Boogiepop Phantom is an anime that focuses almost entirely on the dark side of human nature. Now, this can be a complete turnoff if you get sick of the same depressed high school kids and extremely dark areas episode after episode. Until the last episode, pretty much the only colors you'll see are orange(the sky), red (blood), and black (I know it's a shade, not a color). With this anime being made in 2000, the older animation combined with these colors is not exactly a great level of animation. However, for the mood, the animation works extremely well. Everything seems blurry and washed out, and it works wonders with the depressed characters, settings, and many themes.
The sound is worth noting; the background music is often effective and fitting. Strangely enough, this doesn't apply to the ending, and, to lesser extent, the opening as well. The opening theme Yuudachi is one of my personal all time favorites, and the ending is decent, but doesn't fit the mood that well. The sub is good, but just, well, good. It's my personal choice to go with the sub every time I rewatch the series. The dub is hit or miss: some characters are great, others are as bland as cardboard. Episode 3 was dubbed particularly poorly, and was (not only for this reason) my least favorite in the series.
The absolute best thing about this anime is the story. The story is one gigantic puzzle, with the pieces very much mixed together. There is no main character to follow, there is no chronological order, and many scenes have some hidden meaning that adds to the story or side stories. This is possibly the most ambitious and confusing story I've seen so far in anime, and it is only 12 episodes long. It is filled with dark themes of death, depression, anger, jealousy, regret, etc. Although the whole anime seems rather awkward in terms of character interaction and horror parts, it still works for me because of the extremely detailed story and many themes. And although it may be difficult to understand, it's certainly not because of random mindfucks that one might call (oh boy, one of the most overused words on the internet) pretentious. After watching and re-watching and paying close attention, the story is pieced together. Most of what you see is important, as mentioned earlier, to the main story or the side stories that make up the main story, so it's certainly not meandering around and throwing out said pretentious introspections. There are a few quotes from other media, such as Heart of Darkness and Gravity's Rainbow, but they are not overwhelming and don't take away from the anime's individuality. Actually, this anime somewhat reminds me of Heart of Darkness. I don't really equate it to such a literary masterpiece as Conrad's work, but Heart of Darkness is described as being less of a reading experience and more of walking into a nightmare, and that is kind of the same feeling that I got from this anime. The complete dvd collection of BP, which I'm very happy to own, is made up of 4 discs. I mention this because disc 2 is my absolute favorite, and I just found that strange that that particular disc had all 3 of my favorite episodes on it. First to mention here is episode 4 (My Fair Lady), which I find more sickening than any of the poor attempts at gory scares used in many horror anime (including this one, sometimes). Of course I won't spoil it, but it really makes me shake my head at humanity every time I rewatch it. Humanity including myself, that is, because I could see myself in the main character of the episode,Yoji, if I took things way, way too far with virtual life and became an even more screwed up individual and I really hated seeing that. Episode 5 (Interlude) is possibly the most important episode regarding plot development, as well as the most scattered and difficult episode to grasp. The ending to that episode is also unforgettable, and has left me still remembering the name of that poor policeman. And last on the disc is episode 6 (Mother's Day). This episode is possibly the saddest (although episode 11 could give it a run for its money), and although BP is still far too awkward to make me feel strong emotions, this episode did resonate with me.
Because, as mentioned earlier, there is no main character, the majority of the characters are only part of the current side story, and are not developed very well. Overall, this is probably the worst part of the anime, and many of the characters are quite forgettable. And oddly enough, this seems to actually fit into the anime's message about the dark side of humanity. Most of the people I meet are certainly forgettable, and that is what this anime reminds me of. I did like the characters with reccurring appearances though, such as Toka Miyashita, Nagi Kirima, and, of course, Boogiepop.
All in all, this has become one of my absolute favorite animes. I'm up to 6 watches and counting, with no shock value or cliffhangers to keep me going - just an incredibly interesting story that tries its hardest. I would highly recommend this underrated gem: some may hate it even if they like series of a similar nature, but if you do enjoy it I really think it is worth your time.