It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve written an OWLS post. April seemed never ending to me!
Something exciting: I’m nearing my one year anniversary with OWLS! I joined this group near the end of May last year, and I wrote my first OWLS post on June 22nd. It feels like I only joined this group yesterday, but as they say, time flies when you’re having fun.
If you aren’t aware, this post is a part of a blog tour OWLS has every month with a different topic. We are a group of loving anime fans who want to spread positivity for all people through pop culture and anime! We are non-discriminant against anyone regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, etc.
I was quite excited when I saw what this month’s prompt was, and it happened to tie right into the show I was invested in during sign ups. I was about halfway through my watch of it at the time, and I just finished it Saturday night! Luckily, the second season was perfect for this.
This month’s prompt is:
We join movements, organizations, and systems that align with our own personal values and beliefs. Sometimes we join these groups because they believe in doing good and making positive changes in society. However, these movements can turn sour when a dictator arises or behind the good intentions, there’s a hidden agenda of oppression. It is in these groups that individuals start to shape their identities by questioning their values and beliefs or conforming to the system. This month, we will be examining “real and/or fictitious” movements, organizations, or systems in anime and other pop culture mediums, and the positive and negative effects they have on individuals and society.
Initially, I was going to touch on all four organizations present in this anime, but I decided to only focus on two instead. I had too much information I’d have to shove into this post that it may have become incoherent.
Both groups have their own set of goals and standards that members have to adhere to, and this also affects each person involved. So, along with a basic overview of the groups, I’ll be focusing on a few people who are a part of each to dig deeper into what these groups do for their members.
In both of these organizations, the people who make them up have supernatural abilities. What they choose to do with these abilities heavily reflects upon which group they’ve chosen to stand with and fight for.
Also, this post will definitely not be spoiler free. There was no way I’d be able to write this if I made it vague.
Before I get into specifics, I want to mention that the opening for season two “Reason Living” has a huge part in what I’ll be discussing. Majority of the characters are broken and outcasts. Each one of them has to find a way to keep going, and find a reason to live in this world that has been so cruel to them.
I’ll fight against and bring to life
A single reason to stay alive
All despite the fact I’ll never find
A clear answer, but that’s no surprise
This story has a brand new page
A chapter where we will take the stage
‘Til we find ourselves, we’ll wander like stray dogs
-Lyrics from Amalee’s cover
The reason I bring this up is I will be speaking on individuals’ reasons for joining the group they are in, and it generally connects to this idea of finding a purpose in life, and a purpose for the supernatural abilities they’ve been given. This theme is a driving factor for how I’m going to interpret this topic of “movement.”
The Armed Detective Agency
This is our main group, the one where a majority of our main cast comes from. These are the “good guys.” They are the ones who investigate crimes that the police and military either can’t solve or don’t have time for.
Among this group are individuals who contain immense power, and wish to use this power to help others. Each member must pass an exam testing whether they’d be willing to sacrifice themselves for others without hesitation. Atsushi (middle of the image) had to do this, and his task was to disarm a bomb before it went off in the main office of the Agency. He threw his body over the bomb right before it’d go off, and then it was revealed to him it was only a test.
So, these people are selfless to an extent, and possess these powerful Abilities that can be used to solve cases and help other people. That’s the basis of the Armed Detective Agency.
The Port Mafia
To me, the Port Mafia has always been a bigger mystery. I could never quite figure out what it is they want.
But they certainly want things they can’t have.
For one, they have it out for Atsushi. They attempt multiple times throughout the anime to either steal him away from the Agency or just kill him. Possibly out of jealousy, since he has a strong Ability and they can’t have it, possibly out of desire to just outright kill others, it’s not entirely clear, at least to me.
One thing is for certain: the Mafia has much different morals from the Agency. The Mafia has no problem with killing people if it gets them what they want. Many of the Agency’s cases they have to solve involve the Mafia’s habit of sending members to murder people.
While the Agency has the goal of helping selflessly, the Mafia has the goal of taking selfishly.
Sometimes we find ourselves changing our views, and in turn that means we leave our old movement to find a new one that suits us better.
I’m almost intimidated to even describe Dazai. He’s very…complex. And near impossible to understand. So I won’t focus on his whole character, just a small part of it. And even that will be a bit hard to describe.
When he was young, Dazai was a member of the Port Mafia. From what the anime shows us, this started when he was fourteen. He watched as the previous boss was murdered by the current boss, possibly as a sort of initiation or first exposure to what he’d be witnessing throughout his time in the organization.
At eighteen, he rose in ranks and became one of the most influential members of the organization, aside from Mori, the boss. He often ordered others to kill people, or he’d take matters into his own hands.
Why did he enjoy being this kind of person though?
Do you know why I joined the Port Mafia?
I was hoping there’d be something in it for me. If you place yourself somewhere near raw emotions, where you’re exposed to violence and death, instinct and desire, you can brush against a man’s true nature.
I thought that way I could…I could find a reason to live somehow.
-Dazai to Odasaku in Ep 16
Dazai has always seemed to have this problem with not knowing what to do with his life. A running “joke” throughout is that Dazai wants to commit suicide, preferably with someone else. Even during this part of the anime, where he’s younger and in the Mafia, he has this strange desire. It’s not so much he doesn’t like living, it’s more he wants to die in a certain way.
But before that can happen, he still needs to live his life.
So his thought-process is to be around the brutal nature of killers to find that. To eventually, maybe see what the price of life is.
Initially, he was content in where he was in life and didn’t have intentions of leaving this life. That is, until his close friend, Oda Sakunosuke (nicknamed Odasaku), dies. During his life, Odasaku wanted to be a writer. He was passionate about the idea, but never had enough confidence in himself. He was a member of the Mafia, yet he refused to kill anyone because of his writing passion. He thought that if he was willing to take a life, he’d never be able to make a life in his fiction. But he fought hard against a member of the group rivaling the Mafia at the time, Mimic. And in his fighting, he killed the other man, and he also lost his life.
It was then that Dazai learned the value in a life. Watching his friend die without being able to prevent it, and knowing how attached he was to his friend changed something within him, and he left the Mafia.
He had a new goal, and that was to help others, hence his switch to the Agency, where he gets to help people every day.
Another previous member of the Port Mafia switching to the Armed Detective Agency, but her story is vastly different.
Kyouka’s power, Demon Snow, is incredibly strong, and takes control over her when it’s in use. The Mafia decided to use this power for their sake, disregarding the affect it would have on Kyouka, still a young girl of fourteen. She’s killed over 30 people against her will, and though Demon Snow does all the work, she still watches as her body takes another person’s life.
But if she rebels, they will find her, and they will take control of her again. She has a tracking device around her neck at all times, orders being spewed to her at all times that she must listen to. It’s maddening to her, and she becomes so overwhelmed by it she wants to abandon the Mafia forever.
Atsushi has a huge role in her transition away from the Mafia. He believes that she can move on from this, and make a better life for herself. But it’s a struggle. It’s a constant back-and-forth between the Mafia and the Agency, with who has her at the moment. She wants to be a member of the Agency, but with her past, she doesn’t believe she can. She knows she’s caused destruction she can’t reverse, and she feels like a criminal who can’t do any good in the world.
In one of the last episodes, Dazai speaks with her about how she can move on from what she’s done for the Mafia. All she has to do is prove she’d sacrifice herself for their cause, and she’s a member.
In the end, she almost died. She blew up the ship she was on while it was in the air to prevent it from blowing up the city. The leader of the Agency saved her from actually dying due to her willingness to die for the Agency, and she became a member right then.
Finding Hope When There Was None
In his youth, Atsushi was abandoned by his parents and was forced to live in an orphanage that only treated him poorly. He was put down constantly by the people who were supposed to be taking care of him, giving himself a constant state of worthlessness and no self confidence. He was feared for his Ability, turning into a powerful white tiger under the light of the moon. Before he realized he had this Ability, though, he caused destruction among the city and was under the impression that the white tiger was after him.
The orphanage didn’t know what to do with him, but kicked him out once he turned eighteen. He lived on his own until he was on the brink of starvation, and then was found by Dazai, who brought him to the Agency to find use of his “weretiger” ability.
This change in his life was what saved him. He began finding more purpose in himself, and found a reason to keep on living, through helping the Agency help others. He made such improvement in his life that that helpless kid on the streets begging for just one small meal doesn’t even look like him anymore.
He found a purpose through this “movement” and in the end completely saved his life.
(Not-so) Dynamic Duos
As I was watching season two, I noticed there were a lot of parallels in the OP and ED with Atsushi/Akutagawa and Dazai/Chuuya, so I want to talk about these characters’ respective roles in their organizations and why this might be a parallel.
I found it fascinating that these characters were always shown in parallel to each other during the anime’s OPs and EDs. Upon first impression, Akutagawa has all of the appearance and makings of a villain. He just oozes “bad” vibes from his clothing and his power. He has it out to hurt Atsushi from the start, since Atsushi has a hefty bounty on his head for his weretiger ability. Atsushi’s dangerous, others want him either by their side or dead.
Akutagawa is just following orders from a higher power: the mafia boss, Mori. And he orders those beneath him sometimes. But really, it all goes back to Mori rather than Akutagawa himself. He’s also powerful, his gift “Rashoumon” being the ability to sprout vicious-looking limbs from his torso. But despite this power, he still doesn’t feel like he’s good enough. He doesn’t have confirmation from someone of whether he truly is powerful. It doesn’t matter that he can visibly see himself kill other people with his Ability, he needs outside opinion, and he’s blinded by that.
Atsushi is similar. He grew up with that idea of self-hatred ingrained in his head. He sees himself as worthless, not capable of living with purpose, and no matter how many times he proves to himself that he can do good, that thought comes back to haunt him. His Ability that has caused organizations to fight still doesn’t seem good enough to him. Not until he’s actually saved someone, and gained praised from the people in the Agency.
For both of these characters, the largest outside force is Dazai. He seems to be the greatest thing Atsushi and Akutagawa have in common. Akutagawa specifically wants to be praised and noticed by Dazai. This is most likely because Akutagawa was Dazai’s subordinate when he was in the Mafia, and maybe he didn’t get the recognition he wanted back then. Atsushi doesn’t outwardly express this desire, but it becomes clear whenever Dazai compliments him. His expression seems lighter and more confident.
Gaining recognition in the organization you’re a part of is important. Without it, you’ll feel like an empty piece of the puzzle, and cease to show much commitment, or beg for it so badly you’ll get tunnel vision.
These two are…interesting to watch. They have a past, and a bizarre sort of trust. At one point, they both were members of the Mafia simultaneously, and they were partners.
But, they split for a while. Because Dazai left the Mafia for reasons I explained earlier. When reunited, there’s much bickering, but there’s still remnants of that bond that used to be fully there. They used to fight for the same cause. Then they didn’t anymore. And then in season two, when Lovecraft has them cornered, they have to fight for the same cause yet again.
And I must say they actually have a good balance. It’s a bit ridiculous at times, with Dazai’s constant unnecessary joking just to poke at Chuuya’s patience, but in the end, they got the job done they needed to.
In this sense, changing belief and cause doesn’t necessarily mean splitting up a previous partnership. The remembrance of what they used to fight for lingers and they can balance each other out.
What Are My “Movements?”
In recent posts, I’ve decided that I have to add this little section at the end. I consciously began doing this in my February post, but I’ve done it in others as well.
It’s great to talk about what this theme has to do with an anime, but how does this affect us in real life? More specifically, how does it affect me?
We all are a part of some sort of belief group, whether we are advocates for it, or we just nod along with with others say. Of course, groups conflict, but that’s what makes us human. Our differing opinions cause problems, but they can also make our own beliefs stronger, or can make us change our mind completely.
In my life, the causes I fight hard for is acceptance of the LGBT+ community, equality of gender, and mental health awareness. How do I promote my beliefs? Through writing.
Even when I write my silly little fanfictions, I leak these beliefs into it. I write to spread awareness to these importance subjects. Writing is really my way to express my thoughts, and that’s why I do it so often. I write about these causes on my blog, and I write about them in my personal stories. They’re important to me, so I’ll express it in the only way I know others will listen to me.
In the end, the movements we have are a part of us, and it’s our job to make it a part of other people as well.
In this way that the Armed Detective Agency wants to help others solve dangerous crimes, I want to help others learn about the issues other people have, and what they themselves may be dealing with.
I hope you enjoyed this post! It was a fun one!
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