Overlooked? Unappreciated? Unknown by fans at large? Nothing better comes to mind then Boogiepop Phantom. A show that is perhaps my favorite of all time and certainly in my top 3. Why? There are so many reasons. There are so very few shows like Boogiepop and none of them really are able to do what it did.(The one that comes closest is Serial Experiments Lain which is a masterpiece in it's own right) What did it do? Wow it's so hard to explain something like that when the show is by it's very nature almost made to confuse and confound the viewer unless they have read all the novels and seen the show.
The basic plot revolves around the character of Boogiepop and just who he is. For most of the characters in the world Boogiepop is nothing but a urban legend but there are a few who know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Boogiepop is real. The story of the anime takes place 5 years after that of the original novel Boogiepop and Others.(Which is a good read for those who don't want to be left confused). In essence a event occurs that spawns a series of horrible murders that seem similar to those from the original novel and the characters all show events from slightly different perspective that slowly connect to reveal what is really going on and who Boogiepop and Boogiepop Phantom really are and what they want(yes they are 2 different people....kinda).
It's really one of those shows you really have to follow carefully to get. None of that leaving it on in the background and listening to it stuff. If you don't give the show your full and undivided attention you will come out of the whole thing confused but should you watch it and watch it carefully you will be rewarded with one the best experiences anime has to offer. It's one of those shows that's like a puzzle. As it slowly comes together you slowly see the picture begin to emerge and as the it wraps up everything becomes clear.(Similar to the Kara No Kyoukai film series)
But it's not just the plot that makes Boogiepop Phantom so damn good. It's everything. The music, The art, The tone, The design, The world. It all makes the show more effective. One of the biggest things the show has going for it is it's atmosphere. Very few shows ever come close to achieving the kind of atmosphere that Boogiepop Phantom was able to create and maintain throughout.
Take for example the look. The dark and dank world and how it's all rendered in a almost sepia tone that relays the almost dream like world as seen though the eyes of each of the characters. It's so effective in fact you will often find yourself wondering if what you are watching is really happening or if it's supposed to be a dream or nightmare. It's very effective in adding to the atmosphere. And it's that atmosphere that will burn some of the more disturbing and creepy scenes into your head long after you finish. To this day there are certain frames of the show I can't seem to get out of my head.
But more then that is the use of sound. This is a show that NEEDS to be seen with 5.1 surround or you will really be missing out on one of things that make the show so good. The original Japanese never had a 5.1 track. Only a 2 channel track was produced. However in those releases it was clear how strong the audio was and how important it was to the show. It's because of this that The Rightstf International hired a studio that could created a new 5.1 track for the show and it really works. It adds so much to the show. It intensifies the atmosphere the show already had ten fold. Of course there will be those wary of the dub that would come along with this 5.1 mix but you need not worry as it's easily on par with the original Japanese( and in a few places one could argue it's actually better) and it's not a stretch to say it's the best dub ever made for a Right Stuf release.(which is a bold statement as they released some of the best dubs around back in their prime).
Of course you can't talk about sound without talking about music which again adds to the atmosphere of the show. In fact it's kinda hard to even describe much of the music in the show. So much of it was so deeply tailored to fit the show and enhance it that there isn't even a genre you can use to describe it. But suffice to say that it like everything else in the show helps add to the eerie, creepy almost dreamlike atmosphere the show is aiming for.
The thing about Boogiepop Phantom(and the reason I think it never really got talked about or recognized for how good it is) is that it won't and doesn't try to hold your hand through it's plot. You NEED to want to follow it and understand what is going on and there are certainly those who just won't be able to do that. However if you can follow it through to the end you will certainly be rewarded. It's not uncommon for those who watch the first few episodes to just give up as they can't see the overall picture and your not supposed to see that picture until towards the end and most can't deal with that and give up. It's not easy to watch so much of a show in confusion but again it's very rewarding in the end. And as I mentioned earlier it really helps to either read the original light novel(Or watch the live action movie if you don't want to read which does indeed come with the box set for the series although reading the original novels is by far the better way to go).
It's certainly not a show for everyone and for that reason it was painfully overlooked by the majority of anime fans. It's not perfect(some will mention the slow pace, the confusing story telling and the somewhat dull character design) but that said if you are not deterred from a very involving and at times very confusing plot it's a show you certainly should see.
I absolutely love this series, and it's such a pity that the rest of the Boogiepop mythos has never been explored in anime form.
One thing I found particularly impressive, that I never noticed when I first watched the series, is the filter that's on many scenes. Take a close look, and you'll notice a kind of ring effect, where everything towards the corners of the picture gets darker. It won't be there during the calm school sequences, but every other time in the anime they're there, which really helps set the tone.
I liked it, but I felt as if a lot was being left out. My understanding is that the live-action film and manga fill in most of the gaps and backstory.