Bungou Stray Dogs is a supernatural mystery thriller anime based on the manga of the same name written by Kafka Asagiri The show is made unique by its characters all of whom are based upon famous authors of the 20th century. Their abilities are named after the most significant work by the author.
Let's unpack some of the coolest abilities of the show and some that are either lame or make no sense at all.
1. Cool: Jun'ichirō Tanizaki - Light Snow
Tanizaki is a member of the Armed Detective Agency and the older brother of Naomi. However, the two of them certainly have a very odd relationship as siblings. Tanizaki’s ability isn’t combating type. He himself calls it decorative even.
However, I find his ability to create illusory snow quite intriguing. His illusory snow has the ability to project illusions into physical space, like a smokescreen. While this may not be the best ability to enter the frontlines, Tanizaki’s ability is crucial for things like intel gathering or keeping his enemies in the dark.
2. Lame: Edgar Allan Poe - Black Cat in the Rue Morgue
Edgar Allan Poe is the former master architect of the Guild, His ability allows him to drag anyone who reads his novels into the world inside. He is obviously not of much use in active combat, no one is going to open a novel in the middle of a battle unless you happen to be Kakashi Hatake.
Moreover, even in other scenarios, the only thing you need to defeat Edgar is not reading the novel he hands you. Even though the mysteries inside his novels are intriguing to an extent, the concept of being dragged into a book’s world is rather stale.
3. Cool: Kyūsaku Yumeno - Dogra Magra
Kyūsaku Yumeno or Q is a member of the Port Mafia. His ability Dogra Magra curse anyone who physically harms them. Anyone cursed begins to sport a hand-shaped blotch on their body. Once Q rips open the doll they carry with them, the cursed victim is forced to wildly attack anyone around them.
This ability is cool by the virtue of how scary it is. The possibilities of emotional conflicts it can lead to are endless. The episode where Tanizaki and his sister are affected by the powers of this curse is certainly a memorable one, all thanks to the interesting dynamics this one ability led to.
4. Lame: Ryūnosuke Akutagawa - Rashomon
I understand Akutagawa is a protagonist with a fanbase of his own. The Port Mafia member is formidable in battles and absolutely ruthless. Rashomon when unleashed certainly looks very cool. His ability transforms his overcoat into a dark monster capable of slicing through anything, even space itself.
He can also use his ability with other clothing. In other words, it is a glorified whip! The only cool aspect of Rashomon is its design and the fact it can cut through space.
5. Cool: Akiko Yosano - Thou Shalt Not Die
Healing type characters in such stories often do not have much novelty in their abilities. Moreover, often the healer has to pay the toll of healing in terms of energy loss. That isn’t the case with Akiko Yosano. She is a rare healer that works for the Armed Detective Agency.
However, her healing abilities only work if the victim is in near-death condition. Just the mental image of Yosano beating someone to a pulp to heal their paper cut is endlessly humorous to me. In my books, that is a cool ability to have.
6. Lame: Atsushi Nakajima - Beast Beneath the Moonlight
Atsushi Nakajima is the tiger version of a werewolf. That is it. If there is anything plainer and more uninteresting than his ability, it has to be his personality. His ability enable him to transform into a white tiger and somehow that made his main character worthy! Well, we all know who the real main character is anyway so let's not dwell too much on a wannabe werewolf.
7. Cool: Fyodor Dostovyesky - Crime and Punishment
Dostovyesky is the leader of the Rats in the House of the Dead and a member of the Decay of the Angel. His ability Crime and Punishment lets him kill anyone he touches. This ability isn’t restricted to skin-to-skin contact either. Apparently, wearing gloves isn’t gonna be enough to go up against this guy.
Fyodor’s physical abilities are impressive and he is certainly the smartest person in the show next only to Dazai himself. There is just something very Midas likes about Dostovyesky’s ability to be able to kill a person by merely touching them and I find it quite intriguing and frankly, badass.
8. Lame: Doppo Kunikida - The Matchless Poet
I like Kunikida-Kun, I genuinely do. The straight-faced, no-nonsense, sincere member of the Armed Detective Agency is often tormented by Dazai’s antiques. His ability The Matchless Poet lets him make objects written on the papers of his notebook come into existence. However, it does not work on objects larger than the notebook.
On paper, this is an interesting ability due to its scopes and limitations. Kunikida even uses this ability of his in many ingenious ways. However, I just find the concept of conjuring up-drawn things into existence a bit overdone and stale.
9. Cool: Osamu Dazai - No Longer Human
Alright, I’ll admit I am cheating just a little bit here. Osamu Dazai needs no introduction. His ability No Longer Human can nullify any other ability of any other ability user. It relies on skin contact and is always active. As such, he can nullify any ability even while restrained as soon as it touches him.
The power in itself isn’t something unique or novel. However, Dazai mostly relies on his intelligence and quick wits to take advantage of his already formidable ability. This is why even though Dazai’s ability is overkill in terms of what it can do, every fight he is in feels thrilling and dynamic. Or maybe his ability is nothing special and I am more than a little biased towards Osamu Dazai himself!
10. Lame: Yukuchi Fukuzawa - All Men Are Equal
Yukuchi Fukuzawa is the president of the Armed Detective Agency. His ability lets him adjust the output of his subordinate's skills, allowing them to become controllable on the condition that they pass the Agency's entrance exam. This one has so many loopholes.
First of all, given that supernatural abilities are present in people by birth in the show, what was Fukuzawa’s ability before the Armed Detective Agency was formed? Secondly, is Fukuzawa always aware of the threat level faced by his agency members at all times so he can adjust their power outputs accordingly?
Even if we were to answer all the questions this power raises, the ability in itself is beyond lame. It is so uninteresting and forgettable that as the story progressed, Fukuzawa was shown more as a master swordsman and less as an ability user!