100 Characters For 100 Otaku (Part Fourteen: 35-31)

The fourteenth post in “100 Characters For 100 Otaku.”

Can you believe it’s been two whole weeks since “100 Characters For 100 Otaku” began? Neither can I! But it’s still a’runnin and heading on towards the finale! We’ve still got a good week more before that, though, so keep on stickin’ around! Today we have numbers 35 down through 31 to play with, so let’s get into it!

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Boogiepop Phantom Rewatch – Episode Four

A post in the Epic Journey.

This episode was great once again, however it was also pretty self-explanatory. Like the first two episodes, it gets more into the characters psyche, but still tells an important bit of the overall story. Interestingly, the bulk of this episode actually happens before the pillar of light cracked through the sky. The episode as a whole could be considered a side-story to the first novel, which of course means that it made me squeal like the fanboy I am when it tied in. This episode also had what could be almost considered cameos of Nagi Kirima and Miyashita Touka (the alter-ego of Boogiepop) since neither played any roll in the plot whatsoever.

This episode is about a very lonely man. Naturally, he’s an otaku. He’s pretty obsessed with this dating sim game, and is pretty disassociated with reality – he chants in his mind that he has a date and when he sees other people with dates, the thought grows louder. This is all quite understandable – when you’re lonely and you see other happy couples it can piss you off or make you feel worse about yourself. I cannot even COUNT the amount of people I’ve talked to on the internet who say how much they hate seeing couples walking around. And this guy’s pretty powerfully antisocial – he sees other people and immediately finds them disgusting. When he gets home to his eroge, he talks to the girl on the screen and at a part where he he selects to kiss her, the screen goes up on her face and he, in real life, presses his lips to the screen. Once again, this really isn’t that bad. I will not fucking deny it – when I was 14 and lonely as shit, I would take images and maximize them until the size of the image’s head was the same as mine, and then make out with the screen or figure out how big her boobs would be in real life or whatever. …Don’t fucking patronize me.

Anyway, meanwhile, the girls in school have been discussing a new ‘aromatherapy’ treatment called Type S which makes the user act more boldly. It’s not hard to figure out that this is way more like a drug. One of the schoolgirls is a dealer straight from the producer – Motherfucking Saotome. Only those of us who are wise up on this know that at this point, he was actually still alive. Well anyway our main character kid (they didn’t say his name enough times for me to catch it) hires a girl at work (a restaurant) who reminds him of his galge girls. At first, he’s just your average stalker – he records her voice and masturbates to her picture, but nothing crazy. It’s when he runs into the girl from school that things get tangled up for real – she sells him some Type S so that he can act more boldly and the downward spiral begins. Our main character slowly starts loosing distinction between reality and the world of his mind as he becomes more and more forceful, bending the girl around his finger. His little fantasies are going well for him until he find out the girly has a boyfriend! When he sees them together on the street he freaks out and happens to see his dealer girl walking into an alley. He follows.

Dealer girl is all up on Saotome talking about how the drugs have made her happy. Saotome remarks something about her lack of use to them and BOOM! Her cranial cavity explodes and bits of brain and blood fall to the floor. A girl in a school uniform has just destroyed her head and begins viciously eating her corpse. She seems to be Saotome’s accomplice – and if you’ve read the novel, she is the Manticore. She met Saotome by chance while she was eating another girl. Her power is to secrete a kind of almost poison from her throat which she uses to lick someone’s body down, then dissolve it into a gas which she inhales. This secretion also happens to be a kind of drug that can turn people into it’s slaves. People become so dependent on it and get to be so bold that they will do anything the dealer asks to get it. Saotome’s plan is that he and the Manticore (with whom he of course considers himself romantically involved) will rebuild society with themselves at the center, as is mentioned in the episode.

Our demented otaku is right there when the murder happens, but he doesn’t even flinch. He begs Saotome for the drugs. Saotome is interested in seeing what a final-level slave is like and continues his supply. However, everything comes crashing down for the main character at once after he borderline attempts to rape the girl he’s been stalking. We see her talk to the manager who promises the kid to be fired. Meanwhile he’s at home playing his galge when, in the night sky, the pillar of light crashes out. We already knew that this caused a cit-wide power outage for a few minutes, but who’d have expected the consequences – the kid’s computer is crashed and with his ‘girlfriend’ disappeared, he immediately goes balls fucking insane. And of course, we all know that the pillar of light is what killed Saotome and the Manticore, so if he tried to go get type S he’d be fucked. We are given a time skip to a month later when the kid is in the street being carted into a police car after going fucking insane in public and frothing at the mouth. The scene has occurred in the last episode as well when Misuzu was walking around town, taking it all in, and sure enough we see her there, mentioning Panuru before the episode ends.

This episode’s character wasn’t so much his own downfall like the last 2 were. He was just a seriously lonely otaku who probably needed a little help that managed to get mixed up in the wrong business and spiral into madness. It’s a shame, but it happens. Once again, this episode had a great atmosphere and fun directing, and like episode 3 most of the music wasn’t from the album with the exception of a well-placed Delirious chiming in. I’m pretty sure the next episode is where the stories start to get changed up a little, so we’ll likely hear more of the songs from the album, plus what is at this point is a needed change of theme. This was, thankfully, the first episode not to feature someone running down a dark alley while screaming, however it featured plenty of the same grinding insanity. I look forward to the more twisted and less obvious mental issues of episodes to come.

Boogeipop Phantom Rewatch – Episode Three

A post in the Epic Journey.

Episode 3 has a warm bit of nostalgia as the first episode I ever saw any of from Boogiepop, and you could say my first involvement in the franchise whatsoever. I only saw about a minute of it, but within that minute is one of my favorite scenes from anime ever – when a girl with her face half-covered in blood points, her eyes twist, and in a freakish warped voice, she howls “LIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!!!!!” It got my blood curdling quite a bit 5 years ago (when it was on Tech TV), and while “USOTSUKI!” Didn’t have the same impact, it still sent a shiver down my spine.

This episode is almost radically different from the first two episodes, despite the same dark, claustrophobic visuals and awesome sound effects. For starters, while the show was already a bit creepy, this is the first episode I would definitely classify as ‘horror’ and quite gruesome horror at that. It’s far more fast-paced than the first two episodes as well with a lot of pulse-pounding music, none of which was actually from the soundtrack (except what sounded like a remix of Unstability). Perhaps this is all because this episode focuses a lot less on the episode’s main character and more on the overall story of the show. This is the most apparent in the first scene which actually doesn’t relate to the individual episode’s plot at all. It has Nagi Kirima and Suema Kazuko (my name in World of Warcraft by the way) on the roof of their school talking about some things that happened in the novel. They really don’t get much said, since the dialog doesn’t make much sense without having rad the novel and is explained later in the series, but I suppose it was their way of introducing Suema. I had imagined her voice with a little less of a forceful tone, but it could have just been what she was discussing.

This episode’s main character is Misuzu Arito, and while we do get to see what her issue is, her place in the episode is more about her thread into the main story and less about her personal issues. This made the episode a little confusing for me at first because I was too stuck on ‘look for character psychology’ and was tempted to even watch the episode again and see if I missed the point, but after thinking about it a little more and realizing the meaning of the episode’s last line, I think I’ve got it more under control. It doesn’t help, of course, that they saved Misuzu’s backstory till the end of the episode >_> I will be writing this under the assumption you’ve seen the episode, so it won’t be chronologically detailed like the other two.

Misuzu Arito was depressed when she was younger. She wondered what the point of being alive was when all we do is suffer. The important thing to note, I think, is that she was most likely a budding intellectual. I’ve seen a lot (and personally experienced) when people first start to learn about the world and especially if they like to wax philosophical that they start to wonder what the purpose of life is, and wonder why they should bother living it. It is at this point that they will turn to philosophy to give them direction. When I was at this stage in life, I started reading my dad’s philosophical books (he’s a buff) and when I read them, I would take on exactly what I read as my own personal philosophy. This is where Panuru comes in.

When Misuzu was depressed, her best friend told her about a philosopher named Panuru, who believed that one should accept the world for what it is and love the world. When Misuzu hears this she is excited, and starts calling her friend Panuru out of respect. She asks that next time they meet, her friend teach her even more about Panuru. ……..however the next time they meet is when Misuzu finds her friend violently murdered (you guessed it, by the same serial killer who offed Junouchi’s mom!) She can only think of one way to cope with the shock – to take on the mantle of Panuru and carry on her philosophies.

This is where the start of the episode comes in. We meet Misuzu at school where everyone calls her Panuru and see her walking home with the girl from the last episode who was cheating on her tests. The girl seems to remember that Junouchi did something important for her, but can’t put her finger on it… and meanwhile comments that Misuzu seems to be so accepting of everything, wondering why everyone calls her Panuru. As Misuzu walks through town, she monologues in her head about how she loves and accepts everything in the world – how everything can happen and will happen, so we should love and expect it. The scene is very well portrayed with lots of city lights in the darkness, music that gives an atmosphere of sin, and images of a wild things happening amongts the hustle and bustle like a man and a high-school girl strolling into a love hotel, all with Misuzu smiling and taking it in. However, after Misuzu boldly claims to love everyhing in the world, the real Panuru appears before her, face covered in blood. She points at Misuzu, he eyes tear open, her mouth agape, and furiously howls “USOTSUKI!!!!”

Next, Misuzu picks up a pair of the same album, having one specially gift-wrapped. She hops on the train and calmly listens to the CD on her walkman as it goes along. Suddenly the train is halted by some electrical force moving along the power lines. The conducter checks the overhead rails (wtf are they called?) and sees some strange rust on them. Meanwhile inside the train, an apparition forms right before Misuzu’s eyes on the train’s ceiling. She doesn’t know it but we do – that’s Saotome Misami! The same bastard who’s ghost got owned in episode one! This obviously can’t be the same ghost – another perhaps? Realizing that Misuzu can see him, he morphes into lightning form and crawls into her earpiece. What he asks sounds nonsensical to Misuzu ‘are you a modified human?’ but Boogiepop fans know what he’s getting at. He seems to find something in her mind and keeps whispering ‘I see’ until Misuzu shrieks and the voice goes away.

Next we have Misuzu at a local park that she considers important to herself, and for those who’ve seen the show already, is one of it’s central locations. She lays the new gift-wrapped CD she bought (called ‘GOD IS DEAD’ – I want that album!) alongside some flowers in front of a small tree she calls ‘Panuru’. This is where Saotome’s ass materializes again and tells Misuzu that he can help her spread Panuru’s world love and message to everyone. Misuzu admits that she doesn’t know or care what he plans to do – just that he’s the only other person who’s ever understood Panuru’s message. As a viewer it can be confusing to think why she was so eager to team up with him, but it’s pretty much in the nature of what she believes Panuru’s message to be. After all, if the message is to let what happens happen and love it along the way, doesn’t that mean you don’t really care WHAT happens? He could have just as easily said ‘hey, I’m going to go rape a bunch of women so that they realize that anything can happen in life just like Panuru said’ and Misuzu probably would have gone along with it. And as it turns out, he might as well have done just that.

The first person they go to with this message is the girl who had been cheating on her test. The girl has remembered what Junouchi did for her and wants to talk about it with ‘Panuru’ but she is cut off when Misuzu tells her that she has a new savior now. That’s about when Saotome materializes, and proceeds to lock lips with the test girl. It appears as though he pumps something out of his own throat and that she is swallowing it. Several days later, the girl dies right there in the middle of class on her desk. Misuzu, being Misuzu, just chalks it up to the message as always. Just like the moment when Junouchi found out that he was actually eating peoples’ memories, we realize just how much Misuzu doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about, and her fate is pretty much sealed.

Back in the park, Misuzu has a run in with Nagi Kirima who is asking about Junouchi and gives Misuzu her number. She is mostly ignored as Misuzu leaves, and Nagi notices that there is something strange about this park – everything is covered in rust. It isn’t hard for us to put two and two together and realize it’s somehow cyber-Saotome’s doing. When Misuzu meets up with him, he tells her to phone up Nagi Kirima and have her meet them in an abandoned building – just hearing his name should be enough to convince her. (when she hears his name, novel fans get a treat of her remembering him with a bloody pencil in his hand saying ‘you are our enemy now!’ This is the line featured in the front of the book next to the character illustrations and the line is delivered right after he’s beautifully cut open Nagi’s neck.)

However, while Misuzu and Saotome wait, it isn’t Nagi who shows up, but the one and only Boogiepop Phantom. Saotome almost immediately disappears, likely learning from the mistakes of his fellow ghost Saotome. Boogiepop lays the verbal hammer down on Misuzu. It tells her how she doesn’t actually care about the world, it’s just something she says to feel better about the world and about herself. She never truly came to terms with the world’s hardships, she only came to terms with the real Panuru’s death. Misuzu, knowing this to be true deep inside, pleads that it was the only way she could go on living in this fucked up world. She begs for Boogiepop to take her the way it took Junouchi, but Boogiepop refuses. ‘You aren’t even worth taking.’ The viewer likely knows that Boogiepop Phantom only says this because it’s job is to take super-humans and Misuzu is not one, however it is enough to send her into throws of desperation and despair.

Misuzu is wandering the alleys, crying out ‘someone please help me! Save me from this cruel world! SOMEONE!’ At the end of the alleyway, she sees an officer. She dashes into his chest! ‘PLEASE SAVE ME!’ she cries. It’s the same officer who we caught glimpses of following Junouchi at parts of the last episode. A big grin spreads across his face. Suddenly, while we have the view of the alley, we hear crunching, bones shattering, disgusting noises of someone being ripped apart, and blood and flesh flying through the air. A car drives away and in it’s back window we see the maimed body parts of what was once Misuzu. We are given a final chilling reminder that in this world, anything can and will happen. The real message here is more impertinent to the story as a whole as we think. Like in the real world, Boogiepop doesn’t center around one person or one conflict – people just find themselves involved in it somehow and have to play their role. The ultimate embodiement of this rule is Suema Kazuko. Her entire mindset developed around the fact that she was the next target of the serial killer before he mysteriously died. The events had all transpired before she even knew anything and her life had been saved before she knew it was in danger. For her, her being roped into things ended well enough, but she became obsessed with trying to find out about what’s going on. For others, their spontaneous involvement in what goes on is far less fortunate and for Misuzu, it meant her gruesome, gory death.

This episode as a whole was simultaneously fun and awkward. I liked the way it broke away from the slow pace and closed-in story of the first two episodes by opening up mysteries for the rest of the show and having an even-more stylish atmosphere with lots of dark urban fun. However, I was disappointed with the weaker individual plot of the episode in service of the series as a whole. I’m hoping it evens itself out later in the show.