Posted on 18 April 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews, Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019), Reviews by SuperMario

Just like the titular character, Boogiepop Phantom the series has become some sort of urban legend itself in this medium. Its Light Novels are amongst the first Light Novel ever released, dating back to mid-90s. Moreover, the franchise has endured the test of time, as it inspires anime, live-action adaptations and Boogiepop is a well-known face in Japan. This new version intends to adapt the Light Novels more faithfully as it goes through several arcs from the source. All in all I consider this an average adaptation to its classic source. It has tons of issues, both production-wise and character-wise, although the arcs themselves are all quite decent.

There are reasons why Boogiepop still remains in the conversation of the medium till this day. The most distinguished feature lies in its non-linear, puzzling narrative. There’s a saying of “style over substance”, but for shows like Boogiepop it’s the styles that become the substance. Introducing dozen of characters within an arc, some have more significant roles than the others, floating in and out of time, sometimes within a dream; Boogiepop’s narrative is like a jigsaw puzzle. There’s bits and pieces the show throws at us during the arc, but until the last pieces fit in, should viewers see the full picture. This narrative style demands viewers’ attention throughout, and if you miss one bit of information you might feel at a total loss, hence I can see why viewers would turn off by it. But it’s a rewarding process for those who decide to stick with it as the story starts to add up and sink in the more we explore its universe.

The very strength of this disjointed narrative is that it provides multiple points of view, each character has different issues, they have different ways to view the world and all add up to bring the multifaceted layers of this universe. I also appreciate how each characters have different goals in mind, even the ones who don’t contribute much to the main plot like repressed homosexual feeling from one character in “Vs. imaginator” arc, or Makoto’s feeling of his father in “The King of Distortion” arc. They might not be relevant to the events of the arcs they are in, but they all speak to the same theme that Boogiepop trying to address since the first episode…

And that theme is adolescent growth. In Boogiepop universe, there are supernatural beings that exist beside us. These supernatural beings, however, are products of teenagers’ insecures. People’s fear and myth that form a physical manifestation of these beings. While I certainly approve this underlying message, the way Boogie presents these themes are both obvious and hazy at the same time. As for the former, the speech between Suema and Aya Orihata in “Vs. Imaginator” arc when Orihata about to jump off the balcony are way too heavy-handed when Suema tries to explain the whole “what does this series mean” speech to convince her not to jump. On the opposite spectrum, sometimes this underlying message can be too unclear and pretentious for its own good. I still can’t make heads or tails what progress Shiro Tanaka the Archer been through in the last arc since there’s little to no emotional attachment whatsoever. Indeed, this is the main weakness of Boogiepop, it’s more interest at being intriguing and not much about building up emotions or characters we can care for.

Boogiepop consists of 4 different arcs and an unusual 18 episodes airing. Out of these arcs I would say that the first arc “Boogiepop doesn’t laugh” is its worst (and the premiere isn’t the good way to introduce the show), not because the source isn’t strong, but it condenses the plot to much it becomes too linear for the show’s nature. Take note that none of these arcs are bad, they are messy, yes, but they all hold up well at the end and they bring the right atmosphere to the show. The only issue I can point out, is the visual where sometimes the characters go off-model, and CG crowds that stand out like a sore thumb. The score is at least intriguing and unusual. It uses electronic score with sometimes just stop abruptly in the middle of conversations, which again bring out the off putting nature of Boogiepop.

Finally, as I mentioned briefly before, the characters unfortunately isn’t the show’s strong suit. Part of it because of the disjointed narrative, and part of it because there are no real protagonist in this show. That is the reason why “Boogiepop at Dawn” arc fares so well because Nagita is the clear main character who drives the events. The worst of the cast, unfortunately, is Touka Miyashita. We learn little to nothing about her own character (except from she having a family issue as well) and for the character who supposed to be a vessel for the titular character, this is just not enough. Boogiepop is a mess, Boogiepop is emotional distance, Boogiepop can be frustrating to watch at times but its puzzle-like narratives can sink in and be rewarding for those who have enough patience.

Posted on 20 March 2019 with categories: Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019), Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense

The nightmare never seems to end. During episode 15, we have three separate segments of characters stuck in their own dreams: Makoto’s mother, Sakiko and Kentarou. Play into Boogiepop’s strength, these characters have their own drama and each of their story explores different aspect of this phenomenal, all related to the King of Distortion himself. More impressively, these segments still have a progression. From passively in the case of Makoto’s mother to Kentarou who eventually tries his way to fix it himself. So far, more so than previous arcs, this “King of Distortion” arc is much more surreal and psychological, which very much within my domain. What Boogiepop does right in these individual segment is how it can draw out the drama, the “struggles” in the past these characters can’t get pass even to this day. One thing that both these characters aware is that they’re in a dream and the person they talk with is the King of Distortion. It’s interesting to note that he’s only there as a listener for these characters to confront their own traumatic past, and he appears to do nothing beyond that. He’s just there to open that hole that others hide in their heart. Boogiepop themselves is uncertain whether he’s a foe and not. It’s more that this strange phenomenal serves as a catalyst to something more destructive.

Tracking down the events of these three segments, we have Shizuka, Makoto’s Mom, who reveals that she’s pregnant by an unknown father, which she thought might be Teratsuki’s (although Teratsuki isn’t human hence he can’t impregnate a girl). I like what Shizuka was going through there, she’s a whirlwind of inconsistencies and that makes her utterly relatable. A sheltered girl with insecurities, for example. The way she keeps hanging on Teratsuki and her relationship with her son Makoto. Not until episode 16 with the revelation of Zooragi and what it means for Makoto should we know how her decision impacts him in a profound way. Then we have quite a sad story of Sakiko and her deceased childhood friend Hinako, whom she was looked up to, and was jealous of. Unlike other segments where these negative feelings were much more sinister and uglier, the trauma both Shizuka, Sakiko and Kentarou go through are more of a regret, of something they should’ve done better in the past and that lead to how they become the way they are in the present. For Kentarou, he has a crush with the awesome Nagi, and he immediately realises that the world he is currently experience is within his memory. Well, until he meets Makoto and learns that multiple dreams have merged anyway.

And the we come back to Nitoki’s perspective during the first half of episode 16. She has been a fascinating character to me. She knows about the true existence of Boogiepop, and she does her own research about multiple personalities. Suema does a perfect job of confusing us more by assert her theory that “there is no multiple personalities because we can’t really prove it”. While I don’t necessarily agree with her theory, it informs the attitude of Boogiepop the series – that all these psychological abnormalities, and at large all these supernatural recurring, are all come from within one’s mind. I certainly feel the deadpan remark of Boogiepop when they hand out the bento Touka made for Takade to her rival (and she indeed eats it). Nikoti then concludes that King of Distortion is her alternative personality (that would explain why it functions as a memory) but whether that means in a big picture is still up in the air. The King of Distortion himself refers to all this as an “experiment”, and I have a great sense that none of the character, even Boogiepop and King of Distortion, know how this experiment going to pan out.

All that lead to the big reveal where pieces start to fall neatly into its assigned place. Zooragi the monster. As the Moon Temple starts crumbling by an unknown force, we soon learn that it’s Zooragi who goes berserk. We know about him in the very beginning of this arc, but now we know his significant. He was Makoto’s painting about his father. This single detail can inform you how Makoto feel about the father he has never met or known. It’s interesting to note that Zooragi acts in accordance to Makoto and it’s Makoto who is on the verge of totally losing control. So we have the final showdown between Boogiepop and Zooragi, where they apparently chops Zooragi’s head off, so that Makoto can control himself and falls back to sleep. All this is, after all, just a product of human psyche, just like the King of Distortion himself.

Posted on 4 March 2019 with categories: Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019), Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense

This is often the case for a series that is fragment and non-linear like Boogiepop, the beginning is often its weakest part. Not only because it has no real beginning, therefore no real “introduction”, it has to create the right kind of mood that represents the overall tone of an entire arc. Moreover, the lack of “big catalyst” also makes it hard for viewers to fully engage with what unfold on screen. The very first episode of Boogiebop suffers hard from that (by hindsight, that premiere is amongst Boogiepop’s worst episode so far). To say all that leads to my next point: this first episode of the new arc “The King of Distortion” is a successful opener. It feels a bit meandering at first, mostly because it shifts back and forth between side characters that we know next to nothing about them, but as soon as the paranormal event kicks in, everything starts to fall into place. Like the premiere episode of “Boogiepop Doesn’t Laugh” arc, it begins through Takeda – Miyashita’s boyfriend – point of view. That fact alone gives me a good chuckle because despite appeared as serious as he is, his role is always that of a bystander. He has no real relation to the main events, therefore he’s more like a springboard for viewers before we jump into the event. Chronologically, this arc is appropriately happens right after that first arc, as many members from that cast comes back in a big way in this episode.

Everything in this episode revolves around the twisted statue that represents very well the very nature of distortion (I see it more as a walking naked woman but it’s just me). From what we gathered, it’s a “failed” project from millionaire called Teratsuki. There are some interesting nitpicks with that piece of information alone. The reason it’s “failed” isn’t because of its incompleteness, it is because Teratsuki dies mysteriously at the age of 56 and no one have a clue on the intention or even what to do with the Moon Temple architecture. Even his life was complicated before his death, he was a success in almost every field he was in (strongly indicated that he’s already evolved), and he was the person that Scarecrow investigated before he met Nagi in “Boogiepop at Dawn” arc. Precisely because people don’t know what to do with it, they make an exhibition out of it, and it attracts fair share of people lining up to get in. That Moon Temple in itself a mysterious identity, and we follow a whole range of different characters as they line up: A kid who encounters the King of Distortion in the image of Teratsuki himself (and based on what he said he’s a just-born), a random guy named Habara who meets the archery boy Tanaka, and a random girl named Michimoto who is having a fight with her date. I’m not even sure if they will become something important later on.

The one the is important, however, Niitoki, one of the surviving member after the climax of the first arc. First she sees her crush Takeda, then she pursuits Boogiepop and finally gets transferred back to the time she regretted the most – the Manticore event. The moment where the paranormal event kicks in remain one of the most breath-taking moments Boogiepop pulls up to date. As the doors closing the visitors turned into statues. Seriously, this is something that falls more in line with Ikuhara than most other anime, but I’m glad that Boogiepop goes there. Niitoki is taken back to meet Saotome, and I’m pretty sure there’s some hidden feeling, something much more about her own psyche than meets the eyes here. What is it about him (and not Manticore or her crush Takeda), that she feels regret the most? At the same time we have a look to another random security guard who appears to not be able to confess his love to the girl he likes. And even the King of Distortion himself. How was he born? It’s clear that he takes shape into whatever things people perceive him to be, but does he, like Imaginator before him, want to “evolve” human in some ways? Making them facing their own guilt past isn’t the bad way, after all, but to what extend he’s going to “fix” people? Boogiepop sets up a pretty intriguing first episode, one that again speaks to its adolescent theme, and one where Boogiepop themselves appears actively. Hopefully this arc also gives more justice to Miyashita, so far is sadly just a cardboard character with no real depth yet.

Posted on 1 March 2019 with categories: Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019), Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense

This new arc of Boogiepop, “Boogiepop at Dawn”, serves as a prequel to the current timeline, and I’m glad to say that I consider this batch of episodes to be Boogiepop’s best arc so far. It addresses many issues that I have in previous arcs. For once, the length is just about right as it squeezes all the relevant characters to their full potential. Most of all, unlike “Vs Imaginator” where the main characters are hardly relevant, this arc Nagi is the beating heart as everything revolves around her and she’s the one crucial element that ripples the water. In addition to that, both Suiko and Miyashita appear at the right moments. I agree with what Animosh said in his comment about Miyashita, as of now we know very little about her, as a result we don’t find much to invest to her own character except when Boogiepop persona takes over. Secondly, the supporting cast’s purpose feel much stronger than any of previous arc. Everyone has their roles that further affect the tide of the current. Most importantly, however, Boogiepop at Dawn delivers some emotional affecting moments that it often lacks (usually deliberately so). Episode 10 for example is one of its most resonate episode because I can clearly feel the weight of suppressed emotions Scarecrow has paid his life for. It is something raw, powerful, and yet beautiful.

My praise doesn’t stop there, either. With this arc, I have a better grasp on the themes Boogiepop as a whole franchise wanted to address. It’s all about “evolution”, be it evolving to something that surpass humans physical ability, most at the cost of losing their own humanity (Dr Kisuki) and vice versa (in Scarecrow and Sasaki’s cases), or be it the transition from childhood to adulthood (in our main Miyashita character). It’s no surprise that the original light novels target young adult as its main audience, and like Suema asserted few episodes back this is the phase where teenagers go through some psychological changes, and these supernatural characters are a physical manifestation of these psychological changes. Myths and gossips give presence to these beings, and they take advantage or devoid the weak. Lastly, the character’s weight and their chemistry sink their teeth deeper on what lies between the lines, underneath the surface: The fact that Nagi never finds out that Sasaki was her father’s killer; the fact that we never witness what Pigeon has gone through after the death of Scarecrow but we all feel it through her course of action; or the fact that the only good deeds that Scarecrow did to save Nagi would be the catalyst for many catastrophe events happened in the future. I was thinking to myself how Nagi’d react to Sasaki if she learn the truth, and I came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t affect her decision at all. Nagi is just that strong and perceptive.

I’m certain we can draw a parallel between Scarecrow and Mo Murder arc, even though at first they function in the opposite spectrum. They are both artificial human, and they are well aware of that fact (in hindsight it’s neat to show how well they blend in to the society – we don’t know about Scarecrow being an artificial human until the end of episode 10). The crack of the surface appears when Scarecrow befriends a then bed-sicken Nagi with an incurable disease. It’s her words that give him the courage of becoming Superhero: helping others even at the cost of his life. This tender moment where he meets (and names) Boogiepop before he dies really hit it home. And it comes off as rather bittersweet to know that this action causes a massive butterfly effects to the all the events later on. This arc does a nice job of depicting artificial human with their own heart in contrast with humanity who lost their own nature. Mo Murder character serves as a nice addition as well. Though he’s a hired murderer, he does try to protect Nagi out of the mess and pays his life doing so.

On the other side of the coin, Dr. Kisuki steps as a formidable villain for this arc. She’s the kind of character who obsessed with “fear” feeling to the point the feeling consumes her. The more fear her victims experience the more bloodthirsty she becomes, and by utilizing the drugs that Scarecrows used to save Nagi, she evolves into a monster. I’m in awe how her character fits very well with Boogiepop’s evolution theme and it plays as a nice contrast to Scarecrow, Echoes and the likes. The other smaller characters also fulfill their roles nicely. Chief among them are Nagi’s father who catches on with all this, and Pigeon shines in a little screen time she has. She’s definitely an unsung hero for this arc. For a character that appears so little she’s surprisingly poignant and heartbreaking. I’m not sure what the next arc of Boogiepop gonna be like (if I have to guess, I’d say it’s an arc about Miyoshita the character), I just hope that it’ll be as good as this one. Up until now, I’m more curious with Boogiepop meandering, fragment approach than its theme or actual characters’ engagement, but Boogiepop at Dawn proves that it still has its chops to become something more than just its presentation.

Posted on 25 February 2019 with categories: Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019), Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense

Boogiepop never makes things easy huh? Just at the end of this Imaginator arc we immediately receive the whole 4-episode OVA of the next one. Before we get into the next arc (which I will cover in its entirety in the next post), this Imaginator arc reaches its conclusion. I remain half-half on how I perceive this arc as a whole. On one hand, it ends conclusively. Everything falls neatly into its place and every characters have their own significance to the story. One the other hand, the art of telling nonlinear puzzle-like structure like this one is that it adds up at the end, both emotionally and thematically, in which I can only consider Boogiepop mildy succeed at (in cinema world, Atom Egoyan is the master of this approach). Maybe part of that is because I wasn’t that invested to Masaki – Orihata dynamic, and another part is that the main characters don’t really involved into the narrative. Sure, Boogiepop pops in and steals the spotlight in the climax, but it has more to do with her being afraid that her friend Suema would get involved. That bit alone is essential, however. Despite her claims that she’s mostly a watcher, Boogiepop does care for her friends and will actively bang in if there’s any risk included.

Jin Asukai takes up the main narrative in episode 8 where he mostly reveals his own cards. When get confronted by Suema (about Kinukawa’s feeling), he talks about his ambition, pretentiously so, of changing the world. He does have something in mind as he meets Spooky E and totally outclasses him. It’s interesting to note that they have the same kind of power: Spooky E for brain-washing, and Jin for heart-altering (or whatever that is, you could say breast-touching and I’m not going to argue against), but what differentiate their power is the mean: Spooky E uses it purely for manipulation, whereas Jin’s method is something more substantial. It remains unclear to me, however, how does he know about Orihata’s perfect rose? I might miss some details but does he know Orihata in the first place, or is she just someone he coincidentally meet. It remains clear within the last two episodes that he’s much more dangerous and harder to deal with than Spooky E. One thing he does right, however, is when he finally addresses his thought to his cousin Kinukawa, and by rejecting her wholeheartedly she snaps out of her current brainwash.

As for Masaki, although being manipulated by Orihata of becoming a fake Boogiepop to lure out the real one, when it comes to his feeling to Orihata he’s never two-minded about that. As the story goes, he is being ambushed by brainwashed Kinukawa and nearlygive her a finishing blow, if not by the intervention of his sister Nagi. Eventually, the real Boogiepop meets him and tells him the truth, and one I considered as the main theme of Boogiepop the series so far. Masaki knows that he’s being brainwashed and manipulated this whole time, so that explains his fixtation to Orihata because he’s brainwashed to do so. Now with this knowledge, what does his heart really want? The ending works well on that end, but one that I find a little predictable.

As for the Master Gardener, he thinks he’s in control but he makes one grave mistake, that the perfect flower he saw in Orihata is a fake, because Orihata isn’t human. With this reveal, I honestly don’t feel the need for Boogiepop to appear at all. Yes, she assures that she maintains the order, and that she will destroy anything that destruct the structure, but it feels a bit off to me where the arc starts with her against the true Imaginator and ends with her beating Jin, an Imaginator manipulator, and the inclusion of both Suema and Nagi feel superfluous at best. Well, at least things work out in the end.

Posted on 12 February 2019 with categories: Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019), Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense

Boogiepop thickens its narrative considerably this past 2 weeks. Instead of peeling the skins to its already complex narrative, it feels as if Boogiepop adds more layers to it, each layer matters differently to the big picture. While I feel the first arc Boogiepop and Others suffers from rushing too much (it scraps many side characters for instance), this arc it suffers from totally opposite issue, it’s meandering quite a bit here. I don’t mind the way it jumps around between narratives to narratives. After all, it’s make the central mystery more intriguing, but I do feel that there is little progress in the last two episodes. News emerges that the next arc of Boogiepop: Boogiepop at Dawn will be a 2-hour OVA which will be Boogiepop’s 10th to 13th episode, it’s safe to assume that there are two more episodes to wrap up this current Imaginator arc and for me they certainly don’t need 6 episodes for this material.

To be more specific, Masaki and Orihata’s relationship makes up the main emotional core of this arc, but I feel the chemistry is stalled this last episode. Orihata is torn between Spooky E’s order and her genuine care for Masaki. Now that we learn that Orihata’s mission is to cross-breed to create a new non-human being, whatever that is. At the beginning of episode 6, Masaki finds her being manipulated by Spooky E but he manages to control him, and instead of making him his puppet, he just erases his memory. Orihata makes sure about his safety by playing along with Spooky E’s order, dressing him up as a fake Boogiepop to lure the real one, but at the same time protect him with all her might. While they certainly share a mutual chemistry together, and Masaki’s naive care towards the girl plays well against the dark tone of the series, I don’t feel like they provide enough reasons for me to care for their wellbeing.

It’s neat, however, to have one of our main character pulled into the heart of this story from the outside looking in. Kinukawa Kotoe, who is Jin’s cousin, reaches Suema to investigate about his strange behavior. What she witnesses afterward is something “creepy”: he performs a ritual to plug/modify highschool girls missing hearts, so that they feel “fulfilled” afterward. It’s a interesting concept, since it remains to be seen whether his action can be perceived as “savior” or “crime”. On the one hand, we have him going through some malicious intent and was on the verge of breaking down. On the other hand, the people he saved feels happy afterward. Too happy that they seem to lose their drive to live. Suema, in the meantime, bumps into Orihara whom about to jump of the building. As she proceed to talk her out of it, they also spell out loud the themes about Boogiepop franchise as a whole. That’s all these supernatural beings are the result of teenager’s growing up. As Suema frames it, Boogiepop is there to lend the helping hand to fragile young hearts that adults won’t provide, as adults they feel adolescence is just a phase everyone goes through, and will pass. Well, what do I say? Obvious issues aside, it’s nice to know what Boogiepop is really about, right? We need that for something as roundabout as Boogiepop.

Lastly, Kotoe makes up for the last missing piece of this chessboard. We learn about her affection towards Jin (since childhood, no less) until it gets abruptly interfered by Spooky E goddamn mind control power and now she becomes his copy – not a terminal- but a copy. Actually, I found those raw moments where the victims’ is completely erased, but in some rare moments their real feeling sip in one of the more effective moments in the series. Whether it’s Kotoe this week or Anou in the past few weeks, although with their identity erased, the feeling they had for somebody still remains within their conscious. That’s harsh, yet beautiful. It’s amazing that while the main conflict of the arc is between Imaginator and Boogiepop, neither of them appear much in the last few weeks.and I still don’t think that Imaginator is that bad, it’s Spooky E is the main villain here. He’s spook for sure, not sure what an E stands for anyway.

Posted on 29 January 2019 with categories: Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019), Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense

Boogiepop’s this week further reaffirms what I really like about the show’s overall structure. Each week we have a total new perspective from the same arc, often with different level of impact to the main events. This episode, for example, is about two “lesser” interconnected plot threads compare to one last week, yet we still learn many new elements that could potentially change the tide of this sailing boat. We get another supernatural foe, but this time it seems like they are a small piece in the chess. We have more complex emotional range this week: from sexual to homosexual attraction (which the latter is actually pretty impressive). The main key here that can prove to be a crucial plotpoint, in hindsight, isn’t the characters that have their narratives this week, but Orihata Aya, the girl that dates Masaki, Nagi Kirimi’s little brother. It becomes clear that she has different values regarding her own, as she thinks it’s only natural to offer her body to guys, and think very little of her self worth. She comes off an inhuman vibe, but so far I can’t still put my fingers on who she really be. She could be another one of Towa Organization’s “terminal”, which kind of makes sense since that Spooky E is totally protecting her, but I feel that she’s carrying the bigger roles here. And she’s on the verge of breaking down now that she develops her feeling towards someone else.

Which brings us to the first segment where we get told in Masaki’s point of view. Masaki keeps his presence low profile, but he still ends up as a target of bullying amongst his class. The fact the he’s Kirimi’s brother also ties him into the bigger picture. Could it be that Orihata approaches him because of that? As the event progresses, his affection eventually reaches the girl, which I think will serve as a catalyst to the next big event. Asukai reappears to give these bullying guys justiced, and on the second segment it’s interesting to note that he regards the victim as “beyond cure”, which means that he believes his action as a way to cure the victims. At this moment we don’t see the aftermaths of the victims he touched so I can’t tell his version of “cure” would be like, but my gut tells me that it’s gonna be twisted.

The second thread is about Anou Shinjirou, Misaki’s classmate and as we soon learn, he has some physical attraction to him. I really like the way he behaves towards Misaki, you can see the whole waves of conflicted emotions this guy has towards Misaki. Trying his best to show some hesitant to the boy, yet at the same time stalks him and tries to approach him when there’s no one around. It’s creepy but Boogiepop nails his behaviors wonderfully. His stalking to Orihata (since he thought the girl has some hidden agenda) causes Spooky E brainwashes him and makes him one of his terminals. The highpoint of this episode for me is how despite him losing all his memories, his personality and his emotions, in some rare moments his real emotions surface. The scene where he looks at the painting “Snow falls in April” (which is definitely another important piece – who draw this painting?), for instance, evokes some kind of raw emotions to him. For the show that is on the emotional distance approach, it still doesn’t forget to let some emotions sip in.

Lastly, Boogiepop appears to tie up these stories and decides to banish Spooky E, however he escapes in the nick of time. I still think that some pieces are missing here, and until we learn the importance of Orihata’s role in this story, things will put into motion. 5 episodes in, the biggest strength of Boogiepop Phantom lies in its interwoven structures and it does a decent jobs to maintain the restless mood that prove crucial to its many mysteries. Well, viewers have to work way more than normal shows in order to be on track but for me it has been a rewarding experience so far.

Posted on 21 January 2019 with categories: Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019), Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense

It starts with a girl jumping off the building.
I’m always a sucker for this sort of opener (clue in to Lain and Satoshi Kon even though Kon never technically did that for opener), and it feels like a decent start for the next arc to come. It basically repeats the same formula as the first three episodes, albeit more to my likings. The biggest distribution to that is that this episode more coherent than the first arc, while at the same time remains ambiguous. So far, Boogiepop introduces 2 new characters, both of them prove to be significant to this arc.

It starts with a girl jumping off the building, yet she isn’t literally dead. As we soon learn, she is another non-human villain whom Boogiepop is here to destroy her, and whom Boogiepop refers as “The Imaginator”. Who or what exactly she might be is up to the air right now, and the moment she falls down from the building she disappears to thin air. It’s worth noticing that the Imaginator (in the body of Minahoshi Suiko) is voiced by the recognisable Hanazawa Kana, which for me is a strange choice. She is later referred herself as “a future that’s taken form in the present, or a hypothetical possibility given substance”, which basically just pretentiously BS for me. What I do understand is that unlike Manticore in last arc where he eats human to survive, this supernatural being’s motive is unclear and it mighj not be necessary a bad cause. At the moment she seems to progress human’s strength by giving them a push, both mentally and supernaturally.

And her first prey is Asukai, a school counselor who can see what missing in people’s heart in the form of flowers. That makes it two series this season that a character can see the insight of people that naked eyes can’t (the other one is Dororo), and while it’s certainly an interesting concept, visualize people’s heart is a flower is a bit simplifiable for me. Isn’t it a bit too convenient that “this girl’s flower has no root” or “she’s nice but she has no bud” where there’s no deeper attempt is made for how they are the way they are? What I do enjoy though, narratively speaking, is that it becomes clear as we witness Asukai going through his routine that he’s nearly his breaking point. He can see people’s heart but he has no resolve to it. He’s over the edge of his psychological breakdown and all Imaginator does is push him down the rabbit hole. She appears before him in multiple forms, first as a floating being, and then as she possesses girls around him. The deal-breaker event comes when she possesses a drug-addicted ex-student of Asukai, in which her argument is basically “it’s more justifiable to kill them right away rather than let them suffer” before gives him the power. I expect next week we’d see more of him going berserk and how it pulls other main characters into this whole mess. I’d say this episode is much better and leaner than the premiere in terms of setting up the plot and introduces new characters more methodically, and thoroughly.

Posted on 14 January 2019 with categories: Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019), Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense

Welcome to Boogiepop, one of the hallmark franchise in the history of this medium. The Light Novels itself dated back in 1995 and is still considered as one of the earliest Light Novels ever released and is often credited as starter of the Light novem trend in Japan. The anime adaptation in 2000 remains one of the most disjointed and confusing anime ever made and the Boogiepop franchise has inspired (along with its LN sources) a movie adaptation and its universe is still remain well known to this day. A straight adaptation from its source has been a long way coming and this first 3 episodes in particular closes up what I believe is the first book of the whole franchise. This new anime keeps the tradition of its psychological thriller genre and the 2000 anime’s tradition: it’s disjointed, vignettes and it’s dense with information and multiple narratives that repeated-viewing might require in order to get the most out of the story. It took me two tries in the first two episodes in order to grasp what the hell is going on and remember all the names and faces. Like the 2000 anime version (which I watched, enjoyed but mostly forgot all the details), you can view all these events happened in the story as a piece in a big puzzle and until the puzzle itself is finished that it starts to make sense. While the general reception to this new adaptation has been muted, it’s packed with such layered narrative that I’m willing to take the risk to blog the show and smooth out all the plot threads so that anyone who confused by the episode can have a better grip to what is going on.

So we can start with the main catalyst of this arc, which are Echoes and Manticore. As we soon learn from Naoko Kamikishiro (for the sake of consistency I’ll use surnames for all characters) – in Boogiepop’s most info dump moments that they apparently shared a telepathic link – Echoes is an Alien who was sent to us to judge the human race. He’s fallen into an evil organization (which we know very little of at this point), and from there they create a failed clone of Echoes, Manticore. Unlike the original self who can only repeat what he hears (hence the name), Manticore can talk, eat human flesh and copy the appearance of the person he eats. In one of his attempt, he encounters Masami Saotome, whom offers him to create “slaves” and lures the human to Manticore. This narrative takes a big chunk in episode 2, and the string of disappearances from those girls (why not boys?) cause two other main plot threads, which are 1) Boogiepop comes into the picture by using the body of Touka Miyashita and 2) Kamakishiro meets Echoes one day and informs the eccentric Nagi Kirima to investigate before spirited away herself.

Nagi Kirimi emegers to be one of the real protagonist in the first arc. She’s also one of the most interesting character out there. Always considered herself of eccentric, she learns from Kamishikiro about Manticore, and gets suspended herself so that she can follow around the “slaves” and makes sure if they were Manticore. Kazuko Suema (a girl with glasses) makes a brief entrance when she follows up on Kirimi’s action. As of now I believe Suema, Kirimi and Miyashita are the main players in this whole universe.

Kamikishiro’s encounter with Echoes prove to be one of the important plot points for this arc. She’s an interesting character so it’s a shame that she’s killed off quickly and I still feel like I haven’t spent that much time with her (in fact from what I heard they cut many of her scenes and even an entire character was cut off). Her disappearance though, triggers her younger boyfriend Tanaka and Niitoki the President of the Discipline Committee, tagged along by Saotome, to search for her around school. Episode 3 comes into a climax where Saotome locates Echoes and Kirimi, slits the latter’s throat, and lets Manticore to kill his original self. Echoes “commits suicide” by becoming a pillar of light to transmit himself back to his world. You know the rest of the story so I don’t need to recap it here. Personally, I feel a bit underwhelmed by this sudden ending, but I gotta say it never fails to intrigue me. One of the fun in watching this anime is to make sense of what is going on and how a piece of information fits into the big picture. The story holds up for me so far, so it all depends how the execution gonna be like. While I feel that the characters can be stiff at times, and I’m a tad bit disappointed that the adapatation doesn’t follow the source that faithfully, Boogiepop still delivers many striking moments and so far they keep the mysterious atmosphere right. Just remember, all we see within an episode is always just snapshots of what is happening.

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