“Despite their differences in position, three men—the youngest senior executive of the Port Mafia, Osamu Dazai; the lowest ranking member, Sakunosuke Oda; and the intelligence agent, Angou Sakaguchi—gather at the Lupin Bar at the end of the day to relax and take delight in the company of friends.
However, one night, Ango disappears. A photograph taken at the bar is all that is left of the three together.
Fast forward to the present, and Dazai is now a member of the Armed Detective Agency. The Guild, an American gifted organization, has entered the fray and is intent on taking the Agency’s work permit. They must now divide their attention between the two groups, the Guild and the Port Mafia, who oppose their very existence.” – MAL Synopsis
Season 2 of Bunguo Strat Dogs pretty much picks up right where the first season left off, say with about 5 episodes worth of flashback for Dazai. So I’ll get straight to it. That 5 episode stretch is one of the best stretches of episodes that I’ve seen in anime. It all revolves around Dazai and his time in the Port Mafia. The characters that are introduced here are so compelling. Their group chemistry is great and seeing an almost completely different side of Dazai was interesting. The remaining episodes focus on the conflict that was hinted at throughout the first season. The Guild is introduced and it turns into a battle for the city between all three 3 groups.
The Guild is great. Me being American, I’m way more familiar with the authors who inspired these characters. The likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, H.P Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, etc. Something that becomes pretty clear this season is the overall themes surrounding each group and the reasons why each member is in each of them. A big factor as to why a good few of the Agency’s members joined was some sort of redemption. The Guild on the other hand on the surface is run by money. Very few in the Guild are actually friends or joined of their own volition. They joined because they wanted money. This leads into the biggest underlying theme about the Guild which is family. A lot of the guild members are attempting to use this money to attain something whether it be power or more wealth. They are trying to attain this to help their family in some way or another. It was pretty interesting to see this unravel as the season went on. The Guild was a good antagonist for this season.
The characters here are still great. I really enjoyed all the guild members. But the standouts this season are the characters from last season that got a lot of good development this season and a new character introduced during the flashback episodes. On the character development side, Dazai, Atsushi, Kyouka, and Akutagawa. I mentioned earlier how I liked seeing Dazai in his later Port Mafia days. It really highlighted how ruthless and cold he was. But this season overall shows that that’s still him sort of. He has changed since his Port Mafia days but those tendencies are still there somewhat. It adds some more depth to his character which is always welcome. Kyouka continues her whole sort of self-redemption arc, which in a way mirrors Dazai’s. Funny enough she was only in a handful of episodes this season it feels like, but her character progression was still really well done regardless.
Akutagawa and Atsushi get some real nice moments this season. Atkuagawa especially gets some more development as to why he is the way he is and why he yearns for Dazai’s approval so much. The latter half of this season really highlights the parallels between them. Also, what would this show be without orphanage flashbacks? Unlike last season where they basically reused the same scene for the flashbacks. This season we get more than just that same one. More doesn’t always mean better but in this case, it does. These new flashbacks really highlight the suffering that Atsushi had gone through that shapes his mindset to this day. So those scenes were very welcome and mixed well with the present conflict which all in all added a lot to Atsushi’s character.
Sakunosuke is really the main character we follow during the initial 4 episodes. He’s great. His power is cool, his backstory and the story arc are well written. His involvement with Dazai’s overall character development is weaved in so nicely. He was the standout amongst a lot of really good characters this season. I hope in some way we get to see more of him in the future.
There was definitely a slight bump in the animation this season. Still a lot of blank face use, but it seems like it’s not as prevalent as last season. There were some good fight scenes this season, but the animation really shines during some of the set pieces in the latter half of the season. The ost continues to be good. The opening is growing on me a lot, the ending is great. I don’t see myself ever not raving about the English voice acting in this series. Yet again it’s amazing. The original cast continues to be great and every new character added was great as well. I loved the Guild’s voice actors and the fact that the accents weren’t obnoxiously strong like some other dumbs. All around really good.
This season builds on what last season set up really well. The aspects of the show that were great last season continue to be now. There are some slight improvements on the animation side which are always welcome. The Guild who was hyped up last season really lived up to the hype. This season is kind of hard for me to rate. The first 4 episodes are the best in the series and one of the best stretches of episodes I’ve watched in anime. Outside of those episodes, the rest is still pretty good. Definitely better than last season but it’s still nothing crazy. The end of this season definitely has me hyped for the movie and season 3. I continue to really like this show.
Bungou Stray Dogs S2 – 8/10