English: Boogiepop Phantom
Synonyms: Boogiepop wa Warawanai, Boogiepop Never Laughs, Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jan 5, 2000 to Mar 22, 2000
Duration: 24 min. per episode
Rating: R+ - Mild NudityL represents licensing company
Score: 7.331 (scored by 9626 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
Popular Tagsdrama horror mystery supernatural
Jun 19, 2008
Peppered with some of the best sound editing I've ever heard in an anime, this montage of scarred urbanites and neo-humans colliding into each other violently is the forbearer for anime hits like Baccano. Boogiepop Phantom began the light novel trend in Japan and has spanned multiple mediums to tell this fractured story of an urban legend stalking the streets of urban Japan dispatching creeps who feed on cute school kids.
I could go more into the story, but that’s not what a review is meant to do. If you want story, go read the synopsis or Wiki it. I'll talk about the viewing experience. This anime is heavy with mood, similar to Serial Experiments Lain in many ways, but what makes this anime stand out by itself is the superb sound production which not only elevates the content but is seemingly an essential part of it. The sound is a core part of the story, guiding the viewer through each sordid tale; through each blood-soaked tragedy, with its eclectic music (everything from electro, drum & bass, to fusion) and reverberating soundscapes.
Each episode plops you firmly into the point of view of various troubled characters battling demons both real and imagined, and all the while small threads appear and disappear, threads tying these character biographies into the larger mystery of what occurs in the opening five minutes of the show.
A five minutes incidentally which are excellently written and directed, a perfect primer for what to expect with this show. If you feel like bailing out after those five minutes, then you should, because you won’t appreciate what happens for the next eleven episodes, which is more of the same quality of storytelling. Boogiepop Phantom excels in both 'show dont tell' and voice-overs. I've lamented the usage of voice-overs in anime many times, calling it a lazy screenwriting tool, but it’s used perfectly in Boogiepop Phantom. Character voice-overs actually tell us things we don’t know, and give us insight into their motives.
A review is meant to help make up your mind. If I were Miss Boogiepop Phantom herself, I'd shoot a psychic grapple hook into your mind and pull you into this trendsetting show so you could experience terror and awe, as only a viewer should when watching a classic anime. read more
Jul 21, 2009
First off, Boogiepop is a horror anime, pretty much like Elfen Lied and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and all three shows also have a few similarities: blood, gory violence, very disturbing, great art and animation, and a dive into the human psyche. But then again, there are the differences between the three and what makes Boogiepop different from the other two is also what makes it so amazing.
What makes it truly stand out completely is the art/animation. Throughout the entire show(except the last episode), the art is done in a dark, hazy, blurry, sepia tone; the animation is good but sadly the character designs are very bland and make it almost impossible to tell everyone apart. Both art and animation are really good, but they make the show a lot more confusing the it's own plot line which I will get to right now.
The story for the show is very non-linear, if you go into this without knowing anything about it, you'll get left behind scratching your head for sure. Boogiepop takes place in an unamed city in Japan where a month ago, a pillar of light appeared out of nowhere and strange things start to happen along with some nasty murders that seem connected to another killing spree from five years ago. Actually, trying to come up with a brief synopsis for this show is honestly very difficult, so lets just leave it at that for now. From time to time, the show would focus on a certain character and learn about them and their connection to the events. Just like the works of Satoshi Kon, Boogiepop is very very psychological and when it comes to the human psyche, it goes in way deep than you would image. There are also some themes in this show such as: change, relationships, dualism, and escapism.
Finally sound; not only does Boogiepop having great sound editing, but it also has some of the best music ever composed in an anime. The music mainly consist of gregorian, experimental electronica, and mostly just sound effects made for the anime. I haven't heard much of the Japanese dub, but the english dub is really good; Right Stuf International did a great job with the dub if I say so myself.
Elfen Lied and Higurashi are indeed both great horror anime, but to me, Boogiepop Phantom is one of the most underrated horror anime as well as one of the most overlooked anime in general. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for something good and scary to watch. Multiple viewings are a must for Boogiepop Phantom. read more
Jul 17, 2013
Art/Animation: (8/10) obviously low-budget but it was fitting for the story but sometimes it can get too dark where it's so hard to see what's happening. The character designs look confusing enough for the viewers to hardly identify who's who which was a let-down but it's still okay. Style is somehow similar to Lain, and I loved lain.
Sound: (7/10) Didn't really stand out for me, there were some good tracks though at the second half of the series.
Character: (7/10) The anime has a tremendous cast of characters which makes it hard for me to actually remember them all, not to mention they look alike. The only notable characters were Echoes (My fav), Nagi, and Boogiepop/Touka herself. Each character had their own development within their own arc though which is a good point.
Personal Enjoyment: (6/10) I FORCED myself to finish episodes 1 - 9. But don't get me wrong, it is a good story, but it really can be boring at times.
Overall: 7.2/10 or 7/10. Truly recommended for those who enjoy quiet and confusing anime (ex: Serial Experiments Lain, Paranoia Agent). Has a good story but can be boring. Character design is confusing as well. Still a great anime, and a lot better than mainstream obviously. read more
Dec 19, 2007
Good story aside, let me talk about the art, sound, and the dub. Boogiepop is as I said, an older anime from 2000. So the art is good, but it's not CG perfect or sharp. It doesn't need to be, infact I feel that would be bad. First time I saw Boggiepop I thought my TV was broken. See they've played with the colors. Putting everything in a dark world full of shadows. All the better to hide what's going on. Colors are dull not bright or cheerful. There is usually a haze or blurring effect going on. It creates an excellent atmosphere.
The sound is good also. It's got everything you'd expect. However what I really liked was the sound effects. A ringing sound (i'll try to record it) helps enhance the erieness of the anime. That and it distorts the sound and people's voices at time. It keeps it creepy and makes you question if what you're watching is the reality. Thank god for a good pair of headphones or a nice audio setup. It's used to the full extent here really creating the erie feeling that is this anime excellently. Surround sound surrounds you with the clinks and other odd sounds that fill this anime, without it you don't really get the full Boogiepop experience.
The music also keeps the creepy side of boogiepop alive. The music keeps the mood very well. It stays pretty low key and ambient, serving as background. But then it'll let out that damn eriee ring, get distorted or something else unexpected that makes your hair stand on end. When things get serious and some action is going down it switches from it's ambient background music to a more driving industrial-ish techno. The ending song is awesome: period. Just had to get that out :D
As far as the dub, I really like this one. I first saw this anime dubbed and there is nothing to complain of here. I insist you watch it dubbed, as this is one of those complex animes that is not sub friendly. The voice actors convey emotion well, and each character has a unique voice.
Bottom line, i insist you watch this anime b/c: it's a very good mind-trip. Dark and scary it's not an easy one to follow and I know you'll enjoy the exercise of trying to piece together this story. read more
Sep 22, 2008
The story stays taut throughout, never afraid to throw in a new disturbing twist to keep up the gripping suspense. But its real strength is its odd narrative. Boogiepop is told by handing off the perspective to a new character every episode. Each character reflects either a disturbing paranormal trait or highlights one of the flaws of the conformist attitude of Japanese society. Though characters remain part of the story often, the central perspective is constantly changing and it's never the same. If this kind of thing irritates you, you may not enjoy the series so much, but it is still a great storytelling device because it enlightens the viewer to aspects he or she may have passed off as trivial earlier on in the series. Though it's easy to get lost, the connections are always blatantly made when necessary so everyone who pays attention while watching will come away, not necessarily all-knowing of what they watched, but not feeling like they're stupid.
The character spectrum is vast and deep here. As I mentioned, a new character takes a hold of the series perspective every episode, and that means every episode comes with a new gloriously in-depth take on any given character. Characters who seem useless early on become crucial to the story later. The denizens of the Boogiepop world are all treated with utmost care and respect. They are fleshed out entirely, if all possible in context of the series. It would be the highlight of the series, except for one thing.
The sound. This is the best use of audio I have ever beared witness to in an anime. Boogiepop doesn't have so much as a soundtrack, but an array of unearthly tones and sounds which, when inserted, play as plot devices and narrative themselves. Parallel to the series motif of electiricity, it works brilliantly and is utterly blood-curdling in and of itself. Absolutely fantastic work here.
Another minor but still present technical achievement is the art. It's not necessarily pretty, but that's hardly a factor. Shadows are blatantly omnipresent and much of the series takes place at night, always keeping us wondering about what lies where we can't see. The answers were often as terrifying as I would hope they to be. With the subdued and realistic character designs and dimly-lit locales, Boogiepop's animation was always getting under my skin in a good way.
Even if you are a first-timer to the Boogiepop franchise, there is plenty here to enjoy, and more than enough to get you interested in the rest of it. Psychological horror and suspense are abound here, so if that's your thing then waste no time getting a hold of it.
Overall, Boogiepop Phantom gets a 9 out of 10. read more
Dec 16, 2011
Confusing and mindnumbing but episodic with a puzzle plot
atmospheric and has “good” production values but unimpressive artwork and weak soundtrack
great overall mystery as a whole but not so good stand-alone stories
fleshed out characters related to the story but bland and forgotten because of the size of the cast
uncommon and interesting but forgotten like the moe/ecchi mediocrities produced today
Boogiepop is an anomaly, having the right set of characteristics to deem it as an anime masterpiece in the dementia genre and be remembered by the anime community. In fact, many reviews in different anime websites besides MAL give it an above average rating and it is compared with anime masterpieces Serial Experiments Lain (SEL), Neon Genesis Evangelion (NGE), and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (GitS: SAC). Yet, for some reason, not many have seen, known, or even heard a single thing about it. (I myself only watched it because of its similarities with my favourite anime of all time.) Why?
(watches the opening)
Is this made with an extremely low budget? What’s with the abundance of real life pictures, roughness and the dark colour palette of the artwork? I don’t even know what I’m seeing. The opening theme song is catchy and relaxing but how does this fit with the mood of the story? Meant to feel rewarding like the last episode of Serial Experiments Lain or is it for the sake of nostalgia?
For some reason, the style and blurriness reminds me of Texhnolyze which used a similar style but took it to another level thanks to Yoshitoshi ABe.
(watches the first episode)
O_o .... Okay, so the production values are good after all as expected from Madhouse but it is a bit difficult distinguish the characters and the lighting is overdone or lacking. The story seems to be convoluted and structured like a puzzle, presented in the perspective of different “normal” characters (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, anyone?). It’s not like in Kara no Kyoukai where some parts seem to be filler or in Haruhi where the fillers and actual story are mixed to stretch the entire show to a half/full season. The story builds up without wasting a single second on fan-catering, and probably continues on until the big finale suddenly comes up and everything comes into place.
(reminds me of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Tatami Galaxy)
I wonder though how the modern anime fans who never watched any series from the mindfuck trilogy (Eva, Utena, Lain) felt when watching this. Moe/ecchi/comedy/slice of life fans might have instantly dropped this out of boredom because of the serious and creepy atmosphere while horror/psychological/dementia/mystery fans are most likely rejoicing with the acid trip.
(watches the rest)
Hmm... an interesting social commentary that focuses on its core theme, change. For example, time and reality here are defined by the memories one has (Lain?). Human relationship here is shown mostly in the negative light by showing the despair, insecurity, and insanity of characters in their internal and external conflicts on an intrapersonal and interpersonal level to the extent of making the reality shown the screen as subjective or seeing the characters make go all nuts and kill other or themselves, get killed in horrifying ways, or just mysteriously disappear. The supernatural aspects of the show has some realism and artistry by its metaphorical representations of one’s emotions and the actual representation of a human character which is confusing at certain times, and drugs and its after effects on the long run after n organizations There is even a solid conclusion that resolves most of the supernatural ideas and setting and the plot filled with conspiracies. It is a well-made psychological/dementia/horror anime that is still deep and mature for this age but there are some loose ends and it can still continue on and build the mystery further for a few more episodes so I take a whole mark off. Also, there is one major issue that nullifies a lot of positive aspects of this show; nothing is memorable.
No doubt is the story of Boogiepop Phantom of high quality but ... frankly, every other aspect of it is mediocre in comparison with the story. The characters strongly contribute to the story as their involvement in the big mystery is what defines them because of the size of the cast but there is simply not enough time to get to know them, see them develop, and witness their catharsis (but they do have closure). Even characterization is lacking for the most of the cast since most are simply normal human beings living their normal lives (some do live unhealthy lives but not enough to classify them as abnormal). They’re simply not memorable, not even the titular character, Boogiepop. Okay, this is a teaser for the light novels but, surely, 12 episodes is not enough to understand her characterization in full even after excluding development. This is not SELain and she is not Lain.
Going back to the art and sound sections, they’re ... just good overall as both lack subtle detailing that makes it distinct from most anime series.. While the camera angles are mostly fine that way they are for most of the show and the visuals are able to tell the story partially instead of simply being eye candy, it’s difficult to watch a single episode simply because, without watching it in an extremely dark and enclosed room (preferably the basement), the subtle details of the artwork are unnoticeable. Also, the animation is clunky and chopped during the fight scenes because of the low frame rate. The background music and sound effects nicely build up the mood and invoke the right emotion in the key scenes but repeating it for the nth times makes it rather boring and predictable than memorable. As for the soundtrack, only the opening song deserves mention but does not fit with the overall mood of the show. The other sound themes that do fit but not interesting enough to bother replaying it multiple times.
So, only the story worth praising in the end but even that has major flaws that prevent it from earning a perfect rating such as the quality of the (seemingly) stand-alone stories which only serves to contribute to the overall mystery and give more depth to the characters. If evaluating the stand-alone story or a single episode by itself, it’s does not stand out from other similar stories and is just fine, quality-wise. The message of the anime itself is nothing new nor amazing like the presentation so, in the end, the Boogiepop Phantom (anime) is simply a one-time watch to marathon for the full effect unlike all of the other anime I mentioned in this review. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni has a similar presentation but its story is simply bullocks with faulty science even in a fantasy setting. On the other hand, its cast is smaller with more development and catharsis and the end result is much more memorable (besides the amount of gore that turned Elfen Lied obsolete). Kara no Kyoukai has a much smaller cast than the two, has higher production values, and has the complex characterization that mixes different tropes and redefines them. For art and animation style, Texhnolyze maximizes the full potential but doesn’t hamper the casual viewers in terms of its aesthetics. Finally, Lain and Neon Genesis Evangelion uses numerous tropes and references to immortalize the ground-breaking story and characters in our minds for eternity and has far more original, bold, and thought-provoking ideas never given serious consideration in the anime world before. Of course, the production values are high and its own fair share of experimental and unique artwork and animation. So, these all and later 00s series make Boogiepop Phantom obsolete, historically speaking.
Anyways, if the mentioned flaws are set aside, then it is a very interesting and confusing show, recommended to dementia fans and mature viewers that prefer depth and substance over the average and tasteless shows we get nowadays.
Serial Experiments Lain
Neon Genesis Evangelion and End of Evangelion
Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni
Gekijouban Kara no Kyoukai: The Garden of Sinners
Texhnolyze (just for the artwork and OST) read more
May 9, 2013
The plot is simple, really, but it is how this plot is executed that is important. A beam of light comes down from the sky, giving powers to some people. That idea may seem over-used, but this anime sets itself apart from anything else. This is the darkest anime with this sort of plot that I've seen. This is a true psychological animation.
The secondary characters were really only important for one or two episodes each, but every one of them was very interesting. Especially the few that are on the borderline of insanity, or past it. There's a couple of disturbing psychopaths here, and insanity is quite an intriguing condition. Others are simply depressed: very, very depressed. There's also the "composite humans," an advanced species of humans that are like extremely morbid comic relief. I'll refrain from getting into the important, higher-being characters.
This was crazy. Crazier than Higurashi, crazier than effing Serial Experiments Lain. And, it was a beautiful crazy. I thoroughly enjoyed this; an ideal psychological anime for those who like that thinking-kind-of-horror. read more
Apr 19, 2013
PLOT: I’m having severe difficulties reviewing this show as its fairly random at times, and I didn’t really know what was going on half the time! It takes a similar structure to Baccano!, in that it consists of a large cast of characters and the timeline jumps about the place to cover their stories, and often shows the same scene in different perspectives. Its also similar to Paranoia Agent as the viewer doesn’t really know what’s going on for much of the time and its full of quite strange characters. Another show that I could compare Boogiepop to is Ghost Hound as it covers a lot of strange phenomena and has psychological elements in it too. Strangely all this makes for compelling viewing and I have a feeling that if I re-watched the series everything would fall into place immediately. Also for a show with so many characters most are surprisingly well developed.
ANIMATION: Madhouse was behind the animation and its quite good. A very basic colour palate is used, almost sepia for most of the series and character designs are on the more realistic side of the spectrum. Normally I’m not a fan of series that are animated in such dark colours, but in this case the darkness really enhances the atmosphere of the series and the sense that you aren’t getting the whole picture at anyone time. Quite often the screen seems almost entirely black, except for the area around the character that particular section of the show is concentrating on. It’s very well done.
MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I loved the soundscape of this show. It’s got such a strange mix of sounds ranging from classical to electro to chanting – everything very carefully selected to match the visuals and enhance the atmosphere. I also really liked the OP, which is by the same person who provided the OPs for xxxHOLiC, and has that same jazzy feel to it. The ED was also quite good, although I found it fairly forgettable.
Voice acting was great throughout – there are a large number of creepy children and troubled teens in this show and the seiyuu’s all did excellent jobs voicing their descent into insanity.
Overall a very interesting show, but difficult to review properly since it would spoil the mystery element. read more
Jan 14, 2013
Looking at the series' animation, I'm not entirely sure how to react. On one hand, the art direction certainly leaves an impression. Its dark and muted visuals feel very much like old, slightly worn film footage, which is actually relevant to a key story concept, I won't say what to avoid spoiling. On a whole, the tones and designs are simple, yet very earthy; it still feels like an anime, but the direction reaches for an atmosphere similar to the world we all know, close enough to reality to make the audience uncomfortable. I think the overall atmosphere succeeds to that end, but on the downside the character designs are perhaps a bit too simple, to the point that the plethora of characters can be hard to tell apart. While the use of tones and shadows is usually pretty good, sometimes it can get a little too dark to see what's going on. Then there's the character animation, which has some serious quality control issues, jerky movements and wonky facial expressions abound. To be fair, sometimes the distortions can be used effectively, but on a whole the animation barely squeaks by on its memorable tone and direction, which is heavily reminiscent of Serial Experiments Lain but not nearly as striking.
The use of sound in this series is unilaterally superb, although the show doesn't have much of an actual soundtrack, preferring to rely on much more basic noises to tell its story. There might be some static humming in the background, slowly intensifying as the event at hand approaches its climax, and then cutting off to complete and utter silence for a split-second, only to pull you back in with its next stunt. A single low ring seems to punctuate most of the series' beats, and the characters' voices might trail off into echoes during some key conversations. It's a neat effect, and once again it parallels one of the series' key concepts. However, even though Boogiepop Phantom isn't a very music-intensive show, the music it does have is absolutely fantastic. Combining echoic electronic distortions with a lively rhythm that straddles the line between organic and synthetic, it feels a bit like wandering the streets at night. Combined with a haunting choir it touches on the "angel of death" sound I described in my Texhnolyze review, and it's an easy soundtrack to get lost in. It sounds great on its own, and it adds beautifully to some of the show's most powerful moments.
Boogiepop Phantom was dubbed in 2001, the same year Cowboy Bebop set a new curve for the industry, but the trend of higher-quality English dubbing came a bit too late to reach this series and the end result is just barely serviceable. The Japanese voice acting has its share of hiccups and stiff acting, but for the most part it manages to carry the low-key character interactions well and breathes pretty naturally. The dub takes the cut-and-paste approach to its voice acting and adaptive script, striving to sound as close to the original Japanese dub as possible with no regard for what sounds right or natural in English, resulting in awkward lines with wooden delivery. Even favorites like Crispin Freeman and Rachael Lillis perform only passably, and the best performance in the entire dub is a one-off role by Lisa Ortiz. As if to add insult to injury, the subtitles on the official DVD release have spelling errors. Only a couple, mind, but combined with the lackluster dub, the low production quality of the US release is quite vexing.
If the plot summary I gave at the beginning seems a tad disjointed and confusing, good. Boogiepop Phantom doesn't follow a typical narrative structure, and it doesn't really have any main characters to speak of (well, it sort of does, but we don't find out who until near the finale). Instead, it's the story of the city in a sense, told through a series of brief glimpses into the interconnected lives of various persons concerned with the Boogiepop incident, presented out of chronological order. It's primarily a mystery series, aiming to confuse and to captivate, and along the way maybe make some observations about those affected by the events that transpire. The audience starts off with very little concrete information, and we have to piece together both the backstories and the current story from conversations, interactions and brief flashbacks. There are many, many characters, and it certainly doesn't help that the designs can be difficult to tell apart (though it's kinder on a second viewing). I wouldn't blame anyone for giving up on this show one or two episodes in, but for those who are able to endure it I'll commend the show for coming together fairly well in the end.
Boogiepop Phantom is based on a light novel series, and there are several common pitfalls that such adaptations tend to suffer from, some of which it manages to avoid and others not so much. The smooth flow of its narrative in particular sets this series apart from other light novel-based anime--I can't tell where one novel ends and the next begins; it feels like the same unified story from start to finish. It's far more at-home with its medium than most such adaptations, and the writers were brilliant with how they used the episodic format to their advantage, each episode centering around the perspectives of one or two characters while still tying itself to the main storyline in small but important ways. If I hadn't checked Wikipedia before watching the show, I probably would have assumed that this was an anime-original title. It's not the most tightly-written anime I've seen, there are a few episodes that could probably be removed without too much effort and it can get a little bogged down with dialog and exposition sometimes, as is par for the course with light novel adaptations, but as the series nears its conclusion and ties itself together it becomes easily forgivable.
So where's the pitfall? Well, Boogiepop Phantom the anime is twelve episodes long, and when it began airing, Boogiepop the light novel series spanned eight volumes, and awaited several later installations (I think it might still be ongoing). Do the math, there's no way the anime could cover all of that material in such a short run. Thankfully, the core story chosen for this adaptation reaches a satisfying, cathartic conclusion, but it's made clear to the audience that what we're seeing is part of a much bigger story. I challenge anyone who finds him or herself seriously invested in the story not to want to know more about what Echoes' purpose was, how Nagi evolved from a tragic survivor to the supernatural huntress she becomes, and just what the hell Boogiepop is trying to achieve. We get glimpses of the answers, but if you want more fleshed-out explanations you'll have to read the light novels, which will probably never receive a full Stateside release. What we do get is still engaging, but it's woefully incomplete and seems to enjoy taunting us with that fact.
Now that I've gotten the style of storytelling out of the way, let's take a look at the story on its own merits. On the downside, I have to include the same caveat I did for Texhnolyze: it's consistently dark and bleak, and altogether unpleasant, and you shouldn't watch it unless you're interested in the ugly side of humanity. Some of the characters we follow are fascinating as psychological studies but completely unsympathetic and irredeemable as individuals, which can be incredibly difficult to sit through. Supernatural elements notwithstanding, this series hits very close to the reality we live in every day, and this can get extremely uncomfortable when it starts pointing fingers at the lies we tell ourselves and the missteps we make in our lives. While this isn't exactly a flaw, it does make the series far more alienating, and the lack of a consistent main character to latch onto (there is Nagi, but she's terribly aloof) does nothing to assuage this.
Still, Boogiepop Phantom isn't unrelentingly depressing all the time. It's a mystery first and foremost, and a good mystery needs to keep its audience entertained. The series keeps you guessing until the very last minute, but looking back in the end, the clues were all there. Loose plot threads aside, it's a good story told in a memorable way, and that's always nice to see. Since the episodes are mostly vignettes centered around one or two characters, some of the episodes manage to pull off focused and effective character drama while still working in the necessary plot points for later episodes, and that's downright laudable (then there's the hateful episode 4). The scenario itself occasionally pushes the limits of plausibility and has some cliches thrown in, but the story is so engaging to piece together that this is easily overlooked. While some of the episodes are predominantly just thrilling mysteries, they're at least cleverly executed, and at its best the show really can be downright thought-provoking in its criticism of these characters' human vices and how they cope... or fail to cope. It's an uneven but wholly immersive experience, occasionally cold but never boring.
This show may not be pure gold, but it's still worth sifting through all its blacks and grays to find the gold in it. It has a compelling atmosphere, clever writing, and a some genuinely haunting insight into the darker side of humanity. I still maintain that it feels a bit unfinished and should have been longer, but just the fact that I was left wanting more is a good sign. If you like dark mind-frags, this should quench your appetite just fine. read more
Nov 19, 2012
And I don't think I'm the first. Judging by the release date, I think it's safe to say that this series has been baffling unwary viewers for more than a decade. It definitely isn't for everyone. But it's unique, and has plenty of praise-worthy attributes. Let's start at the story.
Boogiepop tells the tale of a varied cast of characters (mostly first and second year high school students) who encounter mysterious beings, most of which seem to be connected in some vital way to the concept of electricity. The most prominent of these beings is the titular “Boogiepop,” an androgynous black-clad figure who the students whisper is a “shinigami,” or personification of death. The story is told achronologically to such a degree that you probably won't understand a lot of the goings-on until the last episode. This is simultaneously rewarding and frustrating. No one likes to sit there and have only a vague idea of what's happening, but on the other hand, there's no better feeling than when the show reveals a connection to a previous event that “clicks” in your brain. As a whole, the story is a good one, and if you can tolerate the way it's told, you just might be in love with it by the end.
I'd say essentially the same thing about the way that Boogiepop Phantom looks. For most of its runtime the show uses a very drab sepia-toned color palette. The best way I can describe it is that it looks like you're trying to watch a modern movie on a really crappy TV—there are hints of greater color depth, but for the most part, everything seems to be a shade of brown, white, black, or grey. It's interesting, and the art is done that way for a reason (which I won't state because I think it's bordering on a spoiler), but it can get old pretty quick. Sometimes it's tough to tell what's happening in scenes of action or rapid movement because everything is just so dark. Also, when you couple the one-tone art style with the out-of-order way that the story is told and the massive cast of characters, it's easy to get lost trying to figure out which character is which, as a lot of them look very similar to one another.
The show's plot is driven by a huge host of characters, and it really puts them to good use. Some of them are present throughout the series, but a lot of them are introduced, developed, and subsequently abandoned within the course of a twenty minute episode (or, in some cases, as little as a third of an episode). Strange conundrum this presents; characters that are sometimes on screen for as little as eight minutes are often more memorable than those in lead roles. It really speaks volumes about the quality of writing here. Every character that's introduced is tied to the show's underlying themes in some way or another. Some episodes would be great even as standalone character studies outside of the context of the series. I particularly liked two episodes in the middle of the series. One tells the story of a brother and sister, one of whom is gifted with supernatural abilities. The other tells the story of a mother who discovers and reads the diary of her deceased daughter. Both are beautiful in their own right.
But the single strongest element of Boogiepop, bar none, is the audio. The voice acting is often given an eerie electronic touch that echoes the themes of the show. The music is a strange mix of techno, industrial, and other genres that elevate the dark, creepy atmosphere of the show to a whole new level. There's a lot of range here: Some tracks are slow and dark, some are fast-paced and designed to provide a backdrop for scenes of revelations or action, and some are slow, wistful, touching. You'd have to hear this show to believe just how good it sounds.
My biggest problem with Boogiepop is the way it handles its themes and core ideas. Now that I've seen the whole thing, if my friend asked me what Boogiepop was about, I'd probably say something like: “The past, and how memories of it affect our present.” Which is a much better answer than “I don't have a clue,” but it does lack a certain completeness. At the end of Boogiepop I was left with the impression that this show is essentially a melting pot of philosophical speculation. It asks questions like “what is important in our pasts,” “can we regain important things that we've lost in the past,” “am I still a complete person if I've forgotten my past,” “how do I know my memories are even real,” “can my memories be an escape from my present,” etc. And while those are all great philosophical questions that are certainly worthy of debate, the show doesn't seem to take a stance, or attempt to provide us with any answers. Boogiepop is a essentially a series of questions that are posed to us visually. It's captivating to watch, and tantalizing to think about, but in the end it's not a complete equation. Nonetheless, I recommend watching Boogiepop. If it's not your style, then that will be the end of it. If it is your style, then it should provide you with plenty of good memories to call your own. read more
Jun 28, 2010
My first reaction (along with most other people's probably) was "WTF is this?!" (a sure sign that an anime from this genre is doing it right) But after a couple of episodes, I found I could start forming some connections and get a vague idea of what was going on. Because of the complicated story and non-linear story telling method, "Boogiepop Phantom" is a show that can take a bit of effort and patience to get into. Though there is a central storyline, most of the series actually consists of side stories of people affected by the events of the central plot. None of the episodes truly stand alone though, as they all reference each other in some way or another. These connections are often very subtle and of varying degrees of importance towards understanding the story, but part of the joy of watching "Boogiepop Phantom" comes from the immense sense of achievement when spotting these connections, even the trivial ones. It's no exaggeration to compare it with doing a really hard, mind bending puzzle. I can't claim to understand it completely (but then again, can anyone?), and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure whether part of my confusion comes from not getting it or whether the anime didn't explain things properly. But "Boogiepop Phantom" is so devilishly clever I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, and the confusion serve only to enhance its enigmatic aura - it feels great to be able to eke out a tiny bit more information each time, with the prospect of a seemingly endless amount yet to be uncovered.
Virtually every episode of "Boogiepop Phantom" is ingenius and unique in their own way. A lot of production tricks are used, ranging from novelty ones such as displaying the title of an episode at the end rather than at the beginning (the first anime that I saw that does this) to really inventive ways of storytelling. Pretty much all the episodes contain at least one big twist, and "Boogiepop Phantom" is so good at misdirection that the twists come across to me as nothing short of revelations whenever they happen, and I often found myself admiring the sheer brilliance behind the intricate construction of an episode after being surprised once again. There is one thing that lets the production of "Boogiepop Phantom" down, however (and in fact I consider this to be the biggest flaw in the series - if it wasn't for this, it would get a 9), and it's character designs - the characters all look way too similar to each other, especially the 56 or so school girls that feature in this series (or perhaps there are only 6 of them - it's really is hard to tell which ones are actually the same person). This made "Boogiepop Phantom" MUCH more confusing than it needs to be. Its story and story telling method is intended to make you think hard, but I doubt that thinking hard whether character A is the same as character B who you saw 2 epsiodes ago is meant to be part of the design.
I'm not usually one for noticing social commentary, but the ones in "Boogiepop Phantom" really resonated with me. The pressure that the school kids are shown to be under may seem absurd to some, but having spent quite a few years of my childhood growing up in China, I can tell you the scenarios portrayed are no exaggeration when it comes to some Asian countries. Even though "Boogiepop Phantom" mixes this up with supernatural elements, the parents' expectations that weigh so heavily on the children's shoulders, and the social pressures that they have to face up to on a daily basis all feel startlingly real to me.
The story may be pretty intriguing, but ultimately, it's the viewing experience that makes "Boogiepop Phantom" truly stand out. There are so many great things about it it's hard to know where to start. The style of the art is dark and dreary, and for all but one of the episodes, the corners of the screen is slightly darkened to underline the oppressive atmosphere. Like in "Monster", a lot of effort went into the use of ambient noise and music to create a wide range of (mostly negative) moods from jittery to eerie. In fact, "Boogiepop Phantom" uses sounds so effectively that even the silence, often resulting from the sudden cutoff of some noisy, sustained background music, are charged with an electric potency. It's a series that's best watched in a small, darkened room with the volume and bass turned up. When enveloped by the sound reflecting back from the walls, it creates a suffocating, almost claustrophoebic effect that's part of a thick atmosphere that you can almost feel yourself drowning in. Coupled with the mind bending storyline, this transforms "Boogiepop Phantom" into such an intense experience that I often felt mentally drained after an episode. The final episode is very bright in comparison, with the dark corners of the screen lifted to provide a breathtaking contrast to the episodes that came before. It feels like waking up from a nightmare with the morning sun pouring into your room, or suddenly being able to breath again after being suffocated for so long. It's only then that you realise just how effective the anime is in generating that stifling atmosphere.
Surprisingly, "Boogiepop Phantom" is not the first anime of its type - "Serial Experiments Lain" is. But "Boogiepop Phantom" is so good that for a long time I assumed that it's the first one. "Serial Experiments Lain" may have been the first, but it can't match the intensity, the atmosphere and the blinding brilliance found in "Boogiepop Phantom" - you don't even need to get what's going on (I certainly didn't) in order to enjoy "Boogiepop Phantom". And that's why I consider this to be the definitive title of the genre.
Nov 12, 2010
Full lit of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
Now here is something you don’t see every day. All the reviews about this anime are 8 and above but the average score is 7. Does that mean only fanboys wrote the reviews and nobody who didn’t like it? No, it’s more like only those who liked it wrote a review and those who didn’t couldn’t even point out the facts and gave up on trying.
So BP is one of those weird anime that are about psychological mystery and horror. It also has its share of urban fantasy, detective thriller and non-linear storytelling. Plus, no comedy. These elements are enough to consider this a jewel just from the genres. And in a way it really is. As far as the story goes, BP is exceptional. It plays around with several fears most people hide in their subconscious and brings them out in the form of madness and isolation, insecurity and fear. The non-linear way that each episode is shown also help to further bring insight to the weird story. And it is not Suzumiya Haruhi random order of episodes crap just to make it look sophisticated while throwing in fillers. Each episode is really adding something to the lot. And it is also told through the eyes of different people each time, so it is also not focused on one person alone. The ending is also solid as far as the mystery is concerned. Some things are left open to speculation but in all the main mystery is exposed. And damn, was it deep and mature. I see no reason of why the Story does not deserve a 10.
There are several dozens of characters, each having a different role in the story. Most major ones suffer from some form of mental disorder that leads them to seek help even from a supernatural source or unwillingly taking part in a conspiracy to change the shape of the world. Many are even killed along the way in mysterious and horrifying ways. That counts as mature and multi-layered on one side. On the other, since the focus is shifted too fast amongst several people, it gets hard to get to like someone as he or she have around half an hour of spotlight at most and then get killed or disappear or become backdrop material. That is a rather nasty minus, as having 50 characters and only a dozen episodes means non get to stand out too much. And it’s true that you end up liking the atmosphere and the story but not the cast. The fact facial variety is rather small and some look alike does not help much to set them apart and judge them separately. Thus the Characters get a 7.
The animation is hit or miss. On one hand it wins thanks to its use of camera angles and dark alleys. On the other the facial variety is too low for such a big cast and the pacing too slow for its own good. The use of neon moths and night lights was cool. The use of supernatural battles was not; they felt out of place. In all the artwork has great atmosphere but lacks true mastering; thus gets an 8.
The music is good on the voice acting part. The soundtrack feels weak and forgettable but it still helps to build the mood. Music also gets an 8.
The Enjoyment part is definitely the hardest thing to point out. You have a rather average score and very high scored reviews. Well it all comes down to what the majority wants. To be honest, less and less people like grim and pessimistic works and that is probably why the series was overlooked by most. Check out Bacanno! for example. It also had a non-linear story and lots of characters just like BP. The story was ok there too but not close to as mature as BP, while the characters were to the most part exaggerated comical archetypes. Most remembers and probably will always remember it because of its cheerier mood and funky characters and push aside deep yet gloomy stories and casts like BP. And then it’s all those comparisons to Serial Experiments Lain; they keep saying it is superior to it yet far more people remember the later than BP. The reason is simple. Although similar in their deep and serious moods, SE Lain has “one” protagonist and you definitely remember Lain by the end of the series. You can’t do that in BP because nobody sticks out. And if I am to add my own comparison to the lot, I say Neon Genesis focused on mental disorders too, yet didn’t forget to add giant robots, comedy and ecchi that helped to immortalize the characters and the story in your mind. This is where BP failed big time, to produce distinctive characters that will make the show memorable. So it is rather low on both Enjoyment and repeat Value just for that.
Other than that, good try but, seriously, memorable characters help a lot in any story. read more
Sep 22, 2008
Sep 18, 2011
Apr 17, 2012
Cons: Can be difficult to follow, a bit grimdark, and the artwork can get sort of dull.
Bottom line: This series might not be for everyone but I loved it. If you like philosophical and episodic based shows I highly recommend it.
My experiences with Boogiepop:
I love Boogiepop. I loved this show, I love the novels (til they were discontinued stateside), I love the live action movie. And yet when I show it to other people, like my sister or my boyfriend....the reactions are sort of mixed (at best). I'm trying to be as unbiased as possible in this review, so as such even though for me its a (rare) 10/10, I made it a 8/10 for this review. I love it but its undeniably flawed.
Boogiepop Phantom is very much a "philosophical" sort of series. It explores -ideas- moreso than characters or a solid plot. I thought it was very deep and the ideas were very interesting when I was a teenager, but I can't deny the story gets sort of dark at times. There are some downright gruesome endings and I can sympathize with people who don't like that kind of stuff. While I loved it as a teen, as I get older and start encountering real world problems, I no longer enjoy it in my entertainment.
Its also episodic, and the cast changes from episode to episode with very few characters shared between them. Sometimes none are shared between them. The episodes are told out of order and in a very disjointed fashion. This is a HUGE plus for me because I think it keeps things fresh, but for other people it can be confusing not having a real sense of connection between the episodes and no characters to latch onto.
While its often compared to Serial Experiments Lain, the format and the way it explores human themes reminds me MUCH more of Paranoia Agent and I think it can be enjoyed in a similar way. While it takes a while, the stories DO come together by the end, I promise. Mostly.
Its an urban setting with fantastical elements. The artwork and colors are very subdued, and while this is intentional and adds to the atmosphere it can get tiresome to look at. The music and sound effects are beautiful and haunting. The supernatural elements are very very cool. I love urban fantasy and said fantastical elements are utilized in very different ways in every episode.
While its not for everyone, I think you will know if Boogiepop Phantom is your thing. read more
May 11, 2013