Following a spate of disappearances amongst Shinyo Academy’s female students, the authorities conclude that the girls in question have run away due to the stress of exams and college applications. As some of the students discover, however, the disappearances are merely part of something deeper, darker and far more dangerous. At times like these, it is said that the mysteriously clad ‘angel of death’ known as Boogiepop will appear- but just who and what is Boogiepop, and how is he connected to recent events?
The manga version of the story that appeared both in the first Boogiepop novel and the live action movie, the events of Boogiepop Doesn’t Laugh lie the core of the franchise, inspiring all that came after it and even tying into the Boogiepop Phantom anime. As with the anime, the story is not told in a conventional chronological fashion; instead, each arc focuses on one character and their perspective of events, with all arcs meshing together to form the complete tale. It is definitely an intriguing method to use, but it comes with a price- you’ll probably have to read the manga at least twice in order to fully appreciate the proper flow of events (watching the anime again is also recommended).
Whilst it is the unfolding mystery and horror that undoubtedly proves to be the main attraction for the series, it is this character-based approach that makes this manga so compelling. Although it is admittedly difficult to get to grips with all of the characters first time around, the series does an excellent job of giving each of them a well defined personality; from the bubbly Kamikishiro to the coldly cruel Saotome, each character has a distinct voice that really brings their perspective to life.
Visually, Boogiepop Doesn’t Laugh uses a soft watercolour style (albeit in black and white); whilst it is a little rough in places and could be accused of being too low contrast, once you grow accustomed to this rather unique presentation it becomes surprisingly attractive.
A compelling horror mystery with strong characters, Boogiepop Doesn’t Laugh is certainly well worth a look. Whether you’re new to the world of Boogiepop or interested delving further than the anime, this short yet addictive manga is a good place to start.
Extra: A small warning
Having endeavoured to convince everyone to read this manga, I must conclude with a word of warning. Regardless of whether you buy or ‘acquire’ this manga, the extras at the end of volume one will give away some fairly big spoilers for the plot of volume two. The extras in themselves are an interesting read for Boogiepop fans, but learn from my example and read them after you’ve finished the story.
Volumes: 2 [complete]
Story: Kouhei Kadono
Artist: Kouji Ogata
Licensor: Seven Seas