Always nice to sit down to a nice story about, well ummm, I guess it's about, something…..maybe? Oh ok now I get it.
Story - 8/10
While the story of BoogiePop Phantom comes off confusing at first, it reveals itself over time as all the stories intertwine. The entire series seems to take place over the short period of a few days, minus the flashback scenes, and as you watch you need to try and figure out what really happened when, why it happened and who of the many characters were involved. This almost makes you feel like a character yourself, as the series starts off with some school children trying to figure out the legend of BoogiePop Phantom and if it has to do with the missing kids from local schools.
Outside of main BoogiePop Phantom story is the story attached to each child. We learn of their hardships and how they decided to deal with them, all which leaves them at mercy of BoogiePop Phantom. These stories are very well done, they really connect with the mind of a young teenage having to deal with at times insurmountable problems and things young children and young adults shouldn't have to.
Finally there's the sporadic story of Nagi Kirima and her hunt for BoogiePop Phantom. This is the most confusing section of the anime as you might only get thirty seconds of her story in any particular episode so piecing together who she is and why she's on this mission can evade you till the very end, and even then it's a bit confusing trying to add everything and figure out who is really who.
Animation - 7/10
Very rarely will the intro to an anime really grab you. GTO, Cowboy Bebop and X come to mind as great shows that combined music and animation to get you hooked from the start. Well now I've added BoogiePop Phantom to that list. The intro, while more actually footage than animation, was just perfect as an introduction to the story. With the music and colors I felt as if I was pulled back into the early 90s grit of NYC that I remember, or an old late night cable access show, or as I'd guess the production staff might have felt on a late Tokyo night, and that grit and combined with a jazzy tune with the same time travel effect got you ready for the mindset of those who encountered BoogiePop Phantom.
As for the series itself, it's brilliantly done while also being extremely simple. Everything is rather basic, though perfectly consistent, and the whole series is drab and hazy, as if being watched off an old VHS tape, but it's all done with very clever reasoning behind it. Many of the scenes are done is a somewhat voyeuristic look, which works perfectly as we are looking into the lives of people who have kept their pain to themselves and thus become exploited by BoogiePop Phantom.
Sound - 7/10
While there isn't much music in the series, a track that plays in tension situations or where BoogiePop Phantom appears and the opening/closing songs are the only ones that really come to mind, those tracks are great. The opening is a great jazzy number that, despite being in Japanese, feels like old New York Jazz, combined with the opening title sequence it's a great lead in to the series and does set a kind of dirty dark tone that plays throughout the series. The ending song is pretty good, but more of your standard japanese pop rock.
During the tense moments and those where BoogiePop Phantom appears they play a song that sounds like a mix of Slipknot and dub step, despite predating either. It's a perfect song to mix with the scenes of pretty great importance to the story.
Outside of the few awesome music tracks the sound effects and voices are nothing to write home about, but they are still very well done, just without the big stand outs of some other series, which could come from the fact no character is really around for more than an episode or two, and if they are they aren't in any one episode for more than a few moments. BoogiePop Phantom herself is voiced very nicely in the English version and if anyone shines above the rest it would be the unique voice she is given.
Characters - 5/10
Its hard to really give a high rating to the characters as they pop in and out and are a very confusing part of the story. Each is well constructed within their own episode, but as a whole those who appear throughout are lacking in detail. Due to the structure of the series it takes a long time to really put together a profile for even the more common characters, when we reach the end of the series some are revealed, but others still remain a bit confusing.
While the characters aren't very deep the emotions created, which are almost characters themselves, are very realistic. You can see each emotion and situation actually happening to someone like the character in the series and the reasoning and result of those emotions are built up well through the episode/series.
Overall - 7/10
Despite the confusion and relentless need to rewatch and rewind certain parts of the show I ended up really enjoying it. The series allows you to have to think hard about whats going on, and in doing so you get to come to your own conclusion about the stories and riddles, which will either be proven or disproven come the final episode.
What really connected me to the series was though was the music and animation. As I mentioned for both, it felt like a nice bit of nostalgia, bringing me back to the early 90s and reminding me of what things were like, so it may not connect the same way for many people who didn't have those same experiences, but even so the story should pick up those instead.