Bungo Stray Dogs has wrapped up its third season before going back to the dog house until the manga it’s based on can catch up. Following the continuing precarious power balance between three organizations full of pretty people with superpowers, this season dives deep into both pivotal moments that formed this eternal struggle while also bringing each of them to their greatest challenge yet. Couple that with veteran anime studio BONES continuing its excellent streak with the previous two seasons and what you get is a solid spectacle for both returning viewers and newcomers.
And I should know, because I still have no real exposure to the first two seasons, but I still managed to follow most of what was going on. Though that’s not to say it was easy, as a third season of a series with an ongoing serialized narrative is going to have some considerable continuity lockout for those who have chosen to come in now. Important events from the rest of the show are constantly referenced, which would make sense seeing how it’s not really recommended to start from the third part of a story, so I would suggest watching those before this to get the full experience. If they’re anything like this season, they’re bound to be at least entertaining.
Bungo Stray Dogs feels like a series that I would ABSOLUTELY ADORE if I saw it in middle school. As mentioned, the animation is by BONES, so it’s sleek as hell. The acting has its entire cast giving strong performances. And the gimmick of each characters’ names and powers being literary references is certainly utilized more cleverly than I would expect it to be (and sometimes EXACTLY as clever as I expected it to be), which would probably have gotten middle school Dave a little more interested in his English homework. But my issues with it arise when we dive a bit too deep into the rather typical shonen/seinen clichés, including implied love triangles and sometimes rather overcomplicated fights and abilities. It’s something I would be less irked with back then, but now I can’t help but notice.
Just about the whole second half of the season focuses on sort of a “Captain America: Civil War” conflict between two of the organizations, where everyone is forced to fight despite most not wanting to, which provides for both interesting match ups and really intense drama, all in a race against the clock to stop what might be an irreversible imbalance of the scales. For something that covers five episodes, it very much earns its length by thoroughly showing the stakes and ending with a climactic showdown that sets things up for future arcs.
Overall, this will provide fans of the series with a satisfying new installment, but hopefully will be enough to bring people with no history like myself into the fold. It’s not MADE for newbies, but has much of what I assume makes the first couple seasons appealing that it could warrant binging them just to get here. Plus, there’s a movie to add to the Bungo Stray Dogs viewing experience, but in terms of canon stories, this is the one to watch.