Ah, I wish this review could have come sooner, but as luck would have it, this past week was my turn to work nights at my day job, and so I wasn’t able to catch a screening of the Bungo Stray Dogs film, Dead Apple, until yesterday. I will say this, though; it did not disappoint.
Dead Apple is an original story, although manga writer Asagiri Kafka was involved in the scriptwriting process, about a mysterious fog that appears and disappears suddenly, but leaves dead gifted in its wake. All of the gifted seem to commit suicide, but when the fog rolls into Yokohama, they discover the truth. It seems the fog separates gifted from their abilities, and the manifested abilities attack. Unless a gifted is able to defeat their own ability, they will be killed.
Though all of the members of the Armed Detective Agency and a few from the Port Mafia show up in some capacity, Dead Apple is largely focused on Atsushi, Akutagawa, Kyouka, Chuuya, and Dazai. This is not really that surprising, as they’re the characters from the series who have the most growth. There is some pretty significant development for both Atsushi and Dazai, which was great, though all five of the featured characters have their own moments. The unexpected team-up of Atsushi, Akutagawa, and Kyouka is amazing, from their discovery in the city to the battle at the end, and Chuuya had a huge scene that completely blew me away. The little interactions are the best part – Atsushi’s unwavering faith in Dazai, Chuuya being absolutely done with just about everyone – and this definitely feels like it could fit seemlessly into the series.
I was not prepared to deal with Odasaku feels. (He’s my favorite character, who of course died years ago and is only seen in flashbacks.) Dead Apple opens at the tail end of the Dragon’s Head Dispute, six years before the current canon, when Dazai was still with the Port Mafia. Surprisingly, Oda plays a bigger role than I expected, considering that he’s dead, but Atsushi finds Dazai at Oda’s grave, and later we see him at their old haunt, having a drink…with an extra one for Oda.
Can I admit that I got a little confused near the end? Because I did. There’s never a question of who the bad guy is, or anything like that, but I was definitely sitting there thinking, “What is even happening?” because after a certain point it was all spectacle and I’m still not sure it made any real sense. But, man, is there action galore, backed with some pretty kickass songs. With basically every character being separated from their abilities and having to fight for their lives, there is almost never a dull moment. There are some spectacular fight scenes because of this, though I’m partial to Akutagawa’s just because of the scale.
Oh, the scale! There’s no denying that Bungo Stray Dogs is a gorgeously-animated series, and Dead Apple takes that to a whole new level. The opulence in villain Tatsuhiko Shibusawa’s lair – an abandoned building in the center of Yokohama that is richly-decorated and contains a mini stained-glass building full of various abilities (separated from their gifted via the fog and then collected by Shibusawa) – is breathtaking. Truly some of the most beautiful scenes are in the bad guy’s hideout.
When you get right down to it, Dead Apple is a great film. It’s got action, comedy, fantastic animation, beautiful cinematography, and a great soundtrack. It’s about friendship and loyalty and sacrifice. This is definitely a can’t-miss movie.
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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