Bungo Stray Dogs is an anachronistic show that takes place in Yokohama, in modern day Japan. It centers around the exploits of the Armed Detective Agency, crime solvers with special powers, who often find their cases butting up against the agenda of the city’s seedy underbelly, the Port Mafia.
A great thing about the show isn’t just that it’s a stylish mash-up of genres, but that most of the cast is comprised of famous literary figures in both Japanese and world history, giving the title its namesake, bungo, which means literary master in Japanese. With that background info in mind, here are our Top 10 Coolest Bungo Stray Dogs Characters!
10. Higuchi Ichiyō
When you’re on a show where most of the characters have over-the-top super powers, it takes a lot to stand out, which is a testament to Port Mafia member Ichiyō Higuchi. Historically, she’s unique in that her literary style wasn’t modeled off of Western authors, as was popular at the time, and relied heavily on classical Japanese. Historians and literati are reluctant to modernize her writing, which means that it’s quite difficult for even some Japanese readers to digest!
On the show, she’s the fiercely loyal subordinate to the temperamental Akutagawa, which is both her strength and her weakness. She’s willing to go up against any of the Port Mafia’s enemies, and even put herself in the line of fire if need be to keep her boss safe.
9. Lucy Maud Montgomery
A member of the mysterious Fellowship of the Guild made up of non-Japanese members, Canadian girl Lucy Maud Montgomery pays a visit to Yokohama to raise a bit of hell for the Armed Detective Agency. Perhaps best known for her series Anne of Green Gables, which is beloved around the world, the show’s take on Lucy Maud Montgomery sees her endowed with the special power “Anne of the Abyssal Red.”
This ability allows her to create an alternate dimension nightmare playroom populated by a monstrous version of her most popular character. She forces those inside into a malicious game of tag with Anne, who traps all those she catches in an inescapable prison. It’s definitely best not to get on her bad side.
8. Kunikida Doppo
Every well-run business needs an organized, somewhat anal brainy type to keep things in order, and for the Armed Detective Agency, Kunikida Doppo fits the bill. He was a Meiji-era novelist and poet noted as one of the inventors of Japanese Naturalism, which emphasized observation and scientific thought in writing, which is clearly demonstrated on the show by his need to have everything properly planned and organized. One of his most famous works is a posthumously published private diary, which informs his special power.
Called “The Lone Poet,” Kunikida’s special ability lets him bring any object he writes down in his notebook into existence, provided it isn’t bigger than the notebook itself, and that he understands the fundamental nature and workings of the object. With a power so reliant on a scientific mind, it’s easy to see why Kunikida is the way he is.
7. Miyazawa Kenji
An optimistic and carefree country bumpkin from rural Japan, Miyazawa Kenji provides the Armed Detective Agency with some much needed down-home charm. His personality allows him to make friends quite easily, who in turn are more than willing to provide him with information when he is on the job, basically providing him with a civilian spy network. Historically, Miyazawa was a poet and author of children’s literature, perhaps best known for “Night on the Galactic Railroad,” which was also adapted into anime.
His special ability is called “Undefeated by Rain,” which bestows him with superhuman strength whenever he is hungry. As long as his stomach is empty, he can hold his own in a fight and perform incredible feats, even lifting cars, but the second he’s full, it’s lights out.
6. Hirotsu Ryūrō
Hirotsu is the leader of the Black Lizards, a sub-branch of the Port Mafia that they send in whenever they need to hit an enemy hard and fast. He’s a sharply dressed professional with a taste for the finer things in life. He is credited as having developed the art of the “tragic novel” in Japan, and one of his most famous works, “Kurotokage,” actually translates to “black lizard.”
His special ability “Falling Camilla” sends any object he touches flying with incredible force, making him the obvious choice for infiltrating places he might not normally be wanted, or clearing the way of any unwanted obstacles.
5. Edogawa Ranpo
Self-proclaimed master detective, Edogawa Ranpo is the wunderkind member of the Armed Detective Agency capable of solving the most complex of mysteries, even though he can’t seem to remember simple, everyday things like the right train to take, or how to get back to headquarters. Edogawa Ranpo is a writer who popularized mystery novels in Japan, and his character Kogoro Akechi was heavily influenced by Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
Edogawa dubs his supernatural ability “Supernatural Deduction,” due to his ability to discern information and solve mysteries others seem incapable of. However, other members of the agency realize that this isn’t a super ability at all, merely a manifestation of his superb intellect. Of course, with an ego like his, it’s probably best not to tell him that.
4. Yosano Akiko
Yosano Akiko is the feisty medic of the Armed Detective Agency. She is outspoken, always willing to speak her mind. As a literary figure, she was highly prolific feminist poet who published tens of thousands of Japanese tanka poetry and was considered quite controversial at the time. One of her most famous poems, “Thou Shalt Not Die,” was addressed to her brother and considered a very powerful anti-war poem.
It also informs the name of her special ability, which allows her to heal herself and others back from the brink of death, provided they’ve incurred serious injury. Because of this ability, she is often underestimated by her enemies and considered down for the count, only to get back into the fray when they least expect it.
3. Akutagawa Ryūnosuke
Akutagawa is one of the most prolific members of the Port Mafia, seemingly in charge of day to day operations. He is short-tempered and revels in the violence that accompanies the work he does. However, the mere thought that anyone in the Armed Detective Agency could go toe-to-toe with him drives him nuts. Historically, he is considered the father of the Japanese short story, and his influence is felt even today in the form of the Akutagawa Prize, which is one of the most prestigious literary awards in Japan.
His power, “Rashōmon,” is derived from a popular short story that was adapted into a movie of the same name by legendary director Kurosawa Akira. It is a fiendish black coat capable of turning into a beast that can tear apart anything it touches, be it human flesh, metal, or even space. His brutal, violent tendencies have caused any member of the agency to have a standing order to flee if they encounter him.
2. Dazai Osamu
Dazai Osamu is a veteran member of the Armed Detective Agency whose carefree attitude is belied by his constant, unsuccessful attempts to commit suicide. He has a shady past that involves the Port Mafia, and he used to be Akutagawa’s partner, before turning over a new leaf. He is a wildly influential literary figure whose works are considered classics and are taught at schools and enjoyed by many, even today. His works deal with complicated themes that are often unspoken in Japan, such as mental illness, and one such work, “No Longer Human,” shares its name with his special power.
His ability is incredibly powerful, as it allows him to cancel the superpowers of anyone he touches. While he can still be harmed by normal means, most of the characters in the story rely on their powers in sticky situations, which means he has an incredibly useful ace up his sleeve, should he ever decide he would rather not shuffle off this mortal coil.
1. Nakajima Atsushi
Nakajima Atsushi is the main protagonist of the series. After being forced out of the orphanage in which he was raised, in connection with a series of incidents, he encounters Dazai trying to drown himself in the river. He is saved from the brink of starvation and joins the Detective Agency after being taken under Dazai’s wing. He has incredibly low self-esteem due to his treatment at the orphanage but begins to find himself in his work. As a writer, he wrote many fantastical short stories, as well as one longer, major work, before his untimely, asthma-related death.
His ability “Beast Beneath the Moon” transforms him into a white tiger with superhuman healing abilities that can bring him back even from the brink of death. However, unlike other members of both the Agency and the Mafia, he is unable to call on his power at will. Although he is incredibly powerful when transformed, the temperamental nature of his ability definitely puts him into some sticky situations.
With that, our Top 10 Coolest Bungo Stray Dogs Characters list comes to a close! As a show that blends supernatural elements in a contemporary setting, as well as literary-historical knowledge, it has something to offer fans of multiple genres and is definitely worth checking out (especially with the second season scheduled for October release). Who is your favorite character, and why? Is there anyone that made an impact on you as a viewer, but didn’t manage to make the list? Let us know by sounding off in the comments!