Random Curiosity

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Boogiepop wa Warawanai – 14

「オーバードライブ 歪曲王 1」 (Oobaadoraibu waikyokuou 1)
“Overdrive: King of Distortion 1″

Thinking back on it, this may be the most I’ve written on a weekly TV anime – certainly for a very long time. Today was the 6th episode of Boogiepop wa Warawanai in 7 days, and it’s a comprehensive survey course – the end of one arc, the entirety of a second (and tonally opposite) one, the start of a third. I think this show holds up better than most would to such binge viewing, because it’s such a moving target, with such a non-linear narrative. And maybe marathoning it a bit helps one to put the pieces together more easily.

Only so much, though. If there’s one thing I can say about about Boogiepop after 14 episodes it’s that it’s not especially interested in making things easier on the audience. There’s a meditative quality to the experience (“VS Imaginator” being notably an exception), and if you’ve ever done Zen training you know the instructor isn’t there to hold your hand and guide you – you’ve got to do the heavy lifting yourself. We’ve now moved back largely into the orbit of the first arc (“Boogiepop Never Laughs”) character-wise, but there are some interesting clues sprinkled into this first “Overdrive: King of Distortion” episode.

In the first place, chronology matters with Boogiepop since it tends to jump back and forth at will. We know with certainty that it takes place after the first arc, because several survivors refer to events from that subplot. We can also surmise that it takes place after the prologue/epilogue of “Boogiepop at Dawn”, because Echoes specifically referred to “escaping from a distortion”. And I see no reason not to believe that Teratsuki Kyoichiro (Ohkawa Toru) was the mysterious philanthropist that Scarecrow was investigating in the flashback portion of that arc.

Beyond that, though, the connections (thank you, Mr. Burke) are harder to pin down. Teratsuki-san has apparently died at 56 under mysterious circumstances, just before the completion of the equally mysterious “moon temple” he commissioned to be built. We also don’t know how the characters introduced this week are linked with him, or to each other – for example Hashikaza Makoto (Naitou Ami), a young boy attending the temple’s (hugely popular) opening day who seems to run into Teratsuki. Except this Teratsuki says he’s “just been born”, which strongly implies this is the first we see of the King of Distortion, this arc’s big bad.

That opening is the focal point of everything in this arc it seems, as both plot and characters converge on it. Also attending is Tanaka Shiro, the archery boy, who bumps into old middle school friend Habara Kentarou (Murai Yuji). It’s a bit too convenient that Habara is a Teratsuki expert, as he dumps most of the exposition on Tanaka-kun, but there you go. Also on hand is Takeda-kun, intending to meet Touka, and the one crushing on him, the disciplinary head Niitoki Kei, who flees when she sees him at a cafe in the neighborhood. There’s also Michimoto Sakiko (Tsuda Minami), who fights with the dude who mat be her boyfriend when they’re admitted into the temple. And, of course, Boogiepop – which is the proof that something big is about to go down here.

To what extent that big event is the work of Teratsuki and to what extent the King of Distortion is as unclear as how distinct those two entities are. An unpredicted rainstorm (hmmm) forces the staff to allow a bunch of sightseers into the temple early, and they’re promptly trapped inside when the security system kicks in. Several of them – or maybe all of them, I don’t know – seem to be transported back to a moment three years earlier, where they left something “unfinished in their heart”. Niitoki sees Saotome Masami, a random security guard is at a cafe with an old flame, and Boogiepop arrives on scene too – inside Niitoki’s distortion along with the King (who seems to be in all the distortions).

As is pretty standard for Boogiepop first episodes, it’s well-nigh impossible for a new viewer to put the puzzle pieces together yet. There’s no telling how all these new characters fit into the story or with each other, and just what the King of Distortion means when he says he wants to “turn everything to gold”. But while the cast has most in common with “Boogiepop Never Laughs” it’s “Boogiepop at Dawn” that springs to mind most in watching this episode – it feels like a direct continuation of those events, and the theme of instrumentality so dear to the hearts of turn of the century anime sci-fi is lurking very close to the surface as these distortion events play out.

March 2, 2019 at 5:23 pm