BP is one of those weird anime that are about psychological mystery and horror. It also has its share of urban fantasy, detective thriller and non-linear storytelling. Plus, no comedy. These elements are enough to consider this a jewel just from the genres. And in a way it really is. As far as the story goes, BP is exceptional. It plays around with several fears most people hide in their subconscious and brings them out in the form of madness and isolation, insecurity and fear. The non-linear way that each episode is shown also help to further bring insight to the weird story. And it is not Suzumiya Haruhi random order of episodes crap just to make it look sophisticated while throwing in fillers. Each episode is really adding something to the lot. And it is also told through the eyes of different people each time, so it is also not focused on one person alone. The ending is also solid as far as the mystery is concerned. Some things are left open to speculation but in all the main mystery is exposed. And damn, was it deep and mature.
There are several dozens of characters, each having a different role in the story. Most major ones suffer from some form of mental disorder that leads them to seek help even from a supernatural source or unwillingly taking part in a conspiracy to change the shape of the world. Many are even killed along the way in mysterious and horrifying ways. That counts as mature and multi-layered on one side. On the other, since the focus is shifted too fast amongst several people, it gets hard to get to like someone as he or she have around half an hour of spotlight at most and then get killed or disappear or become backdrop material. That is a rather nasty minus, as having 50 characters and only a dozen episodes means non get to stand out too much. And it’s true that you end up liking the atmosphere and the story but not the cast. The fact facial variety is rather small and some look alike does not help much to set them apart and judge them separately.
The animation is hit or miss. On one hand it wins thanks to its use of camera angles and dark alleys. On the other the facial variety is too low for such a big cast and the pacing too slow for its own good. The use of neon moths and night lights was cool. The use of supernatural battles was not; they felt out of place. In all the artwork has great atmosphere but lacks true mastering.
The music is good on the voice acting part. The soundtrack feels weak and forgettable but it still helps to build the mood.
The Enjoyment part is definitely the hardest thing to point out. You have a rather average score and very high scored reviews. Well it all comes down to what the majority wants. To be honest, less and less people like grim and pessimistic works and that is probably why the series was overlooked by most. Check out Bacanno! for example. It also had a non-linear story and lots of characters just like BP. The story was ok there too but not close to as mature as BP, while the characters were to the most part exaggerated comical archetypes. Most remembers and probably will always remember it because of its cheerier mood and funky characters and push aside deep yet gloomy stories and casts like BP. And then it’s all those comparisons to Serial Experiments Lain; they keep saying it is superior to it yet far more people remember the later than BP. The reason is simple. Although similar in their deep and serious moods, SE Lain has “one” protagonist and you definitely remember Lain by the end of the series. You can’t do that in BP because nobody sticks out. And if I am to add my own comparison to the lot, I say Neon Genesis focused on mental disorders too, yet didn’t forget to add giant robots, comedy and ecchi that helped to immortalize the characters and the story in your mind. This is where BP failed big time, to produce distinctive characters that will make the show memorable.
Intro: This review of Boogiepop Phantom is going to be quick. I only watched the first six episodes due to going such a long time between viewings, which this is not an anime you can get away with doing so because its plot and story telling are quite deep and interesting.
Story: Eeringly good. That's the best way I can describe it. I'm not much of a fan of Noir, but its elements are done very well and add to the otherwordly Psychological atmosphere that MADHOUSE is trying to set. Those, combined with certain other factors add to these strange occurances that have been happening throughout the series to a handful of high school students. Through six episodes it feels episodic, but everything that's been happening seems to be directly linked together as well.
Animation: Bad (including the artwork), but much of it is deliberate, which it certainly does a really solid job at setting the tone and mood for the anime. This does merit some praise. However, it's to a fault I'm afraid. It's so bad at times that it hinders what it tries to accomplish. A little more polish from MADHOUSE and this could've been an even more intense psychological trip of Mystery and Horror.
Sound: Horrible, at least when it comes to the English audio track. Again, it might be deliberate, but this time it does not benefit the anime at all. So this anime needs to be watched in Japanese, otherwise face the vocal audio quality drop off. In the Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, the dialogue sound is much more niminal. The music and sound effects are excellent too! It sounds surprisingly well above average on the 5.1 surround system. This definitely heightens the edgy atmosphere.
Characters: Outside of Boogiepop, the rest of the cast is too detached and independent through six episodes. In their own featured episodes they are good characters, but they don't seem very cohesive or very linked to each other, not yet any way. You will only see small amounts of their connection to a unifying story arc up to this point.
Conclusion: This anime is a mixed bag due to the extremeties between the really good elements and the really bad ones, but...
In the future I may pick this up again because it truly is a fascinating story. Even with the problems listed in this review, Boogiepop Phantom is entertaining just due to the few high points mentioned. Ultimately, those will probably give me enough reason to start over and finish this anime completely the next time around. Naturally, I will update this review when and if that happens.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE: 7/10
Episodes watched: 6
1️⃣Weighted Average System Score: (24 + 5 + 7 + 15 + 14 = 65/100 points)
My first review for Anime-Planet, please comment and tell me what you think. I appreciate reviews of my reviews greatly. I hope I will encourage fellow anime fans to watch this series and appreciate it as i do. It's truly an unique and terrifying experience that should not be missed. It's a horror and psychological thriller and its nothing you've ever seen before. Now onto the review and thanks for reading.
Story; Some claim Boogiepop Phantom has no story or is a complete wreck. To that I say, Boogiepop Phantom is coming for you. Just kidding. There are numerous stories at play in this series. I can just say that by reading the synopsis doesn't particularly tell you what to expect. It's vague for a reason and if you do as I say later (rewatching it three times), then you should not have any problems. I am going to recommend reading the manga, Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh, for more background on what happens in Boogiepop Phantom.
Animation; Boogiepop Phantom is done with this tint of sepia for every episode except for the last one. There is good reason why Madhouse chose to do it this way. It's an interesting twist and to give that away in this review would be absolute criminal as its absolute brilliance. A dark and disturbing story requires a dark and disturbing atmosphere. It should go without saying that Boogiepop Phantom is a beautiful show in its own right and still a cornerstone in anime history.
Sound; Only one word can describe the soundtrack: creepy. It's an intense combination of rock and techno-type music. There are several scenes in the first few episodes where the background music makes the hairs on neck stick straight up and gives you intense goosebumps. You can even break into a cold sweat because of the music and sounds you hear. The opening song is a jazzy and catchy tune and the ending is a rock/techno deal which is also catchy. The background music is definitely a positive and strength that Boogiepop Phantom has to offer and it emulates the feelings and purpose of the show.
Characters; If you like complex human drama, this show delivers. The strongest aspect of Boogiepop Phantom is the growth, change and maturity of the characters. The growth, change and maturing of the characters are in fact, the story. Some characters grow and others regress as the series goes on. If you are looking for a story about characters, look no further. Nobody is perfect in the world of Boogiepop Phantom. Nobody. They all have problems and that is the beauty of it - they do not hide it at all.
Overall; I will admit that it can get confusing at times, but rest assured that after rewatching it three times once blindly, once with English commentary and the last time knowing what to expect per the commentary; that you will understand the series and its complicated but genius story. I have done this and discovered one of, if not the best, anime series I have seen since becoming an anime fan in 1996 and it's taken me 15 years to discover this series. I would recommend not to bother with recommendations or series similar to this one, because to be frank, there is not anything like Boogiepop Phantom.
Reading a plot summery about this show gives you more story than watching all 12 episodes. Someone put a lot of work into this series, but in the effort to weave a tapestry of interconnected lives it helps to have characters that stand out or can at least be identified as individuals. Every character was so bland that they blurred over each other, making the entire story even more vague than it was intended to be. The complete lack of ending in the last episode just seemed to underscore how little there was to the over-arching story.
With so much great stuff out there to watch, I can't help but regret having taken the time to see this one through.
I will only give boogiepop phantom an overall rating, as it is not the kind of anime that would benefit from an in depth analysis of every aspect. It is also the worst anime I have had the displeasure of viewing(Update: No longer the worst!). I won't lie and say it doesn't have it's interesting aspects, but it is an overall unrewarding experience.
Boogiepop phantom begins with a mysterious beam of light, which takes place a month before the series begins to be fleshed out, and 5 years after some serial killings. I'll say now that this whole beam of light, nor the following events are really satisfactorily explained. Each episode is a different characters perspective, which leads to some events we see early on being revisited from a different point of view. While this can and should have been an effective means to tell a story, it doesn't apply when the substance of said story is literally the most nonsensical/meaningless pieces of scattered "emo" and forcefully morbid concepts an avid anime viewer has ever seen.
That's not to say the anime was completely boring at all times, a few abilities characters obtain are curious, though not used in beleiveable ways, and changes their character swiftly in an unbelieveable way.
I should also mention the animation style, which actually does capture the mood perfectly. To be honest, never before has animation affected me in such a way. Watching boogiepop, can only be compared to having a musty paper bag placed over your head for eleven episode, only to have it finally taken off for the final one. Boogiepop is 11 episodes of oppresive suffocation, and I am not exagerating. Again this style could have been good but when you are being suffocated and shown things which serve no purpose it only makes the experience worse at the end.
Outwardly bad however, are the characters. The characters all look identical, at this point I even feel the females looked like the boys and vice versa, though that could just be from the fact I lost all perception while watching this. Enforcing this is the fact many characters are named similarly. I think I was able to put names to faces at some point, but this anime has some of the least memorable characters, to the point I cannot name a single one other than the anime's namesake. Beyond those elements, the characters are forgettable as well. The anime is rather transparant and pretty evidently shows that change is a large theme. With that being the case it is odd that the characters have such weak development.
By the end of the 11 episode nightmare, I don't see who could say it was worth it, as the bag is taken off their head and the 12th episode rolls. You will leave with many more questions than you came in with, not feel revolutionized by any of the themes, and really just feel worse about anime as a whole. Many might argue I did not appreciate the dark oppressive feel and themes. I would laugh in the face of anyone who implied that and direct them to my other reviews. I have watched Texhnolyze which is both more oppressive(although it never put a bag over my head) and actually dark/depressing which Boogiepop wishes it was. Furthermore Texhnolyze actually does something with both it's oppressiveness and dark themes and despite being confusing too, actually makes sense. Berserk also sports dark themes, and uses them to incredibly establish and enforce characters. Monster a 74 episode long dark drama was so nicely woven I still remember characters like *&%@ing Adolph Junkers in that random episode he was in near the beginning. I'm not saying that Boogiepop should be judged based on other animes, simply that when you look at how poorly it holds up to other anime which try less to be forcefully dark, and end up better/darker than it, it's lack of quality really shows. It may not be the antichrist of anime series, but it sure is an ugly stain upon it.