It’s easy to say in hindsight, but Boogiepop and Others was probably never going to end bombastically. The show just doesn’t work that way. Boogiepop has been a lot of things over the course of its run, but most consistently, it’s been challenging. This is a series that’s not afraid to make you think. Outright confuse you, even, if the occasion calls for it. None of this is a bad thing, of course. It is however, useful, in hammering out why Boogiepop and Others ends like it does.
I’ve said in previous articles on the series that the show is about expectations. While that’s true, I’ve come to think it’s not the whole story. The series is also, more broadly, just about human relationships in general. That’s a broad topic, and a tricky one at that. It can be hard to do this kind of thing without coming across as maudlin. Or worse, overshooting into seriousness and being simply dour instead of intellectual.
So let this be said: Boogiepop and Others is certainly not perfect, but it pulls all of its goals off brilliantly. In the finale, Tanaka is revealed as the “true” King of Distortion. Or rather, The King is revealed to be an entity not dissimilar to Boogiepop themselves. A manifestation of an emotion with no body of its own. One that currently resides in Tanaka.
The show ties Tanaka’s arc back to the disappearance of a girl who had a crush on him. That character vanished all the way back in the show’s first arc, so you could be forgiven for not remembering. Still, reaching back that far isn’t just for show. Tanaka’s confusion and inability to process the feelings the girl had for him are what created the King of Distortion in the first place.
Boogiepop presses the King about this. For doing so, the King transports both of them, plus the class president, to his own distortion world. Standing high above a city where the time of day flicks around in tune with Tanaka’s emotion, one might expect a climactic fight scene. Again though, the series really just doesn’t work that way. Boogiepop confronts the King of Distortion with the hypocrisy of his own existence. He “experiments” on the victims trapped in the tower. He claims that he wants to help them overcome their regrets. Yet, he is created from those very same regrets. Boogiepop isn’t alone in rhetorically cornering him, the class president gives a stirring speech set to a swell of strings, and featuring a return of the show’s excellent character animation.
Many shows would have the villain here freak out and attack. The King of Distortion, when faced with this revelation, simply stands down. This might sound anticlimactic. Disappointing, even. But this is how the show works. Words are as effective as weapons in the world of Boogiepop and Others, and a fight can be won with either.
The King of Distortion dealt with, Boogiepop leaves. To the tune of “Die Miestersinger von Nuernberg”, the same song they sometimes whistle when appearing. On this (very literal) note, the series ends. Thus concluding one of the most unusual, and most interesting shows of the 2019 Winter Season.
Is Boogiepop and Others some kind of all-time classic? Probably not. It is, however, a worthy entry into an under-loved genre. That of the philosophical, dialogue-heavy, moody mystery anime. The sort popularized by Serial Experiments Lain over 20 years ago. It’s a genre that doesn’t get enough play at present. So even a mediocre entry into it would’ve been welcome. That Others is as good as it is goes beyond a pleasant surprise to making it an easy season standout at the very least. I end my coverage of the show hopeful that we’ll get further adaptations of the later books in the series in the not-too-distant future.