Boogiepop and Others (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, February 07, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, March 01, 2005



What They Say
With scenario work by Sadayuki Murai (PERFECT BLUE, COWBOY BEBOP) and directed by Ryu Kaneda (VIDEO GIRL AI, SHENMUE), Boogiepop and Others is the quietly chilling tale of ten high school students whose lives are all intertwined in a twisted and deadly web of secrets.

The cold dead of night is a dangerous time to be near the Shinyo Academy. Girls have begun to mysteriously disappear without a trace, and the school is alive with rumors. Some say the girls are just runaways, but with each new disappearance, a lingering fear grows ever stronger – fear that a shinigami... the very spirit of death... is prowling through the streets of the city.

They say you never see it coming... a lone whistle splits the dark silence, and it suddenly appears behind you to steal your soul...

However, Nagi Kirima has never feared the darkness. She's determined to uncover the truth, but there aren't many clues to follow. A mysterious new drug that's appeared on the streets... A homeless man who's more than he seems... A girl still haunted by a serial killer who died five years ago... Nagi must take every fragment and piece together the entire story, before more students end up missing... or dead.

Includes two special featurettes with close to 50 minutes of behind the scenes footage and interviews with the Japanese cast and crew!

The Review!
In addition to an anime series and several novels, a live-action movie was also produced that helped to expand the Boogiepop mythos.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Being a live action movie, the release was not dubbed so there's only a Japanese stereo mix included here. The mix is pretty straightforward and has a good use for the forward soundstage though it's mostly just in the subtle music and a few of the special sound effects that you really get much in the way of really strong directionality. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally showing back in early 2000, the transfer for this movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is not enhanced for anamorphic playback. This mirrors the Japanese release as well. For the most part, this is a pretty solid looking transfer for a 4:3 letterbox print and it's really problem free. The opening and endings are left intact with a follow-up set of English language translated credits, the visuals are free of problems though the print is a touch soft but it looks more intentional than anything else. The only area where we experienced any encoding issues was during the title card sequences which is white text on black backgrounds and the black backgrounds showed a fair amount of blocking going on, but this is something I've seen in numerous films when we're upconverting material to 1080i. The rest of the presentation was free from this issue.

Packaging:
Using similar artwork to the Japanese release, we get a really good looking image of Toka in the Boogiepop outfit set against the blue/white moon and the vast darkness all around it. The images that are used for this release are really good looking and the way it's presented is spot on here, including having both the Japanese language version of the logo and the English translation for it. The back cover provides a collage of pictures of the other girls from the show and a very good couple of paragraphs worth of summary of the premise and a listing of the discs features. Add in the basic technical grid, though I dislike the listing of the runtime with the extras, and you've got a good layout here. The cover isn't exactly reversible but the back side of it has a fuller layout of all the girls from the show in their school uniform set against the moon which looks really neat. No insert was included with this release.

Menu:
Using the same artwork as the cover but rearranging it a bit to allow for a good placement of the navigation selections, the menu has the additional plus of a bit of the great instrumental music playing alongside it. Though a bit darker than the cover, it all looks really good here and sets up the mood just right before starting the show and thankfully doesn't give away any spoilers to it. Access times are nice and fast and with it being monolingual our players' presets for languages were sort of moot.

Extras:
There is a copious amount of extras available on this release. The first is a making of feature which runs just under minutes in length and is the kind of feature that you wish the Hollywood movies would really have. With so much of the cast so young and often first time experiences, there's a lot of material here with them showing how they worked, what they think of the production and work with the director. It's a really interesting piece overall if you're interested in the cast and how this was all put together. Another feature is Boogiepop in Yuubari in which the director and several others head off to Hokkaido where there's a film festival and the movie is being shown. We get to see some interesting parts of the town plus some thoughts from both the director and the lead actress on how they perceived the movie, making movies and other little tidbits. There is also the inclusion of some standard extras, such as original Japanese trailers, cast and staff listings, storyboards and a useful one-page summary of the origins of the Boogiepop property and how it was adapted to other media. A brief one page piece also covers the directors commentary on how he wanted to adapt the property into a film and where he wanted to go with.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally released in 1998 as a novel that won the prize in a publishing contest, Boogiepop Phantom went on to have a few more novels in the series as well as an anime TV series. Though each was connected in some way they were also pieces that stand individually. With the live action movie we get the same, but the story is told in a much more linear (yet not) fashion. With live action movies based off of anime properties, it's generally hit or miss with a lot depending on the material itself. With the supernatural aspect of Boogiepop Phantom, it's able to keep things within a realm of reality but also skirt the edges just enough to give it a bit of an edge.

The story is told in a manner that at first we get a number of brief segments as we see the cast of characters that will fill out this story, a group of young men and women of school age who are all dealing with loneliness in their own ways, some of it caused by others and some of it caused by themselves. Once we see this segment through with the way it jumps all around, the show then settles into telling what seems to be a number of short stories about each of those segments characters. As each piece gets fleshed out, some running longer than others, the pieces start to fall into place as each of the stories takes place in a different time than the others but they all connect together to tell one longer story. This is a fairly standard method of storytelling and it works well here, but at the end you start to wonder which pieces you thought were occurring at a different time than they actually were. Keeping it all straight isn't difficult but it leaves some of it open to interpretation in regards to the flow of events.

Within the story of these kids who are trying to figure themselves out, something is afoot in their school. Some of them have encountered a homeless looking man who was wounded and one of them has taken him in, only to learn that he speaks telepathically, which earns him the name Echoes. He relates his tale of being in search of a copy of himself that was created in a lab that's now destroyed and that the copy must be destroyed as well because it only causes evil. This other creature has taken the form of one of the schoolgirls and it hides itself away in one of the less used storage rooms wherein it lays its plans. Using one of the boys who has fallen in love with it, it produces a drug from its tears that turns humans into mind dead slaves that her thrall is able to bring to her to eat. Enter some truly disturbing moments of oculolinctus.

Overseeing all of this over the short time that it all occurs during is Boogiepop, a force of some sort that has taken residence in the body of Toka Miyashita and comes across almost as a separate personality that Toka herself does not know about. Boogiepop is actually discovered by Toka's almost-boyfriend and he tries to understand what he believes is a split personality of the two as well as why he seems to feel she's easier to talk to when she's dressed up in her Boogiepop outfit and carries herself with an air of quiet determination than when she's her regular self. It's through these two and their conversations that we slowly start putting things together about what's going on as she reveals that the Earth is in a time of crisis and she's only here for the duration of it.

Add in a number of other young men and women who play with the storyline to varying degrees and we get a really interesting movie. I liked how it played back and forth and pretty loose with when it was telling the story, though it makes it a bit more difficult to follow at times, but it's a method that's become more popular since Pulp Fiction in the 90's. This takes it a lot further with many more stories told than the three basic blocks of that one but it's all still quite workable here. Visually, the film is something that looks like many other school based films and series which has that almost amateurish feel to it but just enough to get by. Getting into movies like this I think depends on how familiar you are with Japanese films and their style of being told, as well as their cinematography techniques. I've gotten into so many of them in recent years that the initial feelings of comparing them to even the lowest budget Hollywood films has long since been a thing of the past but it's easy to see the comparisons made.

With Boogiepop and Others, we get a story that I don't think really changes how you view the anime series, not that I remember it all that clearly at this point since it's been some time now, but the feeling I get from watching this is one of a much more straightforward story taking place in the same world and with a much clearer set of rules about it. The focus on the kids and their problems of loneliness and how they reach out to each other for love is well done. I particularly liked how one of them simply realized that she wanted both of the guys she wanted and it turned into a simple relationship of three, though the two guys had issues with it at first. Some of the material gets a bit campy when it enters into the science fiction stages of it but that's also par for the course of something of this level and budget.

In Summary:
Boogiepop and Others won't answer any questions that you may have from the TV series but it will provide you with another view of the franchise in a different light. It's very rare for the live action adaptations of things we're familiar with only in anime terms to come out over here but I'm hoping this is a step into that direction as there are a lot of really fun things out there. Boogiepop and Others isn't in the same vein but it's an enjoyable piece of filmmaking with a young cast that manages to pull things off just right I think. In the end, I think this movie is far more re-watchable than the TV series since the TV series will only serve to confuse me more each time I watch it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, History of Boogiepop, Director's Commentary, Storyboards, "Boogiepop in Yubari" Premiere Featurette, "Making of Boogiepop" Featurette, Cast and Staff Bios, Original Boogiepop Trailers

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 105
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen Letterbox
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Boogiepop Phantom