Boogiepop Phantom

May 31, 2004 on 6:33 pm | In Boogiepop Phantom | Comments Off on Boogiepop Phantom

The internet and mobile phones have changed the way that society, and conversely anime, work on a large scale. Frequently the technology in modern anime is far better (and certainly more practical) than the futuristic anime of twenty years past.
serial experiments lain was one of the first anime to really take on the idea that we really are all connected. In Boogiepop Phantom, this is more of a subtext, but it manipulates the ideas on a wider scale. The understatement makes it special.
This is anime that is horrific in that it seems to detail every little (or big) quirk that faces the modern Japanese teenager. The suicides, murders, mental problems and general disappearances make it a very scary anime to watch indeed. Of course, horror is purely relative, so Boogiepop Phantom might wash over distinctly differently with different people.

Five years ago, there was a spate of serial killings. One month prior to the events of Boogiepop Phantom, there was an explosion of light pouring into the sky. Thereafter, weird things began to happen to people. Someone called Boogiepop is said to have appeared unto people and caused their disappearance.
Boogiepop Phantom is the ultimate in puzzle anime. Everything fits together seamlessly despite each episode at first appearing unrelated. As the episodes progress, more and more things seem relevant until the entire thing is revealed. As such, Boogiepop Phantom rewards an attentive memory; the first few episodes take scenes from each other to create the tapestry, but at times you have to press yourself to see where they draw from. Around the five episode point (aptly titled “Interlude”), the connectivity is greater, but you should not look for it lest you want your head to snap. It’s not that it’s hard to follow, it’s just that it’s a break in the much needed concentration to go with this series.

Based on a book series, Boogiepop Phantom gives the impression (only if you read the notes that come with it) that it rewards readers of the books. This anime has been retooled to stand by itself, but there are cameos by important characters from the books that you wouldn’t notice if you hadn’t been told or didn’t know of their existence beforehand. It’s just something that gives a feel that there’s even deeper to travel.

Characterisation is generally strong, with almost every episode taking on a new main character. Not all of them can be sympathetic, and in fact the first episode’s character appears to be the least consequential of them all. Given the varying subject matters, different characters have stronger emotional impact, and one of them has nothing going for him at all.
The recurring characters are the strongest, although there are three who are revealed to be central to the plot – and only one of them has had a substantial, or memorable role. Despite its amazing structure, the series may have worked better had some more attention been paid to these three throughout. Of course, the possibility is that increasing amounts of information can be gleaned through repeat viewings, but Boogiepop Phantom is not the sort of anime that you would want to return to in a hurry, although it is true that it is incredibly compelling. It’s just that the constant suicide themes (it’s far too easy for a teenager to kill themself) and general delusions make it heavy anime.

The colour scheme is impressive in that it’s barely there. The early episodes are pretty much told in shades of brown and grey. In the later episodes there’s a bit more variety, but it’s not until the final episode that you can actually recall seeing a blue sky. While that is remarkable, sadly the character designs are all fairly similar and it’s occasionally difficult to remember which character is which and means what to whom in a cast as large as this one, particularly when they make appearances as brief as they tend to do.
Also, the OP is one of the greatest ever heard, and is not the sort that you’d expect to hear from the series, but still fits it well. Boogiepop Phantom has spawned several image albums, so it’s clearly rich with inspiration.

Boogiepop Phantom is gripping anime that is frequently uncomfortable to watch, dependent on the individual’s taste. Despite its sometimes disturbing themes, it’s definitely worthwhile. It’s not something that should be detailed; you have to find its feel on your own.

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