Boogiepop and Others
Episode 8

by Rose Bridges,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Boogiepop and Others (TV 2019) ?

This episode represents a major breakthrough for the Imaginator side of our conflict. By the end, Spooky E is toast, and I imagine the Towa Organization's mysterious goals die with him for now. We also learn some important things about the differences in the ways that the Imaginator and Spooky E take control of people. It feels like this "VS Imaginator" storyline is tumbling toward its conclusion, but we're not quite there yet. Still, everyone is now in place for a final confrontation between the Imaginator and Boogiepop.

We focus heavily this week on Jin, so it makes sense that the episode starts with him narrating. We're quickly interrupted by Suema observing one of the girls he's enlisted on the phone with him, noticing that she seems suspicious. And she's not the only person Suema has observed like this; she's also concerned with the sudden change in Kotoe's personality and desires. Suema confronts Jin about it, discussing how Kotoe used to be in love with him—something Jin admits to "having a hunch" about—but now she's suddenly indifferent to him. Suema has also noticed that Jin has "changed in some way" and feels that she has the upper hand in this discussion, but she doesn't. Jin starts observing the "roots" inside Suema, probing into why she's so concerned with a girl who was not her friend, then discussing the way that he "plants" seeds in people and his need for a girl with a "balanced seed" who will serve as a "sacrifice" for the world. Of course, once Suema pushes back on this, Jin gives the excuse that he's just seeking a life model for a painting.

This scene answers a question I had last week. I had wondered if the Imaginator had taken over Jin entirely or continued to exist as a separate being. It turns out it's the latter; we see the Imaginator in the guise of a girl is still present, sharing her observations about Suema with Jin after she leaves. Suema believes in Boogiepop, which is obviously a concern for the Imaginator, but they're going to deal with the more direct threat of the Towa Organization first. We cut to Kotoe in an alley, who's bested first by Masaki (in his Boogiepop costume), then by Nagi (who recognizes she's not the "real" Kotoe), then by Jin himself—who once again demonstrates his unique ability to get through to Spooky E's victims. While at first Kotoe doesn't recognize him, by the end of his speech about her feelings for him—and why he doesn't reciprocate—she's crying into his chest.

One thing that struck me during the Kotoe fight scene is her army of henchmen. Are they other employees of the Towa Organization? Or does she have a unique power over them? It doesn't seem to be the same as Spooky E's own electricity-based brainwashing, because the guys seem to snap back to reality far more easily. But she does seem to have this curious power to get men to work for her. Its ironic considering the way that she makes fun of Camille's promiscuity in order to lure Masaki out. That doesn't work as well for her as she expected, given that he defeated all her mooks and then almost killed her, before Nagi stepped in to keep her little brother from becoming a murderer. Still, I couldn't help but be curious about that ability—though I doubt we'll get to find out more about it given the way this episode ends.

In the next scene, Jin confronts Spooky E himself and proves to be more than a worthy adversary. Spooky E is startled by the fact that his abilities don't seem to work on Jin, as the latter launches into an explanation of what the Towa Organization has been doing. This includes awareness of their drug program and the people who have died from it—which explains some of the mysterious deaths referenced in the previous episodes. Then Jin launches into an explanation of his own plans for world domination; he wants to "standardize humanity's psyche" by taking over the Towa Organization and using it to his own ends. When Spooky E tries to fight him by revving up his shocking hand, Jin freezes him in his tracks by taking away Spooky E's "capacity for aggression," rendering him powerless.

The rest of Jin's speech reveals the differences in the way that Spooky E and the Imaginator take control of people. The gist is that while Spooky E's brainwashing may look more complete to us, completely altering the person, it only works short-term. The Imaginator's effects are longer-term, resulting in a greater permanent difference in someone's personality or goals, even if the person still seems to retain parts of themselves, compared to Anou and Kotoe after their encounters with Spooky E. Jin summarizes Spooky E's method as signal-jamming, because the person's true personality and memories still exist, buried under whatever Spooky E has filled their head with instead. That's why his victims can be shocked into memory when they encounter someone like Jin, and it's why they experience their lost desires as a foggy image they're trying to access but can't reach unless the right person pulls them out of the fog. Meanwhile, Jin just outright erases aspects of people's personalities. Because he does this one aspect a time, as with Spooky E's "capacity for aggression," they still seem to be more like themselves in general. But the change is more fundamental and more permanent, ultimately putting them on a drastically different path going forward. Whatever small thing Jin takes from them is just gone forever.

In the case of Spooky E, losing his aggression is such a fundamental part of his identity that he ends up killing himself. Jin didn't anticipate this, and he clearly sees it throwing a wrench into his plans for the Towa Organization, but he's undeterred in his goals to assimilate humanity into one consciousness. He finds Camille shackled, revealing that she's the girl he intends to use as a "sacrifice" to purify humanity. That was a surprise for me, since Camille definitely seems like she's lacking a lot in life; there's a reason she latched on so hard to the first person who seemed to value her as more than a test subject, Masaki. We get a reminder of this in the last scene, as Jin answers his phone call to Camille but doesn't respond. I wonder if finding out about her boyfriend will screw up his plans for her being a "balanced seed."

Either way, it feels like we're sprinting toward the finish line with this arc. Even if there have been twists that he didn't anticipate, Jin's plan is coming together, and he basically eliminated his only non-Boogiepop adversary. Still, I bet the mysterious titular shinigami has their own plan for how to fix all this and stop the Imaginator. We haven't actually seen the real Boogiepop for several episodes, which makes me all the more curious as to what might be going on behind the scenes. Boogiepop better get themselves together to win this battle for the hearts and minds of humanity from all the different forces seeking to erase them.

Rating: A

Boogiepop and Others is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Rose is a Ph.D. student in musicology, who recently released a book about the music of Cowboy Bebop. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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