Boogiepop Phantom Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: N/A
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Boogiepop Phantom

Boogiepop Phantom Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     October 30, 2001
Release Date: October 30, 2001

Boogiepop Phantom Vol. #1
© Nozomi Entertainment

What They Say
A scream in the night, and in that instant the world changed ... or at least, it appeared to. There have always been forces in the world and voices in the night: some friendly and other malevolent. Invisible until summoned; they slide through dimensions as people walk through doorways. They wait, and watch the doings of Man closely ... each for their own reasons. Sometimes, they appear ... and when they do, the world changes.

Everyone knows about Boogiepop: meet her one dark night and you are taken. People tell each other the stories and laugh: no one believes that she exists in this day and age. Still, there are some strange things that appear to be going on just below the surface. Darkness takes many forms, though. Evil and good intermingle. The glass shatters. Time stands still. There is something in the darkness. You aren't alone. Are you safe?

Five years ago, there was a string of grisly murders that shook the city to its core ... and in the present, psychic echoes reverberate.

The Review!
Something's seriously messed up here. That's the feeling you're going to get after three episodes. If you make it through the three episodes, you're going to be sitting there wanting more, wanting to know how it all ties together. If you don't make it to the end of the disc, then this really isn't a show for you. Think Lain all over again.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Throughout the disc, I was truly impressed with just how great this show sounded. This is one of those series where the sound, not necessarily the music, but just the layering of the sound is as much of a character as those inhabiting it. There's one sequence early on where two characters are standing outside in a dark rainy street, and in one of those rare moments you actually get thunder to go along with it (thunder seems to be rarely reproduced during rain sequences for some reason). This sequence just sounds fantastic, and other bits of detail used throughout give the audio track real life. We also listened to the first half of the first episode in the English 5.1 track and were pretty impressed with how well it transitioned to that format. Some areas seemed a bit more forced than others with the sound being remixed to the different speakers, but a lot more of it worked than different. Unfortunately with the first episode, we also noticed 2 audio dropouts during the opening song and one during the ending song. The next episode played fine, so I'm really not sure if it's my disc or the encoding. I didn't want to grade the disc poorly as the Japanese stereo we listened to as our primary sounded great, but I want those with the 5.1 setups to know there may be some dropouts.

Much like the audio, the animation is highly stylized here. The show has a very soft look to it, with several scenes almost slightly out of focus, but it's done by intent. There's a couple of areas where you can see a film like circle around the edge of the picture, giving the feel of an out of focus camera eye on things. The color scheme used as well really accentuates this, giving many scenes some grainy feel to it, with the orange or pale green hues. We noticed a few minor areas of cross coloration in each of the episodes, but it was almost negligible for the most part.

The eerie looking cover and general background sets the tone for this show, with the somewhat haunted look of Moto on the cover and the oddly outfitted Boogiepop in the background. The back cover gives summaries of all three episodes on the disc while providing four screenshots for each of those episodes. The bottom piece gives a good listing of the languages and run time and a bit on the technical credits. Things get a bit of a boost by listing the volume number on the front and on the side. As is usual with Right Stuf releases, there is no insert with this package.

The menu layout works pretty well for the most part. The main menu is a static piece of animation playing to some of the music, with the general selections quickly accessible. Language selections work well and we moved around the extras with no trouble. The only area we had a spot of trouble was in the full blown scene selection area, where moving around didn't get us where we wanted when we moved the arrows.

There's a few pretty slick extras included in here. The first two we see are a 30 second and 15 second promotional spot for the show, which is just pretty messed up. This must have been hell to promote. There's also a music video included here, though it's not subtitled. The main attraction is a directors commentary done by the DVD producer and the ADR director, which runs through all three episodes. There's a fair bit of interesting banter in there and those looking for insight on how Right Stuf approaches dubbing will be interested in checking it out.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Get ready for another series that probably won't make a hell of a lot of sense until the final episode.

Boogiepop Phantom is a very carefully layered show. Things here are done very much with a sense of purpose. Each of the episodes on this disc are basically singular stories about one particular character and their interactions with something supernatural and then with Boogiepop. And these individual stories are quite layered, as they move back and forth in the characters lives, dealing with events from their junior high days up through their high school days. It's not a linear story in any sense.

And each of the episodes segue into others. During the first episode, we have an encounter where Moto goes to see the school nurse. When she gets there, the nurse has already left for some reason, and we get a brief meeting with one of her seniors, Jonouchi. Jonouchi tells her about a bug on her heart that's keeping her from being happy, and he offers to grope her chest to free her of it. A weird and disquietingly funny sequence, it also becomes the central character and theme of the second episode.

The series starts off with an odd event. During a quiet dark evening setting, a burst of energy comes forth from a part of the city and reaches heavenward. The city begins to lose power, causing everything to go dark. After a short time, the power comes back on and the burst of energy disappears. But that event seems to have triggered something in the region. A good number of people, apparently mostly (all?) students have disappeared. The event has set things different for some people as well. Moto sees a change in the world, but can't quite put her finger on it. Jonouchi discovers his ability to see bugs in peoples hearts.

These characters interact with other students in their settings and their oddness plays off of the normality of the other characters. A usually festive gathering at a karaoke bar is played out more somberly than expected. The positive outlook on the world by one girl is viewed with a fair bit of skepticism by her friends. Jonouchi's removal of the bugs, an experience the person forgets, causes some strange changes in people afterwards.

And then there's the mystery that is Boogiepop, something that's been called Death or the Angel of Death. There's little to really pin this character down here, but the arrival of Boogiepop inspires either fear or love of those who've been chosen to be dealt with by it. The resolutions to each episode vary between creepy to slightly heartwarming.

Once this disc was over, I was quickly lamenting the fact that I didn't have more to watch. There's something addictive about this moody little show. This is something that you want to pull out at 2 in the morning, turn all the lights off and just sit down in front of and absorb. These images and feelings will surely last several days in the back of your mind, as the style is definitely effective in unsettling you.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Promotional Spots,Music Video,English Directors Commentary

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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