Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple Review
Set between Season 2 and 3 of shonen series Bungo Stray Dogs is an original anime film – Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple. The movie sets out to tell a new tale in this beloved universe while connecting the two seasons of anime. Does it succeed? Let’s find out!
The story begins six years before the start of the series, where Dazai and Chuya of the Port Mafia are embroiled in a violent struggle, later known as the “The Dragon Head Conflict”. During the conflict, the two find a man known as Tatsuhiko Shibusawa, who appears to be a driving force behind the incident but ultimately escapes capture.
Back in the present day, the Armed Detective Agency is investigating mass suicide cases involving people gifted with supernatural abilities. Not only do the group need to work out how to prevent these deaths, but Dazai is left rattled when it’s revealed that Shibusawa is connected to the cases.
These incidents have been occurring when a mysterious fog sets in over a major city and later that day it reaches Yokohama, the city our cast calls home. When Kyoka and Atsushi awaken in the middle of the night to see their home coated in a thick fog, they set out for the Armed Detective Agencies office – but on the way, they’re attacked!
As they’re attacked our heroes realise that the gifted humans haven’t been committing suicide, what’s happening is that the fog removes their abilities and has left the vulnerable users to be attacked by the very abilities they once wielded. Now not only do they have to find a way to put a stop to Shibusawa and the fog, but also survive against their own powers.
Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple spends most of its time with Dazai, Chuya, Atsushi and Kyoka, but I think the film does a good job of giving most of the cast a moment or two in the spotlight. One of the things I particularly like is that it also includes Fyodor Dostoyevsky among the villains, whom we saw briefly at the end of Season 2.
Fyodor’s inclusion is likely to be confusing for viewers if you don’t remember the end of Season 2 and have yet to see Season 3 (where he’s the main villain), but if you do recognise him, then you’ll enjoy the character development the film gives him. This movie also gives Atsushi and Kyoka some notable development, although Atsushi’s is largely repeated in Season 3.
Having said all that, while it’s nice to see the cast be given development I think the most important thing in regards to a franchise film is if it’s fun or not. Ultimately Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple passes that metric with flying colours. While I found the story didn’t always make sense (especially on the first viewing), the action and chemistry between the characters meant I consistently had a smile on my face.
Dazai and Chuya are one of my favourite duos in the franchise, but the movie also puts Atsushi and Akutagawa together for a brief period which always proves fun! It doesn’t matter if they’re from the Port Mafia or the Armed Detective Agency, everyone wants to save their city and they’re willing to put aside their differences to make that happen.
Despite being an original story, Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple slots into the franchise’s timeline fairly neatly. No doubt this is helped by being written by the original author Kafka Asagiri, who offered to handle the script instead of a compilation film being made. The issue with the story is that it’s not always clear what the motivations of the characters are and in Dazai’s case there is some disconnect between how he acts in this film and how we’ve seen him in the TV series up until now. I don’t think either factor is a big issue and they didn’t take away from my enjoyment, but they’re noticeable all the same.
Animation for the film has been handled by Studio BONES (Fullmetal Alchemist, Noragami, My Hero Academia) who deliver some fantastic scenes. I love their work on the TV series, but their work on the film is equally impressive with breathtaking action scenes and beautiful visuals. It’s worth watching just for the animation alone, provided you’re a fan of the franchise.
Where music is concerned, this has been handled by Taku Iwasaki (Noragami, The Irregular at Magic High School, Gurren Lagann), who also returns from the TV series. The music isn’t as memorable as it was in the TV anime, but it works well in the context of the scenes. The opening theme for the movie is “Deadly Drive” by Granrodeo, while the ending theme is “Bokura” by Luck Life. Both bands are also returning from the earlier anime series and their tracks capture the story well.
Like the TV series Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple has both the Japanese audio and an English dub. It’s worth noting if you have been watching the dub previously that Ranpo has had his voice actor changed from Vic Mignogna to Landon McDonald (who continues the role into Season 3). Since Ranpo isn’t in the film for very long, it’s hard to tell if this new voice actor is a good choice for him or not, so we’ll have to wait for Season 3 to comment there.
This release comes to the UK thanks to Manga Entertainment who have released Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple on Blu-ray and DVD. As previously mentioned this release includes both the Japanese audio and the English dub track.
Overall, Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple proves a must-watch for fans of the franchise. While the story doesn’t always make sense, it’s worth watching just to see your favourite characters face off against one of their toughest enemies yet.