The stray dogs may have an author’s name, but they themselves are pieces of literatures.
Bungou Stray Dogs’ characters are all named after famous authors. On the surface, it seems like they possess the personalities of these authors. Deep inside, they are beautiful metaphors for these authors’ work.
Their abilities actually tell us a lot about it.
太宰治 – 人間失格: "恥の多い生涯を送って来ました。自分には、人間の生活というものが、見当つかないのです。"
Dazai Osamu – No Longer Human: "Mine has been a life of much shame. I can’t even guess myself what it must be to live the life of a human being."
"人間失格" and "No Longer Human" aren’t exactly equal. In fact, these kanjis mean losing the eligibility for being a human. Yet, Dazai’s ability is to nullify others’ abilities. What does it have to do with losing the eligibility for being a human?
1. Dazai hints at being one who loses the eligibility for being a human.
During Dazai’s "Dark Era", he obviously does not see any purpose in life. He finds life meaningless, dull and somehow painful to bear. He has lost the will to be a human. While death, on the other hand, is a release; and it’s exciting because there is no turning back. This is the reason why he indulges himself in a world of violence and bloodshed. By being close to death, he may find a reason to live.
In the actual book, the protagonist Oba Yozo finds living meaningless like the dark Dazai does. Instead of a world of violence and bloodshed, Oba indulges himself in the thrill of sex, drugs and alcohols to a point that he almost dies. It is Oba who describes himself as not deserving to be a human. Dazai’s personality and his ability are very likely to be a reference to the book as well as a reference to the real-life Dazai.
Δ Oda: "Listen. You told me that you might find a reason to live if you lived in a world of violence and bloodshed. You won’t find it. Be on the side that saves people… If both sides are the same, be a good man."
2. The ability No Longer Human is rather an ability to save people from losing their humanity.
Dazai finds a purpose in life from Oda’s last words – to save people. Since then, Dazai’s ability makes a beautiful contrast with what it actually means. In occasions where people lose their humanity, Dazai uses No Longer Human to save people who are in fact no longer human. The writer and mangaka actually thought this through. It is genius that they use the book title’s meaning, "losing the eligibility for being a human ", to represent Dazai and other characters who suffer too.
Δ Dazai saves Atsushi from losing his human side to his tiger counterpart.
Δ Dazai saves Chuuya from losing his humanity and dying when his energy is used up.
In the next part, I will be talking about Dazai’s best partner in crime – Chuuya. Let me end this post with an adorable face of his.