The Strategy of Conflict is the 18th episode of Bungo Stray Dogs anime series. It aired on November 05, 2016.

Synopsis

Mori sends a letter to Margaret Mitchell and Nathaniel Hawthorne, threatening to destroy them and the ship they are protecting.

Summary

Mori is throwing darts while talking to Elise, telling her that it is important to hit an enemy's vital point in one strike. Afterward, he takes one of Elise's crayons and proceeds to write a letter to the Guild.

Nathaniel and Margaret read Mori's letter.

In the next scene, Margaret Mitchell is shown directing workers to load cargo onto the Zelda, one of the Guild's ships, and its front-line defense. She attempts to complain to Nathaniel Hawthorne, only for him to call her a nuisance. In response, she uses her ability to blow away the pages of his book. Margaret asks Nathaniel if he has forgotten that their duty is to protect the ship, to which he says that it is his duty to pass judgment upon sinners. As both of them argue, a worker finds the letter that Mori wrote to the Guild and gives it to them. The contents of the letter include Mori's intentions to destroy three of the Guild's assets: 1) the Zelda, 2) the life of Nathaniel, and 3) the life of Margaret. Nathaniel takes the letter seriously and orders the workers to hurry up in loading the cargo, even though Margaret feels that the letter could have been a prank letter. However, Nathaniel points out that it is exactly when the ship is replenishing supplies that the Guild is the most vulnerable.

Motojiro caught by the Guild.

At this point, the workers report that they have caught a suspicious man, which turns out to be Motojirō Kajii. The workers also note that Kajii was caught with a bag of lemons. Nathaniel recognizes Kajii's face, and correctly identifies him as a bomber from the Port Mafia, and mentions that he has heard of the time when Kajii failed to bomb a train with members of the Armed Detective Agency on it. Margaret asks if she should make Kajii "into a mummy", but Nathaniel says that there is no need and that he has already figured out that Kajii was in charge of planting a bomb on the ship. He then proceeds to invoke his ability, the Scarlet Letter, and attacks Kajii, saying that he still refuses to repent for his sins before taking one of Kajii's lemon bombs and throwing it at him.

Kajii scatters lemon bombs throughout the Zelda.

When it appears that Kajii is dead, the freight helicopter reports in, preparing to unload cargo. However, much to the shock of Nathaniel and Margaret, Kajii had survived the explosion of his lemon bomb due to his ability, which was to take no damage from lemon bombs whatsoever. At this point, the freight helicopter drops its cargo onto the ship, which turned out to be a crate full of lemon bombs. Nathaniel calls for the workers to flee as the ship goes up in explosions, Kajii laughing maniacally among the flames. Nathaniel and Margaret manage to successfully escape the ship unharmed.

Margaret watches the destruction of the ship in shock, but Nathaniel reminds her that two more targets still remain: his and Margaret's lives. He then says that the enemy would be upon them in no time, but if they could stop the enemy's surprise attack, then the enemy would be no match for them no matter how many gifted users they had among them. However, it turns out that Mori knew that this was exactly what the Guild would think. Back at the Port Mafia headquarters, Mori says that the Guild members are indeed formidable and that even the elite of the Port Mafia would have a hard time dealing with them. However, this is the reason why Mori sent his most eager and motivated pawn: Akutagawa.

Nathaniel faces Akutagawa.

Back at the ship, Nathaniel stares in shock as he sees Margaret and the workers impaled upon Rashōmon and that he himself has been stabbed by Rashōmon. Nathaniel asks Akutagawa if he is an assassin from the Port Mafia, to which Akutagawa calls Nathaniel "irmão" and asks how he is doing. Nathaniel asks for Akutagawa's name, to which he replies that he is "Diablo". Nathaniel then asks if Akutagawa is a trial sent by God to test his faith. Akutagawa says that if he wants a trial, then he shall get a trial and proceeds to attack him with Rashōmon. Nathaniel tells Akutagawa not to call him "irmão" and retaliates. As both of them battle, both Nathaniel and Akutagawa realize that their abilities are both similar to each other, which means that the victor of their fight would be the one whose ability had more potential.

Hawthorne vs. Akutagawa.

Both Nathaniel and Akutagawa continue to fight, and Nathaniel successfully uses his ability to bind and restrain Akutagawa. Nathaniel tells Akutagawa that he merely craves the flesh of the weak, saying that Akutagawa must have only battled gifted users who were weaker than him up to now. At this point, Margaret suddenly uses her ability on Akutagawa's coat, while saying that the Port Mafia was nothing and that she would retake her family's honor. Akutagawa notices that his coat is falling apart, and notes that Margaret has some sort of weathering ability. Margaret tells Akutagawa that she cannot lose to someone like him, who has never known defeat or humiliation.

Margaret's body pierced by Rashomon.

Akutagawa is greatly angered by Margaret's words and uses Rashōmon to attack her. Akutagawa says that defeat and humiliation have always been with him and that such despair will not ruin him, before breaking free of his bonds and charging at Nathaniel. However, just as Nathaniel braces for an attack, Akutagawa's injuries catch up to him and he falls, coughing up blood. Nathaniel notes that Akutagawa's wounds were not caused by the Scarlet Letter, and realizes that Akutagawa was already seriously injured before coming to attack both of them. Akutagawa tells Nathaniel to come at him, saying that there would be no point in him coming here if Nathaniel did not give him his all. Nathaniel wonders out loud why Akutagawa would go to such extremes, to which Akutagawa tells him that all he hopes for is one simple word from a certain person. Akutagawa says that just for the sake of that word, he had gone through countless humiliating defeats. Nathaniel notes that while Akutagawa was a ruthless assassin of the Port Mafia, he still longed deeply for something with an intensity that almost equaled religious faith. Nathaniel says that he will grant Akutagawa's wish for him to fight him with everything he had, and summons his ability before attacking him.

Rashomon cuts Hawthorne's neck.

Akutagawa barely manages to block his attack before Nathaniel successfully attacks him again. However, Akutagawa is still able to land a hit on Nathaniel, slicing his neck and causing blood to spurt out. Nathaniel does not appear to be fazed by his wound and fires another attack at Akutagawa. Just as Akutagawa is about to be hit by the attack, he suddenly remembers Dazai's smirk from the time Dazai was held captive by the Port Mafia, and he uses Rashōmon Jaws of Endless Gates to repel the attack and hit Nathaniel.

Margaret takes the attack for Nathaniel, shielding him from it with her own body much to the shock of Nathaniel. Just as Akutagawa withdraws his attack, he too collapses to the ground. He remembers that Atsushi telling him that people need to be told that they were worthy of living and asking him why couldn't he understand such a thing, and mutters that he already knew that.

Fukuzawa instructs Ranpo to use his ability.

At the Armed Detective Agency headquarters, Ranpo complains that he is bored while Fukuzawa asks if there is anything wrong. Just as Ranpo is about to challenge Yosano to a game of hanafuda, he notices someone on the security footage, which turns out to be Chūya.

Back at the original office of the Armed Detective Agency, Haruno and Naomi see the news on the sinking of the Zelda, and note that the Port Mafia must be behind it.

At the headquarters, Yosano reports that many of the cameras have stopped feeding footage, to which Fukuzawa tells Ranpo to launch the automatic turrets. However, these defenses are quickly dealt with by Chūya, who continues to taunt them. When Fukuzawa asks Ranpo if he is of the same opinion as him, he agrees. Kenji and Yosano are sent down to deal with Chūya. Chūya then addresses Fukuzawa through the camera, showing him a photo of Howard Phillips Lovecraft and John Steinbeck.

Yosano attacks Chūya from behind.

Chūya flips over the photo to reveal the date, time and location where Lovecraft and Steinbeck would appear, telling Fukuzawa that this is their chance to get back at the Guild. Fukuzawa thinks to himself that the chance to ambush members of the Guild was indeed attractive. Kenji and Yosano attack Chūya, but he manages to avoid Yosano's attack by using his ability to let him hang upside-down from the ceiling. Yosano recognizes him from his ability, correctly identifying him as Chūya Nakahara.

Fukuzawa answers Chūya, telling him that it would benefit the Port Mafia for them to reduce the Guild's strength or take each other out trying, to which Chūya responds that even so, they have nothing to lose by ambushing the Guild. Fukuzawa has Ranpo use his ability to see if Chūya is telling the truth.

Fukuzawa enraged.

By using his ability, Ranpo finds out that the Guild was also offered a similar trap, but took the bait unlike the Agency as it was too appetizing. It is then revealed that Haruno and Naomi were used as bait for the Guild, which they fell for as Lovecraft and Steinbeck were on their way to abduct them despite knowing that they were being led into a trap. Fukuzawa is shocked that the Port Mafia used Haruno and Naomi as bait, but Chūya tells him that it is not too late to go and try to save them. Ranpo also confirms that Chūya is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Chūya mentions that Mori said that even if the Agency knew of the trap, they would still willingly fall for it as Fukuzawa orders the office staff to evacuate and to be put through to Kunikida.

Characters in Order of Appearance

Manga and Anime Differences

  • In the manga, after Kajii sinks the boat using his bombs, Nathaniel and Margaret retreat. As they are doing so, they encounter the guild's Senior Secretary. Margaret rushes towards him, but it is soon revealed to be his corpse filled with lemon bombs as a trap. As the two are horrified by the scene, the bombs explode, but Nathaniel activates his ability and defends the two of them in time.[1]

References

  1. Bungo Stray Dogs Manga: Chapter 20.

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