Portrait of a Father (父の肖像, Chichi no Shōzō?) is the 39th chapter of the Bungo Stray Dogs manga.

Summary

Atsushi meets with Tanizaki for a case as a proxy for Ranpo, who hands the case to him to have some desserts. Tanizaki proceeds to tell Atsushi some details about the victim: a 40-year-old man who was hit by a truck and immediately died. Moreover, the man had a privately-made gun with no serial number, and witnesses saw a person looking for someone. Tanizaki conjectures it might be an assassin's doing, who made the murder appear to be an accident. Atsushi notices the victim holding a news report, whose crucial part has been ripped off.

Atsushi horrified to discover the victim's identity.

Tanizaki tries to activate Super Deduction, but to no avail. Atsushi recalls Ranpo's hint to him: should he ever get stuck in the case, Ranpo urges him to investigate the flower shop. At that point, the police has identified the victim's identity, which Tanizaki shows to Atsushi. The latter is horrified upon seeing that the victim is the orphanage director.

Atsushi reminisces his time at the orphanage. Once, the director asked him where he had stolen some candies, but Atsushi told him truthfully that someone had thrown them in the garbage bin while he was cleaning. The director, however, did not believe him and asked the other children for their statement. A child testified that he saw Atsushi stealing the candies from the warehouse. As punishment, the latter instructed Atsushi to hammer his own feet and lectured him to endure suffering in order to survive a world where he was abandoned. In the end, the director snatches the hammer from Atsushi, hammering the child's foot himself.

Atsushi smiles after knowing the orphanage director is finally gone.

Still in disbelief that the director is dead, Atsushi soon informs Tanizaki that he has found the missing piece of newspaper across the street; the director seemed to be looking for Atsushi. Tanizaki suggests they take a break if he feels down, but Atsushi quickly tells him that he has never felt any better, knowing that the root of his nightmares is finally gone. Nevertheless, they continue their case, with which Atsushi thinks the director might have met with someone, possibly a Port Mafia member. Tanizaki tries to consult Dazai.

Atsushi continues recalling his past at the orphanage. When he was locked up, the director asked him the reason for his imprisonment. Atsushi answered that he disliked him, which the director confirmed. Shortly afterwards, despite his efforts to flee from the man, Atsushi is injected by the director.

Akutagawa lets Atsushi mourn for his mentor.

Back to their case, Atsushi heads to the meeting place where an informant agreed to meet with Dazai. The informant turns out to be Akutagawa, who hands him a file on the director and informs Atsushi that the case was a traffic accident, as witnessed by a low-level organization member who was supposed to buy the victim's gun. Akutagawa then takes his leave, letting Atsushi mourn for his mentor.

With the file handed by Akutagawa, Atsushi reads the records of the director. He finds out that the latter grew up in an orphanage, where he faced a hellish life and ruthless violence. After graduating from the institution, the director left with five companions, but they soon died in the midst of the war. He then realizes that the director might have had injected him before with nutrients instead of poison, and that he was imprisoned because he was transforming as a tiger due to his ability. He recalls the director once asking him if the child loathed him, after which he taught Atsushi to loathe the man instead of himself once he goes out to the outside world.

The orphanage director's funeral.

Tanizaki returns with information from an orphanage staff member, who told him that the director went to Yokohama after seeing Atsushi's face on a news article after the Guild war. He guesses that the director might have wanted to praise Atsushi for his accomplishment, but Atsushi refuses to believe him and dashes away. Tanizaki becomes worried for Atsushi, but Dazai tells him that he must go through the turmoil by himself. Atsushi secretly witnesses the director's funeral at the orphanage, afterwards sitting by a bench among a crowd of children with their parents.

Dazai approaches him, and Atsushi asks him why the director hid the truth of his transformation as a tiger. Dazai merely tells him that hiding it from everyone, let alone himself, would have been hard for the director. As per Ranpo's hint, Atsushi tells Dazai that the director has reserved for a bouquet of flowers before meeting him. To obtain some money, the victim sold his privately-made gun; however, the director was hit by a truck on the way to the transaction point.

Dazai tells Atsushi that people cry when their fathers cry.

Despite knowing the truth, Atsushi cannot bring himself to forgive the director, though Dazai tells him that it is not necessary to do so. Nevertheless, Dazai tells him that the pain he experienced from the orphanage at the hands of the director is the same thing that enabled him to save other people who experience the same violence and evil. As Dazai leaves, Atsushi asks him what kind of expression he should make, as he does not know what to feel. Dazai tells him that his feelings are his own, therefore any kind of expression he makes is fine. He imparts a generalization for Atsushi: when someone's father dies, that person will cry. In the end, Atsushi cries.

Characters in Order of Appearance

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