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Boogiepop wa Warawanai – 16

「オーバードライブ 歪曲王 3」 (Oobaadoraibu waikyokuou 3)
“Overdrive: King of Distortion 3″

Do I understand all of what’s happening in “King of Distortion”? No, certainly not. But as with Boogiepop wa Warawanai’s detached (usually) emotional palette, that’s fine – it’s all part of experience, and it fits the material like a glove. There’s a self-confidence to the writing here that really stands out more and more the longer you engage with this series. It’s very clear that as a writer Kodono-sensei is very comfortable in his own skin, content to muse on the ideas that interest him and trust in the audience to come along for the ride. That’s why it was so crucial that Madhouse not try and modernize this material – and thankfully, they haven’t.

No doubt Boogiepop is a series that inspires me to think in symbolism when I write about it (which is hardly surprising), but I don’t mind indulging that impulse, especially given that so few of you seem to be watching anyway. As I’ve been educated about Kodono’s great love of rock music, it’s started to click into place for me that the way you have to approach this series is the same way you would a song. One doesn’t listen to rock and necessarily expect to be able to literally interpret the lyrics – they listen to be transported by the music and (hopefully) words, even if they don’t know exactly what the latter may mean. In fact the songwriter may feel the same way – the lyrics may be meant to convey some feeling they want to express rather that be taken literally.

That’s Boogiepop, for me anyway. In time I’ve come to appreciate “Warawanai” it in a way I never did the first series, and I think a lifetime of watching anime in the interim has helped with that. “VS Imaginator” was the series’ story song, approachable and human, but “Distortion” is closer to its essential nature. As a viewer one doesn’t feel left out by not understanding what’s happening, because none of the characters do. Nor does Boogiepop – this is certainly the most in the dark we’ve seen him in the series so far. In fact I’m not even 100% sure the King of Distortion itself understands exactly how all this works.

This episode is an interesting mix of tones and moods, on the whole one of the more comedic of the show so far. The entire conversation between Boogiepop and Nitoki-san is oddly hilarious to me, culminating in Boogiepop giving Nitoki the lunch Touka had prepared for Takeda-kun (she’s understandably aghast, but still eats). That conversation comes to an abrupt end, though, when the entire building starts to shake and it’s clear that something big is going down, though the fact that Boogiepop doesn’t know what is actually kind of thrilling.

In Nitoki’s vision, the King refers to all this as an “experiment”, and it strikes me that may be true on more levels than it initially appears. Nitoki is probably on the money when she guesses that the source of her distortion is coming from herself, not the King – she’s been studying up on split personalities because of Touka, but puts it to good use here. I’m not sure if she’s right about the King literally representing a second personality from inside the subconscious of the King’s test subjects, but like Habara-kun she seems to have grasped at least a piece of the truth.

What seems clear is that Zooragi is very much the product of little Makoto’s mind, though not his subconscious – he’s the picture Makoto drew of his father when he was in kindergarten. I’m not sure what to make of that exactly (as usual), but obviously Zooragi isn’t actually Makoto’s father. It seems Teratsuki probably wasn’t either, unless he was lying to his mother (which would have been very out of character). It’s strongly suggested that Makoto may be an awakening super-evolved child, which could be the reason his distortion is able to directly impact everyone else’s and even be perceived by those outside the Moon Temple.

Zooragi clearly knows who brought him here – he goes after Makoto specifically, so it’s a good thing Boogiepop shows up when he does. Initially he can’t see the monster itself, only its impacts – but eventually their “wavelengths” match up and Boogiepop can see Zooragi (and do battle with it, Makoto literally in tow). For me this was clearly the most beautifully-produced episode of Warawanai so far – the kaijuu sequences are really well done (apparently some SSSS.Gridman animators were brought in). So are the facial animations, and there are some stunning shots – like the moment Boogipop’s cape settles slowly over Makoto when they land their bungee jump. It’s a wonderful episode – just don’t ask me to explain it (and I won’t ask you to explain Echoes).

March 16, 2019 at 9:06 pm
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