Chu★Review: Boogiepop Phantom

When I decided to review a horror anime for Halloween last-minute, I knew I needed something good and something short enough for me to get through quickly. What fit the bill was an anime that I experienced many years ago that I never got to finish. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world of Boogiepop Phantom!

Story

The story of Boogiepop Phantom takes place in an unnamed town in Japan and starts five years after a slew of serial murders, and one year after a mysterious beam of light had struck the city. Now people are randomly developing some odd and rather creepy powers and abilities. This has caught the attention of a high school girl named Nagi, who decides that she must find out what is causing all of the chaos and put an end to it. Her investigation leads her to a handful of evil beings, including the Boogiepop, a goddess of death. However, it seems like she is not even a concern next to the Boogiepop Phantom, a creature who seems to be an evil and capricious copy of the Boogiepop that could very well be the key to undoing all of this insanity. In the process, Nagi very well may see how all of these supernatural occurrences play into the beam of light, as well as the rash of serial murders that took place so many years ago.

The story is engaging and addicting, but at times very confusing. I remember being extremely confused when I watched it years ago, and while I understood it a lot better this time around, I was still very confused up until the last two episodes, where they explain how several of the supernatural creatures were created and what their purpose actually was. Still, be prepared for some of the smaller questions that pop up in the series to be left unanswered. I found the ending to be slightly confusing, but satisfying nonetheless.

The characters in this anime are memorable, but plentiful. While I’m normally very good at keeping track of characters, many of them in this show look similar and I found myself losing track of who was who several times. Each of the 12 episodes of the show feature a different character, going into their past and explaining their unique power. We see how the power changes them and how they play into the designs of the Boogiepop Phantom and the other creatures roaming around the city. What is so well-done about this process is that each episodes ties into other episodes; you may see a character going crazy in the background of an episode, and then see how he got to that point in a later episode. This makes each episode stand on its own while also tieing all of them together into one cohesive story, and it works brilliantly.

Sound and Visuals

The music in Boogiepop Phantom is catchy and top-notch, as is the Japanese voice work. However, the English dub is where this anime falls short. It feels forced and cheesy, and simply doesn’t stand up to the quality of the Japanese vocal track. Another problem with the English track is that it leaves out a lot of background voices and ambient sound, which is unacceptable in my opinion.

The art is middle-ground as far as quality goes. It’s great for it’s time, but some scenes have the characters faces looking a bit odd. Also, since this is a horror anime, most of the color is drab and monotone. While this plays into the feel and theme of the anime very well, it does make watching the show a bit tiring on the eyes at times. The animation is also spiked with several scenes of live-action shots of people walking through streets in Japan. This isn’t jarring at all and actually plays very well into the art direction.

In short, the art and the sounds together make for a spine-tingling experience, so long as you stay away from the English dub. The cheesiness of it simply ruins the atmosphere of the show.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a horror anime that is short and sweet and satisfying, Boogiepop Phantom is definitely worth a try! It can be confusing at times, but that just gives you more reason to watch it a second time and enjoy it all over again. Get some friends together this Halloween (or anytime!) and have a Boogiepop marathon, I guarantee you it will be a bone-chilling good time!

SCORE: 8/10

Boogiepop Phantom was produced by Studio Madhouse, and licensed and distributed by Nozomi Entertainment.

Buy the Boogiepop Phantom Complete Series Boxset, which includes the live-action movie, via this link, and you’ll be supporting Chu★Blog at no extra cost to you! Thanks in advance!

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