Some things cannot be explained. My love for Chuuya is one of them. But even if he wasn’t my favorite Port Mafioso by a long shot, it would be hard to deny that he single-handedly saves this episode with his well-timed arrival and, more importantly, reminds us that if the Port Mafia and the Armed Detective Agency are two sides of the same coin, mutual continued existence is in their best interests. Chuuya’s announcement that he’s there to save their asses on the boss’ orders isn’t just good news for the Agency; it’s a point about how the story’s internal logic continues to function, even when someone is messing around with a reality-bending book.
The Book is shaping up to be more than a plot device, too. Kunikida and the others note that it can’t have been made by someone Gifted – or at least it wasn’t imbued with someone’s Gift – because it can alter memories, something other reality-warping skills lack. What’s more interesting is that the detectives know that their memories have been altered; they’re both fully aware that they’ve been framed and have memories of committing the crimes they’re being framed for. It’s not just reality-bending; it’s sanity-bending, and that’s much more dangerous. Also worth noting is that Atsushi, who wasn’t present for the Book’s initial use, is entirely unaware of what’s happening. We don’t know if Kenji was clueless until he joined back up with the rest of the gang, but for now, it seems distinctly possible that the mysterious author can only work with people they know are on the scene: in other words, they have to have eyes on the scene they’re manipulating. Rampo’s observation that he’s being caught on camera may provide the answer to how that’s happening, and the fact that Atsushi is in a place where it would be weird to find a surveillance camera all seem to support this, as does the fact that when Kyouka slips off to rescue Atsushi, none of the military people know where she is. Does this imply that the author is in the military police? It would make sense, especially considering the possibility of a double or triple-cross. After all, the Hunting Dogs say that their missing member is off infiltrating a different organization.
Given the Hunting Dogs’ nature, I don’t think anyone would be surprised if they weren’t entirely on the up-and-up. They may be the most elite group in the military police, but there’s a ruthlessness to them that we haven’t seen in the rank-and-file members. Tetcho Suehiro’s the player we’ve seen the most from thus far – he’s based on a nineteenth-century proto-science fiction writer, and his Gift is named after his best-known novel, which takes place in Meiji 173 and deals with political unrest. In the novel, the protagonist seeks to quell the disagreements between different political factions. While Bungo Stray Dogs‘ Tetcho is taking a violent approach to that, his work is arguably to do much the same, just by non-peaceful methods. He’s depicted as earnest to a fault and possibly unable to see the shades of gray that lie between the black and white. The detectives are bad. That means that they have to go—end of story.
Chuuya’s bought Kunikida’s group some time now, and other allies (like Poe and Ango) have yet to be accounted for. We’re also not sure what Dazai’s up to right now, and he’s usually the lynchpin in unlikely rescues, so things aren’t entirely bleak yet. But those Hunting Dogs will be a problem, and we can’t easily say which side they’re truly on just yet.
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