Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple was one of the most anticipated anime films of 2018, especially for the fans who have been following closely both the manga and the anime series. Yet, was it really worth the hype? Watching this film with no info on the story behind it or its characters will leave you utterly confused, but as someone who has been a great fan of the show since it first came out, I have to say it left me with many question marks as well.
Despite its amazing visuals and overall production that is definitely worthy of praising, the film ended up being more of a fan service title rather than an extension of the original storyline or even an introduction for the upcoming third season.
It has been six years since the 88-day incident that ended up being a devastating massacre. There have been cases around the world of a mysterious fog that appears and makes gifted ability-users kill themselves by the use of their own powers. The Armed Detective Agency receives a request by the government to solve this ‘Ability-User Serial Suicide Incident’ and capture a mysterious man named Tatsuhiko Shibusawa. As the city of Yokohama is swallowed up by this nightmarish fog, Atsushi and the rest try to save their friends and everyone in the city.
Plot & Story
The film cuts straight into action from the beginning: we see a fight that happened six years ago, and after an epic opening sequence, we jump right back into the present where we see Atsushi, Dazai (chilling on a grave, which instantly reminds you his whole obsession over death) and everyone from the Armed Detective Agency, spending their days as they are used to. Things get complicated when the fog unravels throughout Yokohama and the ability users are the only ones left standing. They start fighting against an unexpected enemy: their own power. So far so good, right? We are then introduced to the villains of the story, Shibusawa Tatsuhiko and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and this is where the biggest problem of the story arises: the motives of the villains are so unclear that end up messing up the whole plot. What is it that Tatsuhiko wants exactly? He wants to die? He wants more power? He wants to find purpose? Whatever it is, we never fully get to understand because he is presented to us as a very complex character that only Dazai and Fyodor are able to comprehend. What was the reasoning behind everything he did? Just to bring havoc and witness despair? Why are they doing all this? What was the deal with Tatsuhiko and Atsushi in the flashback? WHY IS ATSUSHI SPECIAL? The plot left me so lost I gave up trying to put the pieces together. Long story short, even though I love the characters of Bungo Stray Dogs, the story of this film was a little disappointing.
Art & Music
The art of the film is what you would expect from studio Bones. Polished designs with beautiful detailing as in the original anime series as well as the gorgeous animation you would expect from a feature-length anime film. The fight scenes were choreographed so well; when Kunikida and Tanizaki go out to meet the special operations division and they just turn around with their guns, the flow of their movement is just insane, plus the fighting scene of Akutagawa and Rashoumon in the factory as well as Chuuya’s awakening scene left me speechless. And might I add that the costumes and atmosphere of the film are just perfect. Even the ice in Dazai’s whiskey is so well animated and detailed. I don’t even drink whiskey and it made me thirsty for it.
Another strong point of the film was its soundtrack and voice acting. The opening song by GRANRODEO was superb and fitted perfectly with the vibe of the film, as was the ending song performed by Luck Life. What really got my attention was the track that played over the awakening scene of Chuuya with the mad freestyle and strange use of trumpet instrumentals; it felt a bit overwhelming for the scene. The voice acting was incredible as expected, with very big names (Mamoru Miyano, Kamiya Hiroshi, Akira Ishida etc.) voicing the leads of the film and the supporting characters.
Themes & Trivia
Third Season: Bungo Stray Dogs has a third anime season (Spring 2019).
The names of the characters: Bungo Stray Dogs features characters whose names are the same as famous literary masters (‘bungou’ in Japanese) and whose supernatural powers are named after their works. Some authors’ names are so famous that even viewers outside Japan may have heard of them, but many have never read about their backgrounds and personal histories. You can read about this more in Japanese Culture in Anime: ‘Bungou Stray Dogs’.
I was annoyed that Atsushi went back at being weak and confused. From my point of view, his character arc was handled very poorly during the movie and for the people that have watched the anime to its completion, you can see that they just bring back his insecurities and drama even though it has been thoroughly resolved by the end of the second season. I really don’t understand why they decided to present his internal conflict once again and bring back those timid and weak aspects to his character.
Other than that, I really enjoyed the different take on Snow White’s story. As someone who is a great fan of the original Grimm Brothers’ tales, I found this to be very appropriate. In case you missed it, I am talking about the scene where Dazai talks about the apple suicide and implies that Snow White might have deliberately eaten the apple even though she knew it was poisoned.
Your naiveté is beautiful.
- Gorgeous animation with nice fighting scenes
- Character detailing and beautiful costumes
- Great voice acting
- The humor (I lol’d when Kunikida says that they are an ARMED Detective Facility after all)
- The villains of the story
- Atsushi’s step back (personality wise)
- The lack of details for the overall plot
Although the film had its flaws, this is definitely a must-watch for the fans of Bungo Stray Dogs. It is a great way to get yourself back into the wonderful world that Kafka Asagiri has created and to be reminded of the great characters.
Bungo Stray Dogs
Anime Info | Season 1 Review | Season 2 Review
Japanese Culture in Anime: Bungo Stray Dogs