Boogiepop Phantom: A Light in the Sky

Do any of you have an anime series or just some sort of piece of media in general that you know that you will like, but are saving it for a rainy day or something? It could actually be raining or it could be a time that you feel like you are going to lose faith in anime and fictional and a pick me up is needed. That was me with this series for a while until Boogiepop and Others appeared during this past winter season. Others, the more light novel accurate version of this story, intrigued me a lot despite it’s lack of a quality execution. It intrigued me so much that I just had to watch the original as soon as I can. I ordered it from Rightstuf and had it sent my way, but apparently I could have waited a couple more weeks and have watched the show for free on Nozomi’s Youtube channel. This post is not going to be a comparison post, but if I had to choose which one I liked better, it’s probably going to be Boogiepop Phantom.

(A little tidbit for Boogiepop Phantom is that this anime actually follows the ending of the Light Novel. Kind of interesting, because while I haven’t read those, watching the anime based on the light novels (which is apparently close to the light novel) didn’t help because it’s so tonally different and looks a lot different from that adaption. It makes sense in some ways though because it feels like a last act of something in a lot of ways. Yet, you don’t need to watch or read the light novels to watch this.)

This is Boogiepop!

This anime is such a large puzzle piece that I don’t think I can give you any sort of synopsis that defines what Boogiepop’s beginning of the show is like in any sort of accurate manner. It’s an episodic show that focuses on a different character or set of characters each episode with each one looking at what happens during each particular episode like some sort of case file. (Yes, before Baccano.) I’m going to try and do my usual synopsis thing anyway, so please don’t yell at me if I get lost in the middle or don’t explain things as well as I could. It might be that I am just lost in a dark forest without a compass or flash light

One night, a pillar of light appeared and completely lit the sky of this mostly unimposing city. You know, besides all the other crazy super natural things that have happened before hand in that same location. For a short period of time, kids and teenagers all over the city gained an ability that they can’t explain. Some episodes of Phantom are an examination of people are like after they gained an ability that makes them special. Does this person use their abilities for good or for evil, do they change more then you think they would, or is there something else going on that goes beyond explanation? Whatever happens, the reaper known as Boogiepop shows up for that character at the end of each episode to judge them and the threat is either eliminated on the spot or left alone because the situation solved itself or didn’t hurt anyone.

Boogiepop Phantom’s second and slightly more important plot resolves around people missing or just committing suicide. Every episode has a rumor of someone going missing somewhere in the background. You know, gossips from kids in high school classrooms like they usually do. In the center of it all is a girl born from a mom that immediately forgets her child and raised by her grandma. The reason why people go missing is the key here. People failing to achieve a spot in life they wanted, to move forward in life at all because they can’t, or just being called because the person in question was just stressed out. Those people were taken and wonder around the city in the form of a spirit child. That leads their bodies to return to the thought processes of who a person who hasn’t developed yet before they had the grief in question before they kill themselves or just die. At least, that’s my reading of this element in this story.

Oh, this isn’t even anything that happened. There is a lot of chaos in them hills. Plot points that show up in one episode might end up resolved a couple episodes later hap hazardly in a background event. Also, characters that were focused on at the beginning of episodes might die in five minutes and then have the camera switch its focus to someone else for the rest of it. It’s that sort of inconsistent manner that this Phantom revolves and resolves around that makes it fascinating to me. No two episodes are ever being close to the same is a guarantee here and I honestly couldn’t be happier about that fact.

I had to include this, because it looked fun!

I don’t have any characters to highlight here. As I said before, everything character that shows up is mostly there for an episode and/or I can’t tell you much about these characters in general because that would be spoilers. Spoilers for this deliberately confusing show, so I guess that’s saying a lot or not. Who knows, it’s a mystery. Instead, I would like to highlight examining humanity under a microscope again. Boogiepop Phantom came out when that sort of series was more popular. Kino’s Journey examined humanity through parables and fairy tales, Serial Experiments Lain did it by examining one character’s journey through the realms of the internet under a microscope, and Boogiepop is doing this by giving people powers for a short period of time and seeing what happens. Each episode has something to say and it might take a while to figure out what it is trying to say. Or be like me and sometimes restart each episode three times to see if you are missing something. Something tells me that I probably am still.

With that mysterious content of Phantom comes the visuals. Minimal is a great way to describe them. While the character models themselves are very distinct despite the focus on the little people, but you won’t see those characters moving a lot. There just isn’t a lot of movement in this show and a lot of shots are repeats, but that’s ok because it’s replaced with some great atmosphere. Almost everything in this show happens when everything is covered in shadows and when there aren’t shadows, then everything is leaning towards the dark direction anyway. It’s pretty clear that it’s deliberate too. The look of the show is like the camera is a flash light because everything important is centered on the circle around the middle of each frame with everything else outside of that circle is completely dark. I just love it myself. It’s so stylistic and special. People really knew how to use style and substance when it was needed.

When I say all of those negative and positive things about Boogiepop Phantom, I say them with love. Even if I did have to rewatch certain episodes of this show a few times or be confused about what is happening until the right moment, I just loved by in this anime’s grasp. The fact that I had to put some effort into understanding some parts of this anime pulls me into it’s world even more. And sometimes, that’s what I want. I have been finding more and more relaxing series that I can sit back and watch at time goes on, but my mind likes being challenged just as much as relaxing. Maybe it’s because I’m a weird or unusual person. Eh, I think I can live with that. Hehe.

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  1. Nice analysis! I’m actually watching the 2019 version of it now as well as seen this one a few months back. Even though 2000 does lack some polish, I do have to say that I found it much more watchable and likable than what the 2019 version is trying to do. Then again, the newer version seems to be trying to emulate the layered and intricate storytelling that made the light novels so great but feels like it is a few years too late in that regard. Would say more on that, but not completely done with the newer one.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I do want to see the original and I never got a chance to watch it. I know it would be up my alley since I like shows such as Texhnolyze and Lain. Nozomi has the whole show for free on YouTube? Sweet!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. OH WOW! They even have some full series. Man, this could save me so much time in renting things as I can watch and review anime from that distributor once I get back from my hiatus. Thanks for letting me know about this!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yet another classic I need to watch. I only really know about this title from its history as a light novel, but with the new one (regardless of its reception), I might have to check it out, just like I did with Kino’s Journey.

    Liked by 1 person

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