***Editing Irina here – it’s April 5th and it’s definitely snowing here. In your face BoogiePop!***
Well, Boogiepop has come and gone. Although this was yet another anti-climatic ending, it was at least a comprehensible one… Way to set that bar just a millimeter off the ground. Shania is hosting our last episode review, so look forward to that! In the meantime, I’ve compiled some general thoughts on the series.
I have a complicated relationship with BoogiePop phantom that doesn’t laugh and others.
The original anime was one of the first I had ever seen and it captivated me. In the end I thought it failed to wrap things up satisfyingly even then, but I still have a soft spot for it. It was weird and messy and seemed to be desperately trying to say something that it didn’t quite have the words for. It was ripe for interpretation. My little brain thought that maybe this was the unique brand of entertainment I had been looking for.
I wanted to like it and I wanted it to be more. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure that what I actually wanted it to be was Serial Experiments Lain, but I didn’t know that at the time. It was weird and had some interesting character designs and a great premise.
Years later I would come across the novels. I enjoyed them in that specific way you enjoy videos that try to explain Prometheus in detail. I don’t remember if they were good, well written, interesting books. However they provided desperately needed context and background to the Boogiepop lore and I ate it up.
It’s just so great when you realize all those weird details weren’t just random bits of flair but integral elements of the storyline. Too bad everything is executed in such a way that the average viewer could never have caught on.
Fast forward to the present and we have yet another Boogiepop. As usual, I am psyched!
I have no clue if anyone still remembers the first series or even if it was at all popular at the time. But I cannot wait for another cryptic round of Boogiepop. Especially seeing that this time, I’ve got an entire community to discuss it with. Nothing makes a frustratingly ambiguous narrative better, than friends to help you figure out (or invent) exactly what is going on!
This is the mindset I started the show with. Aside from Steins;Gate 0, this may have been the series I was looking forward to most in recent memory. What can I say, I love weird.
I’m not sure when my enthusiasm soured. It was pretty early on though. I liked the convoluted timeline and wrap around plot threads. I enjoyed the defined arc structure. The updated designs and animation are in fact very pretty. Technically speaking BoogiePop never laughs with others. Is a well made anime.
Stylistically, it tries hard. Maybe a little too hard. The dialogue is at times truncated and seems purposefully confusing, like an experimental play. Voice actor performances are all very deliberate and clearly carefully directed. The series was entirely crafted to keep the audience off balance and guessing but something went wrong.
Please note that I generally enjoy weird, hard to follow and slow paced narratives. I m fine with open ended plotlines. I will even have fun with series that are simply weird for weird’s sake. My issues here are not with the lack of clarity. In the end, the stories were in fact fairly simple band easy to follow. It’s more that they seemed a little.. pointless.
A lot of shows which bank on coming across as mysterious will keep the characters underdeveloped. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact we can argue about what makes a character underdeveloped at length. The fact is that you can keep a person’s background, motivations and goals completely obscure while still defining their personality. In Boogiepop and others, everyone aside from Boogiepop themself and Nagi, came across like a cardboard cutout. I couldn’t related or empathize with them, which meant that I ultimately never cared much about what happened to them.
Moreover, the villains were also never a properly viable threat since their actions seemed simply plot dictated most of the time. It’s difficult to be anxious for what’s going to happen next if it’s random, you know.
Ironically, the very interesting non linear structure of the plot is partly to blame here. I could forgive flat characters if the events of the story are interesting enough to keep me invested. Because of the time jumps though, you get disconnected from what’s happening. Your suspension of disbelief is shattered and you need a tangible real feeling narrator or point of view character to regain that connection. This is what was missing here.
The slightly better presented supernatural characters are made insistently alien and are used too sparingly to be our audience surrogates, while the everyman characters are so dull as to be difficult to tell apart. In the end I was left with no one to cling to and a plot that just seemed gimmicky as soon as you figure out how to unravel it.
By Jeeves guys, I think I figured it out while trying to explain it. It wouldn’t have solved everything, and most people would probably still have issues with BoogiePop, but for me, a slightly relatable and consistent audience surrogate would have gone a long way to making this one more enjoyable. What are you thoughts on this season of Boogiepop?
If you just can’t get enough of my thoughts on BoogiePop, you can read the episode reviews HERE!
I’m going to throw in a few extra screencaps below but you can see all of them HERE.
8 thoughts on “Boogiepop Doesn’t Laugh and Neither did I”
This was the first Boogiepop I saw. I tried watching the older one, but wasn’t in the mood at the time, so I put it back for a later which never came before they announced this one.
I still think I’d have liked it better if I’d marathoned it, but I’m not sure it would have been enough. I agree that the characters weren’t that interesting. I felt it took the smurf-appraoch: they’re all the same, except for one defining gimmick. That’s okay for a one-shot allegory, but a little thin for an entire cour worth of material. Maybe the sameness was supposed to represent normal people, but – well – look at Run With the Wind – they’re all normal people, but the first group scene alone had more variety than the entirety of Boogiepop.
Well, that’s an overstatement. As a viewer, I’m sure I’d have seen the characters as more unique had I actually found my way into the show through other means (for example, if the show’s philosophy resonated with me, or if I’d just been caught by the style). There were parts that worked for me, and so on. But I think the trend is there.
I think the problem here is the background of straightfaced moralising: if you allowed people to be different from each other, and take them all seriously, then any kind of moralising takes on an ironic note. But Boogiepop feels completely unironic. It’s more a thought experiment than a story – and it’s stories, not thought experiments, that benefit from non-linear narratives.
So, yeah, I think I’d have liked the show better, if I marathoned it, but it doesn’t have great potential to become a favourite either.
It’s one of those it’s not bad but shows for me
I loved Boogiepop and though it was slightly challenging, I kept up with everything and understood what was going on by watching it carefully and writing things down I thought I might forget for later. For me the series is a masterpiece. I think it would have been more popular, though, if it were easier for people to understand. Thanks for the review. 🙂
I actually think this remake is a lot more straightforward and pretty easy to follow along. I just prefered the character development in previous iterations.
Did you prefer it because the story was cleared up?
Oh, well I liked that the story made sense but I also really liked the characters and how their issues and troubles were shown (some in more detail than others).
Ramon’s thoughts on this season of Boogiepop: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
I’m afraid that was my take as well