Reviewby Christopher Macdonald, Nov 15th 2001
Evolution 1 DVD
A scream in the night, and in that instant the world changed ... or at least, it appeared to. There have always been forces in the world and voices in the night: some friendly and other malevolent. Invisible until summoned; they slide through dimensions as people walk through doorways. They wait, and watch the doings of Man closely ... each for their own reasons. Sometimes, they appear ... and when they do, the world changes.
Everyone knows about Boogiepop: meet her one dark night and you are taken. People tell each other the stories and laugh: no one believes that she exists in this day and age. Still, there are some strange things that appear to be going on just below the surface. Darkness takes many forms, though. Evil and good intermingle. The glass shatters. Time stands still. There is something in the darkness. You aren't alone. Are you safe?
Five years ago, there was a string of grisly murders that shook the city to its core ... and in the present, psychic echoes reverberate.
Boogiepop Phantom is possibly one of this years most anticipated Anime releases. The big question of course is does Boogiepop meet expectations, does it surpass them, or does it flounder in mediocrity?
Despite the fact that Lain and Boogiepop were created by two entirely different groups of people, they share so many similarities in the way they come across that the comparison between the two is inevitable. Quite simply, everything that Lain is, Boogiepop is more. Lain is weird, Boogiepop is absolutely eerie, Lain is confusing, Boogiepop can cause serious headaches, and while Lain had some of the best sound ever in an Anime, Boogiepop makes the best use of sound effects to be ever heard in an Anime. So then, whatever Lain is, Boogiepop is more, but is Boogiepop any good? It all depends on the viewer.
While plot and character development are generally considered the most important aspects of any story, including filmed or animated stories, the first things to really strike the viewer of this Anime are the animation and the sound. Animation–wise, Boogiepop follows very much in the footsteps of Lain; the images are generally crisp (although intentionally blurred on occasions) and the Animation is fluid. Character designs seem a bit bland at first; none of the characters have blue hair or rare physiques, so they can be somewhat difficult to distinguish at times. While this might detract from some viewers' enjoyment of the film astute viewers may notice some rather interesting, although not very blatant, differences between the various characters. In this regard, one of the most interesting scenes in the series occurs during the first episode. During the scene, which occurs in a school bathroom, we're shown the hemline of several of the characters' skirts. Unlike your typical anime where all the skirts have unrealistically short hemlines, the hemlines in Boogiepop vary with the personality of the characters. The bolder members of the group had higher than average hemlines, while the shier characters had “regulation” hemlines. This isn't a very important item in the movie, but it does show to what extent the creators went with the visual design of their characters and how nothing was done haphazardly during the creation of the series.
Never has any Anime ever made such creative and powerful use of sound than Boogiepop, not even Miyazaki's superbly crafted Princess Mononoke. It's very hard to describe just how good this series sounds; during the second episode there's a scene where one of the characters is running away from something he fears greatly. Even without the music, this scene would have sounded amazing; the various sounds such as the sound of the character's labored breathing, his footsteps in the rain and his blurred speech (no other word quite describes the distortion of his voice) combine together to profoundly display his abject terror. Combined with a very powerful, aggressive and disturbingly odd music track, this scene is a delectable feast of sound.
The Boogiepop DVD contains three primary audio tracks, the original Japanese stereo track, the English stereo track and a remixed 5.1 track in English. Unfortunately there is no Japanese 5.1 track, this is a terrible tragedy because Boogiepop Phantom is a series that truly deserves and can make use of every last bit of sound superiority that 5.1 audio can offer. TRSI however can't be blamed for the lack of a Japanese 5.1 track; none was ever produced for the original Japanese release of Boogiepop. On the other hand, TRSI deserves a lot of credit for creating such a wonderful 5.1 track in English. Headline Studios, the recording company that TRSI worked with to produce the English track, put a lot of time and effort into making the best use of the directional sound available for a 5.1 track and it really shows. At times though, the sound of the original Japanese stereo track still feels superior to the remixed English 5.1 track, but for the most part Headline Studios did a great job taking what was there to begin with and improving it for the 5.1 track.
The voice acting and directing is very good in both languages, although at times it seems that the English voice actors weren't able to bring forth as much emotion as the Japanese cast and direction. Nonetheless, the English performance is nothing to complain about, particularly the performances of Jessica Calvello (Moto) and Crispin Freeman (Saotome) who may have delivered the best performances of their career in Boogiepop.
Boogiepop Phantom is an extremely hard to follow series, and this may put some people off. Each episode jumps around in time, and the episodes themselves do not occur in a linear timeframe either. Each of the first three episodes focuses on and introduces a new character, who has very little, if any importance at all in the other episodes. The above mentioned character designs combined the fact that characters disappear for several episodes at a time will make things very hard to follow for anyone who isn't paying a lot of attention. However, as the show progresses, the attentive viewer will be rewarded as plot elements start to fit together like pieces of a puzzle. There are scenes that occur in one episode, from one characters point of view that are revisited again in later episodes from another character's point of view. At first these scenes seem unimportant, and they really do have little or nothing to do with the events of the current episode, but they may be crucially important to a later episode. This kind of story telling required some very careful crafting on the part of Sadayuki Murai and it's clear that he has an immense amount of skill to pull it off. For some, Boogiepop will be eerily addictive as they struggle to understand all the different aspects of the series, for others it will simply be confusing and uninteresting.
Extras on the DVD include the original 15 and 30 second promos for Japanese television, and a music video of the ending theme song, “Future Century Aki Club,” as well as a full commentary track with producer Jeff Thompson and director Joe DiGiorgi.
Overall (dub) : A-
Overall (sub) : A
Animation : A
Art : B
Music : A+
+ Awesome sound, complex detailed and very well thought out story
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