Posted by psgels on 1 August 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews

It’s hard to find a good way to start this review. I think the best way is to compare this series to a very badly manufactured jigsaw-puzzle. Some pieces are too big, others are too small, pairs of pieces don’t attach to each other when they’re supposed to, and vice versa. There are pieces missing everywhere, and now it’s up to you to make some sense out of it!

This, in essence, is basically Boogiepop’s best and worst point. What we’ve got here is basically a case-based series, in which we some really deep case-studies of some seemingly random people, throughout the twelve episodes of its airtime. The catch is, however, that beneath the surface of this series, there’s an incredibly complex plot going on, that pops up once in a while. Boogiepop Phantom may be a case-based series on first looks, at heart, it’s a fully fledged mystery-series.

The mystery in this series is slightly different from other mystery-series. While most series of the genre choose the easy and straightforward way of “Hey, I’m a mystery-series with an unknown plot; through the course of my episodes, I’m slowly going to reveal my secrets so that you’ll understand everything in the end”, Boogiepop goes “Hey, I’m a mystery-series with an unknown plot; through the course of my episodes, I’m going to keep dropping references that you’ll only understand in four episodes, so that you’ll need to rewatch me at least once in order to understand the vital parts of my plot”.

And that’s the beauty of this series. It’s basically chockfull of references to other episodes, it keeps hopping from one time to another one, and the amount of red herrings it throws at you could satisfy an average fish-factory for at least a week. If you want to understand this series, you’ll have to work for it, as it’s not going to present itself on an open platter so easily. As mystery is my favourite genre, I just couldn’t help but love this. In fact, I’ve only seen one series that carried its mystery even further, and that is Ergo Proxy. It’s series like this one that really show the beauty of the mystery-genre.

Unfortunately, I think that this series went a little too overboard with this. After rewatching the important parts of the series, I think I now finally have an understanding of what’s going on, but there are still plot-holes that seemed to have come from nowhere. I remember seeing at least two characters who came from nowhere, did something important, and then vanished again. Kirima also lacked a reason for her actions (at least, I think she does, it may be a plot-hole I missed).

Still, this series also shines in its cases. Rarely have I seen a series that went so deep into the minds of its characters with a relatively low amount of time spent on them, and the results are great. A few cases really stand out as memorable. If I had to describe my feelings of Boogiepop Phantom with one word, it’d have to be “fascinating”.

8 Responses

  1. DiGiKerot says:

    You really need to read at least the first novel (it’s available in English), or at least see the live action movie, to fill in a few of the holes in the plot here. The anime series was written to follow immediately on from the end of the book, and kind of assumes a familiarity with the characters and events from it.

    It’ll go some way to explain Kirima, anyway.

  2. Chris says:

    The thing with any Boogiepop is that you need to have atleast some knowledge of its other media (live action show, manga, novels) to really understand it fully. I enjoyed the series for the most part, it was one of my first non-kiddie anime and I saw it when I was around 12 so I didn’t fully get it but I watched it on TV a while back and it was still confusing but I was able to better appreciate the cool factor and I really liked its dark and creepy atmosphere, definetely an enjoyable show to watch with people who don’t normally watch anime too! Glad you liked it.

  3. Mike says:

    Man, I haven’t seen this show in years…but I remember it was one of my favorites. I watched a lot of the episodes late at night and some of them really creeped me out–this is one of those shows where its use of sound is superb in building tension.

    Chris, I’m not sure it’s such a great show for people who are new to anime, unless they are already into non-linear art films and the like. It is free of a lot of standard anime conventions and cliches, though, unlike Higurashi (which is as much a comment on those cliches as it is intended to scare and horrify).

  4. Piper says:

    I don’t think it’s necessary to read or watch any other sources to understand what’s going on, mostly. Naturally, there’s backstory, but the show contains everything you need to know.
    For example, Kirima Nagi’s motivation is shown in a flashback in the early part of the series, where Kuroda, who may have been her first love, says he wants to be a hero of justice, and shortly afterward is brutally murdered. She adopted his dream and acts on that. Students are disappearing, strange visions are occurring; a hero actively seeks out these events and tries to save everybody.
    Similarly, through flashbacks and visions, we are shown the relevant parts of the first book (and movie) as well as the events from 4 years before when the serial killer was running around (and we see who it is, their motivation is strongly suggested, and we see how it ended).
    Of course, you’re right that it probably needs several viewing to get it all. As for characters who did something important then disappeared … who do you mean?

  5. psgels psgels says:

    Klein: I was referring to the guy who sealed off Manaka’s intelligence, and the one who gave her a hand in the end. Now that I think about it, though, it could have been Kuroda. The guy with the hat who talked to the policeman also seemingly came from nowhere.

  6. Chris says:

    Mike: I think my nonanime friends just liked its creepy atmosphere, we were younger too so it was something new we havent seen before aswell.

  7. Piper says:

    Actually, that guy was Echoes. The Towa organization conditioned him so he could only speak by repeating others. When she learned about Echoes, his mind/memories were imprinted on her due to them both being fully evolved, so she could also only speak that way. When she “became light” it was him welcoming her.
    The guy with that hat, if you mean Spooky Electric from ep5, he does just sort of show up, but he’s an agent of the Towa organization investigating the strange occurrences including the disappearances of Manticore and Echoes. Granted I think it was mostly to tie it together with book 2 and to help give more puzzle pieces in the form of enigmatic dialogue.

  8. haruda says:

    I’ve watched it once, years ago, but I remember that it was pretty confusing to piece together what was happening sometimes. Unfortunately, that was before some of the novels were translated (and before that neat thinpack got released D:), so, well, there wasn’t much else that would’ve better explained what was happening. I enjoyed it a lot though, largely because of the mysterious aspect of it that you mentioned.

Leave a Reply


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  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:47 AM)
    anybody here remembers a PS1 rail-shooter game called Elemental Gearbolt? It was a fun game that had anime cutscenes by Rintaro. It’s one of those lost gems that was very well received but made a small splash upon release and then completely lost to time.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:42 AM)
    Kaiser: are you being sarcastic or did you actually enjoy Symphogear?
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:39 AM)
    @Masky: it’s the internet, people will construct some bullshit reason to moan about everything. As long as the game is fun than it’s good in my eyes, or the very least in needs to have an emotional impact like Valiant Hearts: The Great War. I’m deep into Bloodborne right now, so my time’s solely dedicated to that at the moment.
  • Masky
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:16 AM)
    @Bam: Usually people complain about realism in games in situations where it wouldn’t make sense and in games were realism is actually important they somehow seem to not notice it when they are unrealistic :’D Or maybe I have bad luck
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:06 AM)
    @Kaiser, Haven’t we suffered enough with three seasons?
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 07:59 PM)
    @Masky: no definitely not every game, but you made it sound as if the whole idea of realism in videogames is ludicrous. Now I haven’t played Undertake myself, but looking at the Steam pics in looks like a humorous retro pixelart indie project, in which case it doesn’t need to be realistic but it still should respect it’s own internal logic. Unless it’s meant to be all bonkers like an Xavier: Renegade Angel episode, but again very few things are like that.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 07:30 PM)
    Oh lol the Symphogear guy teased the idea of a fourth season for it, you mad mad bastard.
  • Masky
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 08:03 AM)
    @Bam: Yeah, but simulating reality applies to certain types of games. Judging EVERY game by how realistic it is is silly xD
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:36 AM)
    @Masky: lots of game designers aspire for realism. Now this can be done for cosmetic purposes like face textures and lighting, practical with physic engines and movement, or contextual like believable character reactions and dialogue. Now some games thrive in being ridiculous and fantastic, but some want to create a realistic setting to further the emotional impact. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:32 AM)
    @ratsgnoF: and happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

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