I have not read the light novel, so I will be discussing the anime by itself, and not compare it to its predecessor.
There are very shows I genuinely find to be truly interesting and immersive. Most shows might have some ideas that could be interesting. But they are generally underdeveloped or not developed at all. Or sometimes it might not even be the idea itself that is bad, but that everything around it makes it forgettable. Like if the theme is conveyed through terrible dialogue or the music and visuals are distracting. But when I first started watching Boogiepop, I found it to be so extremely compelling that it is hard to explain. Whether it was the unusually good editing, direction or dialogue, something made it so memorable.
Boogiepop, made by Madhouse and directed by Natsume Shingo, mainly follows Boogiepop, a reaper who appears in the world when it is in danger. We see them (Their gender is not known) fight numerous villains, but they are rarely ever the traditional sense of a villain. And while you would think that there would be a very action focused show, it really isn’t. Although it has fight scenes (Which are kind of amazing, we really see Natsume’s talent), the show focuses more on mystery and philosophy at points. Really, the best way to see if you would enjoy a show like this would be to watch the first episodes. It features the non-linear story that is prominent in the show, the mysterious and psychological music and the confusing narrative, something everyone might not enjoy. but I sure did.
The most interesting aspect of Boogiepop is its direction by Natsume Shingo. It shares similarities with Natsume’s earlier work, like One Punch Man and Space Dandy, especially with its animation. It wasn’t what I would usually call great animation. Most anime have pretty dull movement but might have a few amazing sakuga moments here and there. But very rarely do I find animation that has interesting moments in it’s least interesting concepts. If you look at someone in an anime falling down, walking or jumping, does it look interesting or realistic? For me at least, I find those movements to feel very choppy and forgettable. But when you look at a show directed by Natsume, there is a sense of life in the animation. The movements, the expressions, it all felt very alive. At points (Especially in episode 16) it felt like the animation was made by Disney or any other high-budget company. When you have made me remember a series of frames where a policeman falls down, you know you have achieved something (this must sound very weird if you haven’t seen the show. Or even if you have seen it…)
We also see another big name in this. Kensuke Ushio, Known for his composition for A Silent Voice, Devilman Crybaby and Liz, and the Blue Bird, made a fantastic job with this one. I have always loved the style of music that he has made with this and A Silent Voice. The very edited and choppy feel conveys their respective tones extremely well. And even though the majority of the songs aren’t something you would put on your Spotify list, it works amazingly for not distracting you from what’s going on visually. And a detail I loved was how the music was edited, like cutting the soundtrack to get a certain feeling. Kind of like how they did it in Your Name (You know what scene if you’ve seen that movie)
But while, as I said, I found the direction to be the best part, I have to mention the writing as well.
The story has caused a lot of confusion in the community, I actually wasn’t that distracted by the aforementioned non-linear story. You can tell when a scene or arc is supposed to take place through visual cues and other factors. And when it didn’t, it never took away from my enjoyment. And although there wasn’t a real purpose of having the story presented in that way, I prefer intriguing storytelling without purpose over then bland storytelling.
But, I do want to say that waiting for the show to finish was a good idea. I watched it both while it was airing and then I rewatched it (I watched it, and then I rewatched it so that I would watch the last arc when the last episode came out). And while, as I said, I didn’t find the non-linear story to be confusing when watching it as it was airing, I found it to be an overall better experience when rewatching it.
I was particularly impressed by the dialogue. While it had moments of particularly awful exposition that felt very unnatural, the dialogue was one of the things that got me into the show. How the discussions they had felt very natural and interesting. It really fit with the tone that they presented everything.
I also really liked the antagonists. Like I said before, a lot of the “enemies of the world” weren’t the typical antagonists we usually see in these kinds of shows. While it definitely had some bland antagonists, some of them were extremely fascinating, and I think the first arc is a great example of this.
In the first episode of Boogiepop, we follow Keiji Takeda who is the first person we see interact with boogiepop. The two of them meet on the top of the high school he goes to, and they have discussions about what Boogiepops is, and what it’s goals are. This is where we first hear about the synthetic humans that are a big part of the story. And as we continue the arc, we are led to believe that the man-eater, or otherwise known as the Manticore, is the aforementioned “enemy of the world”. But in the end, we see how that isn’t the case. But through Boogiepops subtle dialogue, we see how this isn’t the case. That a completely different character, who we only see as the good guy was the enemy all along.
And this is what I love about the series. While it never had an as interesting concept after this, I still found the quality of writing in the antagonists to be fairly consistent. All of them had striking motivations and goals.
I can go on and on about why I love the show so much, but in the end, it is really the first episode that shows what I love about the show. A mix of great visuals, fantastic music, and subtle dialogue.
Oh, and I just want to add one thing. The exposition in the third arc was kind of amazing. While I never found the story to be as great as everyone said, the information that we are given in the arc is amazing. Like why Boogiepop describes herself as an eerie bubble, why she said she was like a split personality or Suiko’s “obsession” with the phrase “Sometimes it snows in April”. I would’ve honestly been fine if they weren’t explained, and were kept ambiguous. But the way they explained it in a subtle way was extremely impressive!