It Came from Japan – Boogiepop Phantom
Boogiepop Phantom: Complete TV Series DVD
Publisher: Nozomi Entertainment
Reviewer was provided a DVD review copy by Right Stuf.
Boogiepop Phantom is perhaps the hardest anime I’ve ever had to review in my quest to become more acquainted with our friends from the Far East. That’s not to say Boogiepop Phantom is a bad anime, just very difficult to follow. The final three episodes left me scratching my head, wonder why they even bothered trying to wrap up such a story, happy ending and all. The first nine episodes seemed to be standalone stories with slight connections to each other if you pay attention to the background, and I was perfectly content with that concept.
My confusion was laid to rest upon researching the title itself, trying to see if I missed some cue to the finale big reveals. That’s when I discovered the missing element: Boogiepop Phantom was merely a continuation of a popular Japanese light novel series known simply as Boogiepop, which spans a whopping fifteen volumes. In fact, many fans consider Boogiepop at Dawn and Boogiepop and Others to be required reading to avoid a scenario like mine.
Visually, Boogiepop Phantom won’t be receiving a Blu-ray restoration any time soon. The entirety of the show is deliberatively washed out and grainy, like a well-watched VHS anime. When combined with the disjointed soundtrack and often crowded dialogue, the atmosphere of the series comes alive like you wouldn’t believe.
To get an accurate range of audio quality, I watched the first three episodes utilizing each of the DVD’s available audio settings: English 5.1, Japanese 2.0, and English 2.0, respectively. As to be expected, watching the show in its native tongue was by far the superior option, but I found myself strangely drawn to the English 5.1 dub. At first, I dismissed the acting as stiff and dull, but I ultimately found it advancing the believability of the characters. After all, not everyone is expressive and excitable over the mundane day-to-day. Regardless of the audio option you choose, this is not the type of show you watch with a limited attention span.
Those hungry for special features will find great value in the provided commentary track, put together by the cast and crew of the English production. For time constraint reasons, I was only able to experience this with the first two episodes of the series, but even with my limited exposure I found them to be not only passionate over the source material, but very knowledgeable. Sadly, this is the only special feature of note, as the rest of the ‘Bonus’ menu consists of your standard fare of music videos, trailers, and notes.
Boogiepop Phantom is going to test your patience, your brain, and your stomach, but is an incredibly satisfying series (at least up to episode 9). Anime storytelling like this is a rare treat that should be savored by any serious collector.