If David Lynch's son grew up in Japan and became a filmmaker like his father, and if his brain had a mouth, it would vomit Boogiepop Phantom onto our screens.
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.
With the new “Boogiepop” adaptation recently being announced, I decided to revisit the old one, hoping the sudden news might finally give this hidden gem the recognition it deserves. Boogiepop Phantom is Madhouse's semi-adaptation of the on-going self-titled novel series from 1998, particularly the second and the third volume of the series, "Boogiepop and Others" and "Boogiepop at Dawn." It was released at the beginning of the year 2000, following the wave of deep, complex and esoteric shows filled with dark character drama that emerged as a magnitude response to Neon Genesis Evangelion's deep impact on the entire genre. Unfortunately, even though Boogiepop was a
fairly strong representation of this period, having a confusing and disturbing plot, lots of well-explored controversial topics and a unique tone, the result was it being one of the most criminally underrated and underappreciated shows of its time. The reason for this mishappening is simply "being in the wrong place at the wrong time." The show was released soon after another genre-breaking classic for its time, Serial Experiments Lain, and remained hidden in its shadow without getting any recognition whatsoever, being casted off as simply another attempt to mimic the greatness. Now, while it definitely does borrow a couple of ideas from Lain, along with a similar type of storytelling and distinct tone, it takes a completely different approach to both the concept and the themes, striving for an entirely different goal.
Told through a semi-episodic structure, Boogiepop Phantom follows the lives of young teens who have fallen victim to the consequences of a series of incidents dating five years into the past, some of who obtained strange supernatural powers. Among the students a rumor begins to spread, that of an unearthly creature lurking in the shadows of the city; a phantom-like entity that is believed to be the very personification of Death itself. And while the rumor is being laughed off, the children keep going missing.
The story is told through a rather convoluted fashion. This type of storytelling feels more like a jigsaw puzzle than your regular chronologically-linear structure that is most commonly used. Boogiepop Phantom tells a story through several different timelines and a series of seemingly unconnected events that are told out of order. It is a rather methodical show, systematically introducing elements to the narrative that adds to the ever-growing mystery surrounding the series, but also providing enough evidence and information for the viewer to follow the plot on the most basic level. The series never caters the viewer by giving info-dumps or connecting pieces for them. Instead, the story is jam-packed with different plot elements and variables, and it can be hard to pick up on all of them. If you are a casual watcher and have a problem with banging your head against the wall trying to figure out where and how to fit single pieces of the plot into the puzzle, I highly recommend you to stay away from this series.
The reason the show decided to use such a type of storytelling is because it allows the characters to take over the spotlight, leaving the story to unfold itself in the background. As I previously mentioned, the show revolves around a group of young teens striving on their way towards adulthood, and the series examines each character, allowing the viewer to project themselves onto them. This way, we are allowed to get to know and understand each of the characters: the way they observe and perceive the world around them, how they fit (or don't fit) into the society, the problems they face and the hardships they deal with. This is where the show gets a lot darker, as it touches upon some of the more disturbing and maybe even controversial topics regarding the lives of the characters. While it doesn't go into too much depth with the psycho-analysis, it does do an amazing job presenting the characters as individuals and helping the viewer understand them and what they are going through. This also allows the show itself to approach the story from different angles, and address certain subjects revolving around it, using the characters as googles to observe the world and the events. These stories are usually interconnected in one way or another, so they often intertwin. While the connections aren't important or necessary to the story and bigger picture in general, they are used as a well-thought reminder for the viewer to recall the past events, or the ones from the previous episodes, allowing an easier understanding of the whole piece.
Now, while the show revolves around a different character each episode, there are a few characters (and entities) that are moving the main plot forward. I won't go into too much detail here, due to this being a very spoiler-heavy area, in order to provide a better viewing experience. Aside from Boogiepop, AKA the ''Angel of Death'', as referred to in the anime, another character worth mentioning is Kirima Nagi. Nagi is usually referred to as the ''Fire Witch'' throughout the show, due to her ability to use and control fire that she gained in the aforementioned incident five years ago. Being aware of how dangerous and uncontrollable her powers can be she decided to distance herself from her friends and people in general. She appears to be a superhero-like figure in the Boogiepop saga, being heavily devoted to protecting the world from whatever threats may come. Very strong both physically and mentally, Nagi is usually the one confronting the unknown entities throughout the series. Having that Boogiepop is not the only supernatural entity haunting the city, it is also the habitat of other creatures, such as the Pied Piper-like child who encounters people who have regrets in the directions their lives took, and takes away the manifestation of their youth, leaving but a raw, empty shell, or a fastly-aging, and seemingly autistic girl that plays with butterflies that can draw memories out of people.
As you might have already guessed already, Boogiepop Phantom is a show that primarily revolves around dealing with changes throughout certain points in our lives. It uses memories, the ''borrowed'' concept of Serial Experiments Lain, to present the young teenagers' need to retreat from the reality that they are not used to due to their immaturity, and the consequences of turning to escapism. It shows their hopeless and unprepared struggle when having to take responsibility and face the consequences for the choices they made. Throughout the series, the characters are shown dealing with such in the most bizarre ways; having them create their own versions of reality, creating a rather distorted view of the world, or even locking themselves into their very own childhood memories, refusing to face up to the facts. And through such disfigured views, Boogiepop observes the entire society, leaving strong commentary on it.
Where the show really stands out the most is in its audiovisual appeal. The show has a very unique visual design, especially when it comes to the design of the characters. They appear very humanoid, being completely devoid of the usual features characteristic for the anime medium, such as huge eyes, weird hair designs and unnatural hair colors. The reason for this is twofold: the main reason being the need to set the baseline of normality in the show, and establish the basic sense of realism. In a series where so many supernatural things happen the viewer must be able to distinguish what 'normal' is, in order to understand the abnormal. Secondly, the natural design allows the viewer to project themselves onto the characters more easily, and makes the drama all the more believable. It's also devoid of the usual anime gimmick in the form of caricature faces, exaggerated expressions, or anything that could damage the tense mood of the series. The show uses a reduced color palette to create a sepia-like tone, pulled through a vignette effect, creating a sense of emotional malaise. This not only establishes the unsettling mood for the series, which is afterall a horror/thriller show, but also helps put the main happening in the literal center of the screen. Unfortunately, Boogiepop suffers from the lack of budget and weak technical merits that are manifested through inconsistent animation, low-quality visuals and still shots. The sound design consists of synthesized avant-garde music carried by a leitmotif in the form of an active sonar pulse, and is mostly used to convey drama in the sound-mixing. As its predecessor Serial Experiments Lain, Boogiepop Phantom also feels the most comfortable playing with the silence, and using the loud, sharp electronic sounds to emphasize the important change in the mood change in tone.
Unsettling, cryptic but overall insightful, Boogiepop Phantom is a horror that treats both the viewer and the genre with respect. It is a very mind-boggling show that never takes itself too lightly, and doesn't expect anything other than that in return. If you are willing to fully commit to it, you can expect to be heavily rewarded in the end by everything that this "spooky sepia puzzle" has to offer.
If I were to describe Boogiepop Phantom in 5 words or less, it would be: dark, atmospheric, strange, confusing, and more importantly, outstanding. So what makes this show outstanding? Well that's where this review comes in handy ; ).
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
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.
Dementia is one of the rarest genres when it comes to TV anime. There are currently only 3 of them listed on MAL: Neon Genesis Evangelion, Serial Experiments Lain and Boogiepop Phantom. Most anime watchers have probably heard of the first two countless of times while Boogiepop does not get the same amount of recognition. So why is Boogiepop not considered a classic as well?
Let's start with the story. Boogiepop has an episodic and non-linear structure that works surprisingly well. Each episode focuses on one character and a theme related to said character. Some episodes move the plot forward more than others, but each of
them adds something to the main mystery. In the end, none of them serve as filler and all have some relevance to the plot.
The themes in Boogiepop are complex and mature, there are few shows that manage to be analytical of the human psyche in this way. There is however one big downside about Boogiepop's approach, and that is a lack of focus. Sure, it covers a fair amount of themes, and for the most part it does it well, but it never puts a lot of focus on the same one since we do not get to follow the characters for longer than one episode. It is enjoyable to watch for what it is but we do not spend enough time on a single theme for it to have that much of an impact, lowering the memorability of the series. Another thing that deserves mentioning is that it can feel a bit convoluted at times, but it never gets to the point where it becomes too overwhelming and loses its meaning.
The episodic nature of the show serves the mystery well, establishing it early on in its first episode. Throughout the entire show, it keeps adding tiny bits to the puzzle until we finally get to see the whole picture. Each episode raises its own questions about the story, that are answered in a later episode that showcases another perspective on the events. The way we got to see how the actions of one character made an impact on other people’s stories was interesting. The way this is handled is masterful, making every episode both intriguing and satisfying. On the flip side, there are two problems with this aspect of the show. For starters, not everything gets explained. There are plot threads that do not get a proper resolution. But to be fair, the main mystery does, so that problem ends up being merely something that could have been improved on. The second one is that a lot of characters look too similar, making it sometimes hard to identify them, adding some unneeded confusion.
Apart from that, the art on its own is nothing too special, the character design is pretty cookie-cutter and has a realistic look to it, but the dimmed down color palette is what makes the visuals stand out. Animation-wise, this show does not have much to offer. There is usually not much movement happening in each frame, sometimes none at all, and it even goes as far as to replace animation with footage of real people walking for no other discernible reasion than to save budget.
So why does it not fail in this department? Because it works well together with the sound to create a somber atmosphere. Boogiepop uses sound effects extremely well, it is arguably what the show does best. Most of them are electronic sounds, which not only fit the story, but also complement the scenes in which they are used to create the strongest possible atmosphere. The music tracks are solid, working well in favor of the anime whenever they play. Perhaps the reason it works so well is because it is a different approach to sound that is not frequently used in anime. Using silence to build tension is another trick that Boogiepop has up its sleeve.
All that being said, what factor about the show brings it down to "only" being a good anime? That would have to be the characters. While the cast is not bad, it is not exactly good either. The main problem of the cast is that it is not memorable at all. With the focus being shared between a lot of them, none serve to make an impact in the long run. They are enjoyable to watch for what they are, and work well in delivering the theme they are set out to deliver but none of the characters get enough time in the spotlight to be remembered. Add the fact that some of them are flawed in their execution and do not do much outside of filling a specific purpose, and in the end you get a cast that is nothing special.
On the flip side, some of the more enigmatic characters fill their niche quite well. The way they are presented contributes to making them interesting, and revelations about the mysteries surrounding them are handled in a satisfying manner.
Compared to the episodic characters, the main characters do not get explored much, if at all, though they still serve their purpose just fine. In fact, that would be the best way to sum up the entire cast of Boogiepop Phantom: they work for what they are, but they do not make a big difference to the series as a whole.
Despite its not so impressive cast, Boogiepop manages to be entertaining throughout, in quite a few different ways. Both as a psychological show, thanks to the thematic studies, but also as a mystery show because of the way the plot is presented. It even scratches the horror niche because of how atmospheric it is. Through clever use of audiovisuals and content it delivers on the tension well, and is sometimes straight up uncomfortable.
Perhaps because of the variety of genres Boogiepop Phantom combines, the show never got boring to watch. While not the most memorable anime in history, nor one that everyone will enjoy, it is definitely a good show. But it also could have been so much more if it just had a more memorable character cast. Still, a definite recommendation.
It's now 2019 and I'll start the year out with reviewing something... challenging.
I was thinking about taking it easy and just gushing praise on Space Brothers or Mononoke or Kino's Journey. However, I don't have much to say on those series that hasn't already been said many times before. Those series are great and most people here on MAL are already aware of that. Instead, I'll be looking at an overlooked little title called Boogiepop Phantom. This series has a lot of stuff going for it, but can still be very frustrating.
Boogiepop Phantom was adapted from a longrunning series of light novels, but this
is one of the most baffling adaptations I've ever seen. I don't just mean that the show's plot is confusing, although it certainly is. I mean I have NO idea why it was adapted the way it was. The light novel series is a goofy story that doesn't really take itself too seriously. Everything is explained and there is no attempt to be super esoteric or artsy. There are also tons of random references to music from the 70s and 80s. I'd say its like a slightly more horror themed version of JoJo's Bizzare adventure.
The anime adaptation begins a little past halfway into the light novel series. It's like the 90s Jojo OVA where they just skipped straight to the Dio vs. Jotaro fight. The anime is a COMPLETELY different animal. This anime doesn't want to explain JACK SHIT! It also wants to be as artsy as humanly possible and constantly ripoff Serial Experiments Lain for some reason. I would compare it to the case of "2001: A Space Oddysey" where there were major differences between the Kubrick film and original novel. However, in that instance they only really diverged towards the end. Boogiepop the anime would be like if the entire film was the "God Baby" scene. It's just 12 solid episodes of pure, industrial grade, WTF?!
So what GENIUS director was responsible for this? The answer is Takashi Watanabe. The man who directed: Ikki Tousen, Freezing, Black Lion, and a hentai about an evil weather girl that rapes her female co-workers. The only remotely good anime he ever made besides Boogiepop was the 90s comedy Slayers. What was his thought process for adapting Boogiepop this way? Was this a dare? Maybe someone called him a casual panderer and he revealed he had been using less than 1 percent of his pretentiousness power. This series is him powered up to 100%. For whatever reason, Watanabe has never tried to be this elitist either before or since. Boogiepop was a one time anomaly that just happened like a lightning bolt on a clear day.
Fortunately, Boogiepop had a LOT of talented people working on it. That's why this series still works and is still good...even though it's a mystifying adaptation. The series composition and dialogue was handled by Sadayuki Murai. This is the man who penned: Millenium Actress, Perfect Blue, Kino's Journey 2003, and co-wrote Cowboy Bebop! The art for this anime was handled by Studio Madhouse and they really knock it out of the park. The sound editing and mixing was handled by the same guy who did the sound for Lain. So if you're wondering why it has the same distorted audio and weird electronic sounds as Lain, that's the reason.
Plot: (SPOILERS for the light novel in the 2nd paragraph)
If you just watch the anime, you will be a missing a LOT of pieces to this puzzle. It's kind of like Dark Souls in that it only gives you fragments you have to paste together, but Dark Souls gives you WAY more than this anime. In the following paragraph I'll summarize what's actually going on. If you don't want to know, please skip this next paragraph!
A super advanced alien species came down to observe Earth. One of these aliens decided to take a human form to try blend in. Unfortunately, he messed up and chose a form that was way too evolved. He didn't want to give the humans any information they aren't ready for, so he just repeats what other people say. This earned him the nickname "Mr Echos". An evil organization that wants to take over the world decide to kidnap Mr Echos because they think he's a mutant and don't realize he's an alien. As their first experiment, the evil organization inject random people with a serum made from Echo's DNA. As their second experiment, the baddies clone Mr Echos and this creates an evil, man-eating monster called "The Manticore". Mr Echos escapes the organization and fights the Manticore. Echos uses an EMP blast that seemingly kills the Manticore, but it actually split the Manticore into good and evil halfs. The EMP blast also trigger the mutant powers of all the people injected with the serum and they evolve new, trippy abilities. For example, one dude gains the ability to personify the guilt and suffering of others into a spider and then eat that person's guilt spider to get rid of their suffering. The bad Manticore takes the form of a lonely youth named Saotome, who had just been rejected by his GF. The good manticore takes the form of a mysterious vigilante named Boogiepop, who is actually one of the multiple personalities of a psychologically damaged girl. She doesn't like that the Manticore borrowed her name and appearence, so the good Manticore decides to call himself "Boogiepop Phantom" to differenciate the two. Together, both Boogiepop and Boogiepop Phantom try to fight the evil Manticore and teleport away those who can't control their new powers.
Boogiepop tackles themes of loss, the dangers of escapism, and how we need to embrace change in an ever changing world. At least so says Crispin Freeman. The legendary English language dub actor was in charge of the English translation by Central Park Media. Since the series was SO confusing, the DVDs included a special feature of Freeman in full English Professor mode, trying desperately to find meaning in Boogiepop. God bless Crispin Freeman! He really went the extra mile here and I actually enjoyed his lectures, which are available as links on the wikipedia page.
The art and animation by Studio Madhouse is once again spectacular. One thing you will immediately notice is the extemely bleak color palette. The entire series uses a sepia monochrome because Takashi Watanabe wanted to homage the film Stalker. Seriously. God damn it Watanabe! The character art seems to borrow heavily from Serial Experimens Lain. Every episode of Boogiepop has at least 3 dead ringers for Lain Iwakura. At least none are walking around in a bear suit, otherwise there would've been a lawsuit.
The guy from Lain basically used the same effects he used for that series. As if this series wasn't already trying hard enough to be Lain 2. Still, it's a solid soundtrack with some brilliant sound editing. This series has a lot of little details it really nails if you're a technically minded viewer.
Boogiepop made a lot of adaptation choices I disagree with, but it's a good series overall. On a technical level it really shines and the script from Murai offers some great moments. As a horror anime, it may not be scary in the traditional sense, but it does offer some unique and disturbing imagery. At the same time, this is a schlock director trying REALLY hard to be super intelligent for a property where that feels inappropriate. This can make Boogie an absolute chore to watch at times. Still, I would recommend watching this series for the experience because I guarantee the new one in 2019 is NOT going to be like this.
In the year 2000, Takashi Watanabe kidnapped Lain director Ryutaro Nakamura and tried to gain the secret of making artsy anime. The following was his song.
"Now I'm the king of the schlockmeisters. The echii VIP.
I reached the top, but I had to stop and that's what's been botherin me!
I wanna be a snob, Ryu-san, and stroll right into town.
I'd hob nob with all the other snobs. I'm tired of monkeying around.
Cerebral, visceral, and downright disturbing, Boogiepop Phantom is a terrific non-linear mind screw. Using resources often left untapped in most other anime, Boogiepop sets itself apart in multiple technical aspects to highlight a furious blend of the paranormal and the severe flaws of Japanese society.
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.
Boggiepop Phantom is a dark spooky anime about the paranormal. At only 12 episodes it packs in quite a dose of dizzying plot connections and things that not only make you scratch your head they'll have you freaking out. Generally each episode focuses on a certain character and goes through their story. Each episode is not the next part of the time line. Things are mixed up and thrown around. Scenes introduced many times from many views. This is great as it keeps the mystery going but also gives the answers, that is if you're able to follow along.
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.
As the anime industry evolves, some things are inevitable. Great directors pass on, the public's tastes change, and the wellspring of originality runs drier and drier.
When studios need to release something, but can't come up with ideas, one of two things happen. They either look at what's selling and create something that they think will pacify the masses, at the cost of new and interesting concepts.
Or, they decide to adapt something popular from another form of media and hope for the best.
Adaptations can range from good to bad depending on a variety of factors. The loyalty to the source material, the director/studio in
charge of the project, the form of media being adapted in the first place, and even the length of the source material can make or break an adaptation.
Boogiepop Phantom was produced by Studio Madhouse, a name that has produced many outstanding anime over the years. Of course, every studio has their fair share of failures as well. Luckily, Boogiepop Phantom, a portion of the light novel series by Kouhei Kadono, isn't one of them.
Despite being directed by Takashi Watanabe, a man whose main body of works are fanservice heavy comedy fantasy anime, Boogiepop is a departure from his usual style. Here, there is no fanservice or comedy. Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh, after all. There's still some fantasy/supernatural elements, but not in the over the top way his works usually involve.
Instead, you will find a dark story cataloging the corruption and insanity of humanity. Whenever there is a small flicker of hope, it is inevitably extinguished. Due to stellar sound and art direction, this feeling really sinks in as you continue on this hopeless journey.
No sound is wasted or out of place. Everything from the sounds of downtown Japan to the ticking of a clock serves to draw you into the world of Boogiepop. The music is oftentimes unsettling, making sure that you are never too comfortable. Even in the most mundane of scene, you can never really relax.
The art style is dreary as fits a setting like this, but the animation has started to age. It shouldn't be enough to bring you out of submersion, but if you look too hard you'll notice a few stiff animations here and there. The characters look too mundane in some cases, and can be difficult to tell apart right away, leading to more confusion in an already mind bending story.
After all, half of the anime you are going to be scratching your head as to what is going on. This show likes to make you think, and think hard. If you pay close attention, you should be able to keep things straight enough not to be completely lost, but this is definitely not a show to watch when you don't feel like thinking.
Most of the plot is revealed by the end, and the biggest questions will be answered. There are a few plot points that suffer because of the nature of the adaptation, however. The original light novels are separated into different story arcs, and unfortunately this adaptation only covers about one and a half of the over 10 arcs present in the light novels.
While the core information needed to understand this story is here, some of the things leading up to the current arc aren't well fleshed out, leaving you wondering how all this started.
All in all, Boogiepop Phantom is a dark and unsettling anime with an intricate plot that almost always delivers. The characters are interesting enough even if they aren't all incredibly developed. Combined with the near perfect sound direction, Boogiepop is a series you really shouldn't miss if you like intelligent plots, mature themes, and/or psychological horror.
As I watched the fifth episode of Boogiepop Phantom, a friend walked by my desk and politely asked what show I was watching. I said "Boogiepop Phantom" (which is a decidedly strange title, even by anime standards). He said "huh?" and I repeated the title. He gave me a quizzical look and asked what it was "about." I answered as honestly as possible, as I always do, and the answer I gave (minus some colorful language) was: "I don't have a clue."
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.
Dark, creepy, and infused with an atmosphere so dense you can cut it with a knife, "Boogiepop Phantom" stands out as a unique viewing experience of the WTF genre that contrasts starkly against almost every other anime out there.
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.
Five years ago, a series of terrifying murders took place across an unnamed city in Japan, forever changing the lives of two young girls. In the present day, rumors begin to arise of a mysterious entity known as Boogiepop. No one knows who or what she really is, or even if she exists at all, only that if you meet her in the night you will be taken away. One night, all the power in the city goes out, and a mysterious column of light rises to the heavens, changing a few people's lives throughout the city in an instant. There's a speech-impaired girl who
wanders about, surrounded by shining butterflies that only a few people can see. Nagi Kirima spends her days like any other high school student, but by night she wanders the streets of the city, observing and confronting these phenomena and their consequences. How are all of these events connected, and what does it mean for the city? Is there any meaning to pursuing a mystery that may never be fully unraveled? Confused? Welcome aboard.
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.
I just finished watching Boogiepop Phantom and honestly I have no idea what I have just watched. And it is not because the plot is too complex or because there are too many different points of view of various supporting characters who are all troubled or because of constant change of time and location. It’s because some parts of the storyline are missing. Some people say Boogiepop Phantom is like a puzzle. You only need to watch carefully and put all pieces together so you can understand the story. That is not true. The biggest problem here is there is lots of missing piece so
it’s practically impossible to understand the whole story unless you're psychic or unless you read a good synopsis like I did. One more problem apart from partially presented storyline is character design. I had trouble telling them apart (also I still have no clue who the other Boogiepop is).
This anime has so much potential. We have dark atmosphere, strange occurrences, supernatural creatures, mysterious murders and above all a sneak peek into the minds of troubled individuals and discovery of what breaks them down (both real and imaginary things). The plot is also easy to understand and quite interesting (if you read a good synopsis). Not to mention the beauty of sound effects. But as I already said the anime is poorly done so all of this goes down the drain.
“Time does not exist. Only the illusion of memories exist.”
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)
even though we all live are on individual life's we all some how are affect by a certain experiences believe it or not this anime have taught me a lot about letting go of bad memories and making room for new ones. i learned that no matter what situation you in you have choose in life and what ever choose you make this choose will have maybe an impact on your life each individual in this anime had a choose or event that mold and shape there future . some was bad some was good. and it also taught me about how people are
, especially people you call your self friends with some of these people was lonely sad and suicidal and a lot of times they looked for friends and some time got the wrong friends ... so if your looking an anime that is on the creepy side like death note and claymore then this is the anime for you...
The series's structure isn't too unusual. There's some sort of mystery going on behind the scenes, but it's told in a fragmented manner and leaves it to the audience to piece things together themselves. Memento is the most obvious thing that enters our minds when it comes to doing this sort of story, but there are stories that go all the way back to the Stone Age that have tackled similar concepts. Plus, it's a bit of a risky storytelling style because when done wrong, you can alienate the audience entirely and make them unable to follow what's going on. I know I got lost
quite a few times on my first watch, but that's just because I don't like to to think too hard with my cartoons if I can help it.
Boogiepop breathes life into the formula and makes it reasonable to follow through its episodic character stories. Similar to Paranoia Agent and Hell Girl, Boogiepop dedicates one episode to a character suffering from personal problems that are somehow tied to the supernatural, and said story is supported by atmospheric directing. It may get a little obtuse with the atmosphere, but not to the sense that you can't understand the basics at least. And as more and more details are revealed, the atmosphere becomes lighter to reflect the audience's state of mind as they approach the end. That's pretty awesome.
Each character is only important for that one episode and you never see them again, usually on account of the fact that they're not in any condition to show up in the future. Nevertheless, they leave a huge impact because of how the series deal with their personal problems. The thing I love the most about said stories is how they start off mostly hopeful because the characters are trying to ignore their problems rather than face them. But of course, life doesn't work that way, and they face horrible consequences for their naivety. It's the sort of "you can't fight what's beyond your control" stuff that makes Mushishi's stories so good. And I love how even when characters do face their personal problems, the end result isn't happy. It's better, and should always be done, but it's not positive in the least.
As for how the show ties all these stories together, I won't dare spoil that because part of the fun is figuring that out for yourself. In fact, I don't think I'm capable of actually spoiling it if I wanted to, because I'm still not sure if everything makes sense to me. But you know what? Making sense is like originality. Important, but pretty overrated. Just know that despite the names shown in that rocking opening I posted above, those "central characters" that supposedly aid in "tying up plot threads" barely show up throughout the course of the show. Only Boogiepop is a constant presence, and there are some episodes where she doesn't even get ten seconds of screen time. The show is that much of a puzzle. But it is such a fun puzzle.
The anime on its own doesn't give much insight into the mind of its creator. For that one would probably need to read a few of his light novels too. But that doesn't take anything away from it.
The concept isn't particularly mindblowing. It is just another supernatural story but it does achieve quite a lot in its execution. It explores many philosophical and psychological themes--the most prominent ones being time and change. It also presents its own philosophy which I thought was something along the lines of accepting change so that we may attain a higher state of being. One of its episode's take
on escapism I thought was quite ahead of its time.
It is a highly symbolic work as many of its elements either symbolise or allude to ideas that have influenced Kadono.
Now moving to the material aspects of the anime, the art and sound direction is immaculate: the OST is as good as it gets and the art and the atmosphere suit the story well. The dialogue and the visual narrative are also very well done; it doesn't try to be too clever for its own good.
As far as the characters are concerned, I believe that characters cannot portray human beings adequately and therefore should focus instead on being more than just characters. That is indeed the case here as characters represent memories, feelings and ideas.
All in all this is one meticulously crafted show that undoubtedly is one of the medium's absolute classics.
This was one of first anime to appear at the turn of the century. With a strange title, Boogiepop Phantom, and riding a hot up and coming director by the name of Takashi Watanabe (Slayers), Studio Madhouse went with the theme of the 90’s in a vastly changing scene of dark and experimental sci-fi anime. This one is no exception and possibly one of the darkest anime of its time. It has a puzzle-box type of show where the viewer must piece events together chronologically in order to make sense of things, all while watching the various characters break down mentally in this town stricken
by mysterious events.
In this town where grotesque murders are taking place, rumours spread of a mysterious entity known simply as Boogiepop. If you see Boogiepop, count your blessing and kiss yourself goodbye. Throughout each episode, events from one episode gives glimpses or explanation to another. This gives the viewer great ‘ah-ha’ moments, but also the realization of ‘what is even happening?’ Even main characters from one episode may make a brief appearance in another further either answering some questions or making new ones. This theme of Boogiepop Phantom really keeps the viewer paying close attention to each episode. It is all about putting together the big picture.
That being said, the pieces thrown together may be a bit unsatisfying yet brilliant at the same time in a strange way. It really takes a look at what the worst humanity has to offer ranging from gaining vast power leads to changing one’s psyche to the pain of going through death during childhood.
Director Takashi Watanabe had full control over this anime unlike in Slayers or the mess of shows he went on to do. The use of greys and dark greens in the colour pallets speaks volumes of the setting. Music and tones were set in a way to make the environment uncomfortable, but overlapping dialogue with poor character designs lead to too much repetition. Perhaps there was just too much taken or influenced from Serial Experiments Lain in this one.
The problem is, Boogiepop Phantom is so narrow minded with its psychology theme and unoriginal from the series before it (Evangelion and Lain) that it lacks any impact at all. The questionable writing and too many missing pieces in the puzzle leads to more questions than answers without consulting a psychology guide and summary. If Serial Experiments Lain or Evangelion hits the right notes, then Boogiepop Phantom is a series definitely worth checking out.
If anime is notorious for anything, it's the the jigsaw puzzle plot. And BOOGIEPOP PHANTOM is the ultimate puzzle plot. That's saying something considering the show doesn't even give you all of the pieces. Set against the backdrop of Kouhei Kadono's larger multimedia project of BOOGIEPOP (of which I cannot claim any familiarity with beyond this program), one can be forgiven for coming away from PHANTOM feeling like they are missing the bigger picture. The context for the events within the show and many of its characters, especially those named in the OP, is at best merely hinted at and clearly can be made sense
of only through engaging with the larger franchise. Still, there is more to be deciphered from the scattered fragments of PHANTOM than can initially be parsed from a first-viewing.
Supernatural occurrences begin to plague a nondescript Japanese city after an ominous pillar of light disrupts the power grid one night. The story explores this series of sepia nightmares through mostly episodic vignettes of the lives of high school students. Their personal stories are conveyed in a non-linear fashion; title cards with numbered "scenes" and labeled times/locations help to provide some indication of transition (although even this device is occasional used in cleverly deceptive ways). If that wasn't enough, each story often intersects with others, with some scenes even repeating themselves. This network narrative requires attentive viewership, as one must get a sense of the timeline of events and each scene's relationship to it in order to follow along.
Through this complex structure, BOOGIEPOP PHANTOM explores themes of time, innocence and its loss, memory, and escapism. Beyond the mere power of editing, the show finds other ingenious diegetic ways to drudge up the past and, in some spectacular cases, cause it to collide furiously with the present. Likewise, PHANTOM has no shortage of metaphors to cash out: rust and overgrowth, butterflies and abandoned theme parks. And what better subjects to follow than youths on the cusp of adulthood?
With the exception of the prestigious Madhouse studio behind it, it is surprising how little notable talent there is attached to this masterpiece. While the rather minimalist art and animation aren't exceptional by any means, they are effective when they need to be. The hazy and muted visuals make the entire show play like a flashback or memory. PHANTOM gets much milage out of static shots and looped frames. The direction is so assured and well-framed as to never need much in the way of movement from characters or otherwise. The industrial/ambient soundscape, perhaps the most talked-about aspect of the show, is what really brings the whole production together. Much like SERIAL EXPERIMENTS LAIN (and it's cousin TEXHNOLYZE; both of which are sources of endless comparison), the distorted sound makes the urban setting come to life. One can't help but feel like the horrors on display have been etched into the very concrete fabric of the city, like a haunting memory.
Perhaps the best thing that can be said about BOOGIEPOP PHANTOM is that it's truly scary in a way few anime are. It knows how to build atmosphere. It knows how to use violence as punctuation. It knows that rumors and whispers can be more bone-chilling than witnessing everything first-hand. It knows how to make sense of terror through the lens of more pedestrian and relatable anxieties. How the upcoming BOOGIEPOP AND OTHERS compares will be interesting to see, although the promotional material suggests we are in for a more conventional affair.
An excellent mystery anime but extremely confusing at times.
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.
Boogiepop Phantom is up there for me as an enthralling and exceptional anime experience. It has one of the most unique narrative structures and styles I’ve seen in an anime and is a worthy viewing for that reason alone. Fans of horror are strongly recommended to check this show out, as its one of the best in the genre.
Given its narrative structure, providing a plot summary doesn’t do much good, it is probably better to describe the setting the show takes place in. One night in an unnamed city, a pillar of light appears. Approximately a month has passed, and there is strange goings on.
Some high school students are disappearing. There are rumors of the mysterious angel of death, “Boogiepop” being responsible for them. In the same city a mysterious series of murders had occurred five years ago that are also connected.
Rather than approach things in a traditional way, Boogiepop Phantom’s style is to focus each episode on one of the high school students living in the city. For example you have Moto Tonomura, an introverted girl with a crush on a boy, Saotome, who disappeared. There’s also Jounichi Hisashi. His dream of being an athlete ruined by a bone tumor, Jounichi starts seeing large bugs appear on people, which he has a strong desire to eat. Misuzu Arito, whose friend was murdered five years ago tries to spread the love of “Panuru” to everyone. While providing us interesting stories for various characters, each episode provides further bread crumbs of the mysterious goings on in the city
The narrative structure is really interesting in several ways. For one thing, many characters receive a brief appearance in one episode, and then a further fleshed out storyline in a later one. For example, the first episode focuses on Moto, but she has a brief scene with Jounichi, who is the focus of the second episode. Upon seeing the second episode his strange behavior in the first makes a lot more sense. This structure results in the story being non-chronological in nature. When you combine this with the numerous instances in which the show flashes back to the events of five years ago, it makes the show like a puzzle, with each episode providing further pieces to put together the whole and more and more of the storyline becomes clear.
This makes the show a really interesting experience in my opinion. It is a show with a lot of depth, and one that really rewards rewatchings. If anything, the second or third viewing experience, once you have a better idea of what is going on, is more fun than the first. Which I suppose is also a criticism one can have for the show. If you’re the type who prefers to only watch things once and then immediately move on to something else, this show may not be the thing for you. But if you’re one who enjoys going back to old favorites, this is a show that will continue to reward you with each subsequent viewing.
In addition to the show’s narrative structure, the style is pulled off really well as well. Each episode is shown in very muted colors, which combined with the mysteriousness of the setting, the character design and some really strong sound/musical choices gives this show a really mysterious and scary atmosphere. The level of mystery and fright that this show provides is really up there.
There are some places in which the show isn’t doing itself many favors, in particular the fact that so many characters look alike or are meant to be facsimiles of each other, as well as that decent portions of the plot are not told in the show but rather warrant additional research into the light novel series that inspired the show in the first place. For example, there is not just Boogiepop, but a separate character known as Boogiepop Phantom who wears the same outfit. It is quite easy to confuse the two characters unless you know to look for certain differences in their facial features. There’s one scene where Boogiepop Phantom appears in a school girl outfit rather than her usual attire, causing most viewers to confuse her with another character, Nagi Kirima, the closest the show has to a heroine. Boogiepop Phantom is also known as the Manticore, but the character of Saotome is also referred to by that name. Boogiepop Phantom takes on the form of a girl named Minako, yet there’s another major character with the name of Manaka. And so on. One is apt to lose their mind with how convoluted everything gets when some fairly easy to make choices could have cleared up a lot of this confusion.
Anyway, that aside, there is no reason to not see this show. I come back to watch this show at least every few years and there is always something new and interesting there for me to discover.