Admit it: The first time you ever heard the words “Boogiepop Phantom”, you envisioned some soul-fueled 70s cop exploitation film. Really, “boogiepop”? That sounds funky as hell in all the right ways.
But Boogiepop wa Warawanai is anything but light-hearted. It is deathly serious and stranger than you could ever imagine, blending elements from sci-fi, psychological horror, conspiracy thrillers, and even superhero mythology to create a story completely unlike anything else out there. Part of what makes it unique is the chronology, where it jumps between different sequences of events to create an otherworldly sensation; one that is completely unbound by time.
Why is Boogiepop wa Warawanai like this, though? And where do you start? We’ll take a look at the series’ origins and then go through each arc in the series in chronological order and determine what you need.
A Brief History
Way back in February 1998, a man named Kouhei Kadono experimented with a relatively new writing format: a “light novel”. Nowadays most anime fans know what a light novel is, but back in 1998, they were still rather niche. Technically, they had existed since the 70s, but barring the Slayers in the early 90s, it’s hard to point to a light novel with much prestige. However, the first novel of the Boogiepop franchise, Boogiepop and Others, was a massive smash success. Part of this was due to its strange writing style, which frequently shifted character perspectives and jumped between different points in its own timeline. It’s actually not too dissimilar to Game of Thrones in that regard, except it shifts characters to hide its central plot rather than expound on it.
Several more sequel stories were written due to the success of Boogiepop and Others, and Boogiepop mania was spreading through otaku circles. Someone must have noticed the correlation between Boogiepop readers and anime fans because towards the end of 1998 or the beginning of 1999, an anime project began development. This project was going to be more than a mere adaptation: this was going to be a full-blown sequel to Boogiepop and Others!... even though, technically, those existed in the Vs Imaginator books. However, due to the structure of those books, which could easily be understood as different stand-alone tales, it wasn’t a huge stretch to create an anime that followed a similar formula.
However, Boogiepop’s legacy has not been forgotten in Japan. This is why, for the series’ 20th anniversary, a new anime was announced in 2018. It turned out to be an adaptation of the original Boogiepop and Others story, along with a few other of the original stories that were written before Boogiepop wa Warawanai 2000 was created.
Keeping up so far? We’ll jump into the chronology now and determine where you should go from there.
Boogiepop at Dawn (2019 series, Episodes 10-13)
- Prerequisites: 2019’s Episodes 1-9, then possibly 2000’s Episodes 1-11.
You’re reading that right. The very first story of the Boogiepop franchise takes place smack dab in the middle of the second anime’s run. This covers the origins of the Boogiepop Phantom and the story of the original serial killings that kicks off the events of the series.
Due to its place in the timeline, you might be tempted to start here. There is something to be said about watching a story told with a weird structure in its proper order to reduce confusion.
You really should not do this for 2 reasons. First of all, even if you start here, you’re not going to fully avoid a difficult to follow timeline just because you start at this story’s beginning. Boogiepop can jump around in its own timeline even during dedicated story arcs. You’re going to end up getting later parts spoiled for you if you start here. The other reason is that part of the appeal of Boogiepop comes from the mystery of what actually happened during Boogiepop at Dawn. You are simultaneously spoiling later Boogiepop parts and this part by watching it first.
Boogiepop and Others (2019 series, Episodes 1-3)
- Prerequisites: None
While Boogiepop was first introduced to the world in Boogiepop at Dawn, Boogiepop and Others is really where the main plot begins. Here, you find out that since the events of that story, a legend has sprouted about the Boogiepop Phantom and its purpose. Even if you don’t quite understand everything that’s going on, you’re introduced to the nature of its world, its style, and, largely, what to expect out of the series.
This is going to be your best starting point for Boogiepop wa Warawanai. It is, after all, an adaptation of the original story that kicked off the entire franchise. Boogiepop and Others is what the animators of the 2000 series expected its viewers to know going into it. This is the natural place to begin.
Boogiepop and Others (2019’s Episodes 1-3): Start Here
Boogiepop At Dawn (2019’s Episodes 10-13): Watch after 2019’s Episodes 1-9 and potentially 2000’s Episodes 1-11
We kept our discussion to just 2 different story arcs this article to keep you from getting too confused. However, we’ve got a lot more to cover next time!