Boogiepop (Novels) Vol. #02 - Returns vs. Imaginator Part 1 -

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Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: Seven Seas Entertainment
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 224
  • ISBN: 1-933164-20-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Boogiepop (Novels) Vol. #02 - Returns vs. Imaginator Part 1

By Jarred Pine     July 31, 2006
Release Date: June 01, 2006

Boogiepop (Novels) Vol.#02 - Returns vs. Imaginator Part 1
© Seven Seas Entertainment

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kouhei Kadono
Translated by:Andrew Cunningham
Adapted by:

What They Say
Witness the first appearance of the mysterious Towa Organization " a major player in the Boogiepop Phantom anime series " as Boogiepop finds himself hunted by the synthetic human known only as "Spooky E." Meanwhile, the deadly "Imaginator" is out to change the world one soul at a time. Boogiepop Returns " the mind-bending second novel in the award-winning Boogiepop series!

The Review
After an impressive debut volume in this ongoing light novel series, Kouhei Kadono proves with this sophomore effort that it was no mere fluke.

Seven Seas goes with the original Japanese cover artwork, even keeping the Japanese lettering down the sides, with very nice coloring. It's simple, yet very clean and effective. Inside there are 8 color pages of character artwork that introduces the reader to the characters appearing in this volume. Again, the color pages look fantastic, very clean and bright. There are also a few pages of black & white illustrations, which unfortunately are not as crisp as the color artwork.

There are some nice extras in this release as well. Another afterword from Kadono is included, as well as a preview for the next volume. There is a "Roll Call" listing of students and a timeline of events, but I couldn't help but wish there was a bit more to this supplemental material as I want to see a more detailed timeline and relationship tree that included characters from the first novel. With the breaks between novels, it can be hard to keep Kadono's complex world in order. Not a complaint at all, but just a suggestion from someone with an aging mind.

Seven Seas gets just about everything right here with a solid translation job that should please the US otaku fan-base whom have been anticipating this series. Japanese name order and honorifics both remain intact with a good amount of translator notes for cultural references. The translated script is quite solid; keeping with Kadono's short paragraph, short sentence structure which allows the characters' personalities to shine through. There are a couple of minor typos scattered in the book, but those are definitely overshadowed by the great effort put forth into the English script.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
After an impressive debut volume in this ongoing light novel series, Kouhei Kadono proves with this sophomore effort that it was no mere fluke. By taking the action away from high school setting of Shinyo Academy and introducing a new cast of characters--with the exception of Boogiepop, Suema, and a couple quick cameos--Kadono keeps his mysterious and moody little world fresh and creates another unbelievable engaging reading experience.

Much like the first novel, Kadono webs together different perspectives that circle around a shared event. Kadono slowly unravels a series of unnatural events involving a cram school instructor whose secret powers are awakened by an ethereal being called the Imaginator, a Towa Organization agent with superhuman powers named Spooky E, two students and their awkwardly budding relationship, and one of the few returning characters, Suema, who is obsessed with studying criminal behavior. While this volume does not set out to answer all your questions raised during the previous story, there are some more interesting revelations that help piece together more of this intriguing world Kadono has built.

By again shifting from first to third person narratives, at times even in the same chapter, Kadono keeps the story feeling personal but at the same time also highly suspenseful. The one sequence where this technique really pays off is during one of the chapters following the relationship between Misaki Taniguchi and Aya Orihata (who gives Evangelion's also emotionally vacant Rei Ayanami a run for her money). Their story begins from Misaki's perspective, a quirky love comedy with hints of something deeper, and then switches to the third person to nail home a big revelation that is the centerpiece to this volume.

There is one small drawback to this volume, which most people can probably figure out by reading the "Part I" in the novel title. Yes, this volume is not the complete story of the Imaginator. In fact, this volume really serves as a setup for what inevitable will be the big showdown in the upcoming conclusion. So be prepared to be left with you mouth agape and no pages to flip. However, that definitely should not be a reason not to read this book now, as Kadono still throws plenty of great moody and eerie material your way to satisfy your urges. The quick and rapid prose, tied with the highly engaging storytelling, will have you through this book in no time.

I read this second installment in the Boogiepop light novel series essentially over the span of three days during my morning and evening bus commutes to and from work. After finishing a chunk in the morning with my cup of joe, I would spend the entire day thinking about what I had just read and anticipating that hot, non-air-conditioned, 30-minute ride home where I could ignore all the second-hand tales of drug abuse, familial problems, and other bus chatter. I became absorbed in Kadono's world, and I did not want to leave.

With this second book, Kadono has proven that his series is one that should be on everyone's shelf. The excellent production values by Seven Seas geared towards the hardened otaku is just icing on the cake. Run out to Borders, as this is currently an exclusive to their stores, and pick this up immediately along with the first book.

And curse you Adam Arnold for making me wait for the next installment!


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