Boogiepop wa Warawanai – 06 – Protecting Unstable Hearts

For whatever reason Orihata Aya, AKA “Camille”, is beholden to the Towa Organization’s Spooky E, and he treats her like a disposable tool, urging her to hurry up and sleep with Anou Shinjirou, as well as gather clues that will lead to finding Boogiepop. Already, we see that “Camille” is bound in chains of fear, deference, and servitude. Who will break her chains, and is that even what she wants?

At least in this instance, Masaki intervenes, “saving” Aya from Spooky, who assumes the kid is an enemy of Towa when he’s just good at martial arts. Spooky shocks Masaki unconscious, and when he comes to he doesn’t remember his assailant. She apologizes, but Masaki likes her, and wants to do anything he can for her. So she asks him if he knows anything about Boogiepop.

Back at Shinyou Academy, Asukai Jin’s cousin Kinukawa Kotoe reaches out to Suema Kazuko, the school’s resident researcher of weird tings, regarding Jin’s odd and suspicious behavior of late. Suema promises to look into it, and before you know it, she’s hiding in a classroom into which Jin invites two girls, who promptly remove their tops and undergo some kind of magical ritual.

When it’s over, they feel like all the weight of their lives has been lifted and that they can do anything…for Jin. This is how Jin and Imaginator are taking over the world: one schoolgirl—one fragile adolescent mind—at a time. At some point someone’s going to have to stop them, but I imaging Boogiepop will again only play a supporting role. Suema, for her part, has always longed to “take on the darkness [her]self.”

In an auspicious crossing of paths, Suema encounters Anou as she’s talking with Niitoki Kei. Kei has kept her distance from Suema’s friend Touka (and vice versa), but not just because Touka’s guy rejected her, but because she knows Touka’s “other side.” Anou still seems pretty out of it, unable to remember what he’s doing at the academy while feeling like something important is missing.

Scenes of Aya talking to Masaki are intercut with scenes of Suema finding Aya on the roof, ready to die. Aya wants death to free others from her, not to free herself from Spooky E and Towa. Her self seems to the least important thing to her, whether that self has been tampered with by supernatural forces, or if it was always in a troubled, fragile, easily manipulated state…as most kids entering adulthood after all.

Both Aya and Masaki have initially believed the rumors going around that Boogiepop is a reaper that takes the lives of girls at the peak of their beauty so they’ll never become ugly, but Suema corrects her: Boogiepop is there to lend the helping hand to fragile young hearts that adults won’t provide, as adults they feel adolescence is just a phase everyone goes through, and will pass.

The reality is that sometimes it doesn’t pass, and you either get kids who kill themselves rather than continue suffering, or try to make others suffer as a salve to their own. In that regard, Boogiepop is there to protect them from themselves as much as those forces that would hurt or use them.

Rather than Boogiepop, the one doing the reaping here, or rather gardening, is Jin/Imaginator, as we see him “convert” more and more willing and in some cases eager young women to “their side.” The fact that this is visualized as Jin tending the roses so that they have roots, stems, leaves, and blooms – the height of their beauty.

Their hearts may thus be said to be complete and at peace, but they’re paying for it with their free will. It’s swapping one set of chains for another. I for one hope Suema, no doubt with help from Boogiepop (and others), can manage to shine a light on that darkness.

So…everything’s starting to make a little more sense, but this still felt like yet more setup, and with so many characters shuffling around, it’s hard to find firm ground on which to plant my feet and actually care about anything consistently.

Hopefully, as with previous mini-arcs, the payoff will be satisfying enough to make it worth all the setup. This seems like a show in which the destination is better than the journeys, or at least in which the destinations must be known before the journeys can be fully understood or appreciated.

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Big Order – 03

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Apologies to fans of this show and its source manga: this write-up is a bit harsh. -Ed.

Feelings—especially on anime—can be fickle, changing from week to week, and Big Order’s dominating spell wore off fast. It’s fitting that it shares its initials—B.O.—with body odor, because this show smells bad, in a way that makes me feel icky and want to keep my distance.

Perhaps foremost among its sundry problems is its ridiculous free-wheeling nature. Eiji wants to save his sister, and Rin wants to kill Eiji, but beyond that, the show is all over the place, with the attention span of a child and the petty sadism of a teenager burning bugs with a magnifying glass.

Rin is imprisoned, but in her panties, in a refrigerated padded room. Why? The Prime Minister opens negotiations by executing the family members of the Group of Ten, to “test” whether they’re actually under Eiji’s domain.

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The heads that are sliced off are real, but when Eiji shoots the Group of Ten, he stops the bullets from killing them while keeping up the fiction he’s someone to be feared. But to what end?

How in God’s name is Kyushu supposed to conquer the world, especially when the crack team of soldiers who accompany Eiji and Rin haven’t the slightest loyalty to him and turn tail at the slightest hint of danger? Why a giant CGI rock monster?

These are not good questions, and it is not a good show that raises them. I don’t care about the answers, because the show doesn’t seem to care either. It just seems to want to shock, only doesn’t have the firepower or gravitas to come close to doing so.

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The casual violence (often accompanied by goofy upbeat jazzy music) seems like an ill-conceived attempt to be “edgy”, but it just comes off as silly and idiotic, which can also be said for Iyo, a seemingly capable miko-type character who melts into a puddle and becomes freaking pregnant when Eiji touches her bunny-ear ribbon. Just…what? 

I don’t want to find out how Eiji deals with the huge-nippled Order controlling the rock monster. It will probably involve breaking out his lame-looking CGI mummy dude, yelling “ORDER!” and poof, putting yet another woman under his thrall.

If it’s all the same to you, I’m going to spare myself any more of BO’s dopey, trying-too-hard faux-edginess. Like I said – its spell wore off quickly.

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Big Order – 02

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Well, that was an…err…interesting sequence of events. If the plot of Big Order continues to be as erratic and silly as this week, watching a lot more of it is going to be a tall order. We start with Eiji successfully achieivng “domain” over Rin by making it impossible for her to kill him, which is the only damn thing she wanted to do by wishing to be immortal.

One could ask why she didn’t simply wish the person who destroyed the world would die, full stop—but I guess she wanted to do it personally, and now it’s backfired on her big-time. By the way, I’ve gotta wonder if the directors told Mikami Shiori to scream in such a way as it sounds like equal parts pain and pleasure…because that’s what came through.

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While Rin can’t kill Eiji, she still wants to, desperately, and so after they’re both taken prisoner by one of her comrades who can stop time (which, like Eiji and Rin’s powers, seems way too powerful a power), and she busts him out, they take the most dangerous route out of the bowels of the government office, so that she can try several different methods of killing him indirectly.

Her numerous failed attempts to cheat are one of the highlights of the episode, as it’s servicable black comedy to see Rin try and try again to get Eiji killed, only to get killed herself in almost every way imaginable, then restore herself. I gotta hand it to the creator: having an immortal sidekick who wants to kill the MC but can’t is a pretty delicious premise.

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Unfortunately, the episode quickly gets glommed up with all kinds of other shit, and the Eiji & Rin show I was enjoying is pushed to the sides in favor of a larger scheme by Rin’s superiors, the Group of Ten.

Under their orders, time-stopping guy Fran has Sena in stasis, holding back her six-month shelf life. In exchange, they’re prepared to finish what Eiji started, naming him their puppet king, declaring their jurisdiction (Kyushu) an independent nation, and declaring war on the rest of the world.

After introducing all ten people with graphics and their plan with lots of explanations and maps, my head was spinning a bit, wanting it all to just stahp for a second and let me regroup.

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But like Eiji, the Group of Ten’s plan would not wait, and he sees no other option but to put the Ten under his domain, sticking them with his tendrils (including in a naughty place for one of the female members) and officially making them his.

Their fates would now seem to be tied together, though considering how Rin acted after he domain’d her, and the knowing smirk from his new chief of staff Hiiragi, I’m inclinded to doubt Eiji’s reign will be a long and smooth one.

‘Smooth’ is not a word I’d use to describe this episode. More like crude, rude, and chaotic. The snowballing plot is mildly goofy, there were too many character intros packed in, Eiji’s not particularly likable, his interactions with women leave a bad aftertaste, and the CGI monster-packed action is often too abstract. We’ll see if any of this improves next week when Eiji’s rule begins in earnest.

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Big Order – 01 (First Impressions)

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From the artist behind Mirai Nikki comes a story about people called Orders who can turn their wishes into powers thanks to the mysterious, annoying Daisy. Ten years ago, Hoshimiya Eiji believes she made his wish to become a TV antihero come true, leading to the near-destruction of the world, the death of his parents, and the hospitalization of his brocon sister.

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One day a ridiculously out-of-the-entire-school’s-league cutie transfers to his class and follows him home, claiming she lives above him and broke her key. When he opens his door, she shocks him, then reveals her true face: she’s an assassin sent to get rid of him. Or wait, she’s there for revenge for her dead parents.

In any case, the initially pure and innocent cutie who turns out to be sadistic and homicidal is nothing new, and I’m not sure at this point what if anything Rin adds to the conversation. I will say that I did not expect Eiji to inadvertently kill her with her own blade via the more focused use of his power, visualized by a glowing medallion on his hand.

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Rin steps out of Yuno’s shadow a bit by later revealing she can’t be killed; she’s an Order to, who gained the ability to instantly regenerate from even serious wounds. She shows more cold cruelty by stabbing Eiji’s sister Sena in the back, using her as bait to draw Eiji to her and her assembled army dudes.

(Rin is part of some military/paramilitary cadre of Orders, who all look like a bunch of weirdos. She’s a second lieutenant, so pretty low on the food chain).

After Eiji’s initial rage at seeing Sena maimed subsides, Daisy visits him and makes a slight mod to his powers, reducing their range considerably so he won’t lose control like ten years ago (why ten years had to pass for any of this to come down on him isn’t clear).

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Eiji is done being Mr. Nice Guy. His wish, which had remained a secret the whole episode, is revealed as “world domination.” As such, his powers give him dominion over anywhere he goes, and over anyone or anything in that vicinity. Unfortunately for Rin and her troops, that includes physics, which means bullets fired at Eiji do not reach him.

Now that the beast has been awakened, he gets his ‘tentacles of domination’ into Rin (in a fairly suggestive cut to black), I suspect he’ll have dominion over her as well.

I mean, this show is awfully on-the-nose and trying too hard to be edgy at times, but is better-looking and has more interesting (and far fewer!) characters than Mayoiga, plus I enjoyed Mirai Nikki well enough…so I believe I’ll give this late starter a try. At the very least I’m interested to see if Eiji joins Rin’s little org…or simply turns them into his peons.

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Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda – 01

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There’s something highly amusing (and cool) about a well-dressed, lost-looking young lass on a pink bike (with training wheels) spouting off about world conquest and not only meaning it, but being able to back it up with zeal. With an already full Winter season, we were kinda hoping to fly under Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda (which we’ll shorten to SSBZ henceforth), possibly saving it for marathoning later on (like we did with Sunday Without God, or what we’re going to do with Nagi no Asukara‘s second half).

Alas, it’s first episode was, like that out-of-place girl on her bike, too conspicuous to ignore, and too absorbing to put off. The premise of the show that neither tanks nor law and order are enough to protect the world; only “Conquest” will do the trick. For the purposes of this episode, “Conquest” means being soundly beaten and having “Conquered” branded on you. They  could be dismissed as inane ramblings of a petulant waif, were she not capable of actually supporting those ramblings with real tank-busting power, and supported by a very stylishly-attired retinue of loyal followers.

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Hoshimiya Kate (Kuno Misaki), is alone on her bike during martial law because she’s starting to question whether there’ll still be a place for her in the world once she conquers it. This is how she meets middle schooler Jimon Asuta, who’s trying to conquer a different kind of world (his life) by running away from the parts he can’t control. He’s a decent lad who offers Kate food and later catches her when she falls from her bike, and for his kindness, she recruits him as part of her world-conquering organization, Zvezda, immediately making his life far more interesting and fun than it had been earlier that evening.

We like the idea of Zvezda fighting against the same forces the Gatchamen would fight alongside; there’s a plucky, impish appeal to their selfish (not selfless) mission. Like Jormungand or The Unlimited, we’re watching things from the perspective of the bad guys, who can often be more fun to watch than the good. And like the dual-identity characters of Star Driver, Kate and her officers have no shortage of charisma, infusing every line and action with maximum panache. Finally, we appreciated that the momentum was never arrested with in-depth explanations of the nature or origin of Zvezda’s awesome powers.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)