Without a doubt, Boogiepop Phantom was one of the better and deeply confusing series I watched before I became fascinated with anime. More importantly, one I watched as a child. It was strange, weird, and totally over my head as it was something a ten year old could not understand or accurately, had the experience to understand. Revisiting it today and with more knowledge than I did before, I can now truly appreciate not only how intricate the story is, but also the poignancy of the content as well. Just like how my own feelings have changed and evolved for the series overtime, Boogiepop Phantom explores change and how individuals or rather society approaches the topic through many different venues of life.
Boogiepop in itself is a Pandora box of the concept change in a myriad of ways including its storytelling. While it would be extremely useful (and strongly recommend by me) to read the novel accompaniment series, it is not a must by any means and simply makes the viewer think outside their comfort zone. . Written and executed in nonlinear verse, something that people are not accustom to, Boogiepop 1.) Subjects the viewer to change and 2.) Able to call upon various perspectives of the characters that are connected to one another and ultimately, effect each other. It a near perfect series that encompasses the state of humanity and ask the question: Is it the world that changes us or do we change the world? Without a doubt, the pendulum sways back and forward without any true answer and in fact, creates more questions.
There is nothing permanent expect change
Heraclitus, Greek philosopher
Just like with my opening expressing how many “current self” and “past self” viewed this series, age – time itself is a concept that is subject to change without fail and what manages to change us. We grow to like different things as we get older: what we eat, who we socialize with, where we seek fulfillment, and why we approach life the way we do. It is different for everyone to pinpoint where these “changes” arise from; whether it be life experience or influences, but also makes you ponder and wonder how you became the person you are now. Even as of today, I barely remember my childhood in great detail, but do remember certain events that accounts for my likes and dislikes. My older brother was a major influence in my life, like some older siblings are and probably without him, I would have never played games like: Civilization (the old versions, not this crappy modern BS), The Legend Of Zelda, or even Gears Of War. Same thing applies to my various friends back in the day and girlfriend (introducing me to the wider world of anime), but as time flowed onward and I grew up, I developed my own range of taste that I still question to this moment. Never in a million years would I thought I would enjoy fishing, archery, or golf – but somehow, I do.
Another area that the show encompasses as apart of change is the idea of escapism or specifically, childhood as the ultimate form of it. I often wonder why adults encourage kids to dream “big” and go wherever their heart “guides” them. Is it so that when reality comes crashing down they learn from it or perhaps, do dreams and aspirations increase tenacity and drive when it does happen? Do childhood wishes become forgotten relics of the past or do they help guide us to the future? These are many of the numerous questions the series stirs up, but never response in kind to – rather than reflect them back to the viewer in a clever and simple matter to create a inner dialogue of sorts. As someone that deals with harsh pangs of reality (don’t we all) and use things like games and anime as a “tool of escapism” – the word and act itself is a complete fallacy when your adult. You can not truly “escape” from life – just forget about it for a couple of seconds, minutes, or if your lucky – hours. Whether it be relationship problems, financial issues, career stagnancy, or whatever the case maybe – indulgence into what you like only seems to intensify the pain you wanted to numb. Compared to childhood that is void of many burdens and obligations, dreaming seems to be nice thing when you are young, before you become and adult and possibly lose sight of them. Again…this my own cynical take on the matter. If I could, I would really like to be able to return to those old days for awhile, but I have no desire to relive them. That time in my life is over and done with – since I am quite happy with the memories I have.
No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
There is so much more that I can say about Boogiepop Phantom, but due its thematic reach and wonderful subject matter – it is nearly impossible to exhaust it fully. Looking at it again from as an adult verse child perspective, I can truly see how change can be considered an eternal component of life and probably the reason why I was finally able to grasp the message now opposed to thirteen years old. It is because of change people are allowed to experience things we otherwise would not, meet people we otherwise could not, and do/understand things that seem impossible. This clearly a rose-colored stance that I have now compared to a paragraph ago, but yeah, things can and will change. Regardless, if you are not afraid from departing the normalcy of traditional storytelling and do not mind the dated look, Boogiepop Phantom is a series worth diving into. I can say it is not for everyone and does not fit into a neat package genre like series today or long ago, but if you enjoy titles like Serial Experiments Lain, Kino’s Journey, or the more closely related, Only Yesterday – Boogiepop Phantom might be something you will also relish. Just don’t expect to understand everything at first.
Pros: Thought provoking subject matter and themes, interesting execution and storytelling, great soundtrack, interesting choice of artistic design.
Cons: Generic character designs, story might be hard to decipher without reading the companion novels.