Bungo Stray Dogs: a gate to Japanese literature

The manga Bungo Stray Dogs (文豪ストレイドッグス) is a manga written by Asagiri Kafka (朝霧カフカ) and illustrated by Harukawa Sango (春川35). One particularity of the manga is that the characters of the series are named after great literature authors.

For example, the main character, a 18 year-old boy who can turn into a white tiger, is named after 中島敦・なかじまあつし a Japanese author of the first half on the 20th century, famous for his works 「山月記」(さんげつき)and 「光と風と夢」(ひかりとかぜとゆめ).

What I find funny is not that names of real authors should be given to manga characters but that the face of those manga characters should be given to Japanese authors. This is what I found in a bookshop:


The books on the left side are not the manga itself but novels from Japanese authors with a new cover, designed after the manga.

Those are books I would like to read in Japanese, in the far future… From top left to right, there are:

  • 中島敦・なかじまあつし Nakajima Atsushi: 「山月記」さんげつき and 「李陵」りりょう
  • 国木田独歩・くにきだどっぽ Kunikida Doppo: 「武蔵野」むさしの
  • 谷崎潤一郎・たにざきじゅんいちろう Tanizaki Junichiro:「痴人の愛」ちじんのあい
  • 江戸川乱歩・えどがわらんぽ Edogawa Ranpo: 「D坂の殺人事件」Dざかのさつじんじけん
  • 太宰治・だざいおさむ Dazai Osamu: 「人間失格」にんげんしっかく
  • 織田作之助・おださくのすけ Oda Sakunosuke: 「天衣無縫」てんいむほう
  • 芥川龍之介・あくたがわりゅうのすけ Akutagawa Ryunosuke: 「羅生門」らしょうもん
  • 坂口安吾・さかぐちあんご Sakaguchi Ango: 「堕落論」だらくろん
  • 中原中也・なかはらちゅうや Nakahara Chuya: 「汚れつちまつた悲しみに」よごれつちまつたかなしみに

There is even a handbook called “Bungo Stray Dogs, Official handbook of Japanese modern literature and great writers”. This handbook presents each character of the manga named after a Japanese author (some characters are named after non-Japanese authors, but they are not included in the handbook). The handbook then provides a biography of the author with some pictures and a presentation of the author’s most famous works.

I have started reading the manga but I think I’ll quit after the first tome. I enjoy reading it, but I am not a heavy manga reader… But I do have the handbook. It gives a good insight into Japanese literature and gives me something to read in Japanese. All the 20 authors that listed in the book are authors I hope to read, one day, in Japanese.