When people say that Bungou Stray Dogs has villains that feel one note, it’s clear they haven’t met Nakahara Chūya yet. He has one of the most loyal fan following in the entire series and people will let you know why. Though he does happen to be one half of the biggest ship from the fandom so maybe that was a perquisite at that point. Nevertheless, he is one of the many colorful characters in Bungou Stray Dogs, that have become mainstay.
But does his past with another fan favorite, Osamu Dazai, overshadow his own presence sometimes? A tiny bit. Look, we’ll be the first to admit that as much as we love the series, the discourse around Bungou Stray Dogs feels less devoted to it’s initial protagonist, Atsushi Nakajima, and more about literally everyone else. But it also speaks for the great characterization in the story, where everyone is multi-faceted rather than just a caricature of a gory villain. And Nakahara Chūya is no different.
Despite being a supporting character, his position as an antagonist is often diametrically opposed to some of his actions. Like, you can tell that he does end up having a moral scale which doesn’t enjoy a lot of the things he has to do. But in the end, the world of Bungou Stray Dogs is cruel and punishing. So, it doesn’t end up mattering. However, Nakahara Chūya is one of the rare exceptions to that rule. Though, that doesn’t mean he won’t do whatever it takes to get an upper hand in battle.
Look, what we’re trying to say is that there is a lot more to Nakahara Chūya that meets the eyes. It isn’t just his relationship with the characters around him that makes him so interesting to dive into, but also his own characterization which has been intriguing to follow along. So, in today’s Deep Dive, let’s explore the nuances of being Nakahara Chūya and where that might lead us.
Who Is Nakahara Chūya?
Nakahara Chūya isn’t just any old member of the infamous Port Mafia, oh no. He is an Executive, one of the five main members that are second only to the Boss himself. So, understandably, he holds a lot of influence over the hierarchy of the criminal organization.
Initially, Nakahara Chūya was part of Sheep, a faction made up of teenagers that was separate from the Port Mafia, and were powerful enough to have their own separate territory to man. So, they were often at odds with the old mafiosos. However, when Ōgai Mori took the helm of the new mob boss of the Port Mafia, he ended up recruiting a then 15-year-old Nakahara Chūya to help aide Osamu Dazai in an investigation to both rumors of his old predecessor returning, and a more covert look into the mysterious Arahabaki.
It was here that he grew close to the Ōgai Mori, with his philosophies on leadership helping Nakahara Chūya come to a decision about his future. Soon, he ended up joining the Port Mafia fulltime, right after earning the moniker the ‘Sheep King’. It was here where he was partnered up with Osamu Dazai, and together they were known as the Twin Dark aka the worst nightmare in the Underworld. Why? Because their expertise combined helped them completely annihilate an entire gifted organization in one night. And if Osamu Dazai was the brains behind the duo, then Nakahara Chūya was the muscle that broke through defenses.
But eventually, Osamu Dazai defected from the Port Mafia and joined the Armed Detective Agecy instead. Which worked perfectly for Nakahara Chūya, who openly despised the man. Fast forward to the current arc and Chūya enjoys the benefits of being one of the most feared men in all of Yokohama.
Stylin’ Through The Pain (But That’s Just Classic Bungou!)
So, let’s break down one of the most interesting things about Bungou Stray Dogs, which is the great character design and fashion in the series. Bungou Stray Dogs happens to have a bunch of tiny details that just add to the characterization, and Nakahara Chūya is no exception.
Unlike some of the other male characters in the series, Nakahara Chūya happens to be of petite built. Though that might be a consequence of his powers. With his gray eyes and bright orange hair, you almost figure he’s still a kid. But that short stature hides plenty of muscle. Because, as stated before, Nakahara Chūya is canonically one of the strongest fighters in the story. But apparently, he’s also one of the most stylish.
Come on, we know that it’s all about the hat here. Ironically, the famous hat Nakahara Chūya wears was actually passed on to him by Arthur Rimbaud. You know, the man that was sent to kill Chūya before he joined the Port Mafia. But then it was given to him as a gift for when he was inducted into the group. It’s that and his gloves which remain a mainstay, even during battles.
The rest of his attire consists of clean button ups, long coats and jackets with accessories in the form of a choker and bolo tie. Again, excessive focus on clothing seems to be a big thing in Bungou Stray Dogs and Nakahara Chūya follows that style statement just as well as others in the series.
Hot Headed Rationality?
One of the big things you figure out when Nakahara Chūya steps on the scene is that he really can’t handle his anger sometimes. He’s just a temperamental individual who loves to show off that he is the best physical fighter in the entire group. But beyond that surface level arrogance, you learn a lot more about him.
Because despite his anger blindsiding him sometimes, he isn’t maniacal or someone that won’t listen to reason. Because for all his bluntness and callousness about hurting others, he will hold himself back from unnecessary carnage. This is where the whole ‘villain with a moral code’ bit comes in, because we’ve seen what characters like Ryūnosuke Akutagawa are like when they get a taste of bloodlust. But with Nakahara Chūya, that isn’t the case.
Of course, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t fight for the sake of it. Like, one of his favorite past times is to fight with those that can hold their own against him. But he isn’t above having a ceasefire if the situation calls for it, and listening to what the other side has to say. So, he is reasonable, but doesn’t exactly hide his mafioso side that is devoted to eliminating any enemies in front of him. However, he isn’t as homicidal as his peers, is what we’ve learned so far. Because he actually places value in human life, understanding that compromise is a delicate balance to learn and finesse.
And you see how that logic works once you realize that the rivalry between him and Osamu Dazai is based on how Dazai’s warped logic makes no sense to Chūya’s own morality. Ultimately, that is what leads him to shape his own philosophy on life, especially after Rimbaud’s death. Nakahara Chūya struggled with his identity and role in life and only really found it after a series of unfortunate events. Like, the whole ‘God Of Chaos Being Sealed Inside You’ thing isn’t exactly something that inspires hope.
But this is where Nakahara Chūya learned restraint and became a villain that, well. Okay, you don’t root for him, per say. But you get a feeling that he is unlike the other antagonists we’ve seen up until that point.
Upon The Tainted Snow: Not Just Flowery Title!
As one of the most powerful characters in Bungou Stray Dogs, Nakahara Chūya enjoys quite a few perks. The first of which happens to be his Ability. Now, almost everyone important in Bungou Stray Dogs has an Ability aka a power that is unique to an individual. These can manifest in numerous different ways.
For Nakahara Chūya, that Ability is Upon The Tainted Snow, a power that deals with gravity manipulation. Think telekinesis on steroids. Chūya can both create gravitons and manipulate them to his will, altering the gravitational pull, and thereby weight of the things around him. Which also applies to his own body, considering he can make himself float, walking upside down on ceilings as he pleases.
Then there is Arahabaki, the mysterious God that has merged with Nakahara Chūya. Arahabaki is the God of Calamities, that was under Japanese Government’s strict eye before it was let loose. Now that it resides in Chūya’s body it allows him to use Corruption, a power that completely overrides him and leads him to finding pleasure in utterly destroying everything around him.
So, there you have it. This was a brief look into Nakahara Chūya and his psyche in Bungou Stray Dogs. A character that is not just simply evil or good, but simply choosing sides where he feels most comfortable.