We can count on manga/anime for giving an exciting twist on something considered banal. Whether it is cooking, fishing, or freaking water polo, those mediums pull us in and make our stay.
Bungou Stray Dogs’ thing is literature. Even if you do not partake in the written words and their masters, you will be by the end. You then will be asking, like many others, if season 4 is a-coming…or not.
What happened so far in Bungou Stray Dogs
Freshly kicked out of his orphanage, a starving and really homeless 18-year-old Atsushi Nakajima ends up saving a man named Osamu Dazai during one of his numerous suicide attempts. The young man introduces himself as a suicide enthusiast and a detective working for the Armed Detective Agency, a small organization full of individuals with supernatural abilities called “Gifted,” taking on cases too dangerous for the police. Atsushi later confides that a white tiger is after him, which piques the interest of Dazai, who has been sent after said white tiger. In the midst of it all, the young man learns that he is Gifted and is coerced into joining the Agency. The nature of his power attracts the attention of a third party that places a bounty on his head. The Port Mafia organization swiftly accepted an offer, forcing Atsushi to fight his most deadly member, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, on several occasions.
Surprisingly, the man behind the bounty reveals himself to Atsushi and his allies. Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald and his Fellowship of the Guild are after a book rumored to change reality and linked to Atsushi’s power. Ready to do whatever is necessary to achieve his goal, the madman and his group bring destruction and chaos in Yokohama as the Mafia and the Agency start working together to save their city.
As the city is slowly getting back on its feet, a new faction already threatens the peace: Rats in the House of the Dead led by Fyodor Doystoevsky, also after the book. Through his schemes and machinations, Fyodor orchestrates an all-out war between the Port Mafia and the Armed Detective Agency, slowed down by the leaders of each organization trying to reason with their subordinates. At the core of this conflict, an unknown virus is released, and while his friends are trying to stall for time, Atsushi and Akutagawa are again paired together to find the Gifted behind the virus.
What is going on with Studio Bones?
Bungou Stray Dogs has a total of 3 seasons. The first two were aired in 2016 (April – June/October – December) and the third in 2019 (April – June), with each season running for 12 episodes. The anime is directed by Takuya Igarashi, written by Youji Enokido, with an OST composed by Taku Iwasaki.
When using classic literature, the anime/manga industry tends to reimagine well-known characters. Look at Ludwig Kakumei and its spin on the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales; Kabukichou Sherlock throwing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters in the middle of Tokyo’s red-light district; or Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo featuring Hajime Kindaichi, the fictional grandson of Seishi Yokomizo’s already fictional Detective Kindaichi. In the case of Bungou Stray Dogs, it is a crash course in literary figures of past centuries.
Each individual in the cast is named after a poet, a novelist, or one of their characters, with their ability being named after their most recognized work. Some of the characters also inherit characteristics inspired by their real-life counterparts: Akiko with her feminist discourse and prime and proper appearance clashing with the sadistically sexual side of her personality, Fitzgerald’s wife’s name being Zelda or Dazai and his numerous suicide attempts and his obsessive dream of killing himself alongside a woman. The last one can be somewhat tasteless when you actually learn the tragic story behind the eponymous author. The character himself is ever so charming, but why exactly did they feel the need to use suicide as his comedic gimmick? Other than that one point, characters in BSD are really likable and well written. Their actions align with their personality ensuring that they never act out of character, which would prompt viewers to question the continuity of the story. However, it does not mean that they all benefit from the same amount of screentime or emotional journey. The important ones enjoy whole arcs focused on them, their story, and the intricacies of their goals.
The rest of the cast does enjoy some development, but minimally. Just enough to give them some humanity. It usually means that they will share an episode with 2-3 other supporting characters, which is not bad. The formula works. The audience gets to appreciate the nature of each individual without feeling like they are drowning in a sea of useless nobodies.
Season 1 felt like an experiment: the pacing was comfortable, but not the execution. It relied a lot on comedy, and if some moments were great slapstick bits, a lot came out as kind of forced. Even more so when they would completely switch the tonal approach of a scene. Starting with a serious and tense atmosphere to then throw it off by inserting some chibi cuteness does not work in the anime’s favor as it severs the engagement between the show and the viewers. Something that was corrected in Season 2 and Season 3. Now that seinen label is well-deserved.
The last two seasons went drastically darker and pressing. The humor is better used, but that might have to do with all that impending doom coming their way does not leave much room for silly antics. The story in BSD is slow to reveal itself (the whole S1 serves as an introduction to world-building, main characters, and the different powers), but when it starts, it just will not stop. The cast is thrown in one dire situation after another, often separated from their allies, forced to make last-minute decisions, fighting mental warfare and real punches in the gut. While, silently in the background, the always-mysterious Osamu Dazai is plotting 1000 moves ahead of everyone else.
The animation is above average and keeps most of its consistency during the 3 seasons. Nice extra details such as the hair moving when a character turns their head and moves it slightly or clothes following the movement speaks of the staff’s attention to the sakuga. Fight scenes are fluid, fast, and nervous in their execution. The diversity in powers is well conveyed through their visual effects. The traditional Japanese piece of paper with the brush-stylized characters is a nice touch to remind the literature side of the show. The only negative point is the shortcut used whereby characters in the background would lose their facial traits.
The approach is a bit understandable, but it is also way too drastic as we have seen characters in the distance being treated better in other productions. The character design is beautiful with its use of refined traits. They all sports outfits with a bit of a vintage flair while interacting in what seems to be a pretty modern Yokohama. The backgrounds often change and fill the scene, conveying the atmosphere, whether it’s the claustrophobia of a dark tunnel or the city’s bustling on a normal day. For people knowing Yokohama, the art is a treat: the staff faithfully recreated the unique vibe of the port city with its European architecture and red bricks. All in all, pretty standard for a Bones production.
Currently, Bones is working on The Case Study of Vanitas (currently being aired) and the new Eureka Seven movie due for November.
What do we know about Bungou Stray Dogs Season 4 so far?
About season 4? Nothing. About more Bungou Stray Dogs? Everything. A live-action movie adapting the spinoff manga/light novel BSD: BEAST is in production. The first teaser trailer was released on September 17th, and the movie is set for theatrical release on January 7, 2022. BSD: BEAST follows the usual cast in an alternate reality where Ryunosuke Akutagawa is part of the Armed Detective Agency, while Atsushi Nakajima is now a fearsome member of the Port Mafia.
What are fans saying about Bungou Stray Dogs Season 4?
There is not much talk about Season 4.
However, there is a good reason behind that: the franchise keeps generating different types of content each year. This year, fans had the cute and funny spinoff BSD Wan to enjoy, at least 3 different manga, the light novels, a new stage play based on Dead Apple, amongst other events.
Not that Season 4 has been forgotten, but the fandom has so many recent things to discuss. There is a Discord server, a subreddit that is always active, Twitter keeps it busy too (you can even find the author of the manga/light novels). A lot of content is shared in the community: fanarts, memes, opinions, theories, updates, fanfictions, among other things.
Now, you might notice a lot of ships—same-sex ships at that. Bungou Stray Dogs is one of those seinen anime aimed at a male audience but ended up with a majority of female fans. The Odagiri effect was strong with that one, and the fujoshi did not miss the call. The show has above-average scores on IMDB, MAL and AniList for its 3 seasons.
Will there be Bungou Stray Dogs Season 4?
The original medium (manga) is written by Kafka Asagiri and illustrated by Sango Harukawa. The series started on December 4, 2012, and is still ongoing, with 21 volumes out. The same pair has also been working on the visual novel since April 1, 2014. It is still in publication and has 8 volumes by now. Asagiri also works with Kanai Neko on the comically cute Bungou Stray Dogs Woof!!! Since December 22, 2015 (ongoing – 8 volumes), it adapted into an anime by Bones and was aired at the beginning of this year. A manga based on Dead Apple’s movie -released in 2018- started on March 9, 2018, and is still ongoing (3 volumes). Finally, a one-shot novel titled Bungou Stray Dogs BEAST was released on April 1, 2019, and the ongoing BSD BEAST manga started on December 26, 2019 (3 volumes). BSD is a trendy title in Japan and the West. The anime, the film, and the main manga were all really well received by the public. By 2018, the series had 6 million copies in circulation in Japan. In 2019, the anime was voted as second best right after Demon Slayer in the Best Work (TV & Streaming) category in Newtype Magazine. The movie ranked first upon release in the DVD Ranking in Japan.
Funimation released S1 & S2 on Blu-ray in 2019 and a combo pack (Blu-ray + DVD) of S3 in 2020. The official Bungou Stray Dogs Twitter account has also announced that a new Blu-ray box compiling S1 & S2 would be available on October 27 in Japan. The title has often ranked in the Top 20 DVD/Blu-ray rankings (issued every week). The merchandising is insane! If you wish for it, there is a good chance you will find it. Among the badges, artboards, pouches, hand towels, coasters, keychains, among other things, it is possible to find collaborations such as the cute plushies BSD x Hello Kitty.
Based on the graph provided by Google Trends, we can see that the interest never reaches, meaning that there are always enough search queries recorded to generate actual data. It got more intense during the airing of BSD Woof and before that, too, when the announcement that a new BSD anime was in production.
When will Bungou Stray Dogs Season 4 be released?
No date is available as of yet.
What can we expect in Season 4 of Bungou Stray Dogs?
Bungou Stray Dogs is a big franchise. It seems like year after year, and there is content produced and provided to the fans. It is easy to see why Season 4 has not been announced since 2019 when, in between then and now, a slew of other visual products got (or will be) released. Among which a new anime in January 2021. Under those conditions, it seems like dreaming of a fourth season is not an empty hope. The Armed Detective Agency will still have to deal with Fyodor, who is not done with his initial plan.