Tag Archives: horror

Boogiepop and Others

Boogiepop and OthersStory: Kouhei Kadono
Illustrations: Kouji Ogata
Translation (Publisher): Andrew Cunningham (Seven Seas)
Genre: Supernatural / Sci-Fi / Horror
Vintage: 1998

Version reviewed: English Translated
Date of Review: 21 Mar 2012

Grade: B+

The launching pad for the world of Boogiepop, which spans several different kinds of media.

Plot Summary
At Shinyo Academy, there have been many reports of girls running away and never being seen or heard from again. Also, there is a secret amongst the girls at Shinyo that there is a shinigami on campus named Boogiepop. Is Boogiepop the one taking these girls away, or is something else going on?

The Review
The world of Boogiepop begins here. This is the novel that spawned a live-action film adaptation, manga adaptation, manga sequel, short stories, fourteen subsequent novels, and an animated sequel. If you are curious about Boogiepop, this is where to start.

Boogiepop and Others is a very simple story on the surface, but it is the way in which it is told that gives it a certain appeal: it is nonlinear. This is the story of a single event told from the points of view of several different characters. Only by reading through each person’s account of the events which take place at Shinyo Academy can we the reader begin to piece together what actually happened. Each of them has a different level of involvement, and during each character’s part of the story, we see the events as they passed through their eyes. Each character’s story is told independently from start to finish, so there is no criss-cross of narratives over the duration of the novel. The stories do intersect, but it is up to us to find these crossing points in order to put the story together.

For those not familiar with light novels, the “light” generally refers to the fact that these kinds of books are fairly easy reading, but that isn’t meant in a negative way. It is almost like reading a screenplay, as dialogue is the driving force behind the narrative. Boogiepop and Others can be easily picked up and read for brief periods at a time, as the chapters are fairly short and there are plenty of stopping points. There is also a color-illustrated introduction to the characters before the novel begins, and there are a few black-and-white illustrations within the body of the novel as well.

Overall, the book is presented well, and North American publisher Seven Seas has a translation policy which aims to preserve the intent of the original Japanese as much as possible. The only awkward moments in the translation appear when the Japanese terms sempai and kouhai are retained in English. As these terms have no practical equivalent in English, they are kept to preserve the cultural significance of acknowledging one’s superior or junior in Japan. On a side note, there are a few typographical and copy editing errors which somehow made it through to the final draft. These are only a few isolated incidences, however.

Boogiepop and Others is an easy read, yet it still challenges due to the puzzle-like nature of the story. Equal parts high-school drama and supernatural horror, it is a good story with a wide range of characters. If you’ve heard about Boogiepop but never knew the best place to start, this light novel is the answer.

Le Portrait de Petite Cossette

Le Portrait de Petite CossetteType: OVA
Episode Count: 3
Genre: Supernatural / Psychological Horror
Vintage: 2004

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 07 Sep 2010

Grade: A

A story so surreal that even after watching it twice, the density of the imagery still leaves me dizzy.

Plot Summary
Eiri is a man with an obsession. His life is consumed by a wine glass which is a part of the collection at the antiques shop where he works. It’s not the wine glass itself which has him appearing to separate from reality though, but a vision he sees in it: a mysterious young girl. Things take a disturbing turn one night when the girl in his visions appears to become real, and soon Eiri is unable to distinguish his visions from reality. Who is this girl, and what is Eiri’s connection to her?

The Review
There is one thing which absolutely must be noted about Petite Cossette: it is a superb demonstration of highly artistic cinematography. The director of this series went on to do Moon Phase, another series which made extensive use of artistic cinematography, though not to the extreme degree found here in Petite Cossette. This may be the most surreal title currently in my collection, and I have Adolescence Apocalypse, so that’s saying something. Petite Cossette immerses the viewer in carefully designed virtual camera angles. It is an extremely artistic presentation, nearly to the point of overwhelming.

Also like the subsequent Moon Phase, Petite Cossette is draped in Gothic overtones, but in this case they are in the spotlight. Indeed, Petite Cossette is virtually an ode to the Gothic Lolita movement in Japan. The artistic style bleeds through every aspect of the series, including Yuki Kajiura’s score. It’s not so much a case of style over substance, but more that the style makes the substance. Becoming lost in the imagery is as much a part of the experience of watching Petite Cossette as following the story is. On my first viewing several years ago, I found the imagery to be so thick that after finishing the series, I still wasn’t sure what I had just watched. I was able to at last distill the story from it on this, my second viewing. Still, the imagery remains so dense that it’s easy to lose the story if one spends too much time basking in the imagery, and it is very easy to get lost in the visual aspect of Petite Cossette.

Why have I spent so much time talking about the visual characteristics of this series? Because they really are that integral to being able to appreciate it. Those unfamiliar with surreal or avant-garde storytelling will likely find Le Portrait de Petite Cossette a challenge to watch. This OVA certainly asks more of the viewer than your average film or series. It’s not so much that one needs to think while watching it, but more that one needs to pay attention. Blink, and the story will leave you behind.

Petite Cossette isn’t just a cinematographer’s playground either; those who enjoy horror of a slightly more artistic nature will find much to enjoy here as well. There is quite a bit of disturbing imagery in the series, and Petite Cossette is a fine entry in the “creepy little girl” genre, due in large part to the unconventional (by anime standards) character designs. Under the right circumstances, this series could lead to sleepless nights.

Le Portrait de Petite Cossette is a dark, surreal tale. It drowns the viewer in imagery, and stands apart from the pack due to its unconventional approach. This is a series for those who enjoy their anime as a form of artistic expression as well as entertainment.

Boogiepop Phantom

Boogiepop PhantomType: TV Series
Episode Count: 12
Genre: Psychological Thriller / Psychological Drama / Sci-Fi / Horror
Vintage: 2000

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 01 Feb 2007

Grade: A+

It could have been Serial Experiments Lain‘s sibling. That’s all you need to know.

Plot Summary
One month after Boogiepop (which rumor has it is a Shinigami, or angel of death) has ended the mystery of the disappearing students at Shinyo Academy, strange things have begun happening again. Boogiepop seems to have returned.

The Review
Where do I even start? I think for Boogiepop, a stream-of-consciousness review will be most appropriate.

This series is the sequel to the novel Boogiepop and Others, which I had read in preparation of watching this animated sequel, and am I glad I did! Even so, despite the knowledge I gained from that novel, Boogiepop Phantom will require a few more viewings to even begin to see everything. This series is even more non-linear than Lain, which is my benchmark title for series that play games with your mind. (Boogiepop Phantom now ties it, at the very least…) It’s hard to pin a chronology on to the events that happen in the series, since each episode follows multiple parallel stories from different characters’ perspectives, as well as jumping around in time with little notice. It may all seem random, but it is very deliberate and makes this particular type of storytelling very effective. The same events will be presented a few times over the course of the series, but what is learned about each event is different each time it’s seen, since it’s from a different side each time. In this way, discerning the details of the plot of the series is left to us, the viewer.

Comparisons to Serial Experiments Lain are almost a necessity for Boogiepop Phantom. Much of the staff that worked on Lain also worked on Boogiepop. Both series feel the same, visually they are very similar, and even a few voice actors are the same. Without hesitation, I can say that if you like one, there’s a good chance that you’ll probably like the other. One thing that stands out with Boogiepop Phantom is the color palette. I’m not sure if it’s the video master used for the DVDs or not, but visually, everything is muted. The series looks washed out, but I am confident that this was intentional. The series is downright creepy at times, and the lack of brightness and contrast only helps to convey this.

As was suggested to me, I would recommend anyone interested in Boogiepop Phantom to read the novel that precedes it first. Then perhaps watch the live-action adaptation of that novel, and then watch this series. It will help immensely in the effort to put all of the pieces in Boogiepop Phantom together. This is a series I look very much forward to rewatching, since I know I’ll be connecting the dots for many viewings to come. If you want a mindblender, you can’t go wrong with Boogiepop.