What Went Missing in Boogiepop

After the conclusion of the 18-episode anime, I still see some people left confused. This also includes me. The anime was tricky to get into especially from the first arc alone. But I was able to get past that and ride along the world of Boogiepop.

Despite its shortcomings I still feel that something is off, and that’s when I read the first novel. One criticism was that most characters are left as one-dimensional. This was partly the anime’s fault. They cut background stories to characters and used it for future arcs. It worked for some but it didn’t click most of the time. I will talk about two specific characters with their personalities and backgrounds. One thing you should note is I’m comparing the recent anime to the first novel only. There are 22 (or so) novels published in Japan but only 6 six of them are currently available in English. I didn’t have time to read the others yet but the first one alone is enough for me to do an insight. It may or may not change your viewpoint of the series but I’m here to have my say on it.

Naoko Kamikishiro’s Other Side

Though Naoko (on the left) had a boyfriend, they didn’t seem to be together all the time.

What most people know about Naoko is her connection to Echoes. But then she died. Her death was the most hollow killing of a character in the anime. We never get to see her until the final arc as a kind spirit. She was only used as a reminder for Tanaka Shiro (pictured on the right) that he still has feelings for her. Also if you didn’t know her death was the reason why Tanaka developed a different side.

Putting that aside, Naoko had another partner. Not exactly a “partner” per se but more a close acquaintance. His name was Kimura Akio, a second-year student. In case if you’re wondering Naoko is a third-year while Tanaka is a first-year. Little things such as this didn’t make it into the anime. Hell, Kimura was cut entirely and was never mentioned at all. Also no one didn’t even point out the year differences because majority are still figuring out who’s who.

So, what’s his connection? He’s basically the unknown third party. Or in romance terms, he’s the third wheel. Here’s a conversation between the two straight from the novel:

“I’ll be honest. Shiro-kun doesn’t get me at all,” she said, sighing bitterly. “He tries not to hurt me, but he always talks kinda standoffish, and that just hurts me more. He doesn’t get that at all.”

“Hunh. Can’t say I do either.”

“I’m just getting in his way. I don’t think he really needs to be in love yet.”

Sometimes, I found her nearly impossible to understand.

Excerpt from Chapter Four “I Wish You Heaven”, Part 2, p. 147.

See? They actually pointed out that but they didn’t discussed it in the anime. Naoko also indirectly described Echoes and Manticore to him and cannot remember the exact name. It was used to piece things together from the beginnings in the first arc. Unfortunately majority of the audience weren’t aware and witnessed what they saw on the show. Do you really expect the new audience to look up an obscure source material?

One-sided Love and Respecting the Afterlife

Niitoki has her eyes on the most unlucky guy.

The class president of the show seems to fill the familiar archetype. And she did. We got to know her from the first arc bit-by-bit. Throughout the anime we slowly see that she has feelings for Takeda Keiji, the unlucky guy whose girlfriend has the split personality of Boogiepop. Notably when she finally accepts the status quo, Niitoki doesn’t actually break down or burst into tears. She goes with the flow. Without King of Distortion’s help she could’ve stayed chasing someone who’s out of her league.

While re-reading the first novel, only now I noticed this verse from a song that appears twice. It never reached into the anime and it also hints the future novels. Here’s the verse:

Life is brief, young maiden, fall in love;

before the crimson bloom fades from your lips,

before the tides of passion cool within your hips,

for those of you who know no tomorrow.

First shown in p. 30 and again in p. 216

The first time this appeared, Naoko sang it. In a conversation between her and Takeda the guy thought she was in love. Naoko admits it. The second time it appeared, Niitoki sang it.

What does this mean? For me, the last line in the verse shows a double meaning. “For those of you who know no tomorrow” apparently foreshadows Naoko’s early death. It could also be interpreted as the set-up for Niitoki’s conflict with the King of Distortion. If you read the verse over and over again, it suggests a melancholic outlook. Knowing that someone did die, it fits the bill. From the first time it may seem happy, but it could be an old saying that cannot be picked up by today’s audiences.

Maybe it was the decision of the production team to make things more straightforward. If they did include this, would you even see it? On a scale of 10 people, I’m guessing only 1 or 2 people would get it. Why? It’s because of how the series was written. I’m specifically referring to the source. Take note: this was the same series that influenced Monogatari in terms of writing style. There are more I could cite but this was the closest one I could get.

Piecing Things Together

Adapting Boogiepop to an anime already showed its limitations. The good thing is that the studio still did their part despite the difficulty. Now, did that change your perspective of this series? If not, I’m fine with it. It is quite hard for other people to get into a series like this. Looking back to the not-so-important information turns out to be something important in the long run. I love seeing them in my anime.

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