Last year's Chainsaw Man anime was a little bit divisive amongst fans. Some didn't like the Western cinema influences, others felt it needed to be more chaotic and colourful, but I personally disagree on both counts. One thing most people do seem to agree on, at the very least, is that the soundtrack is killer. I'm not talking about the infinitely repeatable opening, and the 12 different endings to be clear here, I'm talking about the show's score from composer Kensuke Ushio. It's sometimes serene, at other times frenetic, often offering an otherworldly feel that feels fitting for a show set in an alternate realities 1990's. And if like me, you're a lover of Chainsaw Man's OST, I really think you should check out Boogiepop and Others, a show that just so happens to feature Ushio's handiwork.
It's a little hard to pin down just what Boogiepop and Others is about. On the one hand it's about urban legends, often revolving around the titular Boogiepop. On the other, there are characters who are clones, some that have strange powers or abilities, alongside plot threads involving mysterious, secret agencies, as well as aliens. The thing that's safe to say about Boogiepop, is that it's odd, but with a name like that you could probably guess that already.
The 2019 anime is based on a 1998 light novel of the same, though it borrows stories from various subsequent books. Being based on a piece of media from the 90s, despite releasing right at the end of the 2010s, it manages to retain that decidedly 90s feel to it that a lot of anime doesn't have these days. I think it has a lot to do with the show's use of colours and contrast that clinches that feeling, going for a more realistic palette over anything particularly eccentric.
Both the anime and the original books follows a highschool girl named Touka Miyashita, who turns into the enigmatic Boogiepop whenever the safety of the world is threatened, though they are two individual consciousness'. There are of course incredibly well animated fights to be found, but that's not really where the draw of the show is.
Boogiepop as a character is a perplexing one; it's unclear whether they're human or something else entirely, and with that comes the question of how much they even care about people. They often push the show's rotating cast of characters in difficult ways, forcing them to confront their emotions which manifest as somewhat psychic abilities, rather than just hitting them until the fight is over. It allows for some truly surreal stories that don't always conclude when you expect them too, and they don't always give you all the answers - you'll have to fill in some of the blanks yourself.
All of that is underpinned by Ushio's score, which I cannot complement more. On a first listen you might think of it as an appropriately chill soundtrack to play in a stylish coffee shop. But on a deeper listen, you really start to embrace the ethereal, wistful, almost nostalgic vibes it emanates. Listening to it reminds me of times I spent walking around my home town at 3am with no one around but my friends, unsure of what we make of the world. A soundtrack that can evoke a feeling like that must surely be a powerful one, no?
I don't think Boogiepop and Others is an entirely easy watch, though if you're into other classics like Serial Experiments Lain or Paranoia Agent, you're sure to have an enjoyable time. And if you do like the slightly slow, thoughtful tone of Chainsaw Man, I think there's a lot of overlap outside of sharing a composer that should appeal to you. Just hold on to your overly tall hat for the strange ride you might take yourself on.