Bungo Stray Dogs is a dark fantasy anime series that first aired in April 2016. It follows the story of a group of individuals gifted with supernatural powers, each based on the works of famous authors. Together, they form an investigation agency and use their powers to solve mysteries and help those in need. With a mix of supernatural action, crime drama, and a touch of dark humor, Bungo Stray Dogs provides an entertaining and thrilling experience for viewers.
Why you should check out this anime…
Something that sets the anime apart from others is that it takes time to flesh out its many characters rather than only focusing on its protagonists. They do this by starting off each season with a prologue story focusing on the origins of certain characters. With the fourth season started a few weeks ago, there have been three prologues produced so far.
Before I showcase my ranking for the Bungo Stray Dogs prologues, I want to say that each is fantastic. These origins convey some of the most enthralling pieces of storytelling. They are one of the highlights I look forward to each season, as these prologues often provide characters we already know with an additional layer of depth.
If you have not seen the show, I highly recommend the series. With that out of the way, let us begin.
[WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Bungo Stray Dogs]
Bungo Stray Dogs prologue #3 – The Fifteen Arc
The prologue of the third season adapts the spin-off novel: Dazai, Chūya, Age Fifteen. The arc covers the origins of one of the show’s main protagonists, Dazai Osamu, as well as one of the main antagonists of the anime, Chūya Nakahara. It recounts how Dazai and Chūya met for the first time and started what eventually went on to be one of the contrasting rivalries of the show.
The prologue showcases how the Port Mafia became the antagonist organization we know today. It starts with the former Mafia boss becoming severely ill and Dr. Ōgai Mori, the Boss’s primary physician and right-hand man, killing him as he sleeps, and usurping his power to become the new Boss of the Port Mafia. As insurance, he uses Dazai as his ‘witness’ of the late Boss bestowing leadership upon Mori to shroud any suspicions of a murder conspiracy.
Just as Mori takes power in the Port Mafia, the rumors of the former Boss ‘returning’ from the grave started to surge in Suribachi City. Mori assigns Dazai to investigate the claims, leading him to a prime suspect, Chūya Nakahara, the leader of a rival group of juveniles known as the Sheep. With his past a mystery to him, Chūya and Dazai agree to work together to uncover the truth behind the Port Mafia’s former Boss.
Bungo Stray Dogs prologue #2 – Untold Origins Arc
The newest season of Bungo Stray Dogs kicked off earlier this month with the adaptation of The Untold Origins of the Detective Agency. The story took place 12 years before the events of the show and tells how the Armed Detective Agency came to be, starting with the meeting of Yukichi Fukuzawa and Ranpo Edogawa.
The story kicks off with the apparent murder of one of Fukuzawa’s clients, a high-profile target. When Fukuzawa arrives at the scene, the client’s secretary states that the assassin was apprehended in the broom closet. According to the secretary, the alleged killer was a young boy named Sakunosuke Oda. Oda is no stranger to the Bungo Stray Dogs franchise and appears in earlier seasons, but more on him later.
Eventually, another person walks into the office, Ranpo Edogawa. He was scheduled to meet with the client about a job offer before their murder. However, while in the room, Ranpo quickly deduces that the real murderer is, in fact, the secretary.
Ango revealed the secretary’s plans effortlessly, including hiring Young Oda so he could take the fall for the murder. Before the secretary can escape, Oda escapes from his confinement and manages to murder the secretary.
Impressed by Ranpo’s ability and believing that he is gifted with a detection ability, Fukuzawa quickly figures that Ranpo isn’t gifted, just brilliant. Regardless, he takes the arrogant boy under his wing for a mission that leads them to a local theater after receiving a death threat on the actors’ lives.
The ending leads to what would eventually become the formation of the Armed Detective Agency and a surprise cameo that would make fans of the third season squeal with excitement as I did.
Bungo Stray Dogs prologue #1 – The Dark Era
The first prologue of Bungo Stray Dogs aired as the second season’s opening episode. To date, it is still my favorite prologue from the franchise. The scenes, the story, the coloring, and the emotions conveyed during this arc are some of my favorites from any form of media.
The arc adapts the spin-off novel: Osamu Dazai and the Dark Era. Rather than be told from the main character’s perspective, the story focuses on a side character not present in the main timeline, Sakunosuke Oda (told you we’d return to him). This story is set just a short time before the events of the main timeline and is the final catalyst that leads to the events we know from the anime today.
The story focuses on Dazai at the height of his power inside the Port Mafia as the youngest executive of the most notorious underground crime syndicate in all of Yokohama. During his time there, he made a few friendships, confiding in Ango Sakaguchi and Oda.
Mori summoned Oda into his office to inform them that Ango had mysteriously disappeared. Oda and Dazai were tasked with finding their friend and conducting an investigation leading them down a path filled with secrecy, treachery, and blood.
You can find this great anime series on Crunchyroll
The 4th season of Bungo Stray Dogs is currently streaming on Crunchyroll, as well as the previous 3 seasons and the Dead Apple movie. For other series I recommend check out my article: Stellar Picks: My Top Animes to Watch in 2022/2023.
Have you watched the previous seasons of Bungo Stray Dogs? Do you plan on checking out this current season? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord!