Bungo Stray Dogs: Dazai, Chuuya, Age Fifteen is once again written by Kafka Asagiri and drawn by Sango Harukawa. Osamu Dazai and Chuuya Nakahara both star in this light novel, which mainly serves to provide a backstory for Chuuya. He and Dazai must track down information about a mysterious enemy. This enemy seems to resemble the old boss of the Port Mafia who died a couple of years ago. As the two of them uncover more of this mystery, they realize the situation is more complex than anticipated. All the while, Chuuya must also contend with elements of his past.
This installment doesn’t have a lot of images. As such, what little visual aids there are need to stand out. The chosen art for this story captures the attitudes of the different characters very well, especially Chuuya. He has a very different air from most of the Bungo Stray Dogs characters; he feels more like a thug in a gang. The first image depicts this demeanor very well. It shows how his skill gives him a certain outlook and has helped develop his personality. Dazai, Chuuya, Age Fifteen also has a lot of good action shots. One example is the full-page spread of Chuuya using his ability closer to the end. It feels frenetic; he has such a raw personality and these shots reflect that very well.
That aside, the execution of this plot has pacing issues. The majority of it feels slow and only picks up on the third act. While the plot itself isn’t complex, it packs the majority of details into the last few pages of the light novel. This makes sense in context, but can be taxing for the reader. The villain doesn’t have the clearest of motivations either which further adds to the confusion. It feels as though Asagiri wanted to cram a lot in this one light novel. But the setup lends itself to surprising the reader with information rather than doling it out over time.
Despite these flaws, the characters and their interactions stick out as always. While the villain isn’t as intriguing, he does have an engaging relationship to Chuuya. The focus on Chuuya is interesting as well. His prominence reveals that there is a lot more to him than meets the eye. Still undoubtedly cocky, his personality hides a lack of confidence that contributes to his position in the gang he leads. The expectations of others are a burden that many leaders struggle under. Chuuya is no different.
However, he does struggle with more than just his position. He spends most of the story in a balancing act; Chuuya attempts to find out more about himself while maintaining his responsibilities to the gang. He has a volatile relationship with Dazai, which makes sense with his personality. They don’t get along well. This casts a reflection on the relationship between Atsushi and Akutagawa, which shares a lot of similarities with theirs. Though set in the past, this story almost feels like a retelling of events in the present. It shows how inspiration can arise out of the differences between people.
We’re reviewing every single light novel from the Bungo Stray Dogs series every month to celebrate the ongoing release of the fourth season. If you like alternate universes, a darker take on bubbly main protagonists, and a world where Odasaku lives, you may want to take a look at our previous review of Bungo Stray Dogs: BEAST. However, if you’re already familiar with Bungo Stray Dogs and would like to read the light novels for yourself, go ahead and check them out over on Yen Press. Let us know what you think of the anime and the light novels on our Facebook or Twitter!
Leave a Comment