The sense of guilt that Atsushi has is cliché, misplaced, and utterly annoying. I hate it when a good guy blames himself/herself for something a bad guy did. If it wasn’t for me existing, this terrible thing wouldn’t have happened. Fuck that shit to hell and back, because it’s tired and stupid. It makes the character appear tired and stupid. Now, I understand that feelings aren’t logical and it makes sense to think that way in certain situations. That can’t be helped. What can be helped is the stupid shit they try to do afterward to solve the problem. Kill themselves, quit the team, negotiate with the enemy, etcetera, etcetera: All the dumb crap protagonists trick themselves into thinking is the right thing to do.
In the end, nothing good comes from it and the main character ends up looking like a total asshat. I try to avoid this at all costs, but Bungo Stray Dogs…well, it takes a different approach. Atsushi feels bad because it turns out the mafia is after him and that makes him feel like he’s more trouble than he’s worth to the agency. This point is hammered in even harder by the reoccurring orphanage flashback that still hasn’t been fully explained. An orphanage hates him for some reason, and that’s all we really know. Go die in a ditch, yadda, yadda, yadda-we get it, alright? Atsushi feels like a burden to everyone around him, and this time Dazai’s not around to out “suicidal-thought” him.
Then we have another blunt showing of how menacing and evil the mafia is. There’s nothing very interesting going on for the antagonistic side of things so far, which is a shame because I often like having the villains be the more intriguing of the two in a good vs evil narrative. So far I’m not seeing a plan from this group. It’s more like they’re doing bad things for the hell of it. They massacred a warehouse full of workers. Why? Who knows! All we can really take away from this is that the mafia is big and scary and not to be fucked with. Oh, and of course Atsushi happens to be there to see the carnage, only adding to his head full of fear and self-doubt.
But now we get to the good part. Atsushi’s stupid antics aside, the mafia decides to take the detective agency head on, now with three times the force they had in the warehouse. Things are looking very bad as Atsushi see gun shots and broken glass from down the street. He rushes back, carrying all his guilt and fear and dread with him, only to find the mafia utterly crushed. Turns out these raids are nothing new to the agency, thus smacking down all the stupid thoughts in Atsushi’s little mind. He’s not a burden, these two sides would still be at each other’s throats whether he was in the picture or not. Hopefully this will be the last we see of Atsushi blaming himself for everything.
Onto other things, I liked how the deaths were handled from last episode. Well, almost deaths, I should say. One of the agency members has the power to heal anyone that’s nearly dead, although I don’t think that’s actually explained in the episode. All we really know is that the procedure is painful, and kinky, and I kinda want to know more about what’s going on there, for…reasons.
And as I alluded to earlier, there’s not much Dazai in this episode. In fact, he gets one scene, and it’s only for a suicide joke. Odd, but I guess it lightens the tension in some way? I don’t know, I felt like the show could’ve just done without it this week. Anyway, that’s my write up for episode four! I seemed to be in a swear-y mood today. Huh. So what did you think of the episode? Tell me in the comments or tweet at me without any context whatsoever, even if you’re reading this years after the show aired. As always, thanks for reading! Hope to see you come back next week for more thoughts about kinky medical procedures.
+ Akiko Yosano’s gift
+ Atsushi’s doubts are finally squelched (hopefully)
– (Probably not though)
– Blunt showcasing of menace