Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: Nozomi Entertainment/Right Stuf
MSRP: $39.99 US
Running Time: 470 minutes
Release Date: Available Now
If you thought High school was complicated, wait until you see Shinyo Academy.
I have to admit that I have a fondness for anime and stories like that seen in Boogiepop Phantom that strays off the beaten path to offer a series of intersecting stories with a dark psychological and supernatural twist. Thankfully, Right Stuf and Nozomi Entertainment has brought us the complete TV series collection as well as include the live-action movie, “Boogiepop and Others” in one five-disc collection. If you like a twisted yet wonderfully crafted story, this is one collection you really don’t want to miss.
Based on the popular Japanese novel, “Boogiepop Doesn’t Smile,” the 12-episode TV series features short film-like stories that takes place in Shinyo Academy, which is a normal-looking High school until a strange occurrence takes place. You see, a blinding ray of light hit’s the school like an eerie lightning bolt and it is after this unnatural phenomenon that things start getting strange. All the students at Shinyo and Hijiridan High begin to talk about it since it messed with electronic devices throughout the city.
Oh, but this phenomenon did more than just temporarily disrupted all electronics because people begin acting strange and students from Shinyo begin to disappear. A girl named Moto Tonomura sees this unusual change and more so when she gets approached by a boy named Jonouchi who can see “something crawling on her heart.” On top of that, she sees the ghost of one of her classmates named Saotome who wishes to devour her until Moto is saved by a female Shinigami clad in black. This is Boogiepop, a Death God that – up until now – has been nothing but an urban legend.
In the next story, we find ourselves following Jonouchi before his life intersected with Moto. He is a senior at the same High school who, before the strange light, found out he had a tumor on his arm. After the light, the tumor disappeared but Jonouchi discovered that he could see people’s fears and regrets that have taken the form of spiders only he could see and remove. After removing a spider from one student (in an incredibly creepy groper’s way), he finds himself devouring the spiders until he becomes addicted to their sweet flavor. Is he really a savior – as he sees himself – or is he a threat as Boogiepop sees him?
However, before Boogiepop could do her thing, a mystery girl appears and saves Jonouchi. She is Nagi Kirima, a student at Shinyo who spends her nights playing hero and attempting to thwart Boogiepop’s plans as well as destroying the “man-eaters.” Somehow, she is linked to these occurrences in some way and shows up to save her classmates and other students such as a girl who is intent on spreading the word of love thanks to the help of her ghostly dead friend. Meanwhile, there’s a strange cop who might not be what he seems.
In yet another story, a gloomy young man into computer dating sims falls for a young fellow employee and uses a strange liquid drug called Sin-mon to turn said girl into his dream girl just like in the game. We also meet a young girl and his brother who gains power that corrupts the boy who was once sweet and kind towards her. Then there’s a Pied Piper-like boy who has the ability to show grownups and other older folk a look at what they were like as children.
There’s bloody deaths and conspiracies aplenty in this story as we follow Nagi Kirima by way of a young journalist wondering what is going on in this city. On top of that, there are meaningful moments that are actually quite beautiful such as the story of the woman who reads through the diary of her dead daughter or the secret behind the girl who appears often throughout the series who releases butterflies made of light.
Boogiepop and Others
Thankfully, Right Stuf also packaged the live-action movie, “Boogiepop and Others” as well. It’s a fascinating prequel film that is like watching the anime TV series come to life. The story follows various students of Shinyo Academy and fills in the gaps that TV series did not elaborate on such as what happened to Saotome and how Nagi Kirima already knew Boogiepop. Filled with memorable scenes (including a riveting finale at the school), mysterious deaths (and a disturbing eyeball licking scene) and great performances from the cast, the movie is an absolute blast to watch.
Boogiepop Phantom is a complex series that isn’t easy to watch but if you give it a chance it will steal your soul and keep it captive until the very end. It’s a series that creepy, puzzling but totally absorbing to the point that you will find yourself loving every minute of it. If you’re looking for something a bit different and compelling, you cannot go wrong with this complete DVD set.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
An unusual light shines down on Shinyo Academy and suddenly there are students mysteriously disappearing and there are deaths as well that are rumored to be due to an urban legend come to life. Is the Shinigami called Boogiepop involved or is there a greater evil at work? In the live-action prequel, we witness the events before the strange light appears as each students’ story comes together in a confrontation between good and evil.
VIDEO QUALITY: A-
Naturally, a series where the creepy occurrences happen at night doesn’t make for a very clear viewing experience but at least the DVD transfer does a good job displaying a clear picture. Even the movie looks amazing on DVD.
AUDIO QUALITY: A-
There’s a solid voice acting cast for both the original Japanese voices and the English dub so you can’t go wrong watching the TV series with either one although my personal preference is with the Japanese voices. There’s a great original score for both the series and movie. The opening song, “Evening Shower” is wonderfully catchy.
All five DVDs come with plenty of extras that include loads of promo material, clean opening and closing animation and audio commentary track for every episode of the TV series featuring producer Jack Thompson as well as voice talent like Crispin Freeman and Angora Deb. The live-action movie disc comes with separate Making Of Boogiepop featurette as well as a promotional feature with the filmmaker and Sayaka Yoshino (Toka Miyashita) in Yubari. There are also trailers aplenty, including original trailers for the series as well as the movie.
An intricate and deliciously creepy tale, Boogiepop Phantom is nothing short of brilliant and it will definitely make a fan out of you by the end of the series. The episodes themselves are fragments of a much bigger and profound story and believe me when I say it will hook you into its strangeness. Even the live-action movie included is amazing so you should really not miss this one.
Review copy provided by Nozomi Entertainment/Right Stuf