When I think about Boogiepop Phantom, I’m also reminded of other recent Madhouse anime, like Shigurui and Casshern Sins. Each has a strange aesthetic; seductive yet tinged by an under-lying sense of sadness and desolation.
It would be easy to categorise them as dark and depressing, but they are more complex than that. It’s not horror merely for the sake of mindless chills; it’s horror to serve a purpose, to weave a spell. Boogiepop Phantom is disorientating, Shigurui is grotesque and Casshern Sins is desolate, but each conjures an atmosphere potent enough to provoke difficult questions.
The coolest thing about Boogiepop Phantom is that it’s just really fucked up. Too often in anime are teenagers romanticised. Everything’s so sweet, so melodramatic; no permanent damage. It’s just easier to watch something like Toradora, where everyone’s so cheerful, ready to communicate and fix their problems.
Nothing festers in your typical anime high-school; feelings, conflicts are all out in the open, ready to be tended. It’s false bullshit, but we watch it because it’s happy and safe, because there’s always an answer, and the characters will always turn out okay, smiling in the end. We know it’s coming and that’s fine, but it lacks an edge; seems to be more like a dream than reality.
And you wouldn’t willingly escape into a nightmare, right?
After all these years, I still love watching Naruto. I’ll place it on hiatus every now and then, but it still is, and always will be, one of my biggest favourites. This past weekend marked the end of my latest break from Shippuuden, but already, here I am again; writing away. I couldn’t let this feeling pass without trying to convey it, this sense of being an anime fan and seeing something so great it can’t be contained by just me alone; I have to share it with you.