What’s it about ?
Sanity slippage, the anime. (Adapted from a light novel series.)
The titular Boogiepop is an urban legend bogey(wo)man ; everyone has vaguely heard spooky stories, and many of the strange happenings in the city are rumoured to be linked to her. In true horror anthology fashion, she barely shows up for a couple of minutes at the end of this first episode, killing off the monster and quickly explaining the plot. If you want to push it, she could just be a “normal” high school girl with advanced knowledge of the occult and wearing a fancy coat and hat over her uniform… but what are the odds of THAT ?
Moto, our actual point of view character for this episode is an angsty, self-conscious high school girl. She’s got issues over her best friend Yasuko becoming more socially proficient (and sexually active), and regrets not pursuing her crush on Yasuko’s former middle-school boyfriend further.
Saotome, said ex-boyfriend, has recently disappeared, and only shows up in flashbacks. Whatever happened to him (Boogiepop claims to have killed him), the thing that Moto stumbles on and has taken his form definitely isn’t him. She’s very lucky Boogiepop was in the vicinity to take out that man-eating monster.
I’m pretty sure that’s the end of Moto’s story, with each subsequent episode focusing on a different character that intersects briefly with the others’ path. As Moto’s narration says, what happened to her was just a ripple effect of a bigger story.
The credits prominently feature (and name) three characters :
– Touka is the only one who gets any actual screentime here ; she’s an ordinary student at Saotome’s highschool who crosses paths briefly with Moto and tries being helpful, despite Moto not wanting any help.
– Nagi is another student at that highschool, although she spends most of the OP looking grim in leather and riding a motorcycle. She doesn’t even show up at all here, although it’s said Saotome had a crush on her. Everyone knows her to be bad news.
– And then there’s some older guy in a trenchcoat, who doesn’t appear at all either.
Atmosphere ! This show is all dull greys and browns, which is great at setting up the mood, but not so much at making the characters easily distinguishable (especially as the non-supernatural characters have naturalistic designs). Still, it’s very good at selling the alienation and the anything-could-happen nature of the setting.
Aside from the rocking OP/ED sequences, the soundtrack has very little actual music, instead playing up sound effects for maximum otherworldliness. What little music there is in the action sequences, is disrupted and fragmented. (In a good way.)
As it happens, the first show on the list is the one I’ve already seen twice, and one of my all-time favourites. The shifting-POV, non-linear storytelling at play here is a thing of beauty, as each subsequent tale builds into a cohesive bigger picture. It’s relentless, it’s creepy, but it still leaves a ray of hope at the end of the day, thanks to Boogiepop herself.
I love this show, and I’m really tempted to rewatch it right now. That’s going to be a tough act to follow.