I really wanted to like this show. I really, really did. Between all the isekai series and the harem trash, I just wanted something different to sink my teeth into. Unfortunately, the pacing here is all outta whack. The first half of the show mostly involves Shiro and his attempts to understand where his girlfriend Naoko might have gone. He enlists the help of Kei, our lovely student council president, and Masami, whom we’ve already met. Not only that, Masami knows perfectly where Naoko is. After all, Minako, a.k.a. the Manticore, killed the poor girl. He has no intention of helping Shiro. Rather, he sees the golden opportunity to lure Nagi as well as Echoes out into the opening. And y’know what? He actually succeeded. He gets the jump on Echoes and slits Nagi’s throat. Minako chases after Echoes and eventually gets the upper hand. Shiro runs off screaming, and Kei has no special powers. It looks as though the bad guys have won. Well, not exactly.
First, Manticore goes on and on about what it’s going to do next. First, it’s going to turn Kei into one of its thralls, then it’s going to steal Nagi’s identity. After all, Masami used to have a thing for Nagi, and the Manticore now has a thing for him? Shrug. I wanna get talk about the animation for a tiny bit. Up until this point, the episode was already kinda slow-paced and boring. Even when Manticore was chasing after Echoes, the action wasn’t all that well-animated. Now, I don’t want to grab random stills from a fight scene and use them as an example to lambast Madhouse’s efforts. But it really, really looked bad even in motion. You can just tell. I’m not going to say that I’m an expert on animation or anything, but you don’t need to be a chef to know if a dish tastes bad. Does this anime look horrendously bad? No, but I expect more from Madhouse.
But really, it’s the talking that gets me. Kei starts giving some sort of inspirational speech about how even if she gets killed, someone out there is going to rise up and stop Masami and the Manticore. I guess I don’t know what the story is going for here. It just feels weird. Am I supposed to be pumped up by Kei’s heroism? And like I said, just minutes ago, Manticore was telling Kei all about its plan to turn her into a slave. Just so much boring, stilted chatter when less is more — when absolute silence would’ve been much more threatening. Again, Kei’s words trigger something in Echoes. After all, he’s been sent here to judge humanity. Despite everything that has happened to him since he’s gotten here, Naoko’s kindness and Kei’s supposed bravery convinces him that the human race is worth salvaging. As a result, he turns himself into a pillar of light that not only functions as a message for his own kind, it is also meant to vaporize the Manticore.
Well, Masami pushes the girl out of the way and eats the attack. I guess in his own twisted way, he had fallen in love with the Manticore. Likewise, the monster completely breaks down when it sees that its partner is no more. The Manticore absolutely goes bonkers. Maybe in a better narrative, the ability for these two completely heartless murderers to find some semblance of comfort in the other person would come across as poignant and perhaps even tragically beautiful. But the story here seems so rushed that I feel as though I hardly know these two. They had just partnered up in the previous episode and now one of them is dead. When did their bond get so strong? Why did their bond get so strong? Maybe you guys should have spent more time developing these characters. It’s the same thing with Shiro and Naoko, really. Or even Nagi and Naoko. Or hell, the most important relationship of all ended up being an afterthought: Echoes and Naoko.
Like yeah, Kei’s words were the trigger, but ultimately, the person who really convinced Echoes that humanity is worth a damn was Naoko. And yet, all we saw from those two were maybe two or three short flashbacks? Then outta nowhere, Naoko was brutally murdered. For someone so important, I feel like I hardly know her. Like c’mon, give me something to work with. Again, try developing these characters. I’m sure Boogiepop wa Warawanai feels as though it needs to hurry, because it’s got so much material to adapt. And hell, this is an old series. It also doesn’t strike me as the most popular series out there. This might be the only chance for it to get another proper anime adaptation. If we spend too much time on the first story, the rest won’t see the light of day! I mean, I’m just speculating, but that’s what it really feels like. It feels like Madhouse wants to get the first arc out the door, and as a result, we’ve hardly gotten to know any of these characters.
Anyways, a deranged Manticore was going to murder Kei when the monster suddenly gets strung up by invisible threads. Finally, Boogiepop decides to do something. Not only that, Shiro is back. He might have run off screaming earlier, but he’s back now with a bow and arrow. The kid proceeds to nail the Manticore right in the head, and just like that, he’s managed to avenge his dead girlfriend. Oh, but we’re not done yet. Remember how Nagi was coldly murdered before our very eyes? According to Boogiepop, Echoes sacrificed some of his energy in order to save her. That’s why he seemed so weak against the Manticore. I dunno, something about this just feels kinda dissatisfying. Like magic, a dead girl is no longer dead. Sucks for Naoko, though! We then cut to the very next day where we see Nagi bump into Touka again. In order words, we’ve come full circle, because this is the same ending as the one in the first episode.
But remember how Boogiepop and Keiji acted as though they had become super close friends back in the first episode? And how Keiji was going to be sad that his new buddy was leaving? At the time, I was like, “Boy, I hope we get to see their friendship unfold!” Well, that didn’t happen. That didn’t happen at all. Keiji hasn’t been on screen for nearly two whole episodes. It’s fine if he’s not a major character, but then why was he so heavily featured in the first episode? Also, remember that girl who was super into books about psychology or whatever? And those same books were written by Nagi’s late father? She’s nowhere in this episode either! In fact, I don’t think we’ve seen her since the first half of last week’s episode. Seemingly important characters get introduced and end up doing nothing. Hell, even though Boogiepop saved the day, it felt like they had practically no presence whatsoever. Something just feels off about Boogiepop wa Warawanai and not in a good way.
Anyways, I might get to the other Friday shows tomorrow since I want to say a thing or two about Egao no Daika, but I’m going to spend the rest of tonight playing Tales of Vesperia.