The supernatural light novels that inspired the Monogatari series

Light novels have been a giant resource behind the lion’s share of seasonal anime over the past decade, leading to all-new popular genres and some certified classics. However, it’s hard to imagine that light novels would be as popular as they were in Japan without the influence of one man: Kouhei Kadono, the author of boogie doll.

Started in 1998, boogie doll is a series of novels and short stories for young adults, with multimedia adaptations and spin-offs on the source material. It is a supernatural puzzle game with horror elements covering the psychological, paranormal and alien, praised for its unconventional and captivating story. The series is about an entity known as Boogiepop who appears on Earth, inhabits the body of one Touko Miyashita and fights powerful entities that endanger the world. These range from alien threats that prey on humans, to superhumans with powers and the intent to abuse them.


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the inspiration

The DNA of boogie doll can be found in many popular light novels that have gained popularity over the past two decades, if not for the exact atmosphere, then for the plot. Kadono wrote Boogiepop in such a way that information was often conveyed in bits, asking the public to put them together. The chapters were told from the perspective of multiple characters, often with overlapping timelines. Nisio Isins monogamy series takes a lot of cues from Kadono about how the narrators switch and the way the story is told. It’s the same series that makes a joke of skipping chapters in its own story and then points it out, a joke lovingly carried over to the anime.

Kinoko Nasu van Destiny/Stay Night and Garden of Sinners fame, although he started around the same time as Kadono, shares a similar writing style for his modern fantasy world. As grand as the magical society is, the world’s atmosphere is riddled with mystery, revealing that the curtain between normal and supernatural is one bloody alley away. boogie doll is all about urban and modern fantasy, and how spooky it can be. The titular Boogie doll itself is initially terrifying, even though they are a powerful entity that seems to side with humanity against threats to the world. These threats begin as rumors and whispers in classrooms before the central characters realize all too well that the monsters in the dark are real.

There are two animated adaptations of boogie doll since the series’ publication began in the late 1990s. They differ greatly in their direction, especially visually, and were very different in their scope. Funnily enough, both were animated by Madhouse and both can be said to carry a thick atmosphere and soul that lives up to the original series.

Boogie Pop Phantom (2000)

Boogie doll Phantom is an interesting case between the two series, as it’s not really a direct adaptation of the light novels. It’s quite daring, it’s an original series with many of the same characters that only takes place between different stories from the novels. In this way, writer Sadayuki Murai, the author of Cowboy Bebop and Perfect Bluewas able to write an original series of stories set with freedom while retaining the disturbing soul of the original.

Many of the main characters are all over the place, but even if they’re “main characters” like Touka Miyashita or Nagi Kirima, they’re just small pieces in the bigger puzzle. One could argue that no character is more or less important than any other. Entire episodes will focus on one person’s perspective, from a germaphobic female college student fearing for her life to an unstable drug addict living in delusions.

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The latter of those two was the focus of disturbing episode 4, “My Fair Lady.” In that episode, the audience follows a man, the victim of an unnatural drug being sold, who becomes delusional and prepares a younger colleague into his ideal toy. In this way, an important tension in boogie doll is how the meddling of these supernatural entities highlights the darkness in humanity. Many fantasies slowly pull back the curtain and reveal the truth, but this series never feels like it’s showing its hand, and it doesn’t have to.

phantomIts greatest strength is its visual style, and even in its somewhat rugged look it has a distinct character. The visual style feels like a return to a certain style of low-budget Japanese horror movies that makes up for limitations with its concepts and direction. Japanese horror is hard to animate, let alone fully explain to a Western audience, but it’s hugely atmospheric. Boogie doll Phantom is so alluring because it exists in a dimension so saturated with the modernity of modern society that its daily movements become as unnerving to an adult as the darkness to a child.

Boogie Pop and Others (2019)

In 2018, a promotional video was released for: Boogie pop and others that served a few purposes. First, to commemorate the series for its 20th anniversary. Second, to announce the production of a new anime, also produced by Madhouse. Third, and most importantly, this PV served as an advertisement for the reissue of the novels, including several omnibuses in the US. The third point is the most crucial because, despite being a beautifully directed trailer, it wasn’t fully representative of the anime adaptation due out in January 2019. Much of the footage was shot solely for the trailer and featured scenes with stories not featured in the 18-episode series.

Boogie pop and others, from One Punch Man director Shingo Natsume, was an adaptation of four stories from the franchise. It was also a decidedly modern version that, despite abandoning the aesthetics of ’90s Japan, maintained an eerie and alluring atmosphere in a more current setting. Kensuke Ushio’s music carried much of the weight of the show’s tone, while the visuals, as beautiful or cool as they were, occasionally suffered from uneven and inconsistent quality. It is a pity that despite phantom the illustrated work of Kouji Ogata, the designs of the newer adaptation don’t feel nearly as captivating.

The visual direction could have been refined and the series could have been a little longer to flesh out the individual novels. Ultimately, Boogiepop’s unconventional storytelling may show some viewers the way. There are many characters, but rarely is one so ever-present that he feels like a protagonist. This can make it hard to get invested, but as many critics have pointed out, this is the kind of show you need to think about. the longer that boogie doll lingers, the more intriguing it gets, much like the urban legends, ghost stories and creepy pastas on the internet that tickle that morbidly curious part of the psyche. It’s definitely an oddity, but it’s the kind of oddity best enjoyed with fellow aficionados of the weird and ghostly, drink in hand or some light (and legal) drug use.

The boogie doll The series is available in the west through Seven Seas Entertainment. the anime, Boogie doll Phantom and Boogie pop and others are available for streaming via Crunchyroll.

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