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[Boogiepop Phantom box art]
AKA: ブギーポップは笑わない , (Boogiepop wa Warawanai); Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh
Genre: Atmospheric sci-fi horror mystery
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from Right Stuf International
Content Rating: PG-13 to R (some language, disturbing imagery, violence)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Serial Experiments Lain, Vampire Princess Miyu (OAV), Noir
Notes:
Rating:
 

Boogiepop Phantom

Synopsis

Probably the most difficult plot synopsis in the entire history of anime, as part of the viewing experience is figuring out what's going on and who the characters are. This synopsis is in chronological format, but the series is not.

Here's the easy part:

Five years ago there was a rash of killings that, for unknown reasons, stopped as suddenly as they started.

Next, cut to one month ago: The night the light appeared and changed everything, from the people who inhabit the city to the city's day to day feel, leaving in it's absence an odd looking "rainbow."

Finally, to the present: Children are disappearing without a trace. Rumor has it that they were taken away by a being called Boogiepop, the modern day Angel of Death. But is Boogiepop real, or just an urban legend?

Review

Moto has a line in the first episode that follows: "It's the individual pieces of the puzzle which form the whole picture." This line, along with the underlying moral of the series, is very prophetic because it basically guides you through the rest of the series, from how the story is presented, to the music and sound of the anime, and to how the artwork integrates with and completes those two.

First things first: The story. Boogiepop Phantom is presented and written in a way almost entirely unique to anything else I have seen in anime. Each episode takes on a different point of view and tells a different story that, when integrated with the other eleven stories, makes Boogiepop Phantom. The original writing in this anime is, in a single word, "crisp," interweaving twelve different stories with a few similar scenes, just to let you know, first, where in the timeline the story takes place and, second, how this story fits with the rest of the series. Now, this would be a nightmare if there were even slight story discrepancies between episodes or, for that matter, if handled badly and uncaringly by the distributor/translator/script writer that brought it to America, but thankfully though, Right Stuf did an absolutely amazing job with this title. The scriptwriter and voice actors worked what must have been weeks on end to make sure that lines that needed to be emphasized to get the story across were, and keeping true to the original Japanese script. Even the dubbing (which, as all anime watchers know, can be a major deviation from the original story) is incredibly accurate, following the subtitles almost word-for-word. As if the whole storyline aspect of the anime wouldn't be difficult enough to follow, the series also follows no set timeline in it's presentation, with one episode nearer to the middle taking place "before" the rest of the series, and with another episode playing it's events in reverse order. This may seem rather random and whimsical to some people, but it's all very calculated to present this series with the maximum impact possible, something that it succeeds at very well, again, if you're an attentive audience member.

We next discuss the music and sound of the series. This anime contains so many different sounds and music within it's episodes, embracing not only the slightly anime-typical electronic off-beat music, but also a revision of the classical piece "Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg" by Richard Wagner, and incredible sound effects which only get better if you have the capabilities to hear the Dolby 5.1 surround. The voice actors in this series also put in an incredible effort, working closely with the scriptwriter to get the emphasis and voice tones just right. Several people within the voice acting buisness have even pointed out this anime as being Jessica Calvello's (Excel Saga, His & Her Circumstances) best performance to date.

Finally, the unique visual style adds to the overall presentation by providing, in conjunction with the sound and music, an atmosphere to the series. Everything until the last episode is colored in darker, hazy tones, giving the audience an odd sense of focus, almost like tunnel vision, that allows the audience to look into the series instead of just watching it - Madhouse, who also worked on Ninja Scroll and VHD: Bloodlust, really did an awesome job on this anime). The visual and audio style of this series gives it a totally unique atmosphere which seems to draw the best out of similar "atmospheric" anime like Lain, the Vampire Princess Miyu OVAs, and Noir.

I bought the first disk on a recommendation from a friend and was hooked after the first episode. Now, after multiple re-viewings and a run though or two with the director's commentary on, the final episode of the series sealed it for me: Dark, atmospheric, confusing, and impressive all at the same time, this series is a work of art. The story, the sound, and the artwork all come together in this series to form, in my opinion, a masterpiece.

Amazing, surrealistic, everything I wanted - like Noir, minus the sex appeal, apparent humor, and mindnumbingly slow recaps. Subtract three stars if you watch anime, but don't want to have to -watch- anime, picking up and deciphering clues as you go along. Isaac Cynova

Recommended Audience: It's an adult anime just because of the story and how it's told. The horror-type violence would add to that as well, but basically, your kids won't watch this anyway.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Boogiepop Phantom © 2000 Kadono Kouhei / Mediaworks / Project Boogiepop