Fans of Bungo Stray Dogs may have stumbled across Bungo to Alchemy while searching for something related to Kafka Asagiri’s series, which might have led to some confusion regarding the connection between the two franchises. The confusion is valid, given the similar character names that are drawn from literature or the similarity in the name of two series. However, Bungo to Alchemy is not part of Bungo Stray Dogs as both series have different studios, backgrounds, and writers, among other things.
According to Kafka Asagiri, Bungo Stray Dogs started as a creative experimentation to see his favorite authors and philosophers have supernatural abilities. This came to fruition in 2012 when the first volume introduced protagonist Atsushi to the Armed Detective Agency, which followed several exciting battles and meet-ups with famous organizations like Port Mafia or The Guild under the guidance of his mentor, Osamu Dazai.
On the other hand, Bungo to Alchemy started out as a video game, which eventually branched out into the world of anime after receiving an adaptation. For video games to get anime adaptations, as it has happened with Final Fantasy or Genshin Impact, whose anime adaptation’s release date is yet to be confirmed. Here, Osamu Dazai, in a much different getup, gets transported into a world that bears no resemblance with Bungo Stray Dogs. There is no shonen-inspired journey per se, but viewers get introduced to several other important characters that are based on real-life authors and whose counterparts can be found in Bungo Stray Dogs.
For fans wondering, there has been no crossover between Bungo to Alchemy and Bungo Stray Dogs
bungo stray dogs named its characters after authors & based all their abilities off of said author’s works.
bungo to alchemist simply has you summon the souls of authors of old into cute boys through alchemy!
— astarion’s little bloodbag. 🖤 (@SPARDAISM) January 9, 2020
To start off with Bungo to Alchemy, or BunAl, the title basically means “Authors and Alchemists.” Developed by DMM in November 2016, the original Card Battle Game revolves around RNG-based battles that involves collecting various kinds of characters and their rarities. Interestingly enough, Bungo Stray Dogs also has a puzzle mobile game titled Bungo Stray Dogs: Mayoi Inu Kakitan (or Tales of the Lost) that also involves collecting different kinds of rarities and characters. The game that was released on December 14, 2017, for Japanese users, following which international users got the English version of the game on July 4, 2018. However, like the anime franchises, the two games aren’t related to each other as well.
As for the anime series’ plot, Bungo to Alchemy received an official adaptation of the game on April 4, 2020, having been part of the Spring 2020 anime lineup. Comprising of 13 episodes, Studio OLM’s Bungo to Alchemist ~Gears of Judgement~ has adventure and fantastical elements, combining methods of alchemy to provide zing to the plot. As mentioned earlier, the anime revolves around the characters Osamu Dazai, which is based on the real-life Japanese modern writer but bears no similarities to him. The red-haired protagonist gets transported into a book where he meets his idol, Ryuunosuke Akutagawa. Other important characters, who are also based on Japanese authors, include Chuuya Nakahara, Oda Sakunosuke, Sakutarou Hagiawara, Sakaguchi Ango, Tousan Shimazaki, and Shuusei Tokuda, among others.
The full synopsis of Bungo to Alchemist ~Gears of Judgement~, as per MyAnimeList, reads:
“Famous writers throughout history find themselves being reincarnated by a mysterious, unseen entity known as the Alchemist. With their souls confined and bound to an expansive library, they are tasked by the Alchemist to jump into books to purify the pages of monsters called Taints. Along the way, they must also rescue and recruit fellow authors trapped within the very stories they themselves had written.”
It further continues:
“Although the writers take on new and powerful forms for this endeavor, some still maintain a semblance of who they once were, while others struggle to remember their pasts and the works they had penned. Despite there being no apparent end to their grand mission, they remain committed to the cause in hope of resolving the mystery behind their collective resurrection as well as questions that have haunted their former lives.”
bungo alchemist really treads this thin line almost to the point of danger… bc the premise is that they literally are reincarnated (through alchemy) LOL
— joo (@yoyuuha) December 12, 2019
On the other hand, Bungo Stray Dogs has a much more different approach to the portrayal of the real-life authors. Whereas Bungo to Alchemy sees the writers being reincarnated and getting trapped in a book, the characters in Bungo Stray Dogs exist in a modern-day Yokohama setting. However, Asagiri’s manga also involves ‘The Book’ in the narrative, which has a different function. Here, the characters’ abilities are based on the real-life author’s most celebrated work or inspired from it, such as Natsume Soseki’s transformative ability, “I Am a Cat,” is actually based on the Japanese real-life author’s most famous work, Wagahai wa Neko de Aru, or I Am a Cat (1906). But Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald’s ability, “The Great Fitzgerald,” takes its inspiration from the real-life author’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby (1925).
Unlike Bungo to Alchemy, Kafka Asagiri’s work also sees the inclusion of various other authors of different nationalities, such as Louisa May Alcott (American), Paul Verlaine (French), Agatha Christie (English), or Fyodor Dostoevsky (Russian). In Bungo Stray Dogs, the focus also falls on the crime scene of Yokohama that has its reach on the international sphere. While the plot, as mentioned earlier, follows the adventure of Atsushi Nakajima, the narrative rejigs to include several mysteries that stretches over several seasons and a movie to culminate into the search of the infamous ‘The Book,’ whose powers are not only incredible but also destructive if used for a malicious goal.
Bungo Stray Dogs manga received an anime adaptation in 2016 by Studio Bones. Although the anime often includes materials from the series’ light novels alongside the canon manga story, the anime’s narrative maintains a linear structure. To provide a brief overview of how the story begins, MyAnimeList writes:
“For weeks, Atsushi Nakajima’s orphanage has been plagued by a mystical tiger that only he seems to be unaware of. Suspected to be behind the strange incidents, the 18-year-old is abruptly kicked out of the orphanage and left hungry, homeless, and wandering through the city.”
The synopsis continues:
“While starving on a riverbank, Atsushi saves a rather eccentric man named Osamu Dazai from drowning. Whimsical suicide enthusiast and supernatural detective, Dazai has been investigating the same tiger that has been terrorizing the boy. Together with Dazai’s partner Doppo Kunikida, they solve the mystery, but its resolution leaves Atsushi in a tight spot. As various odd events take place, Atsushi is coerced into joining their firm of supernatural investigators, taking on unusual cases the police cannot handle, alongside his numerous enigmatic co-workers.”
Another point about the two franchises is the character designs of Bungo Stray Dogs and Bungo to Alchemy are far different. Take, for example, Chuuya Nakahara, who is seen as a blond with sharp, feline-like eyes in Bungo to Alchemy. In Bungo Stray Dogs, however, the appearance changes drastically. The manga version is slightly different from the anime, but taking the evidence of the latter, it is seen that he has orange hair and blue eyes. While both of them wear a classy hat like the late author, the powers and abilities of the two characters also differ. Similarly, the only similarity that Ryuunosuke Akutagawa from the two anime series share is their name. Their abilities, personality, appearances, and relationship with other characters (especially Dazai) are also different.
— Rin~(´• ω •`)~ (@Silvermist_201) August 2, 2020
These are just some of the points that show how the two series are wholly different from each other. Given Bungo Stray Dogs enjoys much more popularity than Bungo to Alchemy, it is presumed that most of the viewers will stumble upon the latter show by chance. And taking the aforementioned points into mind, it is also safe to assume that the two series cannot have a crossover as the animation style would pose a difficulty. Even if Asagiri’s franchise talks about the possibility of multiverse, as seen in Bungo Stray Dos: BEAST, having a connection with Bungo to Alchemy will be a rare occurrence. The only possibility of connection between the two series might be on a joint collaborative effort for a product, but the chances of that will be slim since Bungo to Alchemy’s popularity is far less than the other. Thus, to reiterate once again, Bungo to Alchemy is not a part of Bungo Stray Dogs.