Bungo Stray Dogs: Storm Bringer by Kafka Asagiri and Sango Harukawa as always, follows a year after the events of the last light novel. Although slightly older, Chuuya is pretty much the same as before. But this time, he’s more embedded into life in Port Mafia. The action kicks off when the android Adam Frankenstein shows up to warn Chuuya of an assassin coming for him. Asagiri excels at surprise reveals, and this light novel is no different. Many shocks emerge over the course of its three-hundred-sixty-four pages – making this the longest in the series by a wide margin! Ultimately, Storm Bringer sets to question humanity, friendship, and sacrifice.
The art style follows the same pattern as most of the previous light novels. The first image is of Chuuya surrounded by his new friends. This displays his early adjustment into his new life at the mafia. It also depicts a mysterious photograph, which launches the plot as much as Adam’s arrival does. Nothing ever stays quiet for long in the world of Bungo Stray Dogs, and the action sets in quickly. An image from around the middle of the light novel shows Chuuya and the assassin squaring. This character was introduced at the end of Bungo Stray Dogs: Dazai, Chuuya, Age Fifteen. But his relation to Chuuya is evident as soon as you see the two of them together. A crack in the image separates their faces, and silhouettes of their figures act out a scene below. It is a very clever way to display action.
Storm Bringer has a lot of room to breathe, unlike most of the other light novels in the series. The previous ones tended to pack far too much into their page counts. However, even the extended length of this one is not enough to save it from the challenges of the others. Asagiri has a lot of great ideas. But he often overstuffs his stories with them. In some ways, Storm Bringer is more concentrated than the others. While the plot is a little bloated, it does not suffer the problem to the same extent as the others. The assassin’s excuse for being present at the beginning is a tad shaky, and his goal feels ambiguous as well. This does flesh out over time. However, the most disappointing part comes from the ending, devolving into a flashy fight. It has a twist that makes it worth it however.
This light novel has some of the more solid themes out of any of the light novels. It forces Chuuya to confront the possibility of his own inhumanity while also pairing him with Adam, an almost human-like machine. Storm Bringer asks whether having a human soul or a human body is enough to make you human, even if constructed. Chuuya and the assassin Verlaine emerge as foils in this regard. They both come from a similar principle, but choose very different paths in life. This instalment also questions whether being born gives you the right to live, or if there is more to it than that.
Many lives are snuffed out in this story. Sacrifices born of a desire to protect, or simply from friendship. Life is precious, but many are squandered in this. All for the sake of a character who may not even be human. This, more than anything else in Storm Bringer, proves that humanity is something that comes from the inside. It doesn’t really matter in the end whether Chuuya was born or grown in a lab. He has people who care about him, and that is far more important than his origins. What matters is living, not how that life started.
We’re reviewing every single light novel from the Bungo Stray Dogs series every month to celebrate the latest release of the fourth season and the announcement for the fifth season. If you like love/hate relationships, references to French poets, and reincarnation storylines, you may want to take a look at our previous review of Bungo Stray Dogs: Dazai, Chuuya, Age Fifteen. 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!