Note: Review copy supplied by Manga UK
Title: Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple
Anime Studio: Bones
Genre: Action / Supernatural Mystery
A large scale catastrophe is occurring across the planet. Ability users are discovered after the appearance of a mysterious fog, apparently having committed suicide, so the Armed Detective Agency sets out to investigate these mysterious deaths. The case seems to involve an unknown ability user referred to as ‘Collector’, a man who could be the mastermind behind the incident.
Trust and courage are put to the test in order to save the city of Yokohama and ability users across the world from the grip of Collector where the Armed Detective Agency forms an unlikely partnership with the dangerous Port Mafia.
Dead Apple is an interesting entry in the Bungo Stray Dogs canon. It definitely fits at the darker end of the scale for the franchise, and like the best parts of the series, it speeds by when you watch. The reason for this is that Dead Apple offers much of what we’re used to. By that, I mean we get a cast of quirky characters with interesting abilities engaging in frenetic fight scenes. We get beautiful animation, aided by some excellent use of colour to suit the mood. We even get a brilliant soundtrack that not only fits the action on screen but the overall feel of the franchise as a whole.
Sticking with the characters for a moment, while the series has a very large cast, we only really get glimpses of a lot of them here. With only one and a half hours to use as a runtime, that’s understandable. The main focus is on series protagonist Atsushi Nakajima.
Of course, fan favourites like Osamu Dazai and Ryunosuke Akutagawa take up a good chunk of proceedings too, but if you were hoping for plenty of Junichiro Tanizaki, for example, you’ll be disappointed. Meanwhile, the villains of the piece are interesting enough. Their designs fit nicely alongside the known cast members, and their actions are comfortable matches with the plot.
If like me, you enjoy the English voice cast, you’ll find them mostly on fine form here. If not, the Japanese cast is equally as strong as they are in the series. That’s good because they all work hard to put across the seriousness of the character’s perils. Losing their abilities and having to face physical representations of them feels like it carries a real chance of death. On top of that, the little pieces of character growth we get for Kyoka Izumi when we briefly explore her relationship with her ability, Demon Snow, pack as much punch as we can hope for within the limitations of the setting.
It’s those limitations – or more specifically, one limitation – that prevents this from being better though. The runtime means that things are sped through at times. While that certainly helps keep the pacing feel nimble, it does mean that it runs the risk of feeling rushed at times. There are times too that motivations are perhaps not as clear as they could be, again, largely because there just isn’t the time to give a full explanation. If I want to be nit-picky, I’d say that Chuya Nakahara’s English voice actor was fine, right up until he started screaming. His screams felt a little corny to me.
Minor issues aside though, I thoroughly enjoyed this. I wouldn’t recommend it as a jumping in point, as you really need to know the characters already to understand what’s happening. If you’re a fan of Bungo Stray Dogs already though, this is a must-buy addition to your collection. It looks great, sounds great, and weaves an interesting tale that speeds by when you watch. I give this one a 4 out of 5.