AX 2023: Bungo Stray Dogs Creator Kafka Asagiri Shares His Thoughts Ahead of Fifth Season Premiere

Celebrating the upcoming fifth season of the anime, Bungo Stray Dogs’ creator Kafka Asagiri attended this year’s Anime Expo as a special guest. At his panel, Asagiri gave fans insight into his journey, the show’s inspirations, the characters, and his thoughts on sharing literature through his story.

Growing up with YuYu Hakusho, Asagiri was interested in manga ever since a young age, but his love for storytelling was ignited when he began playing the game, RPG Maker. Although he loved the feeling of creating his own stories in the game, Asagiri unfortunately allowed this interest to take the sidelines as he got older. He worked a regular office job, until he decided to take a leap of faith and give writing a shot. Taking inspiration from notable pieces of literature and a wide variety of foreign films, Bungo Stray Dogs was born.

When debating whether to make the switch from office worker to writer, Asagiri thought back to a quote from Black Lagoon: “Our lives are not defined by our work, they are defined by how we live.” Taking this piece of advice to heart and focusing on his love for film and literature, he began to write the series with the goal of helping audiences gain interest in the literary works he himself took inspiration from. Acknowledging that classic literature can be difficult for some to read, he hoped to create something that’s easier to consume for the general public and bring more awareness to these timeless tales. To his surprise and delight, the series quickly gained attention, becoming so popular that he now has fans approach him with words of gratitude to let him know how he’s impacted their lives. “Because of Bungo Stray Dogs, [people say] they’ve become literature professors, or joined literature clubs at school,” Asagiri said.

Regarding the story’s roots, Asagiri shared that Bungo Stray Dogs was heavily inspired by Marvel’s The Avengers, particularly the mottos and quotes that stem from the franchise. Each character was inspired by different notable shows and authors. For example, Ranpo is based off of the detective Sherlock, and Dostoyevsky is inspired by Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. 

When it comes to the story’s characters, it’s difficult for him to choose who his favorite is, as each one is based on a different film or classic story. Ahead of the premiere of season five, however, Asagiri’s current top character would be Dazai, whose character is inspired by Japanese novel No Longer Human and American mystery show The Mentalist. He also emphasized his love for other characters and their unique personalities: “I really like writing characters who are not strong, like Sigma, Mushitaro, and Pushkin.”

While creating the series, time periods and other details were also based on various art eras and time frames. The Dark Era was inspired by Picasso’s Blue Period, a time between 1901 and 1904 when Picasso only created monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green, rarely being warmed by other colors. Asagiri also greatly values the flow of the story, and paid close attention to that aspect while crafting the manga. “If you look at it, the final parts come down to Harukawa (illustrator for the manga), but the flow of it is my responsibility.” As a side note, he also shared that he does not enjoy coming up with core traits of the characters, as he would rather build them up with his specific flow as well. “[I first] come up with categories of characteristics — personality, strength, their past, their relationship with other characters, and their character design. [I also brainstorm their] role and responsibility in the story itself, and if I can come up with a complete and holistic way of bringing these six aspects, [I] can come up with a character.”

With season five of the anime focusing on the Kamui Revelation Arc, Asagiri hopes fans can pay close attention to Sigma, the battle between Dazai and Fyodor, and Ranpo’s growth. “Finally, Ranpo makes a move.” The fifth season of Bungo Stray Dogs premieres on July 12th.

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