Boogiepop Phantom Vol. #4 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, January 31, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2002



What They Say
There have been hints to the truth - pieces of the whole scattered throughout time and space. But what is the myth and what reality? Discover the final pieces in the culmination of the series.

EPISODE 10: POOM POOM
Poom Poom. Magical Poom Poom who holds a balloon and travels the sky to the wonderous worlds. And, in the world of Poom Poom everything is perfect, there are no grown ups and only powerful children who live without pain... But there are sinister under currents running beneath the apparent happiness of this little land...

EPISODE 11: UNDER THE GRAVITY'S RAINBOW
Manaka knew nothing of the world. Trapped in the house by her grandmother, life became more and more impossible ... and one day, it ended. She knew that Death wasn't something to be feared ... that there were things beyond. And, although she couldn't possibly know what it meant, she also came to know what Echoes was... and is.

EPISODE 12: A REQUIEM
A year after the Rainbow disappeared, life returned to normal. Time unwinds itself and the darkness retreats. It does not, however, vanish. Some people understand that strange events unraveled. For other the quests continue, but the veil has been lifted and sunlight has returned... Maybe.

The Review!
For some, the final volume of Boogiepop Phantom will be just as much of a mystery as the earlier episodes were. Some will find many clues revealed but the overall storyline still something of an enigma. And then there are going to be those who just grok it completely. I've found myself somewhere in the middle after taking in these final three episodes.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The stereo track is pretty slick with lots of sounds being moved around the forward soundstage in a general creepy fashion to help suit the story. We did spot check the English 5.1 track but didn't have a chance to listen to it all the way through (though we did for the 2.0 track on our office setup). This is well used in the 5.1 from what we could tell as well with it being thrown to the rears. Dialogue was nice and clear and we noticed no dropouts or distortions throughout the three episodes.

Video:
Things look good overall but this continues to be a very deceptive show. The primary color is simply black and often shades of blue and green. There's some grain throughout but a lot of it looks pretty intentional to the style of the show and does fit in with the fuzzy nature of the storyline. With the final episodes, there's more breaking into natural colors, but even those look soft and indistinct in general and tend to reflect the characters and how they feel out of touch with things.

Packaging:
The packaging is probably one of the brighter spots of the show itself. The primary focus for the final disc is Boogiepop and Toka and the relationship between the two. The back cover gives four small screen shots for each episode, with episode numbers and titles listed next to them with a good summary of each. The language and running time information is at the bottom along with some production info. The running time information is with the extras included, though it doesn't note that. As with all TRSI releases, there are no inserts provided with this release, but the disc is nicely silkscreened.

Menus:
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 much like we mentioned in the earlier volumes.

Extras:
There's a good selection of extras included here that compliment previous volumes nicely. The directors commentary returns again, and it's something I'm going to have to sit down and listen to all four in a row to see how much more sense this show will make. Another selection of original line art is presented and a promotional clip pushing the 6 volume VHS and LD sets of the show in Japan. The producers notes provides a lot of interesting insights into the show and getting all the character artwork in one place was interesting to see. There's also the inclusion of the translated Japanese voice actor credits for all twelve episodes here, which fits into the better late than never category.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
So much of this show still confuses me. With these episodes, more parts of it became apparent and clicked, but the big picture still eludes me. Which is better than my wife who said, and I quote, "bsioajbgjalfg".

I think she fits into the first category of those who were just as confused as when they started the show.

The opening episode plays something of a pied piper homage with the butterfly girl having created a boy to play the role of the pied piper and bringing out the inner child in others to play with them. The butterfly girl, whose now getting much older, plays a background role for this episode but she's merely getting ready to provide most of the explanations in the next episode. The pied piper piece plays along well enough until Boogiepop arrives and brings an end to charade of the piper. This episode makes some amount of sense, but still left me going "huh?".

What started to make more sense is the subsequent episode that deals with the butterfly girl from her birth to her final stage of evolution. This is where the show focuses in general, with all these people with strange powers being some sort of hyper-evolution beings but unable to really handle what they've been given. The butterfly girl, whose name we learn to be Manaka, arrives in the world and is instantly called a devil child by her grandmother due to her parentage. Manaka's mother survives the childbirth, but the next day has no memory of even giving birth or much else it seems. She's taken to the Prefectural Hospital where she spends her days. And all of this occurred only five years before the present.

Manaka grows up with her grandmother, but is never let outside and never interacts with anyone but her grandmother. As the grandmother gets older and closer to her own death, she decides that she can't leave Manaka on her own and tries to kill her. Not only tries, but succeeds. Little did she know that just afterwards would be the time of the incident that set loose all of these hyper evolutioned people, which leads to Manaka being reborn. Her grandmother is shocked, but the two live on together for several weeks, noting just how quickly Manaka is aging.

This leads into one of the earlier episodes when the police discover an elderly lady dead and her daughter in the hospital for years. At the time, the whole thing made precious little sense, but with all this new information, it brings things into a greater sense of clarity. Manaka continues to age rapidly and we see how she's interacted with most of the others during the time after the incident and through the time that the Boogiepop's arrive to bring closure to everything.

And after seeing so many mediocre epilogue episodes in the past couple of months, Boogiepop Phantom manages to pull their own off rather nicely by bringing a side story to closure and giving the characters a chance to really shine. It's the final episode where we move beyond the hazy colors to the more distinct colors of reality.

Boogiepop Phantom is a show where I'm envious of those who are getting the box set and will watch it all at once. One of the producers notes indicates that watching it once a week and having only one episode to take in works better, but I think the opposite may be true where having all these varied characters and time jumps closer together will help things make much more sense. This is a series that's got an amazing amount of depth and planning to it, the kind where it makes the "mainstream deep" shows look amateurish. The creators certainly put a lot of love into it, and I'm intent on getting a serious second look at this series to try and get it to make sense to me.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Original Line Art,Producer & Character Notes,Promo Evolution 1-6,Japanese Credits,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.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: 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