Boogiepop (Novels) Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Friday, March 17, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, August 01, 2006



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

What They Say
There is an urban legend that children tell one another about a shinigami that can release people from the pain they may be suffering. This "Angel of Death" has a name: Boogiepop. And the legends are true. Boogiepop is real.

When a rash of disappearances involving female students breaks out at Shinyo Academy, the police and faculty assume they just have a bunch of runaways on their hands. But Nagi Kirima knows better. Something mysterious and foul is afoot. Is it Boogiepop, or something more sinister...?


The Review
Packaging:
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. An afterword from Kadono is included, which I hope to see more of in later volumes. There is a “Roll Call” listing of students for those who have trouble keeping names and relationships straight. For those who can’t wait for the next installment, the Prologue and first chapter from the next novel is also included as a preview. To round things out, we get a one-page illustration ad for the upcoming manga release of Boogiepop Doesn’t Laugh and some bio info for Kadono and illustrator Kouji Ogata.

Text:
With their first foray into translated material, Seven Seas gets just about everything right here with a solid translation job that should please the US otaku fan-base whom have been waiting for this title. 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 very minor editing errors, but overall this is very good work. I am definitely looking forward to seeing if Seven Seas maintains this level of quality with future volumes and possibly other translated works as well.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
For most US otaku, mentioning the word “Boogiepop” conjures up memories of a most bizarre 12-episode anime featuring a fractured storyline surrounding a strange incident at Shinyo Academy and a supernatural creature named Boogiepop. Now, thanks to Seven Seas Entertainment, US fans can associate “Boogiepop” with the ongoing, 14+ volume “light novel” series that serves as the original source material for this surreal and wonderfully mysterious tale of the supernatural as well as a commentary on the lonely, detached lives of high school kids in Japan.

If you watched the anime (currently available from RightStuf International), you’ll remember that each of the episodes revolved around a mysterious beam of light emitted at Shinyo Academy, setting off a chain of bizarre events. This first installment of the novel serves as a prologue to the anime, slowly building up to that climax in the same non-linear storytelling fashion that made the anime so memorable. Kouhei Kadono spins a scintillating web, with each of the five chapters written in first-person narrative following five different characters’ viewpoints. Kadono’s writing style features short, one to two line paragraphs which also include some fragmented sentences. This style really does a great job at giving each of his characters their own voice and personality; a feeling that this is how most high school kids speak inside of their own minds, creating a nice feeling of intimacy with the characters.

Through each of the characters’ eyes, the reader is fed small bits of information surrounding the disappearances of female classmates, which may or may not be related to an urban legend--Boogiepop. Some characters may interact with the Boogiepop directly, while others meet up with other paranormal beings creeping around the school grounds. While we do come to understand the basic ties between these strange phenomenons, expect to have a good amount of questions by book’s end. This definitely is not a strike against the novel, as Kadono does exactly what he set out to do with this introductory novel in the ongoing series; acquainting the reader with Boogiepop as he watches over Shinyo Academy, which has come under attack by the shape-shifting man-eater, Manticore.

While the story and style of Kadono’s writing is absolutely fascinating, there is also a great undercurrent of social commentary that provides an interesting peek into Japanese high school culture as filtered by Kadono’s viewpoints. When another schoolgirl goes missing, the teachers and parents seem not to care and pass of the problem as misguided behavior. Kadono illustrates quite a disconnection between the teenage world and that of the adults, leaving his youthful characters feeling abandoned and aimless. There is also the Discipline Committee that seems to do nothing other than be ignored by the faculty, even though there are a few students trying their best. It all just adds another layer on top of an already engaging storyline.

Comments
I had a lot of expectations going into Boogiepop and Others, both in the story and the quality of Seven Seas’ first translated release (a company who has been known for OEL material up until this point). All expectations were met and then some. Kouhei Kadono’s crafty, supernatural mystery is a most enjoyable “light novel”, a definite highlight of this type of novel writing. The non-linear storytelling allowed me to get intimate with a few characters, all leading up to quite the tense conclusion that left me gasping for more. I want to know about all the mysteries surrounding Boogiepop, the Manticore and Echoes, Kirima Nagi, and the rest of Shinyo Academy. Gimme gimme gimme!!

Seven Seas debut into translated material is very successful as well, pleasing the more astute otaku crowd with Japanese name ordering, honorifics, and lots of cultural translation notes. They have definitely set the standards bar quite high for themselves with their first release.

If you haven’t had the chance to experience Boogiepop in its anime or live-action format, then now is the time to find out why this is such the unique title. I am definitely excited for the rest of this release.



Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: All
Released By: Seven Seas Entertainment
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 264
ISBN: 1-933164-16-6
Size: B6
Orientation: Left to Right