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Light Novel / Boogiepop Series

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The cover of the first volume.

There's a legend among the girls of Shinyo Academy about Boogiepop, a shinigami who can take you away while you're still young and beautiful. But when a series of students begin to go missing, it soon becomes apparent that Boogiepop isn't just a legend, and furthermore, there's much more going on beneath the pristine surface of the school.

Boogiepop is a Light Novel series by Kouhei Kadono. With its first volume published in 1998, it currently consists of 23 light novels, an anime-original Interquel series by Madhouse (with Kadono's involvement) called Boogiepop Phantom, a live action movie, two CDs, and two attendant manga series. The anime series along with several of the novels have been released in the U.S. by Seven Seas Entertainment. Omnibus printings collecting the first six light novels were released in late 2018 and early 2019.


Although still obscure in the west, the Boogiepop series was a surprise hit in the light novel business and re-defined the whole genre in many ways, to the point some have gone to call it the first modern light novel. Also, although western viewers might not spot the thread due to its aforementioned lack of the presence outside of Japan, Kadono's work was massively influential over later Japanese works, with many authors, most notably Ryogo Narita, NisiOisiN, Kinoko Nasu and the creators of the Persona videogame series having cited it as one of their main inspirations. A lot of the modern conception of the Chuunibyou archetype was also inspired by this series' eponymous character although it is ironically not an element found within.

A straight anime adaptation of the series, Boogiepop and Others, aired in Winter 2019, also animated by Madhouse.


Contains examples of:

  • Adapted Out: The 2019 anime adaptation skips the fourth volume, Boogiepop in the Mirror: "Pandora", and moves the sixth, the prequel Boogiepop at Dawn, to its place. The latter switch is done probably in order to end the anime with the fifth, Boogiepop Overdrive: The King of Distortion, which is set in present time and has a bigger feel of conclusion. The anime also removes the dead animal subplot of Overdrive, as it is of little relevance for the main story and only acts as a redundant Framing Device (the main one being Boogiepop telling the story to Echoes' shadow, which is preserved).
  • Arc Words: "Sometimes it snows in April" for the Vs. Imaginator arc.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts:
    • In the sexth novel, Nagi uses an Aikido throw on a petty criminal, which the text describes as "with enough force to send him flying". Although it could be just a case of bad description (or translation), it's worthy to mention that aikido throws don't work by force or by directly throwing the opponent; they are almost exclusively based around twisting limbs in order to make the opponent flip or drop himself in order to avoid the joint pressure, an action that usually only happens cleanly with trained opponents (which in this case isn't).
    • In the third, Masaki uses karate meditation to decide what to do. This is a real life practice called mokuso, essentially their own version of Buddhist Meditation, but in real life, meditating is the exact opposite of exerting higher thought: what one does is preciely letting conscient thoughts and keeping the mind away from them.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Boogiepop is often referred to as male, but its actual gender is never stated, and it's entirely possible that it actually doesn't have one. In the original Japanese novels an ambiguous pronoun was used to help this along. During Miyashita's interview with Dr. Kisugi, Boogiepop outright states it doesn't know what its gender would be.
  • Artificial Human: The Towa Organization specializes in making these and setting them up as Deep Cover Agents.
  • Bifauxnen: Nagi Kirima is described as looking "handsome", and Touka when possessed by Boogiepop is often mistaken for male.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The stories are told from the perspectives of people other than Boogiepop. These people are frequently teenagers who get in over their heads in bad situations leading to Boogiepop showing up to save the day.
  • Body Horror: Most stuff having to do with Manticore, which slowly robs you of your mental functions and turns you into a puppet. The way Kisugi Makiko kills also qualifies, since it involves taking a person's brain out while they are still alive.
  • Bokukko: Nagi frequently uses male pronouns and styles of speech.
  • Character Tics: Boogiepop frequently has an asymmetrical expression that's probably supposed to be a smile, that he copied from a dying Kuroda
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Frequently characters mentioned only briefly become very important later.
  • Continuity Drift: As the English translators note in the appendix, in the first novel Boogiepop claims he never emerged in front of the psychologist Touka's parents dragged her to, but Boogiepop at Dawn reveals he did, and in fact it was very relevant for both of their characterizations. Given that Boogiepop has no reason to lie, it is probably a goof on Kadono's part.
  • Crapsack World: The world of Boogiepop generally isn't very nice.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Nagi, and she usually needs it at some point. For example, in Boogiepop at Dawn, she caries with her a bag of special electricity conducting materials, a rod to deliver a powerful electric shock, and an insulated jumpsuit against the current, all of which she uses to fry Kisugi Makiko. That same jumpsuit is also bulletproof. Lampshaded when someone wonders just where she gets the stuff.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: The Towa Organization sounds like this at first. Actually subverted in that Towa seeks to preserve humanity in its current form and all their efforts are geared at preventing "evolved humans" from spreading throughout the world which is the major reason why all their synthetic humans are sterile.
  • Differently Powered Individual: This is essentially what MPLS is. A term used by the Towa Organization for humans who have begun to suddenly manifest unusual abilities.
  • Evolutionary Levels: The backbone of the entire story. The human race is beginning to manifest new evolutionary traits in its next generation, identified by the Towa organization as "MPLS" individuals, and they seek out these individuals to neutralize them in hopes of keeping the human race as it presently is. This may also be the reason why the alien race Echoes is from took an interest in humanity and sent him there to observe humans. It is even possible that Boogiepop itself is merely Miyashita Touka manifesting her status as an MPLS and is not something supernatural.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: Not really narration, but the Kirima Seiichi quotes definitely qualify. The English translators noted that they had a heck of a time keeping those quotes cryptic and mysterious while also making sure they made some kind of sense.
  • Flash Forward: Akio Kimura's section in Boogiepop And Others features this as it has him reflecting back on his relationship with Naoko Kamikishiro two years after the main events of the book. This was kept in the live-action movie, but removed from the 2019 anime, along with his character as a whole.
  • Healing Factor: Most of the artificial humans possess some form of this.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Echoes and in a slightly more twisted version Masami. In Boogiepop at Dawn we also have Kuroda and Mo Murder both end up making these to save Nagi.
  • Heroic Wannabe: Nagi's step brother Masaki ends up becoming his own version of Boogiepop, and eventually has to be saved by the real thing.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Masanori Sakaki aka Mo Murder eventually becomes this, leading to the above Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Homoerotic Subtext:
    • Suema seems to go just a bit farther than necessary to get close to Nagi than one would usually think normal.
    • Not to mention Anou Shinjirou's crush on Masaki, which is actually fairly unambiguous for the genre.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Masami Saotome, though it's implied he was already pretty twisted.
  • Martyr Without a Cause: Nagi again.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The nature of Boogiepop. Is it truly a Shinigami or spiritual being that possesses Touka as part of an ethereal automatic defense mechanism of Earth? Or is it just a Split Personality of Touka's, who may or may not be an MPLS individual?
  • My Greatest Failure: Nagi considers the death of Naoko to be hers. The same for Tanaka Shirou, whose guilt and regret over Naoko's death eventually causes the manifestation of the King of Distortion.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: The Towa Organization.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The first official trailer for the 2019 anime, which you can watch here, is composed of scenes that have nothing to do with the anime or the light novels. Among them there is Nagi submitting a trenchcoat-wearing mook, Mo Murder showing telekinetic moves against an unidentified hooded character with fire powers, and Boogiepop taking on Imaginator in a dream world and ending it in a Mexican Standoff.
  • No Social Skills: Aya Orihata, aka Camille — an artificial human. She gets better at the whole "human interaction" thing as time goes on.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Half the cast, though some more than others. In Masami Saotome's case, his normalcy is why Nagi rejected him.
  • Pillar of Light: Echoes turns into a beam of energy and returns to his homeworld with it, vaporizing Saotome Masami along the way.
  • Prequel: The fourth novel, Boogiepop at Dawn, which details Kirima Nagi's backstory and how Boogiepop got its name.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Kisugi Makiko when she injects herself with the serum that Kuroda left behind from the Towa facility, and actually lampshaded as a stupid idea, but still does it anyway.
  • Psycho Electro: Spooky Electric.
  • Razor Floss: Boogiepop's main weapon.
  • Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Though she's still a high school student, Nagi maintains this image.
  • Secondary Character Title: While Boogiepop is whom the series is named after, and they appear in every work,they can't really be called the protagonist of the series or its adaptions, as the novels and the animes focus on any characters but Boogiepop or Touka.
  • Secret Identity: Touka as Boogiepop. Subverted in that almost everyone figures it out instantly. Except herself, although she might be aware of it to some degree.
  • Setting Update: Compared to the novels it’s based on, released between 1998 and 1999, the 2019 anime features characters who use smartphones and instant-messaging apps to communicate, as well as rumors spreading on social media. The Shin’yō Academy uniform is also updated, going from gakurans for boys and sailor uniforms for girls to blazers and ties for both.
  • Shinigami: What Kuroda assumes Boogiepop is, and the latter takes the idea and runs with it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The premise of a poised, androgynous vigilante with a Split Personality, clad in a black cloak and equipped with Razor Floss, who shares the city with several other supernatural beings and factions, is a Whole-Plot Reference to the cult novel series Demon City Blues by Hideyuki Kikuchi, another pioneer of the Light Novel genre. Kikuchi's work has been occasionally cited as an inspiration.
    • Nagi's character resembles Batman, and it's not casual that while taking to her, Suema thinks on a study case from her father's books about a man who believed himself to be the Caped Crusader.
    • Also in-universe, Boogiepop's hat and look are described to be like those of Maetel from Galaxy Express 999.
    • Naoko compares Echoes' mission to the inspection robots from the books of sci-fi writer Shinichi Hoshi.
    • The series frequently makes references to music, including several to Prince in the form of the characters Spooky E and Camille, as well as the Arc Words “Sometimes it snows in April” (from the song of the same name). The chapter names are also frequently borrowed from song titles.
    • As noted by the translators, Camille's name seems to be also a reference to the film Camille (1936), where the female lead wins the heart of a young man but leaves him for his own good.
    • Hirohiko Araki's JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was also a big influence on the series. Kadono himself would later pen a light novel of the Jojo franchise.
    • The tone, elements and atmosphere of the series remind of the young adult work of Taku Mayumura, another inspiration for Kadono.
    • Gen Sakakibara, the martial arts genius that trained Nagi and Masaki, is probably a reference to Nobuyuki Sakakibara, Japan's premier Mixed Martial Arts promoter, who was especially known as the chairman of the mighty PRIDE league by the time the first Boogiepop volumes were published.
  • Skilled, but Naive: Masaki Taniguchi is a bit too trusting and never once questions why this mysterious girl that he met and started dating tells him nothing about herself and wants him to pretend to be Boogiepop. He has to be saved twice, once by his sister and once by the real Boogiepop, from the mess he's gotten himself into.
  • Split Personality: While early volumes suggest Boogiepop might be either an split personality or an external entity that took Touka as a host, later volumes more clearly imply Touka is an MPLS (evolved human) and Boogiepop is how her evolution manifests.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Kamikishiro Naoko, slightly subverted in that she was also something of a delinquent. Also arguably Echoes.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Billionaire Teratsuki Kyouichiro was originally designed and put into place by the Towa Organization to provide them with powerful leverage over national economies. However, he came to oppose Towa once he had grown powerful enough, and designed the Moon Temple specifically as a means to test and search for individuals who had the strength, intelligence, and willpower to oppose Towa.
  • The Unreveal: The meaning of the acronym "MPLS" is never revealed in the story. All we know is that it is the term used by the Towa Organization to designate naturally evolving humans who are awakening their powers.
  • Weirdness Magnet: The entire town, which somehow houses psychics, clones, aliens, guardian entities, shared dreamscapes, secret organizations, ghosts, and all manner of other strange goings on.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Nagi again, as well as Boogiepop.