In Defense of the Misunderstood Hero, Mori Ougai
I’m sure many would raise eyebrows when they read the title because, Mori? A hero?
Many people portrayed Mori as a sadistic devil, but in no
canon situation has Mori ever shown any sadistic tendency (like Dazai has). In fact, I’d say
he’s the reverse of that. He took care of Elise very well, despite/even though
she’s his own ability. He never once has hurt people for the sake of hurting
In fact whenever he didn’t have any business to take care of, his true personality shone through and it was not of a cold, heartless man with no conscience. Rather it was one full of dorkiness and gentle patience. Here, he even contacted Ango (who was sweating bullet because holy shit he’s being called by the fucking boss of Port Mafia) just to ask what color of dress will fit Elise more.
(For the love of anything holy I’ve scoured Ango and Oda’s tag in tumblr yet I can’t find it. It’s the extra DVD comic featuring Buraiha trio drinking and talking shit about Mori. In exchange, have these dorky dad and son interacting;
First thing first, I will give you what I think is the most important fact about Mori. Look at his line in this scene
Now this is his true nature; his main motivation for doing everything he did. The good of the organization.
At no point has Mori’s action ever benefit only himself. At
every instance he appeared in the story, he’s doing something for the Mafia and
for Yokohama. The only self-centered
thing he has ever done was asking Elise to wear what he wanted her to wear and
that’s moot point anyway since she’s his Ability and presumably modeled after
his ‘ideal’ little girl.
In this scene, he saved four members of ADA and even gave Atsushi an important lesson. Why would he do such a thing when he could literally immobilize Anne and Lucy by bloodlust alone? He could have let her take Tanizaki and Atsushi, then pressure her to let him out with his memory intact. Not to mention that his Ability, Elise, was waiting just outside, standing by ready to break him out any time.
If he does this, not only he will go free with the memory of the attack and thus the secret of Anne’s Room, he would also take care of not one but three ADA agents. Rather, he chose to save all of them plus every single person Anne has swallowed in the Dark Room.
is the scene where he took over as boss. The fact that
the Old Boss was bedridden and hallucinating while seemingly so thin,
also from the way he was narrated by Hirostu in episode 21, implicate
that his condition was something he contracted at a long period of time
rather than it being something sudden.
Notice the circumstance in which
he did it. Mori only killed the boss after he issued the order that would bring
destruction not only to the Mafia but also to the city and nation at large,
killing many people whether criminal or innocent. He didn’t do it before even though he could have.
By becoming the biggest bad of the bad, he resolved himself to take care of the light from the shadows. And this is important because if he hadn’t stepped in at that time either the Old Boss would have burnt Yokohama down or another heinous criminal would have taken over and brings the nation down with them.
He is protecting Yokohama by not letting people worse than him to take control of its biggest criminal organization. Notice what Kouyou think about him;
She supported him because of this too. She knew what it felt like to under one of those leaders that cared only for money and power like the Old Boss. Kouyou will not support people if all they brought with them was suffering and death the way she was forced to feel when her dearest was taken away from her. Under Mori’s reign, our queen Kouyou pledge her loyalty not to him but the kinder way he brought.
It can also be seen in this scene.
Mori could have taken effort to keep Kouyou there, but his tone and body language are open. He knew that Kouyou can go anytime and he’s not fighting to keep her there; Kouyou decided to stay on her own free will and he is appreciative of knowing he had a single ally he can absolutely trust on who also knew of his true motivation.
In this scene
It was made clear that he respect the Old Boss, so much that the death of a hundred subordinate made him embarrassed. He’s not upset that he lost some underlings, he’s upset that he lost them without a good reason to justify their death. A miscalculation has taken a hundred of his soldiers.
And you might think his reaction to this is rather cold, but remember that all of them were members of the mafia. All of them are criminals who would be executed if they fall into the hands of the police and they also knew what they’re getting into when they joined the Organization.
You can probably say what he did to Odasaku was horrible, sure. But it was expected for the boss of the Mafia to do so. (further reading for this topic)
But you have to admit it was a stroke of utter genius. With the
gifted Business Permit and no longer fearing the government, Mori would be freer
to take down opposing criminal organization that might bother the peace. Rather,
he focused the Mafia to expanding its power and outwardly he did so, like this
there will be very little chance for either a rebellion or an enemy
organization attacking them in their HQ. This would also mean less threat to
Fukuzawa’s remark in this was absolutely true. Not only between the two organization but also for him and Mori specifically. Mori loved Yokohama, enough to dip into the darkest of dark to protect it. And Fukuzawa knew it too because look at his line here
In this, it can be said that he didn’t want a war to break in Yokohama that might disturb its peace. But then why say ‘balance’?
This is because Fukuzawa knew the extent of his subordinate’s strength also that they will be able to kill Mori if they go all out. This is what he feared the most. While if he died, the Agency can be well-taken care of in Kunikida’s hand, once Mori’s dead there’s no one to reign in the Port Mafia and keep it from wreaking havoc, thus destroying the balance of Yokohama city into what it was before; the Dragon Head Rush. (you might want to read the novel of dark era to really grasp the situation. But basically it was a gang war that led to many victims including the families of Odasaku’s orphans)
More than that, the people who might succeed Mori would not be as kind as him. They might do what the Old Boss did and try to burn Yokohama down.
And this, I think, is also the main reason why Mori sent
Dazai away from the Mafia. It is, of course, easy to assume what Dazai remarked
about Mori’s intention in chapter 30/episode 21 to be the truth; that he did it to remove
a threat to his position.
But is this the whole story?
The fact that he kept Dazai’s spot empty rather than choosing someone else to fill it was a paradox if you were to look at him from the angle of a man hungry for power. He has anticipated Dazai’s return, was so sure of it in fact that he sacrificed monetary and workload gains of having another Executive. If he wanted Dazai back in the first place, then why drive him out of the Mafia and into the ADA?
now, imagine what would have happened if Dazai took over
as the Boss if he’s still the same man he was before Oda’s death. Cruel,
ruthless and uncaring for people’s life as he was, he would have gone
same track as the Old Boss and destroys Yokohama as his mental health
eroded. Not even Odasaku would be able to save him from himself at this
This is also why he asked Dazai back to the Mafia after
taking such extreme methods to drive him out. Of course there are another
reason, that is he needed his right hand back to drive out the Guild as he
But the main reason why he asked back after all this time
was because there are people in ADA who have taught him about having something
worth loving and worth protecting.
Mori felt that Dazai has learnt enough about the light and why it is something worth protecting. With it, when Dazai inevitably take his seat as the Boss of Port Mafia, Dazai would be able to follow his legacy as the Darth Vader of Bungou Stray Dogs and The Dark Knight of Yokohama. This is Mori’s special way of grooming Dazai to become his successor.
All this was so Dazai can be his successor and not the Old Boss’.
Conclusion for those who are too lazy to read 2000+ words of Mori being awesome: no, Mori is not an evil incarnate born to manipulate everyone to his own amusement.
If anything, he’s the greatest hero of the story. The same
way the ADA is protecting the city and Japan from the light, Mori is protecting
it from the shadows. With the balance that has been made between him and
Fukuzawa, it is imperative that he keep doing what he did, or the balance will
fall and Yokohama condemned into a lake of fire.
Asagiri Kafka is truly an exceptional writer. They made Mori into
this all-bad boss of the Mafia while slipping in his real face every so often.
is the author who made every character complex and with their own
motivation. What made you think they’ll make the ‘villain’ as simple as
a man existing just to be a villain?
Even Fitzgerald and Fyodor got development and reasoning for doing what they did, but the difference is they’re arc-villain and not whole story-villain like Mori. Their reign will be over with their arc, but Mori’s will live as long as BSD continues, so it’s imperative that they got their development and exposition early on so the readers can sympathize with them.
Thus I concluded my exposition of the anti-hero that has been protecting Yokohama all this time not by bathing in sunlight but by submerging himself in blood yet capable of keeping his head out of it depth; Mori Ougai.