Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple is a side story film to a television series of the same name with two seasons under its belt. Characters and events over the course of both series are drawn upon heavily for the movie, which takes place in a re-imagined Yokohama where a small percentage of the population wields supernatural powers. A more unique aspect of the world is the literary spin on its cast, all of whom share names with literary figures from writers to poets. While some of their gifts draw inspiration from their character roles as authors, detectives, and the like, others seem to enjoy no connection. Whether or not you are familiar with the character models of these names, the story and style of BSD encourages you to partake in their adventures of crime and mystery.
I had the fortune of participating in Crunchyroll Movie Night’s screening of Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple, a three-day-only release. I count myself lucky because I could have just as easily missed out on the experience due to the lack of advertisement and discussion outside of Crunchyroll and Twitter. It amazes me that such a niche series could warrant a nationwide screening, especially in smaller towns like my own. But obtain the rights it did, and my own experience makes me wonder about the environment in other cities.
I arrived twenty minutes early and had my pick of seats as the fourth person to walk into the theater. By the time the film began, only a dozen people had arrived. As much as I enjoy my space, the empty seats seemed like such a shame for a story as fun as this one. But how can you convince someone to sit in on a movie that pulls heavily from prior knowledge? I could have dragged my husband along, but so much would have flown over his head and I doubt it would have been very enjoyable. Dead Apple is a wonderful film, but only for those who are already fans of the series. If you are unfamiliar with the anime, then stop and watch them before proceeding here or watching the film.
From a strictly visual point of view, the film looks fantastic. The color palette, fighting sequences, and the characters themselves, both as more serious personalities and in the goofier versions of themselves. Whatever CG might have been implemented was unnoticeable to me in the moment. The gravity of the situation our characters find themselves in feels more pressing and enveloping in a big screen environment.
What impressed me the most with Dead Apple was it not only took everything I loved about the television series and ran with it, but all the major plot points occur naturally as results of previous events in the first two seasons. Atsushi’s painful past is a thing from the very beginning, and Dazai’s connections to Port Mafia a known fact from almost as early of a point. The flashbacks to Oda and the bar, Lupin, take viewers back to the first arc of the second season where we learned the reason for Dazai’s change of heart. As for Kyouka’s inner turmoil, which almost seemed contrived in the anime’s second season, here it finally makes sense and adds depth to her decision to join the Armed Detective Agency.
Then there are the villains, of which we meet two new faces to threaten not only the Agency, but also Port Mafia and all Gifted in Yokohama and the world over. I will leave the finer details of Fyodor Dostoyevsky (who actually appeared at the end of season two) and Tatsuhiko Shibusawa’s part in Dead Apple, but you can look forward to an unexpected revelation and turn of events that extends beyond this film.
Whether they are members of one group or another, or outliers rolling through town, we get a feeling for how the Gifted all struggle with their abilities and pasts. And while this film focuses on a narrow subset of the cast—Rampo only bookends the main events—we still see how the setting and relationships tie this entire world together. Dead Apple is a nicely paced and outlined work that easily leads viewers to the possibility of a third television series. Before that happens, I encourage you to catch up on everything first!
Rating: 1 dango
- 0 dango – average and forgettable.
- 1 dango – very good in its category.
- 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
- 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.