss) with various scale (Great, Good, Pass, and Fail), with failing obtainable by retreating or unable to defeat the boss.
  • Gaslamp Fantasy: On the one hand, it's full of Taishō roman and Clock Punk, but on the other hand, it's set in a Magical Library where Alchemy Is Magic and famous authors can be brought Back from the Dead.
  • High School A.U.: The event An Encouragement of Learning is basically this. Some authors' alternate outfits also have them wearing school outfits.
  • Historical Domain Character: All of the playable characters in this game are famous Japanese authors and poets from the 20th century.
  • Historical Beauty Update: The writers clearly look very different from their real life selves. This could be explain by that it is their souls that are summon from books.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: They're also capable of fending themselves against Taints with their Weapon of Choice. One of them has twin shotguns as their weapon!
  • Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game: The eyeless man in a kimono reading a book on the game's logo.
  • Level Grinding: One of the maps require a specific level requirement to pass, but this is much more noticeable on the further maps, the enemies there can be pretty hard.
  • Lighter and Softer: Virtually all Investigation Mission events (調査任務), which don't involve real literary works, whose plots are relatively light-hearted and even featuring Slice of Life or straight-up Crack Fic elements compared to other events – placing the writers in a High School A.U. or Coffee Shop A.U. Fic, have them film a movie together or engage in snowball fights, etc. – and are basically excuses for giving the writers cool costumes.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Event An Encouragement of Learning is named after Fukuzawa Yukichi's book of the same name.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Some of the authors are this, but particularly the writers of the Aestheticism movement. The longest hair belongs to H. P. Lovecraft, with his sleek black hair reaching his heels.
  • Magic Librarian: The player, as they're also an alchemist who have an ability to summon authors to this world.
    • The head librarian, but his powers are too weak and unstable to actually summon any author.
  • Morph Weapon: The authors are normally seen with a book representing their works, which turn into weapons upon delving on a tainted book.
  • New Year Has Come: The Ogura Hyakunin Isshu event.
  • Non-Entity General: The alchemist/librarian, just like the saniwa and the admiral.
  • The Noun and the Noun: Bungo (noun) to (and) Alchemist (noun).
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Crit and evasion, the former can radically tip the scale of the battle in your favor without needing the writer to be injured, especially with the existence of crit-only enemies, and the latter greatly affects the writer's survivability and maintenance cost. There is a reason the bows, who excel in both these stats, are usually considered Game-Breaker.
  • Orchestral Bombing: Since the game's entire soundtrack consists of orchestral, classical-like music, battle themes are a series of upbeat, energetic scores that also sounds sophisticated and elegant. The big boss theme is epic. The to and chi shelf theme however cuts down on the "bombing" a bit as it sounds slightly less upbeat and more melancholic, and on the "orchestral" as it starts to incorporate traditional Japanese instruments.
  • Our Souls Are Different: The souls in this game are resources for improving the stats of the authors, which are obtainable in tainted books and have different kinds.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Events only ever run twice; after the rerun, they're gone forever along with costumes/furnitures that come with them. Foreign book events do not rerun at all. Stories however will be added to the player's collection in later updates.
  • Portal Book: The tainted books are Type 3 of this trope.
  • Play Every Day: The game encourages this with daily missions and a special shelves where one can farm for resources to strengthen the authors on certain days (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) or experience points (weekend).
  • Random Number God: Much of the gameplay depends on this.
  • Sanity Meter: The Epiphany mechanic. Each writer has an Epiphany gauge that goes up every time damage is taken, and two writers' having theirs full at the same time triggers a Combination Attack. How fast this gauge is filled is determined by the writer's Sanity ranking.
    • There are 5 ranks of Sanity, which determines the speed at which Epiphany is filled and the writer's tankiness. Higher rankings (close to Stable) tend the author towards Stone Wall (tanky but slow to fill their gauge), while lower rankings (close to Unstable) make them a Glass Cannon (fragile, but can trigger double attacks more frequently).
  • Satiating Sandwich: The katsu-sandwich, Saturday's winter special. Its menu entry says it's popular among writers since it can be eaten in one hand while writing with the other, and Shiki raves about it in his recollection with Riichi.
  • Selective Memory: The writers reincarnated has blurry memories of certain events in their previous lifes, especially those happened around their late years. It's suggested that the stronger the writers get, the more memories they can regain.
  • Skill Scores and Perks: The Writer's Road mechanic allows authors access on a skill/perk tree that varies on each weapon type. Each perk give a certain amount of stat boost, and as you progress further on the tree the boost gets higher, with a cost of certain types of resources (souls and gears). The skill/perk tree normally follows a linear progression, with few branches and some level prerequisites. There's also a perk which unlocks an extra voice line and another perk that unlocks an alternate outfit, which are both locked under a level prerequisite and stat boosts.
  • Shout-Out: The shelves' names are based on the Iroha poem.
  • Shown Their Work: For a game with Historical Domain Character as the basis, it provides more than enough references to their history and works.
    • All of the tainted books are named after the works of the authors.
    • Some of the authors' book covers are based on their real-life counterparts, such as Hagiwara Sakutarou's.
    • Some of the authors' weapon designs are also based off their works and the themes on said works, such as Kobayashi Takiji's blade being a reference to the Crab Cannery Ship, and Tokunaga Sunao, a Proletariat writer, wields a sickle and a hammer.
    • Most of the interactions between the authors are based on their real life relationships.
    • The background of the Writer's Road page is based upon the script of Rashomon, a famous short story by Akutagawa Ryuunosuke.
  • Spiritual Successor: Very obviously one to Touken Ranbu with the basic premise of commanding good-looking historical figures to protect some aspect of culture from destruction, and can be seen as a "sequel" of sorts, covering the historical period that TouRabu, with its exclusive focus on ages of swords and samurai, cannot cover.
    • And then in 2019, it also gets a spiritual successor called Namu Amida Butsu! -UTENA-. Unfortunately, that game got shut down in Aug 2020.
  • Starter Mon: Officially, starter authors are four beige rarity blade-types (Oda Sakunosuke, Hori Tatsuo, Nakano Shigeharu and Satō Haruo) the player can choose from, but in practice the "real" starter is Shūsei.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Stories are not voiced; the only voiced cutscenes are (most) recollections. Event cutscenes are almost never voiced upon initial release, and only get voiced in later game updates.
  • Super Move Portrait Attack: The authors get this during the desperation attack and dual attack.
  • Weapon of Choice: The authors are classified into a certain weapon type based on their works.
    • Blades: Authors of pure literature.
    • Bows: Authors of Naturalism works.
    • Whips: Authors of popular fiction.
    • Guns: Poets and writers of children stories.
    • Equipping a ring will change the author's weapon. The changed weapon is usually based on whether the author composed for a different genre (i.e. Akutagawa also extensively composed poetry and even had a poetry collection, thus his ring weapon is gun).
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Prior to the Jul 28, 2021 update, authors had a hunger bar which goes down each time they battled on a tainted book(roughly 7 battles for a full bar), and when the bar is empty (which is attainable during battle), they'd get noticeable decrease in performance (in battle) or unable to be employed (outside battle). The player was able to fully restore the bar by feeding them.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: The primary resources of this game are ink (to heal/transmigrate authors), food (allows authors to go to sortie), ensouled books (allows an attempt on transmigration), and governors (allows instant transmigration/healing), with the former 2 having a regeneration Cap which is scaled based on the player's level. The game also has coins which allows you to buy furnitures to decorate your office.