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.

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  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:32 AM)
    If a series wants to be sophisticated about complex concepts like war and conflict, then it has to presuppose the fact that it is part of human nature. Resources are limited, and even aside from that, greed exists. There is no way to take out a few head figures to stop a war- there will be a vacuum that will almost immediately be filled by a similar, if not worse, individual. A world “where no one cries” or suffers, or dies, etc, cannot exist as long as we have free will.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:26 AM)
    F/SN delved into this deeply with the Shirou/Archer dichotomy, but then it pussied out at the decisive moment. Archer was right, his arguments made perfect sense, yet the arrogant naive Shirou had to pull thru by sheer will alone, and a vague hope and promise that he’ll find a way somehow. I swear, I’m not sure if Nasu gave in to pressure to make a so-called “good prevails” ending, or that he honestly believes in it. Looking at his material, I’ll bet on the former.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:22 AM)
    hehe … that’s why you don’t get me started on Eva or Berserk.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:20 AM)
    It also delved into the depth of what a desperate goodie-two-shoes people-pleaser protagonist would actually be like, and the reception he would get from his peers, specially the women. That alone right there was a deconstruction of the majority of shonen main characters.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:00 AM)
    There was no hype machine back then. The internet was still in its infancy. So when a show became this popular there was certainly some merit to it. The organic/machine hybrid mecha was relatively new, and the scene construction and cinematography was for the most part immaculate. There’s a reason why the mecha genre is divided to “pre-Eva” and “post-Eva”.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:53 AM)
    It also didn’t hurt that the character, costume and mecha designs were slick and attractive, done by the under-appreciated Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:31 AM)
    It came up with clever scenarios to common mecha tropes, and answered the questions that would arise from them:
    -Why do we use mechas with melee weapons against alien invaders instead of conventional weapons? AT fields on Angels.
    -Why use kids to pilot them? The Gehrin Project.
    -What happens when you put kids in sever combat situations? Extreme PTSD.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:27 AM)
    These types of deconstruction shows that are run-of-the-mill now didn’t really exist back then. Eva did afterall became the tropemaker for Gainax endings. To see the creator’s psyche twist in front of our eyes was incredible. The show went from a regular monster of the week mecha series to a deranged psycho-thriller by the end of it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:23 AM)
    Eva was fresh and quite unique for its time. Not that everything they did was original, but they certainly put their own twist on it. I also enjoyed the “fuck-you” ending of the tv series. Anno always defended it as intentional, but we all know it was really a budgetary constrain. well, at least we got the amazing End of Evangelion movie to supplement it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:21 AM)
    @K-of: yup Eva geek here, guilty as charged. In my defense, I watched it week-to-week when it aired back in 96, and the landscape of anime was a lot different back then.

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