Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 3: Bringing it all together

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Tanaka meets Boogiepop

Finally, I can judge this first arc as a complete story. I still find the series entertaining to watch, but seeing the inevitable payoff for this arc makes me feel a bit disappointed. So many story points felt underdeveloped in the end, which may just be the inevitable consequence of being a light novel adaptation. The ultimate concept behind this first story is interesting, as the entire story seems to be largely resolved by normal people. However, I think this idea comes with a drawback, since Boogiepop is actually an intriguing character who basically contributes nothing.

Tanaka gets some advice from Saotome

I did like seeing Tanaka, Kei, and Saotome investigate Naoko’s disappearance, but Tanaka particularly felt incredibly weak as a character. He’s hinted at in previous episodes as Naoko’s secret boyfriend, but I didn’t feel like I got enough emotion from him to actually feel sorry for his loss. That being said, I do think it’s cool that Saotome tries to turn these two characters against Nagi.

Saotome reveals himself to Nagi

Nagi’s violent death in this episode felt a bit overboard, but I do think it worked from a story perspective. Granted, I personally thought it was obvious that Boogiepop would arrive to revive Nagi, but we didn’t have any confirmation that this show would go to those lengths. And since we saw Nagi alive at the end of the first episode, it would be totally reasonable to conclude that Manticore succeeds at becoming Nagi.

Echoes leaves everyone behind

Echoes was the main weak point for me in this episode. I’m not a fan of how he just disappears. His entire story seems extraneous, despite being the central driving force in the arc. It seems like he learns enough about humanity from watching how Kei and the other students stand up against Manticore, but none of that feels convincing to me. Maybe there’s some deeper message that I’m missing, but I just didn’t get it.

Boogiepop traps Manticore

So, is this how Boogiepop typically operates? Based on this scene, it sounds like Boogiepop is accustomed to using normal humans to achieve its goal. I’m not sure how I should interpret this.

Nagi reunites with Boogiepop

I guess this scene is supposed to imply that Nagi has already worked with Boogiepop in the past. It’s not exactly surprising, and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Nagi muses about the true identity of Echoes

Am I really just supposed to take away from this story that it’s an extended representation for a test from a god? That’s…kind of a downer. I didn’t get that sense at all from watching everything, so it comes off as a throwaway message.

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Random First Impressions: Doukyonin wa Hiza, Pastel Memories

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More new shows are coming out, and I’ve been checking a decent number of them out. I’m on the fence about both of these shows, so I’m just going to talk about them together.

Subaru loses his parents in a bus accident

Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atame no Ue First Impressions

For the most part, this show seems like it could be a decent, lighthearted story of a man and his cat. It starts out as a straightforward concept, showcasing the main character, Subaru Mikazuki, as a fairly typical loner type who decides to take in a random cat he finds. But then, it flips things around by showing the same events from the perspective of the cat, which is nice. So far, the cat doesn’t seem particularly annoying, so I guess I don’t have much of a problem with it.

Subaru hates crowded places

I don’t mind that Subaru has the awkward, shy personality, but the series gives him a kind of one-note personality trait that I don’t really like. Basically, he hates when people spoil stories for him, because it apparently stops him from using his imagination to wonder where the story goes. I’m not a fan of how much it defines his character, and I just don’t generally like that trait on its own. Nothing about knowing what’s canon should stop you from thinking about what could be, as far as I’m concerned.

Subaru passes out from exhaustion

Also, this guy eats cat food. I guess we’re just going to ignore that part.

The cat is very confused

I think the show has the potential to set up a decent story of development. From this first episode, we get this clear understanding that the cat and Subaru are thinking on completely different wavelengths, so it might be interesting to see them start to understand each other. I’m still not sure how long I’ll keep watching, but that’s my general hope for the series.

Boredom is dangerous

Pastel Memories First Impressions

This was one heck of a strange premiere, enough to make me wonder if it was secretly the sequel to some show I didn’t know. I suppose it’s a game adaptation, so there’s probably some background information I’m missing. That being said, I felt like I was being led along by this episode. Effectively, the entire episode is devoted to finding some volumes of a particular manga, but it ends by completely breaking out a supernatural elements that’s presumably central to the series.

Random Caligula poster

I should have run as soon as I saw the Caligula poster…

Finding old manga

Hey, I guess this show is good for referencing series I know. That’s something.

The real plot is revealed

This series is a video game adaptation, and it really wants you to know it. My main problem with this kind of development is that it trivializes the first episode. The events of the episode feel artificial, since it seems like the next episode will explain the real premise. Am I being nuts? I just get that sense.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 2: The parts we missed in the first episode

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Kyouko is afraid to take the same path back home

I know it’s probably cheating to talk about the same show twice in the same week, but I couldn’t help myself. Having just watched the second episode of this series, I got too excited to talk about it. While the somewhat jumpy style of storytelling can be incredibly confusing, I find the series fun to watch when I take a step back and map things out. I know I personally had to take a lot of notes to make that happen, but it felt like I was being rewarded for it. Either way, this episode seemed to expand a ton on the previous episode, so I’m glad that they were released together.

Magic drugs make you feel better

It’s a feeling I recognize much more when I’m reading light novels. I just like it when a series makes me truly feel that paying attention is worthwhile, that the scenes in the episode matter. Granted, the series doesn’t make it easy. As I said last week, many names are mentioned very infrequently, so keeping track of the cast of mostly similar characters is a struggle.

Nagi attacks Kyouko and questions her about the drugs

Take this early scene in the episode as an example. We start the episode with Kyouko and Suema walking home together. Kyouko fears for her life, and she suddenly gets attacked from behind. At the time, Suema isn’t shown on screen, so we’re left wondering whether Suema made some supernatural move because Kyouko learns too much.

Suema and Kyouko talk about the attack later

The show immediately flashes forward to a cafe, where Kyouko and Suema are logically continuing their conversation. Kyouko tells her story about the drugs, and the two question whether it’s the reason Kirima Nagi is interested in Kyouko. This conversation indirectly confirms that Nagi attacked Kyouko in the earlier scene before a later scene flashes back again to definitively confirm it.

Manticore attacks Saotome

While this is happening, an unknown girl is being attacked by the Manticore, and we’re shown the ID of Yurihara Minako. Based on the positioning, I assumed that Minako was the victim, but this later scene reveals that she’s actually the Manticore’s disguise. We also see that the Manticore has allied with Saotome, who happens to be the guy who runs into Keiji in the very first scene in the series.

Manticore creates a drug to control Akiko

And what was Saotome doing when he ran into Keiji? He was on a date with another girl, who is then revealed to be Kusatsu Akiko, the girl who passed out the drugs that Kyouko took. At this point, the pieces felt like they were falling into place for me, so the story started making a lot of sense.

Manticore struggles to wake victims up

One thing that didn’t add up in this episode was why the Manticore needed the drug. Perhaps it was simply meant to make the victims easier to lure, but it doesn’t explain why the Manticore was upset about the girls becoming nearly catatonic. Do they need to be awake? That much still needs to be revealed, I guess.

Kamikishiro finds Echoes

Remember Keiji’s missing friend Kamikishiro from the last episode? It turns out that she’s not just another victim, but the key to Echoes, the true origin of the Manticore. She’s apparently also friends with Nagi, which didn’t fully make sense to me, but I guess it makes the story fit together better. I’m wondering why Nagi had to get herself suspended, but I suppose it’s just an excuse to investigate more efficiently.

Echoes wants to track down the Manticore

To be fair, I think Echoes takes this story into some really strange territory, since he adds the surprise alien aspect. If he’s somehow linked to Boogiepop, that might work out for some grand scheme, but that remains to be seen.

Nagi confronts Echoes

With all of that set up, I’m curious to see how Boogiepop factors into this story. We’ve seen Boogiepop standing before a dead girl, who is likely the Manticore based on what we know so far. Based on this style of storytelling, I’m presuming that Boogiepop didn’t kill the Manticore, but I’m curious to see how this ends.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai First Impressions (1): That kind of resolved itself

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Keiji runs into a friend

I know the second episode is out, but I’m writing this post having not watched it yet. To kick off the new season, it looks like we’re going deep into mystery territory with this series. We’re not given too much of an introduction in the episode, but it does do a decent job of setting up the basic mystery of the show, which is whether Boogiepop is a force for good or evil. We see this through the eyes of Keiji Takeda, a normal student who is friends with Touka Miyashita, the girl Boogiepop is inhabiting.

Boogiepop tries to save the suffering man

With Boogiepop’s introduction, we get a clear indication that its on the side of humanity, as it seems to bemoan the suffering of someone whom the other bystanders ignored. From that interaction, I got the sense that we’re meant to immediately assume that Boogiepop is in some sense the “hero” of the series.

Boogiepop stands ominously behind Touka

However, quick scenes throughout the episode seem to indicate something more sinister. We see Touka, who is presumably still possessed by Boogiepop, in various locations looking strangely amused.

Discussing Boogiepop in class

When we first see mention of Boogiepop outside of the main pair, the girls seem convinced that Boogiepop is behind the disappearances at the school. Naturally, rumors are not meant to be taken too seriously, but the episode continues to call Boogiepop into question.

Dead girl hangs from wires

Finally, Boogiepop is shown standing before a dead girl, right before it confirms to Keiji that it has completed its mission at the school. The episode leaves off suggesting that Boogiepop might have killed the girl, even if it denies that fact. In that sense, I think the episode does a good job of setting up the mystery surrounding Boogiepop.

Boogiepop deals with the police

Now, let’s take a step back and talk about the flip side. It might have just been me, but a few of the scenes in the episode had some questionable animation. It tended to look like the scene was jerking around, as though it was dropping frames or something. The most noticeable example is in the scene where Boogiepop is confronted by police officers. Perhaps there’s some stylistic choice going on here, but I really didn’t get it.

Random girl is scared of being killed

Additionally, I think the episode relies a bit too much on the audience knowing the characters more than we really should. I give the episode credit for having characters interact with each other in a realistically familiar way, but it also means that many important names are mentioned only once. For example, I had to look back in the episode to confirm my assumption that Kamikishiro was the girl who walked with Keiji to school.

Nagi introduces herself

Overall, I thought the episode was decently intriguing. I’m at least curious enough to see where it goes. As I mentioned, the animation was a bit weird for me. However, I did like the background music, as it was sufficiently eerie without feeling overly generic.

As a final note, I think the introduction of Nagi at the end was interesting, since it seemed to heavily suggest a future relationship between her and Touka. However, the opening sequences make her look more like an ally than a future enemy.

Summer 2018 Grab Bag Week 5: Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes

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I feel like this show has mostly been limping along. Episode 4 was mostly focused on Aoi’s social situation, which ended up being exactly what she thought it would be. She suspected that her friend was in a relationship with her ex-boyfriend and it turned out to be the case. I’m not sure what I was supposed to get from that. Episode 5 seemed to switch things up by introducing a recurring antagonist for the series, but he seemed pretty underwhelming for me.

I guess this guy is somehow a recurring character. I’m not entirely sure why or what he contributes. I suppose he made Holmes talk about his love life in this episode, so that’s something.

This view of relationships makes sense for someone like Holmes. However, I fail to see what caused him to enter into a relationship in the first place. Was there something different about his ex-girlfriend?

This series really overuses the “Holmes is just a nickname” thing, and I’m starting to agree with Holmes here. His assessment of the fake artwork was just a gut feel at the end of the day, which just seems like a poor excuse for a detective.

I’m kind of sad that the setup from the first episode amounted to this reveal. Logically, it makes sense that a skilled forger would be an adversary for this version of Holmes. But this guy just didn’t seem like much. Holmes talked up his abilities as a forger, but he never came off as a worthy rival in this episode.

Summer 2018 Grab Bag Week 3: Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes

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This episode had a decent story to it, but I’m not a huge fan of the style used by the mysteries in this series. It seems to rely on flashes seen in the opening episode to act as teasers and misdirection, which doesn’t feel reminiscent of old school Holmes. As a result, I wasn’t really entertained by the mystery in the second episode. However, episode three seemed like it had a better payoff in the end. I liked the idea of using scrolls as messages, so it ended up being more fun to watch.

With the way Aoi stared at this strap, I was sure it would play a role in the overall solution to the mystery, but I guess that’s stretching a bit too far.

I’m not entirely sure where they’re going with all of this, but I respect the fact that Aoi’s plan to go confront her ex-boyfriend isn’t lost in the noise. It still feels like a bit of a stall for her to avoid the trip like this, but at least it’s brought up before the final arc in the series.

The whole conversation with the scrolls seems to drag on a bit with Holmes interrogating the “suspects”, but I guess it’s going back to the idea that he works in an antique shop. I suppose that art is going to be a central focus or something.

As I mentioned earlier, I really did enjoy this final piece. I think that the remark Holmes makes earlier in the episode about Haruhiko resembling his father is pushing a bit too far, but I liked this piece of the mystery in particular.

Bringing back a classic: Hyouka

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I know there are still a lot of summer shows out there, but I wanted to take a break this week and talk about an older show. I don’t often watch completed shows, so I figure this post could be a fun change. This past week, I finished up my rewatch of Hyouka, a show I actually covered way back when I was starting my blog (boy do I feel old).

If you’re not familiar with the series, it follows Houtarou Oreki, a student who follows the rule of energy conservation. That philosophy is threatened when his sister convinces him to join the Classics Club, where he meets Eru Chitanda. Eru is innately curious and has a tendency to drag Houtarou along when a mystery is presented. Unfortunately, Houtarou has a knack for deduction that makes him indispensable for these scenarios.

Looking back on how I felt about the show, I think I picked up on a lot of the same things as my younger self. Many of my screenshots were the same, so that guy had good taste. That being said, I think I enjoyed the show way more on the second viewing. Hopefully, this means that I’ve gained a lot through blogging, since I felt like I was appreciating much more than I did before.

In the past, I wrote off the show as a casual take on a typical mystery show, where the stakes weren’t quite so dramatic. Now, my interpretation’s a little different. I think Hyouka shines a light on idle questions, the mysteries of normal life that we typically ignore. If you come across a locked door that you expected to be open, you might not think much of it. You might just say “oh, that’s weird” or come up with a quick explanation that’s enough to satisfy you.

Hyouka forces you to think past that initial reaction by introducing Eru, the monster of curiosity. For Eru, the simple answer isn’t good enough unless it explains all of the evidence.

Houtarou actually has an interesting comment on himself related to this. When he calls himself lucky, I think there’s an element of truth to that. While his deductive skills are strong, you wouldn’t expect someone to be able to give an explanation for any situation so easily. And that’s where I think Houtarou becomes more relatable. Houtarou’s explanations are not supposed to be some hidden insight. He’s playing the part of the guy who says something that makes you think “oh, I guess that makes sense”. I know it’s a bit arrogant, but I like to think that I do a pretty good job of being that guy.

So if you haven’t watched Hyouka, I would still recommend it as a good watch. I think the series has aged well, and it made me really want to continue pondering the little things in life. As a side note, I want to mention that I really like the second opening. I think the animation is really creative and the song is great.

Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes First Impressions (1): Just an everyday antique salesman?

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I get that we need to establish characters and setting, but this first episode wasn’t super entertaining for me. While the episode certainly sets up “Holmes” as a character, the majority of the episode is basically an antiques lesson. While I tend to like the stories behind these things, it’s not what I’m interested in seeing. That being said, the episode ends with a hint from Aoi that the focus of the series might shift moving forward, so maybe it’s worth checking out a couple more episodes.

I’m not sure if this was just a weird translation, but Holmes really has a strange way of speaking. I wonder if it’s just a localization of how he speaks in Japanese, but I had to look up a lot of his expressions.

I don’t really mind that Holmes has the typical Sherlockian style of deduction. I actually like this sort of thing. I just think it’s wasted on a show about an antiques shop.

I think the most annoying part about this Holmes character is the way he “reads Aoi’s mind”. The Holmes I picture would always have an explanation, but this guy’s mind reading borders on supernatural, and it’s often shrugged away. That definitely bothered me.

Aoi’s taking a job for a grudge? That’s kind of a weird premise…

As I said, I do enjoy hearing the story behind things, and the story behind this painting wasn’t too bad.

Moriarty?

Island First Impressions (1): This show really lives up to its title

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Starting off the new season with something…okay. As far as visual novel adaptations go, I suppose this episode wasn’t the worst I could have expected. Once you get past the opening scenes, it sets up a mystery that seems intriguing so far.

From what we have so far, the main character, who is supposedly named Setsuna, washes up on the island of Urashima. The island seems normal at first, but we quickly find out that most of the inhabitants are highly xenophobic. Setsuna himself is an amnesiac time traveler sent to save a girl and kill someone he doesn’t remember.

Sigh…

The time travel aspect of this series is immediately interesting, but I definitely have my reservations. From what we’ve seen so far, it almost seems like the series is bent on setting up a paradox or two.

The first vision that we see seems to set up a bootstrap paradox, wherein Setsuna attempts to kiss the sleeping Karen simply because he saw it in the vision. So, where did the idea to kiss her come from? That being said, it’s still possible that the vision is referring to some other future event, so it’s hard to say for sure.

Rinne’s parallel amnesia seems pretty interesting too. Since Setsuna’s a time traveler, it’s also technically possible that he’s involved in that past incident somehow.

The vision about killing Setsuna is the one that has me the most curious. I would speculate that this is suggesting some kind of loop. Maybe Setsuna is being sent to the past to kill himself, and he continues the loop when he takes the name Setsuna again. But that’s a pretty wild guess at this point.

I’m not sure about this scene with the shrine maiden. Maybe it’s explained in a better way in the VN, but I’m not sure I get why she attacked Setsuna. Am I not supposed to understand yet?

Gasp! They’re linked! I mean…sure.

Vatican Kiseki Chousakan First Impressions (1): This won’t go well for me

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I feel like I’m juggling two conflicting forces with this series. It’s a show that follows two Vatican miracle examiners as they investigate alleged miracles. On the one hand, I know I’m going to suck the fun out of this series if I have an issue with the premise in the first place. How do you even go about confirming a miracle? On the other hand, it could be interesting as a different kind of mystery series based on the first episode. Plus, it seems likely that the point of the show is the disprove everything, based on the premise.

When it came to the miracles themselves in this episode, I was surprised with how many different things were crammed into the episode. Virgin birth aside, there was also a weeping statue (which is a pretty common hoax), a satanic ritual, and a weird lady holding a baby. I’ll be curious to see how they all go together, but it seems a bit ambitious as it stands. I’m half-expecting one of the main characters to start the next episode with a quick explanation of the easier mysteries to focus time on the virgin birth.

I also didn’t really understand why this episode had to drop so many names. Is it a confusion tactic to make it harder to point at a culprit? It really felt like a large portion of the episode involved introducing people, one who immediately dies, and sticking their names on screen.

In addition, a lot of the scenes felt jumpy like the show was transitioning a bit too much, but that might have just been me. I’m still curious to see where it goes, but I’m going to reserve judgment on this series for now.