Like bubbles rising to the surface, the entity known as Boogiepop emerges as the world’s protector whenever danger arises- and now, as a new crime wave sweeps his school, student Akizuki Takaya finds himself playing host to Boogiepop’s latest incarnation. Together with his teacher and previous Boogiepop host Igarashi, Akizuki must put his own personal safety to one side as he attempts to restore the normal ‘beat’ of the world.
With the juggernaut that is the Boogiepop franchise finally properly making its way to the West, the time has come to appreciate that the story of Boogiepop and Others and the Boogiepop Phantom anime are only the centre of an expanding universe. One component of that universe is Boogiepop Dual, a standalone manga that doesn’t really tie in with the rest of the series, but which explores the concept of Boogiepop travelling from one host to the next.
To that end, what we have here is a self-contained story in which Igarashi, Akizuki and his alter-ego Boogiepop attempt to track down the villain behind the strange events at school, all the while running into people who have turned violent and aggressive after being ‘broken’ by his powers. Compared to the other entries in the Boogiepop franchise, the storytelling is much more straightforward, with only traces of the multiple perspectives and different time frames that initially made the series so compelling. The result is an enjoyable enough tale, but both its brevity and lack of proper place in the bigger picture work against it. Yes, the story is coherent and the characters are given a decent amount of back story, but ultimately the series feels too short for its own good; without the time to properly flesh out its setting and characters, everything just feels too phantasmal and superficial to get the reader involved in it- instead it’s just here for two volumes and gone forever.
This time around, Masayuki Takano handles the artwork, offering a solid style that is in keeping with the look of the Boogiepop universe whilst switching out Kouji Ogata’s soft watercolours for a more defined high contrast look.
Although it attempts to offer an interesting exploration of the nature of Boogiepop and his hosts, Boogiepop Dual’s lack of real place in bigger picture works against it, making it feel like a small and rather insignificant drop in a much larger ocean. Whilst by no means a bad series overall, its brief, standalone nature means that it will forever be the poor cousin of the Boogiepop universe, lacking the draw and complexity of the franchise in general.
Volumes: 2 [complete]
Story: Kouhei Kadono
Art: Masayuki Takano
Licensor: Seven Seas