Boogiepop Doesn\'t Laugh Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Release Date: Monday, April 03, 2006
Writer/Artist:Kouhei Kadono / Kouji Ogata
What They Say
In the blink of an eye, a young girl's life is snuffed out and the deadly Manticore's well-laid plans for world domination get shot to hell. With time running out, can Nagi Kirima and the mysterious Angel of Death known as Boogiepop put an end to the murderous Manticore's reign of terror before innocent lives are lost?
This volume starts literally where the last volume ended: in the middle of a conversation between Kirima and Suema. Kirima wraps up the thread on Suema's story by discussing her involvement in the investigation of her would-be killer. Suema gains a new-found respect for her savior apparent, though she's slightly taken aback when Kirima admits that another party had a hand in stopping the killing spree.
After this short conversation, the reader finally gets a glimpse into the meaning behind the bizarre murder portrayed during the prologue chapter. This explanation begins with a short scene that establishes Saotome Masami's complicity in the abduction and murder of the missing high school girls. We then flash back to Saotome's first meeting with Manticore, a soul-stealing beast who has inhabited the body of fellow student Yurihara Minako. After a bit of slick talk on Saotome's part, Manticore offers him the chance to assist in her plans for world domination. Needless to say, he obliges, and soon begins collecting Shinyo Academy girls for their experiments.
At this point, the story takes another of its characteristic diversions into the back story of Kamikishiro Naoko, the last in Manticore's series of victims. The narrative jumps two years to the past, when second-year student Kimura Akio witnesses Kamikishiro's romantic pursuit of freshman Tanaka Shiro. Not being one to miss an opportunity, Kamikishiro settles on dating both of them simultaneously. During one these trysts, Kamikishiro reveals to Kimura her small role in the story of Echoes, a benevolent space alien whom Manticore was cloned from. When Kamikishiro vanishes from school the next day, Kimura naturally assumes that the incident is somehow related to her tales about Echoes, and leaves the matter alone. However, we return to the present to find Kimura investigating her disappearance at Shinyo Academy, led on by an anonymous tip that Kamikishiro has died.
With the major characters' backgrounds fully established, the narrative returns again to the fateful day of Kamikishiro's disappearance. Tanaka solicits fellow student Niitoki Kei's help to track down Kamikishiro's whereabouts. When Saotome stumbles upon their investigation, he attempts to cover his and Manticore's tracks by pinning suspicion on Kirima. He eventually uses Tanaka and Niitoki as bait to draw Kirima to Manticore, inadvertently sealing Manticore's fate.
In terms of plot structure, the manga walks a thin line between being overly simplistic and unnecessarily complex, and largely succeeds. The Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh manga is neither as notoriously convoluted as its infamous anime spin-off nor quite as straightforward as its live-action Boogiepop and Others counterpart. While I personally think that half the fun of watching Boogiepop Phantom comes from unraveling the timeline, it does grow a bit tiring after a while. Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh manages to avoid this pitfall without feeling overly dumbed down. This is no mean feat, and I commend Kadono for pulling it off.
Overall, Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh is highly recommended for readers who are drawn to -- or at the very least aren't scared away by -- the frequent intertwining of plot threads and shifts between parts of the story's timeline. At two rather thick volumes, it offers a short but fairly dense and entertaining story with a reasonably light time and financial investment.
On a side note, the artwork in my review copy is noticeably lighter than in the previous volume. As a result, the line art in some parts of the book is faint and indistinct -- to the point that trying to identify objects and faces distracts a bit from the reading experience. My local bookstore didn't have any extra copies, so I couldn't check to see if my copy was simply misprinted. But since the text printed on the same pages was dark and clear, I suspect that it wasn't just a fluke of the press.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Seven Seas Entertainment
Size: 14.5cm x 18.2cm
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh