Boogiepop Phantom

Genre: Drama
Format: 12 Episodes
Allegiance: Boogiepop Phantom (TV)
Director: Watanabe Takashi
Vintage: 2000
Intelligence Agency Report by: Lady Sage
Five years ago, a serial killer terrorized this town. Then, a month ago a strange light appeared in the sky and somehow, everything had changed. Now children with strange powers are cropping up and people are disappearing. Could this all be caused by Boogiepop, the fabled embodiment of death?

Field Agent Report by: Lady Sage
Overall 7.50
(not an average)

Boogiepop Phantom grabs your attention from the get-go and doesn’t let go until the end. And when it’s done, you’re left sitting in shock, wondering what the heck just happened. Bizarre, suspenseful, and deliberately obtuse, Boogiepop succeeds spectacularly in making the viewer think, but the payoff is unfortunately weak.

Every episode is an individual story, with its own cast of characters and plot. Very few characters are actually central in multiple episodes, beyond a brief appearance to establish the episode’s connection to the rest of the series. As a result, there’s very little character development. Even the recurring characters receive only perfunctory development.

Most episodes function quite well on their own as miniature horror movies. The suspense works quite well and I was often on the edge of my seat. Boogiepop Phantom likes to keep you guessing, and each episode functions as a piece of the puzzle. By the end, however, the puzzle stills seems to be missing most of its pieces. The series asks far more questions than it answers. The final episode tries to make up for some of this with a rushed explanation of one facet, but it’s nowhere near satisfactory. As much as I enjoy giving my brain a workout, I do not appreciate it when it seems like all the effort I put into a series seems to be all for naught.

Boogiepop Phantom’s atmosphere almost manages to make all its flaws worthwhile. The art is deliberately muted and monochromatic, creating a dreamlike feel and the music is properly eerie. Voices are frequently digitally warped or synthesized to represent inner turmoil and unbalanced psyches. As difficult as it can be to keep track of them all, the characters’ appearances are all easy to differentiate, despite the pseudo-realistic style.

The final episode was animated with bright colors to emphasize that the mystery had been cleared up. Unfortunately, as much closure as the characters may have had, Boogiepop Phantom remains an enigma wrapped in a mystery to its viewers.