「オーバードライブ 歪曲王 2」 (Oobaadoraibu waikyokuou 2)
“Overdrive: King of Distortion 2″
Boogiepop wa Warawanai is nothing if not inscrutable. That’s fitting given its historical context, though it’s worth considering that this series was probably a part of defining that context. It gives you answers, but at the cost of more questions. It fills in a blank or two, then pulls the camera back to reveal more blanks that you couldn’t see in close-up. I can see where this would be frustrating for an audience more used to sci-fi as anime tends to define it these days – TBH it was sometimes frustrating for me even way back when this series was one of many espousing this style. But it feels so authentic to its time that it transports me back every time I watch it.
I don’t remember which episode it was (they come fast and furious with this show’s release schedule) when I first mentioned the whirlpool narrative theory, but it strikes me that “King of Distortion” is the arc that sees it really come to fruition in a literal sense. The connections – I suppose it would be as accurate to say the overlap – between these characters’ experiences are crucial to the development of this arc. Makoto’s mom Shizuka (Sugiyama Riho) was an old lover of Teratsuki, who she thought might be Makoto’s dad (he’s not). Habara Kentarou-kun had a run-in with Nagi (and the law) and fell in love with her. Coincidence doesn’t seem to exist in this mythology – which has interesting implications given Boogiepop’s keen interest in the question of free will.
That’s another core truth of Boogiepop that’s very consistent with its context, which is that the idea of instrumentality is always hovering on the edge of the narrative. I see strong elements of it in the argument that the King (as Teratsuki) makes to Habara – that life itself is a nightmare to begin with. How do we take this – is he saying it’s no different from a dream? That it’s better to escape into one, if reality is so painful? The KoD doesn’t seem to be offering his captives a paradise in these visions they’re having – he’s not there to comfort them, clearly.
The big variable still hanging over this subplot is just what the King of Distortion’s goals are here. I think it’s pretty likely that Teratsuki isn’t literally the King, but it seems as if he’s willingly gone along with the King’s plan to set this event up. He told Shizuka that he’d likely be “dealt with” in six years (if he’s indeed dead, it took eight), but he also drops some hints that he might not have been human in the first place. The line between the King of Distortion and Teratsuki is still very fuzzy, and this episode did nothing but further obfuscate it.
It’s also not clear yet what connection Sakiko and her story have to the others (perhaps her wish to die is somehow crucial). Her regret was her parting of the ways with childhood friend Hinako (Akasaki Chinatsu), which ended in a terrible insult and saw Hinako die in an accident before Sakiko could reconcile with her. In her distortion she sees Hinako as a young adult – or rather, as the one she imagines Hinako would have grown into. This is a sad story to be sure, but that’s certainly not enough in itself for Kadono-sensei to have included it.
It’s Kentarou who seems to be the key to things for now, as he’s the first to figure out what’s happening to him. His distortion returns him to the time when he was using a hacking tool to steal personal information and sell it, when Nagi-san saved him from some possibly very deep shit. Kentarou is obvious extremely bright, and he knows more about Teratsuki than anyone here (with the possible exception of Shizuka – though she knows different sorts of things).
Kentarou’s intersection with Makoto is the proof that these distortions don’t exist in a vacuum – rather, they’re (sorry) like vortexes on the surface of a body of water, and can overlap. Makoto’s consciousness seems to have imported a kaijuu he calls “Zooragi” into the equation, and to Kentarou it seems a very real threat. He takes Makoto in tow and immediately heads for the moon temple, where he wakes himself up (philosophy professors everywhere harrumph at this scene), and then Tanaka-kun. Of Boogiepop himself there’s no sign, but he’s aware of the King of Distortion and vice-versa, so a fated meeting between those two is surely in the cards before this arc is over.