You don’t need a wiki to look up who Osamu Dazai is, even if you’re a casual weeb. The character from Bungou Stray Dogs has taken over the Animesphere in a big way, and it doesn’t feel like his reign is ending anytime soon. This is weird when you consider the fact that he isn’t even the protagonist of the series, but a side character that got popular because of their insane antics and multifaceted personality. But hey, the internet wants what it wants!
Osamu Dazai is one of the main cast members of Bungou Stray Dogs and is certainly extremely popular. But the actual protagonist happens to be Atsushi Nakajima, an orphan that is recruited by Dazai to become part of a supernatural elite force that he works for. And to describe their meeting as wild would be a massive understatement. Because of the things Dazai is, is absolutely bonkers. But that’s what makes him stand out against his more straight-laced peers, after all. However, that bold personality hides a mysterious past.
It’s interesting to note that Osamu Dazai isn’t such a strange character for the kicks. But his character inspiration, Japanese literary giant Osamu Dazai, was a real-life novelist known for his unfiltered way of writing that was equal part engaging and pessimistic. Which sounds eerily like our Osamu Dazai and his unhealthy fixation with wanting to go to an early grave. But sadly, Dazai the writer met a much more tragic end than Dazai the detective. Still, the parallels are interesting to note, to say the least.
Osamu Dazai is a lot of things, but the best way to describe the man is to say that he is an enigma. His motivations, his past, and even his future are still shrouded in so much mystery that it can be hard to pinpoint where his character arc might be going. But if you’re just as curious about the man as we are, then here’s a breakdown of Osamu Dazai, one of the most complicated characters in all of Bungou Stray Dogs!
Table of contents
Who Is Osamu Dazai?
When we first meet Osamu Dazai, a homeless Nakajima rescues him from drowning in the river. But it turns out, that was entirely intentional. Because as get to learn, later on, Dazai is, like, extremely suicidal. Why? Well, let’s discuss his story for a second.
Osamu Dazai is a member of the Armed Detective Agency, an organization set up to tackle those crimes that are deemed too violent for the regular police to handle. Often stemming from a supernatural cause, it only makes sense that only those with Abilities, aka special powers, are allowed to be part of it. Hence, Dazai is one of their members. Because his Ability, No More Human, is one of the wildest we’ve seen so far. But more on that later.
For now, let’s just discuss the kind of person Osamu Dazai is. Despite his dark tendencies for self-harm, he appears to be a very light-hearted and fun individual, especially when you consider how much the series uses him for comedic effects. But the thing is, that’s a red Herring. Osamu Dazai is not a person you can figure out at first glance. And it feels a lot of his actions are just there to deflect others. He appears annoyingly lazy but hides a razor-sharp wit. He may seem callous and careless, but he’s actually a brilliant mentor figure to Nakajima and the Armed Detective Agency, as a whole. It is said that without his guidance, they wouldn’t be as powerful as they are currently.
But the thing is, as extroverted as Dazai might seem, he is actually a very apathetic individual, at least towards himself. In The Dark Era arc, we learn that his suicidal tendencies are more than just casual dark humor. It is an emptiness he’s felt, all the way back when he was just a teenager. His will to live doesn’t exist and he did things, violent and turbulent, just to feel something. So, he covers that nihilism now with a flair for the dramatic, often orchestrating wacky situations to get a rise out of his peers.
Things have gotten better now, ever since he joined the Armed Detective Agency. A lot of his darkness has lightened up and he has genuine regard for his teammates and charges. He has a new sense of duty that translates into protecting those less powerful and trying to do better. But his past still follows him around.
From Enemy To Ally?
So, there’s a reason why Osamu Dazai feels like he’s a little too well acquainted with the Port Mafia, a nefarious organization that leads to a lot of crime in the city. It’s because, at one point, he was part of them. And not just as a low-level soldier or anything. Oh no, he went on to become the youngest ever Executive in the history of the Mafia. So, how do you go from Mob Boss to Drama Queen Detective?
Turns out, that apathy was more than just a lingering feeling. In his time Dazai saw so much violence, that he grew desensitized to it. Which, sadly, makes sense. What 15-year-old would ever feel normal being a high-level member of the Mafia? It got to the point where he’d kill a person without flinching, and then shoot them again even, even after they were dead. To say he was cold and ruthless would be heavily understating things. Dazai even admitted that he joined the Mafia to experience that level of death and violence, just so it could spark something in him.
In a bid to fill the loneliness in his heart, he tried everything he could. However, even Osamu Dazai had a confidant in the form of Sakunosuke Oda. Oda was one of the few people Osamu Dazai could call a friend, despite his working in the Mafia. Because he was kinder than most, he took Dazai’s quirks in stride. He realized that, in the end, Dazai was just a very lonely individual, whose solitude would eat him up. But Dazai trusted Oda and held him in high regard. So, when he died, he spoke his last wishes to Dazai, saying he wanted him to ‘be on the side that saves people’.
And so, Dazai defected from the Port Mafia. He had to lay underground for a bit, really coming to terms with the huge decision he had just made. He deduced that people can change if they have the potential to, and Osamu Dazai recognized he might have that spark in him somewhere.
No Longer Human: The Power That Set Osamu Dazai Apart!
So, how does one become a teenage Kingpin? Well, Abilities are something that only a select number of individuals have in the world of Bungou Stray Dogs. It’s basically a superpower that can manifest in a number of different ways. Sometimes, you aren’t even aware of them when they activate, like with Nakajima turning into a white Tiger through Beast Beneath The Moonlight. But with Dazai, it’s a different case. His Ability stays active all the time.
No Longer Human is the kind of Ability that ends up being a Trump Card because it can nullify anyone else’s Abilities with simple skin contact. And since it always stays active, it’s like a permanent shield around Dazai. In simple words, everyone’s Ability stops mattering when Osamu Dazai steps on the scene.
But it’s more of a double-edged sword than you’d think, considering how it affects Osamu Dazai when it comes to Healing Abilities. When we say no Abilities will work, we mean it. For example, if Dazai is injured or mortally wounded, No More Human continues until his very heart stops. This means if a Healer tries using their ability to help him while he’s still alive, it wouldn’t work. And that’s a massive hazard to have around. It’s why he needs normal medical protocol around him, unlike most of the Armed Detective Agency who rely on Akiko Yosano and her healing powers.
How Did A Side-Character Become So Beloved?
Look, let’s face it: It isn’t a stretch to say that Osamu Dazai is the heart of Bungou Stray Dogs. He’s super popular both in the local and international fandom for that very reason. He’s just a character you wouldn’t expect to work, yet he steals the show every time.
And while a big part of it is his personality and attitude that’s equal parts hilarious and intimidating, I like to think it’s also his connections with those around him. His interactions with other characters, like Chuuya Nakahara, are what make for an engaging dynamic. There is just so much chemistry between the characters that feels much more interesting than the plot at some points. It isn’t just about past mistakes or rivalries, there’s always a parallel between the Osamu Dazai and a few certain characters like Nakajima and Chuuya.
All in all, Dazai is certainly a character that took center stage the moment he first appeared. And we wouldn’t have it any other way!