Bungou Stray Dogs’is an anime series whose characters bear the names of literary giants. Although I introduced you to characters named after Japanese novelists last time, there are also characters who are named after influential novelists from North America.
In this article, I’m going to introduce members of the Guild, an organization of people with super natural powers known as Abilities like the Armed Detective Company and Port Mafia, and the writing masters from whom the anime characters’ names are derived.
Fitzgerald is a leader of The Guild, as well as an owner of many corporations. While he genuinely cares for his staff and is looking for a certain thing for his wife, he is a hard-headed person who didn’t mind burning down Yokohama to the ground as long as his family and staff were safe.
His Ability, ‘The Great Fitzgerald’, allows him to gain more physical power according to the money he spends. The name of the Ability comes from the title of the novel The Great Gatsby written by F Scott Fitzgerald, a famous American novelist.
Fitzgerald in real life suffered financial difficulties throughout his life, as his father lost his business before he was born, and his wife Zelda lived an extravagant and wild life within a fashionable social circle. He became an alcoholic in later life, and died of heart failure at the age of 44.
Although he achieved limited success in his lifetime, his works were highly recognized after his death. He is now well-known as one of the greatest novelists who represents American literature in the 20th century.
Lucy Maud Montgomery
A staff member of The Guild who wears her hair in braids. Like Atsushi Nakajima from the Armed Detective Company, she grew up in an orphanage and seems to envy Atsushi, who has good friends and surroundings despite his past.
Her Ability, ‘Anne of Abyssal Red’, allows her to send an opponent to a room in an alternative reality and made him or her play hide-and-seek with Ann the monster, and then imprison the opponent in the room if he or her loses. The name of her Ability is derived from the novel series Anne of Green Gables written by a successful Canadian novelist L. M. Montgomery.
Anne of Green Gables was adapted into an anime series in Japan, which was beloved by many fans including myself. The red-haired chatty and daydreaming protagonist, Anne, influenced the appearance and personality of Lucy from ‘Bungou Stray Dogs’.
The life of Lucy’s namesake was not a happy one. For instance, her mother died of tuberculosis when she was a baby, and her husband suffered from depression. Her cause of death was initially believed to be heart disease, however her granddaughter recently revealed that actually she committed suicide due to her depression.
John Steinbeck is a young man wearing farmer-ish clothing perfected with a flat cap on his head. He usually works with Lovecraft, another member of The Guild. Together, they attack an agency clerk from the Armed Detective Company and the city of Yokohama.
His Ability, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, allows Steinbeck to connect other plants with the grapevines that grow from his body. He can use this to capture an opponent or object. He used his Ability and connected plants to Q’s body during their attack on Yokohama . Q’s Ability is to curse anybody who hurts him, so by connecting his vines to Q, Steinbeck was able to make it so that anybody who hurts his vines would get cursed. The name of the Ability comes from the novel of the same title by the real author Steinbeck.
The real-world John Steinbeck, a Nobel Prize winner, loved literature from his childhood. He enrolled in a university to study literature, though spent his time gaining work experience. His novels are said to be influenced by this experiences. Although The Grapes of Wrath received a mixed reception, it won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize, and was adapted into a movie.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft
As I mentioned earlier, Howard Phillips Lovecraft usually works with Steinbeck. He seems to be always sluggish and odd from his attitude and appearance. He still remains mysterious, as he doesn’t get any damage from gun shots, and isn’t affected by any mental Ability attacks from others.
His Ability ‘The Great Old One’ transforms his arms into numerous of tentacles which move at his will. The name of the Ability derived from the name of the pantheon in ‘Cthulhu Mythos’, a shared fictional universe in influential American writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s novels. It was thought to be an Ability, however this becomes doubtful because Dazai is unable to nullify it with his Ability ‘No Longer Human’.
The works of the writer Lovecraft are categorized as ‘cosmic horror’ with a Sci-Fi flavour. They weren’t well received by mainstream readers in US because they were quite different, though they had enthusiastic readers, some of them famous writers, worldwide. He suffered mental health problems from an early age and had some setbacks in his life. His mental condition was improved from the age of 30. He was a shy and reclusive person, though many writers admired his works. After his death in 1937, his friend and writer August Derleth organised and developed Lovecraft’s novels into the Cthulhu Mythos, which was published in 1939.
Wearing pastor-style clothing, Nathaniel Hawthorne was protecting the ship with Mitchell as his duty in The Guild. The ship was destroyed by Kajii from Port Mafia and while he was trying to escape, he encountered Akutagawa and their battle began.
Hawthorne’s Ability, ‘The Scarlet Letter’, transforms his own blood into words which he can control at his will. He can fire the words like bullets, build them up as a shield, or walk on them when they are stabilized in the air. The name of the Ability comes from a novel of the same title written by American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The subject matter of his works is religious, asking readers what is good or evil, or what sin is, influenced by his upbringings and the pasts of his relatives; one of his father’s ancestors was a judge for witch trials and his mother’s ancestor was persecuted for suspected incest. The anime character’s pastor style is probably related to the main character of the novel The Scarlet Letter, who is a pastor. The novelist’s later life was said to be comfortable, but his health deteriorated and he died during a trip in 1864.
Margaret Mitchell is an elegant lady wearing a classic dress and holding a parasol. She had the same duty as Hawthorne, but when the ship was destroyed, she also encountered Akutagawa and sustained a serious injury while protecting Hawthorne.
Margaret’s Ability, ‘Gone with the Wind’, allows her to weather and break down materials with wind. The name of the Ability is derived from the well-known novel of the same title written by American author Margaret Mitchell. The appearance and personality of the protagonist of the novel, Scarlett, is reflected in the character in the anime.
The novel Gone with the Wind was created when she was bedridden due to her broken ankle. Her husband borrowed history books for her and encouraged her to write novels. Her style of writing was quite unique – write a final chapter first, and then other chapters in irregular order.
She was hit by a car and died in 1949. Her unpublished manuscripts were destroyed according to her will, except Gone with the Wind.
Mark Twain is a jolly young man with unruly hair. He is good at shooting and snipping. He used his Ability, ‘Huckleberry Finn & Tom Sawyer’, when he attacked Atsushi. The Ability enables him to shoot with absolute accuracy and know where opponents are by shooting two tiny beings called Huck and Tom with bullets.
The name of the Ability is derived from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer written by one of the most significant figures of American Literature, Mark Twain.
His gained an impregnable reputation from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer published in 1876. Although he became a very wealthy man through his writing, he was said to be an extravagant person who had a habit of wasting money.
‘Mark Twain’ is a pen name and derived from a rivermen’s phrase for water found to be deep enough for a safe cruise. I suspect the Ability of the anime character is set from the use of the phrase.
Twain was born in 1835 on the day when Halley’s Comet was observed. He would say to his friends and family, ‘I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835, and I expect to go out with it.’ His prediction was accurate since he died in 1910 the day after Halley’s Comet appeared again.
Herman Melville is quiet old man with beard. He seemed to have no intention to join the battle with the Armed Detective Company and Port Mafia, and towards the end of the battle, he intends to perish with the creature from his Ability, Moby Dick, which was turned into a hideout by The Guild.
His Ability is to summon a white whale and control it. However, as I mentioned above, it was heavily modified by The Guild to make a massive air fortress, and is no longer under his control. The name of the Ability comes from the celebrated novel of the same name written by an American Novelist, Herman Melville.
The life of the novelist was full of bitter struggles. His father died when he was a child, leaving debts to his family. He had to leave school and start working. He found a job on a whaling boat but escaped with other crew members because of the horrible conditions of the boat. After his return to the States, he started writing enthusiastically, however his works weren’t well-received due to his dense writing style.
Melville’s works attracted scholars’ attention in 1921, which resulted in the Melville revival. He became internationally recognized as one of the novelists who represents American literature 30 years after his death.
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe is a chief architect of The Guild. His face is obscured by his hair and he always has a raccoon called Karl with him. He has a grudge against Ranpo Edogawa from the Armed Detective Company and the only person appreciated by Ranpo.
His Ability, ‘Black Cat in the Rue Morgue’, allows him to transport readers into the setting of a novel, in which their abilities become of no use. If they manage to resolve the crime in the setting, they can escape. However, if they die there then they die in the real world.
The Ability is named after the novels The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Black Cat written by American writer Edgar Allan Poe.
His best-known fiction works are almost all Gothic novels or horror novels. Such gloomy tales weren’t well-received in the US, however they were popular in Europe. He recognized the preferences of the general public in the US and adopted them into his works.
The real Poe didn’t have any connection to raccoons. This is most likely taken from the 2012 American Movie The Raven, in which Poe keeps a raccoon as a pet.
Louisa May Alcott
Bespectacled Louisa May Alcott has the role of tactician in The Guild. She admires Fitzgerald and was only person who tried to find him when he went missing after the battle with the Armed Detective Company and Port Mafia.
Her Ability, ‘Little Women’, was thought to be ‘an Ability to predict the future from limited information’ by her comrades, but is actually ‘the Ability to make time at 1/8000th of regular speed when alone in a room.’ The name comes from American novelist Louisa May Alcott’s best-known novel.
The novelist Alcott was mentally tough and motivated by strong beliefs. She became an anti-slavery activist and an advocator for women’s suffrage. Although the anime character Alcott is depicted as introverted person, she makes her point when necessary. Such inner strength must be the common personality between the two.
Researching famous writers overseas from the past made me realize that most of them lived turbulent lives, just like bungou, famous literary masters in Japan.
The battle between The Guild and the Armed Detective Company allied with Port Mafia has finished so far, thought I can’t wait for them to reappear on our screens.