Bungo Stray Dogs 4×01 Review: “The Lone Swordsman and the Famous Detective”

It’s been a hot second (or, you know, three-and-a-half years), but Bungo Stray Dogs is back for Season 4! Similar to Seasons 2 and 3, they’re adapting one of the light novels, so the first few episodes are flashbacks. “The Lone Swordsman and the Famous Detective” seems to give us the origins of the Armed Detective Agency, as a younger Fukuzawa has his first meeting with a teenaged Ranpo.

I do love the backstory episodes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the main crew as well. But when we first met these characters at the beginning of Season 1, they were already an established team. It’s nice getting to see how they came to be. “The Lone Swordsman and the Famous Detective” not only shows us that Ranpo was basically always like that, but it also gives us some crumbs to Fukuzawa’s past.

I like seeing Fukuzawa getting more screen time. Considering he is the president of the Armed Detective Agency, I’ve always felt that his screentime was extremely limited. I’m very intrigued by the tiny tidbits we’ve gotten about his backstory. I also loved his parkour in getting across the office without disturbing any of the papers. (And then Ranpo just strolling in an opening a window.)

As he abandons his promise to work alone basically within hours of meeting Ranpo, I’m eager to see the origins of the Armed Detective Agency. Even realizing that Ranpo will be helpful in his investigation, he clearly has some trust issues right now. That, or the person that he cannot trust is himself.

Given the world that Fukuzawa lives in, I’m not surprised that he assumed Ranpo’s observational skills to be some sort of special ability. But I have always loved that Ranpo doesn’t have an ability; he’s just that smart. I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that he seems to have been living on the streets.

I like that they gave us the bit of info that Ranpo, at least at one point, believed everyone saw the world that he did and was just hiding it. He’s 14 in “The Lone Swordsman and the Famous Detective”, and when you’re that age, it generally doesn’t occur to you that people don’t experience the world the same way. We don’t know, at this point, how long he’s been on his own, or what his parents were like, and how that may have shaped his world view.

Honestly, if this anime was just Ranpo solving crimes every episode, I would probably still love it.

Bonus baby Oda! This may sound ridiculous, considering he was killed before the main story starts and is basically in three episodes and then cameos, but Oda is my favorite character. We don’t see much of him here, and he barely talks, but the parallels between him and a young Dazai are quite obvious. (They both had similar behavior and attitudes until they met a person who challenged them to think differently.)

I love the use of color in this episode. Previous flashbacks have not really differed in animation style from the main storyline. But here everything is in shades of gray, with color used very sparingly (such as with the blood after the assistant is shot). It’s like a noir film!

This is a deliberate style choice, and it could represent any number of things. It could either be meant to represent Fukuzawa’s mood, as he’s overall quite gloomy throughout the episode. Or it could symbolize his gray way of looking at the world, which seems to be the general consensus.

I am so happy that Bungo Stray Dogs is back, although I’ll shamefully admit that since it’s been so long since Season 3 ended, I’m a little fuzzy about what happened. I should be able to fit in a Season 3 binge, at least, before the next episode. But if you don’t have the time, Anime News Network has this helpful refresher!

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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