Boogiepop and Others is a Spooky Mind-Bending Thriller
by Nicholas Dupree & Andy Pfeiffer,
Boogiepop and Others was one of the first hit light novels on the market, but it's never been adapted to anime from the beginning before. This week, Nick and Andy find out if this decades-old supernatural mystery series still pops in 2019.
Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead. Not Safe For Work warning for language.
Andy I didn't realize Boogiepop took place in the 1970s, but considering how crazy the show is already, why the hell not?
Nah, Boogiepop is eternal and timeless.
Now that we're (mostly) free from the clutches of Netflix Dump and can start digging into the juicy shows of the new winter season, what better place to start than with a show about fucking yourself?
Or at least that's what I've gotten out of these first four episodes.
I can't say you're wrong, and I also wouldn't say that's a bad thing. It took me until episode 3 to figure out that this is a pre-side-quel to the old Boogiepop Phantom anime that I barely remember watching.
Apparently it's the other way around? Like Phantom adapted a bunch of side stories with no context, and Others is adapting the original novels in order? Well, "in order" may be a subjective description.
It's a very interesting approach to set up a scenario and then fill it in through various perspectives, but man does getting thrown directly into the blender take some getting used to. Most of the details you get up front boil down to:
Yeah, like easily the most interesting thing about Boogiepop so far is its story structure; it's pretty daring to have your premiere episode tied to the POV of a guy who's barely on the fringes of the actual story, learns basically nothing about what's going on, and then just gets told that everything resolved off screen.
I will say it does a good job of making me feel just as confused as Keiji.
And yet, he can't look away. Same tbh.
I mean, I couldn't look away from a smug Aoi Yuuki either.
I swear they reuse that same smug-ass shot every time Boogie dunks on someone, and I love it every time.
So yeah, this show may be messy and confusing, but damn is it engaging too. Something with less style and intrigue throwing context-less proper nouns and pseudo-science at me would most likely irritate me into dumping it immediately, but something about this story works.
I'm mostly here for the impeccable mood-setting. One thing Others has excelled at so far is just building a feeling of otherworldly mystery through its direction and soundtrack. Even when I have no idea what's going on, it's at least nice to wallow in.
General unease is totally the vibe. We get the occasional glimpse of violence, and it doesn't exactly hold back when that happens, but the general feeling is not knowing what anyone we see is scheming, and if that should worry us or not. The one thing that does seem to be set in stone is the moral axis of the show, which basically exists to taunt Boogiepop. Boogie is an existence that only shows up to keep things "on course", and they can't do much to affect the underlying problems of our world. Our major villains so far seem to follow the same logic.
At the end of the day, only humanity can dictate its own course, and ideally it will be one that seeks empathy.
Yeah, that's an interesting idea that crops up throughout the first arc. Boogiepop is there to kill the man-eating monster drugging people into being brain-slaves, but they can't do anything to change the human fears and insecurities it preys on to do its dirty work.
I also appreciate that the slimeball who enables it—because he got rejected for being boring—is framed as irredeemable trash for going along with this plan.
That's actually my favorite thing about this show so far. All these dumb teenage dudes keep running up on unknowable alien monsters like "I'd tap that".
I'm very much anti-monsterfucking but at least these boys are getting into something less vanilla than tentacles or slime.
And I am kind of charmed by Keiji trying so hard to figure out if it's uncool to be flirting with his girlfriend's magical alternate personality.
You can't tell me this isn't flirting.
Anyhow, Saotome is a pretty bitter scumbag, and it's no coincidence that his way of preying on students with Manticore directly mirrors actual date rape. It's abstracted as alien homonculus cannibalism, but it's ultimately an expression of his own resentments that have made him a monster on the inside.
This dude got rejected for not being on Nagi's level, which let's admit is pretty damn high.
And he turned this into such a grudge that he grooms a man-eating monster to be her replacement, then tries to parade it in front of her as if he's now "more special" than her because of this.
This dude is so basic-ass self-centered boring that the idea of forming connections with other people is secondary to turning against the whole of humanity.
Quite frankly, I'm glad he got obliterated by the alien angle datalink laser.
I sure hope that doesn't screw up the message to not destroy us all.
If you couldn't tell, I'm not the biggest fan of Boogiepop's L O R E.
Like a lot of stories where the unease comes from being a tiny speck in a much larger picture you can't ever comprehend, a lot of tension and intrigue is lost when you start assigning quantifiable names to stuff.
Yeah, I'm afraid going forward that more of that lore will start creeping into the gaps rather than the ideas it's meant to represent. I have no damn idea what an Imaginator is, but I don't need to understand anything more than that it torments everyone over their inability to solve societal problems alone.
Yeah, I don't need exact whys and hows. Just give me Light Yagami pulling out people's soul flowers like it's Kingdom Hearts (or however Kingdom Hearts is supposed to work).
The impetus to push him into sociopathic murder would be eye-rolling in something with less atmosphere, but continual pressure via horrifying possession to do something "only you can do" works wonders on someone who feels that their abilities are being wasted.
Also I gotta appreciate Boogie's annoyance at being taunted for not being able to save someone because they only become an enemy after their death. All this temporal confusion sure is a pain.
I think Boogie is just angry that they found the one person with a sassier voice. Because how does Kana Hanazawa lay on the smarm as Imaginator so well? I am here for it.
She can't one-up that hat game tho.
So yeah, qualms with L O R E aside, I am pretty interested in seeing whether Boogie pops or not. It's an uneven show, but anime with this much atmosphere doesn't come along very often.
You definitely don't need to be familiar with the old anime. This feels very standalone and the storytelling quirks strike me as very unique. While I often praise shows for experimental animation or story beats, this show feels completely at the whims of how its basic concepts are executed in a creative and engrossing way.
It could easily peter out as the season goes on—there's already plenty of potential pitfalls in this Imaginator arc—but for now, I'm all for this show staying spooky, Boogie.
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