ID: INVADED – 13 (Fin) – The Right Person in the Right Place

ID:INVADED put a lot of ideas and mysteries out there, but it was never that coy about the Big Bad being the perpetually closed-eyed Chief Hayaseura. That the start of the final showdown with John Walker came down to a one-on-one physical fight—with Narihisago literally kicking at him as he blocked with his cane—almost felt like a surrender at first.

Then Hondoumachi arrives on a huge shark and bites off part of Hayaseura’s face. This is going to be two-against-one, at least in the Id Well.

Hondoumachi steals Hayaseura’s hat and she and Narihisago lure him on a chase to retrieve it that leads back to the first Id Well we ever saw: Fukuda’s world-in-pieces. The three meet on a platform, Hayaseura has a seat, and they talk it out, with Hondoumachi analyzing her former chief as having a God complex, hence all the sevens.

Seven serial killers with seven victims each. When Hondoumachi  counters that Narihisago was the eighth, she parries with the fact that Narihisago isn’t a true serial killer, but a serial “suicide inducer” whose only victims were serial killers. If he’s the “Cornerer”, the last person he was meant to corner was Hayaseira himself.

What Hayaseura doesn’t know his adversaries already have him right where they want him. The seat is actually a cockpit placed there courtesy of Fukuda, and Hondoumachi traps and neutralizes him in a well-within-the-well. But that still leaves her and Narihisago trapped in a well.

To get out, they’ll have to put their hope in a “third pillar” they’re not even aware of—Momoki, in the iso suit in the real world. Asukai’s powers have grown in intensity, testing both his body and the limits of his suit. Mitsuoka just manages to bring him back to life after his lungs fill with vomit and his heart stops.

He eventually finds Asukai, who is initially happy someone has come to help her, but then she sees the gun in Momoki’s hand. Asukai laments that when she was first found, she asked to be killed and put out of her misery, and that that remains to her the best and only solution. The thing is, Momoki can’t do it, and when she tries to, the gun doesn’t work in her hand.

Instead, Momoki has her return to the Mizuhanome pool, which will at least contain her expanding powers. He can’t promise they’ll find a solution that would enable her to leave that pool without murdering her, but they’re not going to murder her, nor are they going to stop looking. Before the Kura is released from her powers, Sakaido meets Kaeru in a beautiful well—seeing her alive for the first time, and bidding her farewell.

Everything related to Hayaseura, his John Walker persona, Asukai and her remaining comatose dreamers are buried from the public, as is Kura’s way, and everyone basically gets back to work. Presumably the difference is that Hondoumachi is now a full-time id well diver beside Narihisago (who may or may not still be a prisoner). The two even participate in joint dives, since they worked so well together to bring down the chief.

This was a solid, good if not great finish to a show that borrowed a lot of ideas from sci-fi and psychology and managed to merge them into a mostly cohesive and original story. Compared to the ambition of the earlier issues it raised, the ending falls a bit short, but the show is still to be commended for not completely coming apart at the seems, and for being ambitious, confident, and smart in the first place. It’s a story I’d love to return to, should favorable circumstances align.

ID: INVADED – 12 – Just Wait, Cane Bastard

All along, the Kura and Mizuhanome have been made possible by, essentially, the superpowers of a mutant: Asukai Kiki, who ensares anyone around her in her dreams. Once she’s released from her holding tank, there’s nothing keeping everyone in the Kura from falling into a coma and waking up in various dreams—a kind of ID:Invaded Greatest Hits scenario.

Such was the plan of Chief Hayaseura, AKA John Walker, AKA Brilliant Detective Unaido (whew). He has a “want and omelette, break some eggs” logic to this scheme, wherein many serial killers were caught and brought to justice at the cost of creating a few; but in the long run it will be a net plus for society. As for facing justice, the chief shoots himself several times while in a cockpit programmed to inject him into his own Id Well.

Narihisago and Hondoumachi manage to dive in after him in time, and find Hayaseura in a dream world full of masks, each of them an id well. He eludes them by putting on Hondoumachi’s (the drill world), and then tries to neutralize her by revealing her true name, causing a well storm.

As Kura employees are killed (and the Wellside team run from boulders), Brilliant Detectives like Sakaido, Hijirido and Unaido can teleport between the wells. Narihisago keeps up the chase and ends up in his own id well again, where he spots his wife and daughter and gives them a nod goodbye.

Fukuda, despite not being in Brilliant Detective mode, is still able to catch Hondoumachi in mid-air and free her from her well storm. Back in the field of masks, Fukuda is shot by a Inami Nahoshi, as payback for Hondoumachi killing Kazuta. As Hondoumachi gives a somber goodbye (or see-you-later) to Fukuda, Nahoshi travels to her id well, where the half-Kazuta is still there clinging to life, but she’s promptly stabbed to death by Hayaseura.

Narihisago returns to the mask world, reunited with Hondoumachi, and both of them agree to stop Walker and get everyone—including themselves out of this mess safe and sound. It’s good to see both of them with something to live for, not giving in to despair or Hayaseura’s cruel games. And it’s possible dying in the id wells doesn’t automatically mean death, as some of the nurses at Asukai’s hospital eventually woke up from their comas.

Out in the real, Momoki and Mitsuoka have a plan of their own. Momoki will don an isolation suit, walk into the compromised Kura, and neutralize Asukai, preferably by inserting her back in the Mizuhanome tank. If she refuses, Momoki is prepared to kill her, for there are too many other lives at stake to indulge her. The question is, even if he’s willing to kill her, will he be able?

ID: INVADED – 11 – Three is a Nice Number

Whether the outline of John Walker in the sandy winds was a literal phenomenon or artistic license, the grit of the well storm makes the facts of the case clearer to Narihisago. Fukuda trapped him in the well hoping Narihisago would kill him in a rage…but Narihisago can tell this is another manipulation by Walker, and asks Fukuda for his help instead.

Fukuda used to be a whiz with numbers, and in this well his hole is gone, bringing back the arithmomania he drilled out in the real world. Narihisago pieces this together from Fukuda’s past three-stage gestures and even his outfit, which is packed with threes. As the storm churns, the Mizuhanome continually updates, and the cockpit from the lightning version of the well is transported to the desert version. The two of them start digging, hoping to find Hondoumachi.

Meanwhile, still in Kiki Asukai’s dream world, Hondoumachi checks the work Narishisago did while he was there for a year, and comes up with another important number: seven. The dates and times when victims’ bodies were found seemed random, but the M.O. of all the killers was to cause gradual, rather than instant death.

When she records the dates of the killing blows, rather than the times of death, everything matches up neatly: each of the seven serial killers have a designated day when they kill. If Walker arranged it this way, it could be an allusion to the seven days it took to create the world—or in his case, his new one.

Hondoumachi pays the Fukuda of that time a visit in order to get the final piece of the puzzle. After proving she knows things about him she normally couldn’t possibly know, as well as revealing her head-hole kinship, thus gaining his trust, she’s able to get the precise dates and times when he dreamed of John Walker.

Whoever Walker is, they visited Fukuda in his dreams during that time. The one time that’s out of place with normal sleeping hours occurred not while Walker was asleep at work, but in off on a business trip, in a different time zone. The member of the department who was on that trip the day of Fukuda’s dream was Chief Hayaseura, whom she calls to confirm it.

Back in the real world, Togo has Mitsuoka check out Momoki’s house again and carefully observe everything. She notices a picture that was not there last time she visited, and has him scan it. He finds cognition particles, but they’re not Momoki’s. They come from a photo of Narihisago with his wife and daughter. In other words, it was a plant and Momoki was framed as a diversion.

In another demonstration of her almost scary luck, Hondoumachi is ejected from the cockpit moments after confirming Walker’s identity. She informs Narihisago and Fukuda of her findings, and the storm clears sufficiently to allow Togo to have all three extracted. For now, the well-in-a-well shenanigans would seem to be over, at least for these three.

The well storm also ended up working in their favor, and even being a crucial to their success. While the storm was raging, no one from outside could observe them, meaning the outside and inside times weren’t synched. Of course, now that they’re back in the world, it will be a mad dash to detain Hayaseura, who may know from the activities at the Wellside that it’s only a matter of time before he’s caught.

Indeed, just as Togo is ordering an arrest warrant, the Wellside goes dark, and Hayaseura heads to a chamber where Asukai Kiki has been asleep since vanishing from the hospital, serving as the totemic “Kaeru” in Narihisago’s cases. Only now it’s apparently time for her to wake up. No doubt he has a use for her that will further his plans.

At the end of the day, even a casual detective such as myself could tell there was no way Momoki was Walker, and that the most likely candidate among the staff was Hayaseura. I just wish we knew his character a little better, to give the revelation more weight. That said, bringing the mastermind behind the death of his family to justice is what Narihisago deserves. No doubt he’d die to gain that outcome, but with Hondoumachi and Fukuda by his side, it may not have to come to that.

ID: INVADED – 10 – Things Fall Apart

Narihisago makes it his mission to excise each and every one of Kiki’s tormentors from her dreams by apprehending and inducing the death of all of the serial killers in the waking world. This is a process that takes over a year, and in that time he forgets this isn’t the waking world. Doing police work, catching criminals, spending time with his family; he starts to feel like the past events when he was Sakaido in the Mizuhanome were all one long elaborate dream.

But no matter how much progress he makes, Kiki doesn’t recover. In fact, she only grows more frail, and in her final meeting with Narihisago, she tells him catching Walker won’t save her; there is no saving her. The killing in her head won’t stop.

Kiki has two options: slowly lose herself, dissolve, and warp the world with the violence and corruption within her dreams…or have Narihisago end her suffering now, while she’s still recognizably human. Even though she frames it as a necessary act to save the world, Narihisago refuses.

A month or so passes, and one day Kiki vanishes, leaving a pile of unconscious nurses in her wake who later recall sharing the same dream. It would appear Kiki’s prediction about “dissolving” came to pass. That means it’s only a matter of time before the world falls apart.

While about to deal with the Perforator, whom he’d “forgotten”, Narihisago encounters Hondoumachi. By her count she’s only been in the well-within-a-well for twenty minutes, which means even though it’s felt like more than a year to Narihisago, in reality he’s been in the well for less than twenty minutes. Talk about time distortion in dreams.

Narihisago doesn’t want to pick up what Hondoumachi is putting down, and considering how long this has been his reality, who can blame him? Still, when the meeting of the two detectives is followed by the world starting to come apart at the seams, he can no longer deny that none of this is real.

He calls his family, first to ask them to get away, but eventually, to say goodbye in his own way. Suddenly, and heartbreakingly, his memories from the real world rush back into his head in sequence, from the day he married Ayako, chronicling the birth and growth of Muku, and ending with Muku’s death at the hands of Challenger and Ayako committing suicide.

These images, the initial ones being the photos on the wall of his cell, all speak for themselves, so the very loud and melodramatic song felt like overkill. Perhaps it was more the fact the lyrics were in English—and very obvious and bad—than the music itself. It was still a moving scene. It could have been better with more restraint.

With the time in this dream world dwindling rapidly, Narihisago suggests he and Hondoumachi do as much investigating as they can, but his time is up, as Anaido extracts him from the well after ten minutes. He then tells Sakaido that he identified the body in the quicksand. It’s…Narihisago Akihito, someone Sakaido doesn’t know due to the protective amnesia of the Mizuhanome…but due to the condition of his brain, the amnesia function doesn’t work on Anaido/Fukuda.

The Wellsiders didn’t know that, which means Fukuda is up to something, likely under the direction of Walker. When Fukuda shows Sakaido the photo of Narihisago and his family (which he took from the corpse), things…take a turn. This desert isn’t Momoki’s id well at all, but the “end stage” of Narihisago’s. Remembering himself in his own well produces a “well storm”, depicted as a literally wind storm, as a fail-safe to protect the conscious from the unconscious…and Walker’s form appears in that wind.

ID:Invaded is starting to get very tricky with its Inception-style premise, but with the Big Bad finally making a decisive move that would seem to have Narihisago in check, it sure seems like more answers are forthcoming. Somehow, this all manages to hold together. Here’s hoping Narihisago can similarly keep it together, or if he can’t, if Hondoumachi can save the day.

ID: INVADED – 09 – You Can Not (Not) Redo

When Sakaido wakes up in what he assumed would be Asukai Kiki’s Id Well, Kaeru’s dead body is nowhere to be found. Instead, he’s flanked by his very much alive wife and daughter. He remembers he isn’t the Brilliant Detective Sakaido at all, but Narihisago Akihito.

He hugs his family, who react as if he’s acting weird. But as far as Akihito is concerned, if being able to go back in time, fix what broke, and protect those who mattered most to him is “losing it”, then he doesn’t want to have it.

Without dwelling too much about what this reality is, Aki starts by paying a visit to the Challenger. Since this is before Muku was murdered, no one in this world has caught on to his depravities, except Aki, who comes in with outside knowledge from this reality’s version of the future.

Instead of rushing into Challenger’s house in a revenging rage, gun blazing, he challenges the Challenger to a “fair and square” fight, for which the killer is obviously more than game. Aki gets the absolute shit kicked out of him, but he manages to get the upper hand just as Momoki, the only backup he requested, arrives.

With the Challenger in custody, Aki directs Momoki to check out the basement, where a still-living victim sat bleeding in the “arena”. The woman turns out to be Asukai Kiki, and when Aki visits her hospital room, he’s perplexed by the fact she looks just like Kaeru. Kiki tells him how her thoughts have a way of broadcasting themselves to people around her.

Turns out Aki is in Kiki’s dream, because not only is there no sign of her injuries in the waking world (or whatever it is), but in this dream world of hers, serial killers like the Challenger come every night to kill her, with each night designated for a certain killer.

Aki soon wakes in his own bed with his worried wife and daughter by his side, while Momoki informs him the incident with the Challenger is being considered self-defense (a welcome change from the premeditated murder charge of his first “go-round”). He meets with Kiki—for real, this time—but can’t get her, an inhabitant of this “reality”, to explain what the reality is.

What she can tell him is that the person who has been letting one killer after another into her unconscious dreams every night matches the description of one John Walker: top hat, tails, and cane. This not-quite-Id Well-within-an-Id Well scenario created as many questions as it answered, and Hondomachi is still AWOL, but I am nevertheless deeply intrigued.

ID: INVADED – 08 – The Lone and Level Sands Stretch Far Away

With Hondomachi diving into a well within a well, Assistant Director Togo leads rescue efforts, which consist of sending both Narihisago and Fukuda into Momoki’s id well. No one knows how this will go, but it turns out working out pretty well…for whomever set this elaborate, elaborate trap.

Sakaido and Anaido wake up in a massive, desolate desert with no food or water and an unmoving sun. The two Brilliant Detectives briefly clash on how to proceed, but their disagreements are more a matter of speed than content.

As Sakaido inspects Kaeru’s corpse a bit longer, Anaido follows footsteps of someone who “stole their watches”, which would explain the watch-like marks on their wrists. Sakaido eventually catches up, and the two trudge through the desert until they find something…anything.

It’s notable that with no memories of the real world but the Brilliant Detective programming that came with them, these two get along famously, with Akaido even calling Sakaido “brother.”

The two eventually find a second corpse—that of the “watch thief”—partially submerged in quicksand. They also find a second cockpit, like the one in Narihisago’s id well, which is also programmed for the id well of Asukai Kiki. Sakaido volunteers to dive in, while Anaido stands by to extract him in ten minutes.

In the real world, Momoki is being interrogated by police, but he just doesn’t seem like John Walker so much as the victim of a frame job. When he hears two detectives were sent into his id well, he demands they extract them at once. If Hondomachi is already in a trap of Walker’s making, Narihisago will join her soon.

ID: INVADED – 07 – Easy as Pi

Hondomachi’s first mission in an Id Well is no murder-of-the-week, but could be the key to everything. The Id Well in question is Narihisago Akihito’s, taken from still-strong cognition particles found at the sight where he emptied a clip into Katsuyama Denshin, the man who killed his daughter Muku.

Here, Hondomachi is not Hondomachi, but the Brilliant Detective Hijiriido Miyo, sporting a stylish twist on the classic detective coat. Following the same pattern as Sakaido, the sight of Kaeru’s body triggers the memory of who she is and what she’s here to do.

While Miyo is handcuffed to Kaeru, the fact Kaeru was killed by lightning means they were cuffed together by a third party after Kaeru died. When Miyo spots a dead Narihisago, she determines he did it to keep her safe: lightning never strikes anywhere twice here, because it’s not real lightning, flashing every nine seconds without fail.

All the other people in the well are family and people connected ti Narihisago, but Miyo manages to get them all onto safe spots to stop the killings. When Narihisago’s wife and daughter Muku wonder what’s to be done about people elsewhere getting killed, the single-minded Miyo suggests they do something about it; she’s here to solve a mystery.

Moving in nine-second spurts, Miyo eventually makes it to an operational cockpit that leads to the id well of the Challenger’s last victim, Asukai Kiki. Diving into an Id Well within an Id Well is some Inception stuff we haven’t seen from this show yet, but Miyo wastes no time taking a seat in the cockpit to see where the rabbit hole goes.

Wellside, they’re unable to extract Hondomachi, then investigators burst in led by the Chief, and Director Momoki is placed under arrest for the charge of inducing all of the 44 murders committed by the serial killers investigated. In other words, they suspect him to be the John Walker; the mole within the unit.

As Momoki is taken away, and with Tougou now in charge, Habutae cracks the number pattern of the lightning: the sequence they’ve witnessed appears in pi around the ten millionth digit. Extrapolating from there, and taking into account a strike every 9.03 seconds, he calculates that the first strike hit the number “3” 1,084 days ago, the day Muku was murdered.

The Id Well within and Id Well, as well as Miyo’s freedom to expore it without interference from Wellside, comprise exciting uncharted territory, and it’s anyone’s guess which crazy twists and turns the mystery goes from here. As for Momoki as John Walker, despite the mounting evidence, I’m not 100% convinced it’s not an elaborate frame job by the real Walker.

Narihisago seems to be, however, at least with regards to having access to Momoki’s well. He believes he’ll find answers there one way or another. Will acting director Tougou indulge his desire to solve the case? I imagine so; as he’s said himself, there’s not much else he’s still alive for.

ID: INVADED – 06 – Eternal Rail

What had been a calm encounter with Inami Nahoshi takes a turn when Hondomachi outs her as the Gravedigger mastermind. Nahoshi is calm because her accomplice Kazuta is in the house with all the kitchen knives.

A dust-up ensures, with Matsuoka receiving a flesh wound to the shoulder and Hondomachi stabbing Kazuta to death, much to Nahoshi’s uncharacteristic dismay. These two detectives are just powerful electromagnets for trouble.

Demonstrating that the detectives at the Wellside are always working, five of them spend their time a police officer’s funeral discussing the Walker case. Why does he keep showing up in the id wells of serial killers, and in the same whimsical form? The name of the inventor of the Mizuhanome, Shirakoma Nishio, comes up, which is sure to be important later on.

While this case are already complicated enough, one of them brings up the possibility one of them is a mole working from within. Considering we only have cursory familiarity with these five detectives, the eventual reveal of one of them as Walker wouldn’t be that narratively satisfying, at least not yet.

Using the cognition particles from Kazuta’s urge to kill (which manifested in a dying kiss to Hondomachi), Narihisago is injected from the flying house to a train. On it, Kaeru is (obviously) dead via stabbing. When he follows the very obvious bloody footprints, he discovers the train is a closed loop, ending right back where it begins.

The Wellsiders determine this is the very train Nahoshi’s mother jumped in front of…while Nahoshi was on it. A high school-aged Nahoshi is here to, with a younger Kazuta sitting on the opposite side of the aisle. There was once a time when Nahoshi abhored seeing dead things or people; her mother’s suicide flipped that sensibility.

IRL, Nahoshi reveals all the locations of the barrels containing her victims, but on the id train she didn’t kill Kaeru; Kaeru killed herself. When Narihisago comes to this conclusion, he weeps in her lap. He grows weary of coming upon her corpse over and over again. He wants to save her, but like the train, he’s going in circles. One wonders how long he can keep up the Brilliant Detective act with his sanity intact (such as it is already).

That brings us to Hondomachi, the other protagonist. Matsuoka recommends her to be a second Brilliant Detective utilizing the Mizuhanome. Hondomachi is flattered, but Matsuoka considers it a practical decision, in part to protect him and their colleagues. Hondomachi has killed more than once—by attempting to kill herself and then killing Kazuta. Matsuoka laments he couldn’t keep her out of this business, but she’s too suited for it, and there’s no turning back.

The Wellsiders make a connection between the surveillance devices found in the Perforator’s house match those used in the case involving the “Challenger”, AKA Katsuyama Denshin, the man who killed Narihisago’s daughter. With every subsequent case, ID:INVADED adds another piece to the larger puzzle of John Walker and the root of Narihisago’s fall, just as his possible successor begins her ascent.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai – 13 – The Bug

Both the wills of individuals and the collective will of humanity can usually be likened to a swarm of bugs around a light; moving chaotically without coordination. But a majority of the bugs that comprise Nagi’s will are aligned towards a a confrontation with the serial killer, for which she is diligently preparing but may still be woefully overmatched.

That certainly seems to be Sasaki’s opinion on the matter, as the bug within him can’t simply let her be, lest she end up hurt or killed simply for following her own will and sense of justice. If anyone is going to protect her, he figures it should be the one who deprived her of her father, the person who would otherwise be responsible.

Sasaki’s supicions are confirmed: Kisugi has set a trap for Nagi, whom she suspected would show up in superhero guise (Nagi’s jumpsuit is indeed totally badass): have her tranquilized via sniper rifle, then proceed to explore her delicious fear.

Sasaki delivers a killing blow before he notices it isn’t Kisugi, but Pigeon, who stabs him right back as revenge for killing Kuroda (her own bug she couldn’t ignore). But Pigeon distracts Sasaki from Kisugi, who puts her arm through his chest.

Just like that, the backup both Sasaski and I believed would be crucial to Nagi’s survival has been taken off the board in gruesome fashion, a sentiment reinforced when Sasaki tosses his corpse out the window, then leaps out herself and lands on her feet far too close to Nagi for comfort.

But true to her name, Nagi keeps calm and carries on. She starts to flee Kisugi, first on foot then on bike, but the Kisugi’s personal flirtation with evolution has made her as fast in heels as Nagi can pedal, and it isn’t long before she’s caught her up.

Yet still, there’s something about the deliberate manner in which Nagi flees—constantly looking back to make sure she’s being followed—that suggests the chase is unfolding precisely how Nagi planned. Even when Kisugi loses her temper and starts dunking Nagi’s head in a pond and kicking the shit out of her, there isn’t a trace of panic on Nagi’s face.

Kisugi finally visualizes Nagi’s weakness—someone she loves dying before her, like her father—while her actions confirm to Nagi that she’s someone who preys on those perceived to be fearless. Kisugi is right that no one is truly fearless, which means there’s no one she can’t feed off of.

But Nagi’s fear in that moment is less that she’s about to be killed or worse, but more worry that the intricate plan she’s set up might fail. That she will fail to become the superhero she thought she could be. But it doesn’t fail, because Kisugi is part of the circuit of the pond, while Nagi in her thick insulated suit isn’t…and has a weapon that shoots electrical arcs.

Thus Nagi does the equivalent of drop a giant plugged-in toaster into the bathtub, zapping Kisugi with thousands of volts and doing significant damage to a body already taxed to the brink by all of her DIY “evolution.” When Nagi puts her in an arm hold, the arm pops off, and Kisugi flees.

It’s then when an ally far more powerful than Sasaki appears, only to voice their surprise Nagi didn’t need them after all. The situation was always under control, though Nagi could rightly say she relied on some luck in everything going perfectly.

Now Kisugi is the hunted, and full of fear. Turns out she’s a fear ghoul, and definitely an enemy of humanity, which means Boogiepop has popped up to finish her off. But they give credit to Nagi for defeating Kisugi and making the kill so easy.

Nagi manages to be with Sasaki before he dies, and his last words are of relief that she’s still alive, and that “the bug” within him isn’t so bad. Boogiepop then determines it would be best if the blame for the serial murders were placed on Sasaki, due to the complications of the culprit being a doctor of Kisugi’s caliber.

More than that, the bug in Sasaki would be fine doing whatever Nagi wanted, including piling the blame on him. Nagi, meanwhile, still feels like she messed everything up in the case. But she learned a lot from it too, and that wisdom gained will serve her as she keeps fighting. Not to mention “Boogiepop”, as they introduce themselves to Nagi, will be there to help when needed.

Back on the ruined world, which we learn isn’t the Earth of Nagi or Touka but some kind of “distorted world”, Boogiepop wrap up their story to Echoes, as the two contemplate the causality starting with Kuroda saving Nagi, all the way to Echoes and Manticore showing up on Earth.

Echoes muses that Nagi continues to fight because she’s “carrying on the feelings of those she encounters.” That’s one way you could describe an investigator, or a superhero, or both, which is what Nagi is. As Echoes takes his leave, Boogiepop commits themselves to leaving the distorted world and returning to Earth.

Because even if Boogiepop doesn’t know precisely how or why they pop up, they understand intrinsically that it is right for them to do so; that it’s beneficial to humanity and thus necessary to continue. Even Boogiepop has a bug.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai – 12 – Those For Whom The World Is Not Ready

One day, Nagi’s father Seiichi is approached by a girl who can tell he’s going to die soon. He already knows this. He only set out to be an author whose works people would read, but for reasons he could never explain, his writing ended up doing much more.

It inspired and emboldened an entire underclass of those with “abilities” who were shunned by the rest of the world. But people were reading, so he kept writing, even when it might attract the wrong attention. Even if it put him in the crosshairs of those who wanted to keep those people down. And yes, even if it deprived Kirima Nagi of a father.

So, the girl says, if Seiichi dies, the movement dies with him, a failure. To this he rebuts: what is failure? Not to get all Star Warsy, but Yoda would say it’s the greatest teacher. Seiichi is comfortable dying because he did everything he could with the time he had, and trusts that those who come after him will learn from it, carry on, and improve bit by bit.

They could be his enemy or just a passerby, but they are still capable of adopting and surpassing what he began. No one should be so arrogant to think they are the beginning or ending of anything. And the girl Seiichi is speaking to? A young Minahoshi Suiko, the future Imaginator.

Shortly after their exchange, Seiichi is assassinated by the same Towa operative who killed Scarecrow: Sasaki. Seiichi begs him not to kill Nagi too, and he doesn’t…but Nagi still walks in on her father in a pool of blood, his last words to her asking what she thinks “normal” is.

Fast forward to middle school Nagi’s time. Pigeon gives Sasaki his next mission: find the person committing all the grisly murders and eliminate them if necessary. Pige thinks he’ll have an easy go of it, being a “murderer” himself.

Sasaki conducts his own investigation, only to find he’s being carefully observed by Kirima Nagi, daughter of the man he killed a few years ago. Mind you, Nagi doesn’t know he killed him, and can see how he would blend into the background with his salaryman appearance. But she can tell he has an knack for investigations, and suggests they join forces…all while Kisugi watches from a distance.

Nagi and Sasaki manage to snag a friend of one of the victims, who assures them the victim had no lingering grudges or enemies. But she also mentions that her friend was fearless, in particular compared to herself. Sasaki likens the description to Nagi, but she says even she’s sacred of some things; this victim apparently wasn’t.

Nagi recalls her talk with Kisugi, and asks “why does fear exist?”, the same thing someone told the victim’s friend before she met Nagi and Sasaki. Nagi connects the dots, and promptly drops Sasaki as both a partner and a suspect—he doesn’t kill of his own accord, only for his job. He’s not the dyed-in-the-wool killer Nagi is looking for.

Now, I imagine, she suspects Kisugi most of all, which is exactly what Kisugi wants, and why she left her that clue: so she’d to come to her. After all, Kisugi believes Nagi’s fear will be better than any she’s ever tasted.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai – 11 – Be Very Afraid

Kishima Nagi is on the mend, and wonders if her psychiatrist, Dr. Kisugi Makiko, thought her fits of pain were only in her head. Nagi doesn’t know that Kisugi discovered the vial of the mysterious drug Scarecrow used to heal her. Kisugi experiments on lab rats, but soon it’s clear she’s graduated to unwilling human test subjects, who are turning up all over town as the victims of a serial killer with a very specific method of ripping open the jaw and sucking out the victims’ brains.

At night Kisugi roams the dark halls of the hospital, preying on patients by heightening their fear (she’s capable of seeing someone’s weakness the same way Jin could see their flowers) then sucking the fear-filled blood like a vampire. She revels in being able to rip out her own eye only for it to regenerate; clearly she’s her own test subject as well, and she’s downright drunk on the fear of others.

She determines that the best-tasting fear comes from those who’d normally have none, like bold young women, which is why so many of her victims are high school girls. But as a psychiatrist she is also considering using her talk patients as food/research fodder. One of those patients is a young Miyashita Touka, sporting long hair and flanked by her mother, who fears she has Dissociative Identity Disorder.

This confirms that while we enter the world of Boogiepop with Touka as a high schooler, Boogiepop has been showing up in her body since far earlier. Excusing Touka’s mother, Kisugi has Touka talk like a man, and before long, her other personality is out, and wastes no time describing who they are (neither man nor woman, for one thing) and what their mission is.

Boogiepop tells Kisugi that she’s a predator for people so normal it’s easy for them to be “set off” like fuses into someone who could be a threat to the world. Boogiepop exists to eliminate threats to the world without mercy. Their discussion puts Kisugi on notice as someone who should probably stop what they’re doing lest they incur Boogiepop’s wrath, but it may be too late.

Kisugi doesn’t seem willing or able to control herself anymore; she’s in too deep. Though if there’s a bright side to all this, it’s that she won’t end up killing Touka as she considers here; we know Touka will be fine, and that her “disorder” won’t be “cured”, nor should it be. So the question is, how will Boogiepop, possessing Lil’ Touka, take Kisugi down? Or will Towa, whose serum she’s messing with, do it for them?

Inuyashiki – 03

As soon as Hiro realizes the old man he killed wasn’t effected by his “air gun”, he bolts, and by bolt I mean launch into the sky and scream off like a fighter jet. Thus, the big standoff between him and Ichirou is postponed. But as he wakes up from a nightmare of the death he witnessed, Ichirou knows he’ll have to find and confront him sometime.

This boy is like him, but whether his powers have twisted him into a monster, or he was always a sociopath and only now has the means to do as he pleases, Ichirou knows he’s the only one who can stop him. Essentially, some whippersnapper needs an ear-boxing.

Hiro isn’t the first evil, nor is he the only evil in the world, or even in the vicinity of Ichirou’s home and work; far from it. You don’t need to be killed and reconstructed by an advanced alien race to be a dickbag that doesn’t care about anyone or anything, as evidenced by the kids who attacked a homeless man, or a group of athletic young toughs who plan to kill a man for daring to tell them to wait in line.

Like any and every great hero, Ichirou doesn’t buy into a world where the strong unrelentingly prey on the weak. Why should he? He may be one of the two strongest beings on the planet. No, with strength comes not carte blanche, but noblesse oblige. Just as Hiro was a bad person before getting reconstructed, Ichirou was always a good and just man.

It’s only now, like Hiro, that he’s able to act on his kind and virtuous nature. When it looks bad for the poor man surrounded by much larger ones, Ichirou takes out the trash. But he doesn’t kill anyone, nor is there any malice in his actions; only a desire to stop a great wrong from being committed, and ensure the safety of those who cannot ensure it themselves.

Once his “Grampy-sense” detects a family struggling to escape a house fire, he wills the machinery within his back to come out and propel him to the danger in time to save them. He does so by singing the theme to Astro Boy.

At first, his built-in jetpack is a little too much to handle; he screams bloody murder as he’s flung every which way, a scene that’s as awesome as it is frikkin’ hilarious. In a show that gets as intense as this one, it’s nice to know we’ll always have some moments of levity.

He gets the hang of it pretty quickly, and manages to save not only the crying children’s father, but their grandmother as well. Instead of thanks and praise, he asks that they not mention him to the authorities, and having just been miraculously saved by him, one hopes they would respect his wishes.

Ichirou is an unconditional hero to all, not because he can, with his wondrous new powers, but because he feel he must. He wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he stood by and did nothing when his actions can make a positive difference in the world. Compare this to his pre-transformation, when he was just trying to maintain, and was diagnosed with terminal cancer for his trouble. A man of inaction, no longer is he.

Hiro, while a monster, seems to remain tied to his humanity through his best friend Andou, whom he finally convinces to come to school, promising to protect him. He is, or at least is trying to be, a hero of one…unfortunately for the rest of the world, not to mention Andou.

When the bullies return to Andou’s desk and threaten him, Hiro wastes no time taking the wrist of their strongest and squeezing it hard enough to make him cry, apologize, and insult himself and his friends.

I can’t tell whether Hiro is using laser-sharp precision to apply just enough pressure to the guy’s wrist, or struggling as hard as he can not to squeeze to hard, snap his arm off and expose himself at school. I like how there’s uncertainty in something like that.

Hiro takes Andou to the roof where the bullies initially told them to meet, but they already left with some girls. Hiro gives Andou some binoculars and starts pointing out into the distance and saying “BANG.” Eventually, Andou pans to where Hiro was “shooting”, and finds the four bullies dead, all shot in the head with invisible bullets that leave no trace; the scared-shitless girls having no idea what just happened.

It’s too far. Andou is a gentle soul; he can’t take this shit, and wastes no time rejecting Hiro and warning him to stay away when Hiro refuses to turn himself into the police. All of the things Hiro did to that point to impress Andou—humiliate then kill bullies, boast of his ability to nuke China with US missile, steal thousands of dollars from the ATM—only serve to disgust Andou and push him further away.

Their friendship is over, but Hiro reacts the same way he does to everything, save his brief encounter with Ichirou: calmly. Too, calmly, if you ask me. Without Andou to provide even a semblance of a tether, Hiro’s monstrous acts may only increase in scale and scope.

Inuyashiki likes to punch below the belt, as when an adorable mama cat and her kitten walk past a charmed Ichirou, only for the mom to get hit by a car right in front of him. Exhibiting uncommon goodness that makes one’s eyes well up, he takes the cat into his arms, even though he can’t do anything for her…then learns that he actually can.

Ichirou scans that dead cat and fixes her right up, and she and her kitten stride off like nothing ever happened, giving Ichirou the one thank-you he wished he always got: no thank-you at all. Ichirou is overcome with joy and gratitude for the gift he has been given, and immediately stops by a hospital to heal as many people as he can.

And yet, as he’s been going around left and right saving lives, his opposite Hiro is out there taking them, as if the universe itself were maintaining the balance from suddenly having two such immensely powerful beings in such close proximity. If both were evil killers, humanity would be toast, but Ichirou is as good as Hiro is bad.

Witness the ending, in which the camera mercifully doesn’t follow Hiro inside another house for another routine family-killing. It just stays there, frozen, and we realize just how goddamn quickly Hiro purges the house of all life before walking out, spotting two passing boys—clearly friends—running past, and thinks long and hard about killing them too.

By holding his fire, was he trying to prove to himself that he can control himself when he needs to even without Andou? Perhaps he still has a degree of restraint, owing to the same sense of self-preservation that induced him to escape from Ichirou. But that restraint can’t last.

The first two episodes introduced our characters: the third explored their powers further and illustrated how far they can take those powers—in both moral directions. Hiro seems to be on the path to ruin; Ichirou, on the path to sainthood. But in a universe of balance, perhaps neither will ever reach their destination.

Fate / Zero – 06

“I may be an ancient king…but I don’t think you should be driving like this!”

And now I’ve come to it: the Fate/Zero equivalent of a meh episode. It had to happen sometime, so better early on than not; also, after last week’s multivector face-off and just-as-rapid standdown, it’s hard for the immediate aftermath episode to not feel a bit…anticlimactic.

And while I’ve enjoyed the moments of levity Zero has managed to weave into the action and drama, Iri’s crazy drive along a twisty mountain road kinda fell flat for me. I totally get the joy she feels from being ‘let out of the birdcage’, so to speak, and perhaps it was the animation, but the drive felt way too reckless for no reason.

“We can’t exchange insurance info if you’re all the way over there!”

It’s a good thing Caster seems to be standing in the middle of a straight and not on the other side of a blind turn; otherwise Iri would have hit him (and what a shame that would have been); instead, they get out and have a deeply unpleasant exchange with him.

Since taking out that kid after letting him think he was home free with his dark tentacles, Caster has not endeared himself to me, and his ranting about Saber being Jeanne d’Arc reincarnate does him no favors. I’m totally with Saber that I dislike opponents who you can’t reason with because they lack reason.

Thats…not…good…

In addition to being illogical and maddening to deal with, Caster is also a despicable monster, like his Master Uryuu, crucifying kids while still alive. They’ve abducted fifteen from a couple of towns, which just seems like a lot, though to be honest I’m not sure how much time they’ve had to do it.

In any case, Caster insists they must sacrifice all the children they have as soon as possible, then go out and get more, which, sure, fantastic. Even Uryuu is like, ‘I guess we’re just different kinds of serial killers.’

“Why do I have two Masters…and why are they so lame?”

Archie sits in his hotel room, scolding a brooding Lancer, until his companion Sola-Ui, who despite Archie’s Command Seals, is the Mana behind the Master. She’s not afraid to speak her mind to Archie about his hiding in the shadows, but Lancer then scolds her for badmouthing his Master. Even though technically, the two of them are more like Co-Masters.

In any case, Archie belives (rightly) that Saber will try to attempt a rematch with Lancer before fighting anyone else, to undo her cursed wound. So he’s laid a trap, filling an entire floor of the hotel with magical booby traps, and is very excited to see how everything works out.

“Look, that building had all kinds of code violations anyway.”

And then Kiritsugu just burns the whole mother down. I’ll admit, it’s a fine fake-out, and yet another stealthily bad-ass move from Kiritsugu, who approaches his work in a very deliberate, disciplined, military fashion.

I also appreciated that he’s aware that he has disrupted and possibly ruined more than a few lives by blowing up the building, but he’s going to defeat the other mages by any means necessary—but not by killing innocent people.

Kirei manages to briefly corner Maiya in an adjacent structure, but Kiritsugu bails her out with a well-timed smoke bomb. As for Archie, Sola-Ui and Lancer…I’m sure they’re just fine.

“Hey God Boy—run out and get me some more libations!”

Later, Kirei’s Assassins inform him, Risei and Tokiomi of Caster and his Master’s horrific crimes, which threaten the secrecy of the War. As observer, Risei stands ready to exercise his power to make minor rule changes; in this case, ordering all Masters to take out Caster ASAP. He’s a rogue element, and clearly Saber and Iri (and I) aren’t the only ones who’d rather he went away as soon as possible.

After a long day of morally ambiguous activity, Kirei encounters Archer getting drunk (or attempting/failing to do so) on a couch, who not only voices his disappointment in his Master, but also tries to pry out of Kirei what he’s getting out of this; what he desires. If Kirei doesn’t know, Gil figures he should use his Assassins to determine what motivates the others, so he might gain insight into his own motives.

So while Kiritsugu and Maiya’s special ops exploits were pretty cool and I dug the potential realignment of the War to focus on taking out the most irredeemably loathsome Master-Servant pair, I wasn’t as enamored with Lancer’s Co-Masters (indeed, I kinda just feel sorry for him), Saber and Iri only showed up for two minutes, and Waiver, Rider, Kariya and Berserker took the week off—and at least two of them were missed. So yeah, a 7 seems about right.