Bungo Stray Dogs – Dead Apple Review

bungo stray dogs da

I really enjoyed the first two seasons of Bung Stray Dogs, so I don’t really know why it’s take me this long to sit down and watch the movie, especially as it’s streaming on Crunchyroll and therefore not even costing me anything extra. So, apart from having a title that any non-anime fan would just look blankly at, what does Bungo Stray Dogs – Dead Apple have to offer? Well…

Synopsis:

The Armed Detective Agency investigates a bizarre series of suicides involving an eerie mist that ties back to the past of Osamu Dazai…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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Our lead protagonist, with the most annoying-to-colour-in eyes of all time.

Atsushi Nakajima (Yuto Uemura) – Atsushi is still a relative newcomer to the Armed Detective Agency, and still has a certain amount of fear towards his special power, “Beast Beneath the Moonlight”, which turns him into a tiger-like monster. Still, he is more than willing to put his life on the line in order to protect the innocent…

Osamu Dazai (Mamoru Miyano) – Dazai was once a member of the Port Mafia, but he cut his ties with them and joined the Armed Detective Agency. He has a fondness towards suicide and wishes to find the best way to do it, though that being said he does seem to genuinely care about those he has taken under his wing. His power, “No Longer Human”, gives him the ability to negate other people’s powers.

Kyoka Izumi (Sumire Morohoshi) – Kyoka is the latest member of the Armed Detective Agency and is also a former member of the Port Mafia. Her ability, “Demon Snow”, causes a ghost-like figure armed with a sword to appear, a phantom she is still learning to control…

Ryunosuke Akutagawa (Kensho Ono) – Akutagawa is a member of the Port Mafia and a former protégé of Dazai. He is extremely jealous of his former master’s new student Nakajima, and would have no qualms with killing either of them… or so he tells himself, anyway. His power is “Rashomon”, which gives him control of a black spirit-like being that manifests as his coat.

Chuya Nakahara (Kisho Taniyama) – Nakahara is a high-ranking member of the Port Mafia, and used to rely on Dazai to control his ability, “For the Tainted Sorrow”, which when unleashed to their full potential can cause massive damage to anything or one around him…

Tatsuhiko Shibusawa (Kazuya Nakai) – Shibusawa was once on the look out for the perfect ability, which he would then take with his own ability, “Draconia”, which can harvest other people’s powers. This greed cost him his life at the hands of a child called Nakajima, though how he’s is once again alive is a mystery, even to himself…

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Ishida Akira) – Fyodor is a mysterious figure, taking delight in pushing certain events along and watching the outcome. His true end goal is a ways off being revealed…

And many more!

The Good:

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Out lead antagonist, with red eyes and grey/white hair… Original!

As with any film spin-off from a popular anime series, what you get here is the fan favourite characters doing what they always do, but with really bright and fluid high-budget animation. So we have our lead (Nakajima), his love interest (Kyoka) and his rival-turned-occasional-ally (Akutagawa) take centre stage as they first battle manifestations of their own abilities, and then eventually have a big showdown with the film’s original enemy (Shibusawa). Nothing about this is unique, but I came into this film just expecting some high budget action for an hour and a half and to give me a gentle reminder of the show before it returns in April, and I got that.

Shibusawa has a bit of a convoluted backstory, where he had been killed (by a child Nakajima, who was being experimented on) but came back to life partially due to his ability to take other abilities, but he had no memory of this. Scenes with him, Dazai (who was once again playing another side to get the results he wanted) and the mysterious Fyodor was good fun, in a charismatic characters meeting and chatting kind of way. Nothing much came out of it, though Dazai’s plan did involve Chuya appearing and unleashing his full ability on a large creature, which is another staple trope of this kind of anime spin-off film!

There was also a flashback to kick off the film, which included scenes from the “Dragon’s Head Dispute”, a bloody war between gangs, which is always interesting to see Dazai in his Port Mafia days, as well as new scenes with Sakunosuke Oda, his old mentor.

Overall it was a fun hour and a half, so long as you’re not expecting much…

The Bad:

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Oh look, a manifestation of someone’s power that they have to overcome in order to regain it… Wow.

All that being said, I do still have to properly criticise how by the numbers the whole thing was. Just because I was expecting it, doesn’t mean they had an excuse not to buck the trend. The worst offender is not the usual “see characters in action on the big screen!” stuff, but having them face manifestations of their own abilities. I mean, how many times have we seen this trope? (One day I’ll get around to the Bleach filler arcs, where this trope was rolled out TWICE) It saves the anime team the trouble of designing a bunch of new characters, but that’s just lazy.

Then Shibusawa not just mysteriously living in a massive castle that pierces the sky that nobody ever mentioned before, but the fact that he gets a massive power-up right towards the end for his climactic battle and defeat at the hands of our protagonists. It was all so… predictable, even if it was nicely animated. Hell, even a flashback to kick the film off just reminded me of the My Hero Academia movie from last year, though to be fair this did release first…

Lastly, we also go brief scenes with the other characters who weren’t given focus, but that’s harder to criticise given the length of the film. I still would have liked to have seen a bit more from the heads of the organisations, especially.

Overall Thoughts:

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That’s not suspicious at all…

Bungo Stray Dogs – Dead Apple is a by-the-numbers spin-off film, with an extremely predictable plot and layout, but at the same time it offers what it should: characters you like from the series duking it out with higher quality animation. Given I watched it for “free” (or as part of a service I was paying for already) I can’t complain about it too much, but they still could have tried harder…

3 Star Watch

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