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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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.

Kakegurui Final Episode (12): That’s one way to do it

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As far as endings go, I feel like I have to be critical as this one. Thinking back, resolving the battle against the president in a single episode is a strange idea. I think this kinda adds to why the drawn ending ends up being unsatisfying. It’s true that a more conclusive ending would have been even more of a disappointment, but this ending is pretty much a tease. Maybe that fits the show, but still…

Either way, this ending opens the series up to a second season. I guess that’s fair, but I had heard this was an anime original ending. It seems a bit counterintuitive.

I think a lot of why this episode rubbed me the wrong way stems from how the president talked. All of this mention of destiny and fate gave her too much of a “zen spiritualist” persona that didn’t seem to fit with someone supposedly on par with Yumeko. It also seemed to rub in the ending for me. Not only was it a tie, but it was destined to be a tie.

Giving Suzui the final play in the series seemed…okay. It seemed a bit strange to me at first, but I think the scene made up for it. I quite liked this shot with Yumeko guiding him.

At the end of the day, I still don’t understand this character (whose name I’ve forgotten). I get that she worships the president and all, but what exactly was she put in to do? I was honestly expecting her to cheat on the president’s behalf to give her some purpose in the show. She seemed to be getting some setup in the previous games against Yumemi and Manyuda, but it all died when the president returned.

As a side note, I found this scene hilarious. Suzui’s “confession” was mostly underwhelming, but this reaction was funnier than I expected.

Final Score: 7/10 Certainly had its flaws, but enjoyable overall

Kakegurui Episode 11: Stakes are getting higher

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This week’s episode went back to being a bit more predictable. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it makes the twists a bit more satisfying. Some of the recent ones have just felt confusing.

That being said, I definitely didn’t see the president’s return. I would argue, though, that I don’t really understand what her reveal accomplished in the game. Was she really the only person who could legitimize Sumeragi’s bet? It felt more like she was only there to set up a final showdown with Yumeko.

Interestingly enough, this week’s episode shows its hand when Yumeko literally shows her hand. That was kind of a nice touch. I had to either accept that Sumeragi was stupid enough to give away her desperation or smart enough to realize that she was brought up to help trick Manyuda. Given her resolve from the previous episode, it made more sense for her to provide the contributing factor in the gamble. Ripping out all of her fingernails might have been a bit overkill, though.

When you really get down to it, Manyuda effectively lost because he expected Yumeko to use the exact same strategy that she used in the previous hand, discarding a good hand to get a losing hand. Why exactly did he think she would do the same thing again? I guess I was hoping for a bit more out of him.

The supernova discussion seemed a bit strange, but I guess it works. It seems like a simple comparison for the point that the president was trying to make. It probably just has to do with admiring the brilliance of a “life” in its dying state.

Kakegurui Episode 10: Bringing in the money

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I admit I might have brushed Sumeragi aside a bit while I was watching these episodes. I didn’t expect the focus of the two games we’ve seen to ultimately be about bringing her over to Yumeko’s side. However, her addition to the game makes sense given the kind of game it is.

As everyone pointed out in this episode, this style of poker relies heavily on the amount of money each player has. Sumeragi’s only real defining feature so far is her father’s money, so she acts as a perfect money pot to even the odds for Yumeko.

Once again, this series has me hopeful with Manyuda. While the nature of the game is currently in his favor, he hasn’t made any crazy moves yet. He seems to be relying on his intellect to win the game. That would make this game potentially the only game that’s actually a mental battle, as Manyuda struggles to figure out any pattern in the wild nature of Yumeko. At least, that’s the direction I hope this game is taking.

While I didn’t have much of an opinion on Sumeragi before this episode, I thought her flashback in the end was pretty entertaining. It seemed to paint the student council and Manyuda in a good light right before she rejects them in favor of backing Yumeko. It makes sense too, since she’s realizing Manyuda didn’t see her as a comrade.

I want to touch on this scene too on the side. I’m not sure if this is just a translation thing, but were we ever told before this that house pets only get a single forced match? I never got that sense when it was originally described, but Sumeragi’s statement about wasting the match makes it sound like Yumeko only has one. And given that house pets are treated like trash, it would make sense that they can’t constantly challenge other students. But are they only telling us this now or is it something that I missed?

Kakegurui Episode 9: Trust the dice

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I wasn’t really having much fun watching this week’s episode. I thought the game in this episode was pretty boring overall. It might partly have to do with idol variety shows not fully clicking with me, but I think it’s mostly that the presentation of the game was boiled down to a bunch of dice rolls for the most part.

However, the end of the episode made it seem like this week’s game was only meant to be a precursor for the real game next week, so I’m hoping that makes up for things. It would be cool if the next game incorporated elements from this week’s game.

If Yumeko was telling the truth about relying solely on luck to win this game, then this might be the luckiest she’s ever been. I mean, it fits her character and the story, but those odds seem astronomical. Let’s not forget the die roll that she had to get right at reduced odds. I was expecting at least some other trick to it.

There’s another piece to the month guess thing that I was expecting to be part of the explanation in this episode. While it’s true that 6 and 9 are the best digits for perpetrating Yumeko’s ruse, there’s another level to them. As an aside, I want to mention that you could probably cause the same confusion with the numbers 1 and 11 (by pretending to write the second 1). But choosing 6 also gives you more win conditions in this game because you would be the closest month if the correct answer is anywhere from January to July, covering 7 months.

I don’t even know what to make of the fan club’s response to the recording of Yumemi. Maybe this is some kind of reference to idol fan culture, but I know pretty much nothing about that. I suppose the fan club, being the most devoted, would have the highest probability of accepting the recording. It’s just hard for me to understand the thought process.

Kakegurui Episode 8: Idol worship

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Well, this week’s episode was pretty much all setup for the actual game next week. Even with that in mind, I’m not really looking forward to next week’s episode. The idea of a popularity contest or some kind of idol competition doesn’t sound too appealing on its face. Hopefully, there’s more to it, but I guess I’m just skeptical for now.

This letter seemed to set off most of the big moments in this episode, which is part of what made it disappointing to me. Yumeko seems perfectly capable herself, so it seems strange that she would need help from someone else to face Yumemi. And just to be sure, was it the hoodie girl who sent the letter? Based on timing of scenes, she seems to be the most likely candidate, but I wasn’t sure if that was the intended interpretation.

If I were to take anything from this episode, I’d say there’s probably something going on about online celebrity here. Even if Yumemi is impressively popular online, does that really translate to anything to close to an Academy Award? I’ve always seen online fame as something completely separate than normal media fame, even if it’s slowly getting to the point of equivalence. But hey…this guy’s strategy counts as legitimate views, right?

As a final note, I do want to say that I think that the idol battle itself isn’t totally out of nowhere for a show like this. Yumeko is pretty good at putting forth a fake persona to cover up her crazy side, so the battle seems to fit her well. We’ll just have to see where it goes.

Kakegurui Episode 7: Heavy reversals

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While I liked how Midari and Yumeko were contrasted in this episode, I had a hard time watching it. I’m guessing that this was intentional since the episode was meant to show an uglier side (it even had the horror show basement setting). I’ve just never been a fan of that kind of thing.

In some ways, I agree with Yumeko’s assessment of the game. I thought it might be the first time that Yumeko would face someone who would actually play the game out of sheer enjoyment of the random nature. Instead, the game ended up being pretty similar to other games. The only exception is that Midari rigged the game to end in her loss rather than her win. I guess her insanity was supposed to make up for that fact.

I liked Yumeko’s reaction to Midari overall. I think it was pretty easy to compare the two given that they both seem to ignore the bet when they’re gambling. Yumeko’s rejection was a nice reference to this assumption as the episode proceeded to explain why the two were different.

And Yumeko has a fair point. I don’t particularly enjoy playing games against people who are trying to lose either. Yumeko probably wants to face her opponent on relatively equal ground and hopes that the random nature of gambling decides the outcome. The fact that Yumeko is compared to the president makes me a bit nervous, though. It makes me wonder if we’re getting more of the same until that “final showdown”.

On the side, I thought it was nice that Mary rejected the student council president’s invitation, but it made me wonder why any of the others in the student council even accepted. I suppose they just heavily admire the president’s personality or something (similar to how people are starting to fawn over Yumeko). But at the end of the day, a “strong sense of justice” has nothing to do with it. If I were in the situation, I wouldn’t want to join the council just to cater to the president’s whims. Are they just there to please her?

Kakegurui Episode 6: Getting more insane

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This episode was refreshing in its own way because of how Midari was introduced. I’m still not sure if the timing of her introduction in the earlier episode made sense, but it really adds to the game in this episode. Because of her parallels with Yumeko, she becomes pretty much the first character so far who would be incredibly unlikely to cheat. It makes this game harder to read because we’re no longer looking for the cheating method of the person who created the game (who would know the game the best).

As for how the game will be handled itself, the preview already gives away that Midari didn’t get her gun. To be fair, this is also an anime and Yumeko is the protagonist, but let’s not get carried away. Yumeko doesn’t seem to be the type of person to bluff, so I’m guessing she found some way to distinguish the guns. Her final comment was probably meant to indicate that she knew it was her gun. Maybe it means that she also rigged the gun to backfire or something too? Not sure.

Taking a step back, the beginning of the episode felt weird to me. I know it was pretty obvious that Mary would give Yumeko the winnings from last week, but it felt like such a casual thing in this episode. Did I misunderstand something in the previous episode? But that aside, the whole piece about Yumeko wanting to stay a house pet to take advantage of the official matches didn’t come as too much of a surprise. I think I said something along those lines earlier in this series.

This comment from Suzui also ties into another question I’ve been meaning to ask. Does Yumeko actually consider her loss in the roulette game to be a true loss to the student council president? I get that she’s pretty methodical, but should she really have expected the president to interfere? And if it really is a true loss in her eyes, I wish the show would give me a better sense of why the president is so capable that she’s able to outwit Yumeko. If all she needed was the element of surprise, that could have been literally anybody.

Just putting this here for no real reason.