Boogiepop Phantom is a creepy new anime series based on a series of young-adult novels by Kohei Kadono. Its Japanese title is Boogiepop wa Warawanai which means "The Boogiepop Never Laughs." Koji Ogata provided the original cover art for the novels. A live-action movie, Boogiepop and Others, debuted in Japanese theatres in March 2000.

Animated by studio Madhouse (animators of Wicked City, Ninja Scroll, and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust), Boogiepop was converted into a 12-episode TV series directed by Takashi Watanabe, director of the popular Slayers anime. It collects into six video volumes and was released in the U.S. in September 2001.

Boogiepop is extremely difficult to describe, plotwise. In the first episode, the character Moto Tonomura states, “Looking back at it now…it might have been the after effects…the aftermath of some much bigger incident. Looking at the world as a whole, this incident was just a small piece of the big puzzle.” This is the best way to watch the series—like a big jigsaw puzzle with many interlocking pieces that likely don’t make much sense until you’ve used every piece.

The series is also extremely artistic; the first few episodes have a washed-out color scheme, which becomes brighter in each episode as more information is revealed. Early in the series, the corners of the screen seem blurry and out of focus, adding to the dreamlike state.

There is no real “main character”; instead, the viewers see the story from many points of view. It’s a collection of vignettes that jump from the past, to the present, and then back to the past again. The background, you can gather after a few episodes, involves some supernatural event in which a bright light disrupts the electrical grid of the entire city, causing some people to develop strange powers.

The urban legend character, Boogiepop, starts showing up around the city, acting as the “angel of death.” One girl gets stalked by their high school crush, who turns out to be dead; one boy is given the gift to see people’s negative memories in the form of strange bugs which are attached to their hearts—he eventually starts removing these bugs and eating them in a very nasty fashion, becoming addicted to the taste of them; another girl summons another evil killer.

The entire series is definitely of the horror-thriller genre. Some say that it resembles the anime Serial Experiments Lain due to its deep and drawn-out story, beautiful artwork, and even a voice actor: Kaori Shimizu.

Lastly, a quote from the magazine Animerica of Boogiepop Phantom: “Your mind will be more disturbed than your stomach. Yes, there are scenes of graphic violence (one so bad that one of the American directors had trouble sleeping), but the real chills hit when you think about what has happened to the people, emotionally and psychologically, in the story, even the ones still alive at the end of each vignette…Most of the characters in Boogiepop do not face their fears soon enough, and you see the terribly damaging results of that wait.”

Boogiepop Phantom Characters:

From the January 2002 issue of Animerica:


Also called the "angel of death." Thought to be an urban legend that spirits away from unsuspecting victims. Boogiepop seems to have a mission outside of normal morality. Capable of destroying or at least dispersing the supernatural nasties plaguing the city. Sometimes helpful, sometimes merciless, Boogiepop is one of the core mysteries of the series.

*Toka Miyashita*

The first of the characters showcased in the opening song. She is seen in episode 1 trying to guide Moto to see Nagi Kirima.

*Nagi Kirima

Nagi dated Saotome for a while, and she has been on the trail of Boogiepop because she wishes to be a "defender of justice."

*Minako Yurihara*

The cold and calculating Yurihara appears in flashbacks and looks a lot like Boogiepop...

*Masami Saotome*

Moto's love and the ex of her best friend Yasuko. In the beginning, he's rumored to have been taken by Boogiepop...but he keeps reappearing to Moto in dark alleyways.

*Moto Tonomura*

The main character of the first episode, Moto is extremely shy and suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

*Yasuko Suzuki*

Moto's best friend and her polar opposite: a flirty, outgoing girl who has a lot of experience with boys.


Yasuko's current boyfriend, who is very jealous and demanding.

*Hisashi Juonochi*

Main character of episode 2, a boy whose dreams of becoming a world-famous martial artist were shattered due to a childhood accident. He became a bit of an outcast, but after receiving a special medicine from the school nurse, he is able to see negative emotions as colorful bugs over people's hearts, which he likes to eat...


Unnamed health care worker who gives Juonochi medicine to bring out his "inner strength."

*Misuzu Arifuji*

Main character of episode 3 who is never bothered by anything. She tries to teach the world of her "World Love" taught by her murdered friend Panuru. She eventually takes her friend's name for herself.

*Yoko Sasaoka*

One of Juonochi's classmates, he removes a bug on her that allows her to cheat in class freely. She also falls victim to Panuru's world love.

*Rie Takai*

The first girl with the nickname Panuru, deliverer of the World Love philosophy.

It should be noted that the anime Boogiepop wa Warawanai is actually a different story than the Boogiepop wa Warawanai that appears in the novel, manga and live-action movie of the same name. (For the sake of brevity, the title will be shortened to just Boogiepop from now on.)

The original Boogiepop story was told in a very similiar fashion to the anime -- it was the story of a particular chain of events told from the perspective of several people somehow connected to it. (In the anime, this 'focus' was the beam of light event.) Without giving too much away, the focus of the original Boogiepop was a monster called Manticore. Manticore took over the body of an unfortunate girl and hid in the highschool it found her at, feeding on people unfortunate enough to find her. One day, a rather psychopathic student called Masami Saotome runs into her -- and falls in love. At the same time, a mysterious man called Echoes shows up in the city, and due to his appearance is shunned by everyone except one kind girl...

Fans of the anime should be very familiar with the names "Manticore", "Masami Saotome" and "Echoes", but may be left somewhat confused by the fact that the anime doesn't say a hell of a lot about them. This is because the anime is really aimed at people who know the original story quite well. In other words, a large part of the mystery and confusion of Boogiepop's story for Western audiences is due to the fact that they never saw the first installment of the story. After watching Boogiepop the anime after I'd managed to read through the manga, I saw the series in a very different light -- and understood it much better.

There are quite a few other Boogiepop stories by Kouhei Kadono, and there is also a spin-off manga called Boogiepop Dual, which as far as I can tell is just a one-off story which has nothing to do with anything.

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