Boogiepop Dual Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Release Date: Friday, September 01, 2006



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kouhei Kadono / Masayuki Takano
Translated by:Andrew Cunningham
Adapted by:Adam Arnold

What They Say
Meet the all-new, all-different Boogiepop! When a female student is abducted and on the verge of being raped, Boogiepop rushes onto the scene just in time to save the day. But Boogiepop's new male alter-ego, Akizuki Takaya, finds himself in the middle of a crime wave with ties going back to his previous mantle's owner.

The Review
Boogiepop Dual, an exclusive story to the manga, is a romantic thriller that is anchored by its two lead characters, with an engaging time-shifting narrative that ends up being a very enjoyable reading experience

Packaging:
The covers and color pages are absolutely gorgeous. The print reproduction is quite sharp at times, but I also found quite a few areas to feel blurry. It's hard to explain, but at times I felt like my eyes weren't focusing properly. I actually took the book under varying lights to make sure it wasn't my eyes. Some of the darker tones are a little muddy, but overall still better than most of the bigger publishers. The remaining two parts of the 4-part Boogiepop Guide that Seven Seas put online are included in the books as extras, which are much appreciated.

Art:
Masayuki Takano might have been the perfect choice to illustrate a Boogiepop story. His delicate line work and soft tone work is perfectly matched with the mood and mysterious nature of the story. Backgrounds are well detailed as you rarely have blank panels. I also love the back-to-back, full-page panels that shift between time periods that illustrate events repeating themselves. It's a great technique for the suspenseful nature of the story.

Text/SFX:
The English script is dead on, reading very clearly and appropriately with honorifics for those who enjoy them. My one beef with the translation are the SFX, which I think are quite intrusive at times. The original SFX are kept intact with subbed English SFX, but many times they try to match size and end up covering artwork where simpler, smaller subs would have been much more applicable. I applaud the translation, as well as even matching transparent effects, but there's no reason to mimic the original SFX if they aren't going to be removed and retouched completely. SFX are overlaid and retouched where appropriate; i.e., small ones where no artwork had to be altered.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Back in the year 2000, Boogiepop was definitely at its peak in terms of popularity if you go by all the different adaptations of Kouhei Kadono's light novel series. After releasing 8 novels, a TV animation began airing which was followed up with a soundtrack release and a live-action movie.

During this time, two manga serials were running in two different magazines as well, to be collected later in 2000 as Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh (previously released by Seven Seas) and Boogiepop Dual. While the former was more of a straightforward adaptation, Dual was a new story exclusive to the manga with the concept drawn up my Kadono himself. It's not really clear how involved Kadono was with this title, as Dual could definitely be considered canon, but it is based on a short story Kadono wrote himself with arguably most of the duties handled by Blood Alone (Infinity Studios) creator Masayuki Takano.

Canon or not, Boogiepop Dual succeeds due to the story being an all new experience and take on the Boogiepop mythos. Instead of trying to explore more aspects of the complex Towa Organization and its agents, Dual is much more of a bizarre romantic thriller that brings forth the idea that Boogiepop is a split personality which can inhabit the body of multiple people--including a male student, which is contrary to the belief that Boogiepop is only known around female circles.

Rather than spiraling between multiple character perspectives like the novels, Dual is primarily focused around a school nurse and a nerdy young male student who is the alter-ego for Boogiepop this time around. But the story does not follow a true linear path, rather it alternates between 3 different time periods to fill in the details regarding Boogiepop's current quest to eliminate all evil from the world, as well as nice character development. As the story progresses, we learn about previous ties to Boogiepop that the school nurse shared when she was a young student, possibly using those ties today to get revenge for a horrible incident from her past.

So that covers the thriller aspect, but what about the "romantic" bit I mentioned earlier? Well yes, it might be handled somewhat ambiguously, but there is an odd relationship tale of sorts here that very much rounds out the manga into something worth reading. It's actually very similar in theme and mood to Takano's Blood Alone. You'll find no angst, rivals, but rather just a quirky, flirtatious subplot that actually adds a good amount of humor; something that really is quite absent from the other Boogiepop stories.

The one major drawback with Boogiepop Dual is that for readers who want more exploration of the Boogiepop world brought forth by Kadono in his novels will be disappointed. But as I mentioned above, I think this 2-volume manga works because it is a completely different story with only the mythos of the Boogiepop character brought over. The result is a manga that is a little less moody and cryptic, and more personal and familiar, but with the mystery still intact.

Comments
At first I was quite hesitant in reading Boogeipop Dual as I mistakenly believed it to be another adaptation of Kadono's novels and I was fearing Boogiepop overload. After reading that Dual is an exclusive story to the manga, I jumped at the chance and I'm very glad that I did. Dual may not offer anything new regarding the Towa Organization and its agents found in the novels, but it does bring to the table a new take on the mythos of Boogiepop. The result is a romantic thriller that is anchored by its two lead characters, with an engaging time-shifting narrative that ends up being a very enjoyable reading experience.

If you are still reading and have yet to explore the world of Boogiepop, I implore you to do so immediately. With all that Seven Seas previously announced fully released, go out and pick up the three novels and these two volume of Dual and experience the most bizarre, yet completely engaging, "hero of justice" stories I have ever read.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Seven Seas Entertainment
MSRP: 10.99
Pages: 184
ISBN: 1-933164-22-0
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left