Motto: "What's better than being alive?"

Atsushi Nakajima (中島 敦, Nakajima Atsushi?) is the main protagonist of Bungo Stray Dogs and a member of the Armed Detective Company.


Atsushi has light gray hair, pale skin, and is of average height with a slim build. He has segmental heterochromia, consisting of purple with yellow along the bottom curve of his pupil. His hair is short and swept forward in loose spikes with a lock left long on the right side of his face. This uneven style is the result of bullying he suffered at the hands of other orphans in the orphanage, and he never fixed it.

Additionally, he has a prominent black streak in his hair.

Initially, he wears rags issued by the orphanage. After he joins the Armed Detective Company, Akiko Yosano and Doppo Kunikida issue him[1] a white button up with the sleeves pushed to his elbows, a loose black tie, black pants, black, fingerless gloves, and a suspenders/belt combo with a long stretch of the belt dangling loose from the buckle.


Atsushi has severely low self-esteem due to his upbringing. He has a major complex about his worth as a person, as such he reacts negatively to people who judge others as unworthy. When people begin hunting him due to the seven billion yen bounty on his head, he becomes worried and continues to think that he is putting the Agency at risk, though is told by Doppo to learn how to become useful rather than worry about the Agency being attacked. As part of his low self confidence, when confronted with a dangerous situation, he initially tends to cower and/or has difficulty reacting to a situation or understanding what to do, being paralyzed in fear. However, while generally flighty and unsure of himself, his will hardens in tough situations, and he becomes steadfast and reliable. He is selfless and does everything possible to protect his friends, at one point using his body to cover up a bomb to protect the Agency members despite having never met them and on a number of occasions rises up and uses his power to save them.

He is easily scared and is somewhat naive and simplistic, believing things at face value. Despite this, he does have some common sense and is arguably one of the most "normal" members of the Agency. He tends to have exaggerated reactions towards the shenanigans of the Agency members and due to the strange circumstances and situations that follow them.

Although still struggling with his self-esteem, Atsushi gradually improves his confidence and sense of self after joining the ADA, along with his many confrontations with Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Strengthened by several missions and the clashes between the Port Mafia, Guild, and Rats in the House, Atsushi makes a goal for himself: prove his self-worth by helping and saving others, still plagued by the words of his former Headmaster.

He has a strong sense of morality, as seen through his interactions with Kyouka. He values life and tries to help his enemies, such as Kyouka and Lucy Maud Montgomery, both of whom were moved by his actions. He hates it when people die due to unfortunate circumstances or abuse their power to hurt others, as shown during his battle with Akutagawa.

Due to his poor upbringing, he has a mild obsession with money, though never to the point of greed. When he first meets Dazai and Doppo, he agrees to act as bait for the man eating tiger after learning how much the reward was. When he learned there was a reward for correctly guessing Dazai's original occupation, he comes up with a number of random guesses. He also becomes worried about how much Kyouka eats during their first outing due to the fact he had to pay for it (and she ate quite a bit). Despite this, he willingly helps others in need and money never comes before saving a life.


Beast Beneath the Moonlight (月下獣, Gekka-jū?): Atsushi has the ability to transform into a white tiger. At first, he doesn't seem to have much control over the transformation, likely due to the fact, or caused by, his unawareness of his state as an Ability user.
Beast Beneath the Moonlight Transformation

Full transformation.

After becoming an official member of the Agency and under the influence of All Men Are Equal, he gains more control over his transformations - as shown during his second fight with Akutagawa, when he breaks the transformation on his arms to escape.

Atsushi has shown several varying states of transformation, which range from a rather large full tiger form, to just slit pupils and tiger stripes on his face. He can transform and manifest various tiger body parts at will, such as tiger forearms with claws, or a tiger tail.
Beast Regeneration

Atsushi's ability regenerates his leg.

Also notable is that Atsushi's ability has extreme regenerative powers capable of healing bisection and amputation almost instantly.

He has shown to possess immense speed, durability, strength, stamina, and endurance on several occasions. He has also been shown to be a natural fighter in close combat and has shown to very cunning in battle in several fights.

However, after using his ability, Atsushi seems to become unconscious and collapses onto the ground.

Someone from the underground has put out a 7 billion yen bounty for him with the Mafia - it is later revealed that Fitzgerald is the one behind his bounty and the reason is because Atsushi is a guider to the book that every ability-user desires.


Not much is known about Atsushi's background thus far. He grew up in an orphanage, where he suffered from severe abuse, both verbal and physical, from his caretakers, as well as social isolation from the other children. This history of mistreatment has evidently taken a huge toll on Atsushi's self-worth as an adult and has caused him to constantly question the value and usefulness of his life.

According to the headmaster, Atsushi's parents dumped him in the trash. This headmaster becomes the foundation of Atsushi's warped self-worth. The abuse (presumably severe especially because of the tiger rampaging at night) led the headmaster to chain Atsushi in a cell with little to no food, and forcibly injecting him with either sedatives or nutrients. The headmaster emphasised Atsushi's hatred towards him, seemingly even encouraging it. Alongside the headmaster and other caretakers' verbal and physical abuse, Atsushi suffered at the hands of the other orphans. Often times, the other orphans threw Atsushi under the bus when they got in trouble, as the orphanage ran on some sort of point system that affected if and when they were fed.

Once he hits 18, Atsushi was kicked out of the orphanage because, though he was unaware of it at the time, he was transforming into a white tiger under the moonlight due to his ability and causing chaos.


Meeting the Armed Detective Agency

Aimless and starving, Atsushi arrives in Yokohama two weeks after being kicked out of his orphanage. Although plagued by the orphanage staff's cruel words, he refuses to submit and die. Although reluctant, he determines he'll have to steal in order to survive. He intends on waiting for the next person to pass him by the Tsurumi River's bank. However, the next person he comes across is a young man drowning in the river. Atsushi ends up saving the man.[2]

Quickly coming to, the man is displeased with being saved. Atsushi responds with great confusion, and the man clarifies he was trying to commit suicide by drowning. However, at the same time, he wanted his suicide to go without disturbance.[3] As Atsushi got entangled in his attempt, the man intends on doing something in return. He hears Atsushi's stomach growl, and relates to the feeling, claiming he hasn't ate in a few days himself. However, the river swept up his wallet, leaving him without money. Soon after, Atsushi meets the man's colleague. Eventually, the two strangers end up taking Atsushi to a restaurant to eat chazuke in exchange for saving the suicidal man's life. The man finally properly introduces himself as Osamu Dazai.[4]

During the meal, Atsushi learns Dazai and Kunikida are detectives of the ability-using Armed Detective Agency.[5] He also learns their current investigation involves a giant white tiger that Atsushi remembers as one that has been following and taunting him for much his time after being kicked out. After forceful persuasion via Kunikida, he reveals the tiger was the cause of severe damage to the orphanage he was kicked out of.[6] Now, it appears the tiger followed him all the way to Yokohama.

Using the reward money as a bribe, Dazai pulls Atsushi into a plan as bait to capture the tiger once and for all. However, during their wait, an agitated Atsushi is at a loss for words when met with Dazai's complete nonchalance towards the tiger's looming threat. As moonlight pours into the abandoned building, Atsushi himself transforms into an aggressive white tiger. However, Dazai uses his ability to nullify the tiger, returning Atsushi to normal, albeit unconscious.[7] He wakes up in a dormitory, and is called by Dazai, the one who set up his lodgings. Dazai claims he is about to die, and Atsushi quickly moves to check the scene, only to be met by yet another failed suicide attempt of Dazai's. After helping Dazai, Atsushi meets back up with Kunikida as well, who informs the duo of a mad bomber holding up the Agency.[8]

A the Agency's office, the bomber turns out to be a young, angry man holding one of the part-time clerks hostage. He demands to see the Agency's president, otherwise he'll detonate the bomb. Dazai and Kunikida end up playing rock paper scissors to determine who tries to diffuse the situation. After losing, Kunikida approaches the man; however, the man recognises Kunikida and his ability, demanding he do as he say or else the bomb detonates. At a stalemate, Dazai makes Atsushi approach the young man to take care of the situation himself.

Terrified and nervous, Atsushi ends up going on a personal rant. He understands both he and the young man have nowhere to turn to, and urges him to try finding work or another purpose, instead of harming others because of his own misfortune.[9] His intensity disarms the young man's defences, and Kunikida subdues him with Lone Poet. Relieved, Atsushi is caught off guard by an unseen figure pushing him, making him fall on the detonation device. Panicking, Atsushi uses his own body to lessen the bomb's impact, much to Dazai's shock.[10]

The bomb, however, does not go off. The bomber stands next to Kunikida and Dazai who both comment on Atsushi's impulsiveness. The clerk, Naomi Tanizaki, hugs the bomber - her older brother[11], completely fine and amicable with him. Confused, Atsushi questions the situation, to which Dazai reveals it to be an entrance exam for Atsushi's position in the Armed Detective Agency.[12]

Thus enters the Agency's director, Yukichi Fukuzawa.[13] He confirms Atsusi passing the entrance exam, but leaves the decision to Dazai.[14] Meanwhile, Atsushi notices the prop arm in Naomi's possession, the same one that pushed him onto the fake detonation device.[15] Bewildered, Atsushi is exhausted by the elaborate set up, all just to see if he qualified for the Agency.

In the end, Dazai points out that if Atsushi declines his invitation to the Agency, he will have no choice but to leave the Agency's dorms, which no place to go. Having no other alternative, Atsushi accepts the job.[16]

Meeting Ryunosuke Akutagawa

In the Vortex Cafe, the young man from the entrance exam profusely apologises to Atsushi for causing him so much stress. Kunikida tells Atsushi to not interfere nor besmirch the Agency's name, as they all take their roles as detective seriously (looking at Dazai, he leaves much to be desired). The young man introduces himself as Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, along with his younger, very affectionate sister Naomi.[17]

Trying to get in the swing of things, Atsushi asks the members what they did before joining. Instead of answering directly, Dazai suggests making a game of guessing everyone's background, which Atsushi agrees to. He correctly assumes Tanizaki used to a student, Naomi currently one as well given her uniform. Kunikida refuses to play along, but Dazai outs him as being a former maths teacher, a past Kunikida detests recalling.[18] Dazai encourages Atsushi to guess his former occupation, but Kunikida points out no one knows about Dazai's past, and there's even a monetary reward for guessing it.[19] Amazed by the large sum, Atsushi is more than eager to guess, but after several attempts, Atsushi fails to guess correctly.

Tanizaki receives a call - a requested case by a young woman. Her issue is a group of dangerous men hanging around her company's building. After the explanation, Kunikida assigns the investigation as Atsushi's first mission, and orders Tanizaki to accompany him. As a result, Naomi joins as well.

Before Atsushi and company depart, Kunikida warns him of Ryunosuke Akutagawa and the Port Mafia. Kunikida informs Atsushi that Akutagawaa has an ability solely for murder, and the Agency cannot handle him, thus combat against him is strictly discouraged.[20] Kunikida himself knows he's no match for Akutagawa.

Later, led by the woman, Atsushi, Tanizaki, and Naomi find themselves in a secluded alley. Here, the woman reveals herself as a Port Mafia mafioso - one in direct contact with Akutagawa. She opens fire on the group, and the sight of Naomi's severe injuries brings Atsushi to his knees, at a loss for the situation.[21]

His fear worsens after Akutagawa appears, having attacked Tanizaki when he wasn't looking. Akutagawa elaborates the Port Mafia's target is Atsushi himself, intending to claim an unknown third party's bounty on him alive, much to Atsushi's confusion.[22] Akutagawa greatly disturbs Atsushi, telling him it's his fault that his comrades lay dying on the pavement, causing flashbacks to the orphanage headmaster's harsh words - both blame misfortune on Atsushi's existence, condemning him for even living.[23]

After witnessing the ability Rashomon, Atsushi stumbles on the ground. Tanizaki, still conscious, urges him to run away. Instead, Atsushi's impulses drive him to narrowly avoid another attack, where he grabs Higuchi's gun to try and take Akutagawa down. Rashomon devours the bullets, making it impossible for Atsushi to defeat Akutagawa in this situation.[24]

Rashomon devours Atsushi's right leg, leaving him screaming in agony. The trauma makes him relive another flashback of the headmaster's abuse. Here, the headmaster strikes and admonishes Atsushi for crying in pain, telling him no orphan abandoned by his own family has the right to cry.[25] Although Atsushi knows he's been abandoned and mistreated his whole life, he acknowledges that he's never gave up regardless of the fact.

The tiger takes over, regenerating Atsushi's leg, impressing even Akutagawa.[26] Their battle rages on. When it appears Akutagawa kills him, it's nothing but one of Tanizaki's illusions. The real Atsushi attempts to ambush Akutagawa from behind, however Dazai appears, nullifying both Beast Beneath the Moonlight and Rashomon. This renders Atsushi unconscious.[27]


  • He and several other characters made appearances in mobile games, such as Love HeavenKimito Lead Puzzle 18, and Yumeiro Cast as limited time characters.
  • His favorite food is tea on rice (chazuke).
  • His choppy haircut is a result of another child cutting his hair as a prank when he was younger at the orphanage, and he had just let it grow as it is.
  • The black streak is completely omitted in the anime, but still appears in promotional art and the mobile game.
  • When Atsushi Nakajima is wearing his belt, it seems to act like his tail as if he were in tiger form. When Atsushi Nakajima is relaxed, the belt hangs down. If Atsushi Nakajima is surprised or scared the belt is up.

Character Navigation


  1. Bungo Stray Dogs, Extra Chapter
  2. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, chapter 1, page 7
  3. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, chapter 1, page 10
  4. Bungo Stray Dogs, chapter 1, page 14
  5. Bungo Stray Dogs, chapter 1, page 19
  6. Bungo Stray Dogs, chapter 1, page 25
  7. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, chapter 1, page 47
  8. Bungo Stray Dogs, chapter 2, page 56
  9. Bungo Stray Dogs, volume 1, chapter 2, page 79
  10. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 2, page 90
  11. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 2, page 94
  12. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 2, page 95
  13. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 2, page 96
  14. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 2, page 98
  15. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 2, page 100
  16. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 2, page 101
  17. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 3, page 106
  18. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 3, page 110
  19. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 3, page 111
  20. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 3, page 121
  21. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 3, page 145
  22. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 3, page 157
  23. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 3, page 158
  24. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 3, page 167
  25. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 3, page 161
  26. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 3, page 165
  27. Bungo Stray Dogs manga, volume 1, chapter 3, page 187
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