Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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Review: 'Boogiepop Phantom Evolution 1'

TAKE one part Serial Experiments Lain. One part Vampire Princess Miyu. A smidgeon of Neon Genesis Evangelion, mainly the creepy surreal bits involving commuter trains. Add Belldandy's mantle, Maetel's hat, Hana Yori Dango's muted color palette, and Oniisama E's highly vignetted camera technique. Use taiko drums as background music.

You might get something like Boogiepop Phantom.

I've watched the three episodes on the first DVD, and I still don't know what the hell is going on, or who is doing what to whom, who is good and who is evil, or even who is real and who is dead/ghost/phantom/supernatural entity. I need to watch it again, I think think things will become clearer, but there are still going to be lots of lacunae that will, I hope, be cleared up later in the series. The plot is diffuse, and pointless to describe. It involves school kids, coming of age issues, and supernatural goings-on. The character design is reminiscent of Lain: the schoolgirls are not kawaii in any traditional way, and there are no bishounen to speak of.

One of the most striking things about the show is the graphic design. The color palette is mainly dreary desaturated yellow, umber, green, gray. Many scenes are vignetted not with black borders, but with a blurring technique, so that the viewer seems to be looking through a smudged window, or a peephole, or a telescope. In fact, the whole show is somewhat blurry, and seems to have been shot through rain, or mist. While watching it, I worried whether there was something wrong with my projection system; this was just after having watched the Phantom Menace DVD, which also has major problems with its transfer. Then I popped in the new Gasaraki DVD (Disk 7, 'In the Spider's Web'), and the bright colors and sharp edges jumped out and slapped me all over the room. No, my projection system is fine, Boogiepop Phantom is just a show with an extremely muted visual style. I realized that I had been feeling almost claustrophobic while watching it; watching Gasaraki immediately afterward made me feel like coming out into the open air after having been in a cave, or waking up from a threatening dream that bordered on nightmare.

This doesn't sound positive, does it? But that's the way the show is supposed to make you feel. If you're into strange and creepy, if you liked Lain and VPM, you may like Boogiepop Phantom. I was intrigued by the first disk, and will be getting at least the next one as well to see where this show is going.

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