Bungo Stray Dogs is a very interesting show. Most of its main characters are based off of real life authors. This is most obvious in the members of the Guild. The members are all prominent authors from North America and Europe from the 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. I didn’t even realize that the characters of the Armed Detective Agency were also based off of famous authors. In fact they’re all based off of prominent Japanese authors.
I was inspired to write this post because of the end of episode 19 when Atsushi is talking to Dazai about teaming up with the Port Mafia. He says that he is reminded of something he read in a book long ago. “The head may err, but never the blood.” he quotes. He doesn’t remember where he read it or the name of the author which is a good thing because it would have added a lot of confusion to the plot if he did and it would have been a break in the fourth wall. At the end of the episode the quote appears again on a black background. Only this time we know where it is from.
This quote comes from Atsushi Nakajima’s only completed major novel. Yep, Atsushi literally quoted the person who inspired his creation.
Along with this quote there is another connection between the anime character and the author. Atsushi Nakajima is best known for his short story “Sangetsuki” which translates to roughly “Tiger Poet”. This story is about a poet who turns into a tiger while retaining his human mind. This causes him to think over his past and regret everything he has done. It is a sort of homage to “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka where the same thing happens to the main character only with a large insect.
Atsushi in Bungo Stray Dogs has the ability to transform into a tiger. At the start of the series he did not know this fact and it caused him to be put down by the people who should have cared for him at the orphanage. After he joins the Agency he is constantly regretting his past. Honestly his regret and self hate is pointed out too much. At the start he felt useless, but after he beat Lucy Maude he began to realize that he is more useful than he thought he was due to self examination and self growth (or so I thought before I watched episode 23). He can turn into a tiger and he regrets his past just like in the story. Though he laments his past it is far less frequent.
I did not get a chance to read any of Atsushi Nakajima’s work while writing this, though I wish I could have. His stories seem so interesting and he had strong philosophical views which he wove into his plots. Being in Canada it is kind of difficult to get a copy of either his novel or his collection of short stories since he is a classic Japanese author. If you find a copy of any of his work feel free to read it. It may give you more insight into Atsushi’s character in Bungo Stray Dogs.
For this post I used two sources for research. The first of these is Atsushi Nakajima’s Wikipedia page. It is kind of bare bones but at least it gave me some very basic information. The second source I used is an article by Minato Kawamura titled “A Biography of Self-Loss: The Life and Works of Atsushi Nakajima”. You can find the article here to learn more about the author.
I will most likely be writing more posts like this one in the future.