This year publisher Yen Press has been working hard to bring various Bungo Stray Dogs spin-off titles to the West. Today I’m here to review the latest manga release, Bungo Stray Dogs: Another Story to find out if it’s a worthy read for fans of the franchise.
The story follows detective Yukito Ayatsuji who can expose any crime – with a catch. Should Yukito reveal the criminal behind a case, that person is then fated to die in an unfortunate accident. Because of the detective’s abilities, he is considered a high-risk skill user and is under observation from the military police. And so, Mizuki Tsujimura, a woman with a passion for her work and a drive to bring criminals to justice, is put in charge of him.
While the day-to-day lives of Yukito and Mizuki are figuring out crimes that the police can’t, this first volume opens with Yukito facing off against his arch enemy, Natsuhiko Kyougoku. Although the detective lists off Kyougoku’s various crimes and predicts his death, the criminal taunts Yukito, telling him that he will be the one who gets away and avoids his fate. Kyougoku takes a deadly plunge from a clifftop, but with no corpse in sight, could it be that he’s still alive…?
When broken down, Another Story has a lot in common with Sherlock Holmes. A master detective (Sherlock), a smart attendant (Watson) and a foe who refuses to meet his end (Moriarty). The way Yukito solves his crimes is evidence of incredible intellect rather than a skill and he works them out in a similar fashion to Sherlock. Yukito is by no means dumb either, she’s a great fighter with a wealth of military knowledge behind her and always there to put Yukito in his place. Although Watson had finished his military service by the time he met Sherlock, it’s difficult not to make the comparison.
Things get a little more tricky when it comes to Kyougoku simply because we don’t see a great deal of him in this volume beyond Chapter 1. Although what we do see makes it clear that he and Yukito have a long history and the showdown over a waterfall in this chapter is reminiscent of Sherlock and Moriarty’s famous confrontation in The Final Problem. For someone as fascinated with detective stories as I am, this is perhaps the best possible starting point for a new series.
I’m also incredibly fond of the idea of stories set in the Bungo Stray Dogs universe but not revolving around the Detective Agency or Port Mafia. This franchise has a lot of potential for one-off stories like this and I hope we see more like it, going forward.
However, despite having a great story Another Story does have a huge problem with its artwork. Unfortunately, the art is extremely hard to follow. This story is originally from the Bungo Stray Dogs light novel series and has been adapted into a manga by mangaka Oyoyo and it does seem like something better suited to a novel format.
The problem is that the panels don’t flow well, they jump around without connecting the scenes up all that effectively. Even looking at them on an individual level, it’s often hard to work out what’s happening in an image. Oyoyo uses a lot of solid black-and-white tones, which makes it all the more difficult to tell anything apart. I’m not sure I’d go as far as calling it unreadable, but it’s very close.
The good news is that the source material the series is adapted from will be released in English by Yen Press in the future as they have the Bungo Stray Dogs light novels licensed. Unless you want to read the manga adaption, I’d recommend waiting for the book because it’s sure to be a more coherent read.
As previously mentioned, Another Story makes its way to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Kevin Gifford. The translation reads well and is problem-free. This release of Another Story includes colour pages, which are always a nice addition! The series is on-going in Japan, but a second volume has yet to be released so we’ll be waiting a while for an English release.
Overall Bungo Stray Dogs: Another Story is a welcome side story in the series, but the artwork leaves a lot to be desired. Unless you desperately want to own everything to do with the franchise, then this is worth avoiding until the light novel source material is released in English.