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After performing a charm that would supposedly unite them as friends, a group of students are teleported to the mysterious Heavenly Host Elementary School where they are visited by the spirits of the school's murdered students.
Boogiepop and Others is a film that is probably hardly ever casually come by. It is the kind of film that is sought out by a particular niche. Boogiepop and Other is based off the popular Japanese novels by Kouji Ogata and serves as a prequel to the also popular anime series Boogiepop Phantom, which is also based off Ogata's novels. Dark and mysterious, Boogiepop and Others is twisting tale of action, suspense, gore, sci-fi, and drama.
The film covers Ogata's first novel and leads you right up to the anime. I am not one to denounce a film or argue the fact that you have had to seen or read something else to understand the film, but it seems to be the case here with BaO. If you have yet to see the anime series Boogiepop Phantom, it comes highly recommended: Fantastic writing and direction, excellent characters, an intense story line and a beautifully eerie soundtrack to boot. Now, you do not have to have seen BP to understand BaO or follow along with the happenings, just that BaO is a lot more satisfying and purposeful to those who have, as it clears up a lot that was left for the imagination in the series.
Boogiepop and Others spins the story of ten Japanese students whose lives are mysteriously linked to the disappearance of several classmates known as "runaways," who as urban legend have it, have been taken away by the shinigami (death god) known as Boogiepop. Who is Boogiepop? And who/what is that she is fighting? The plot is filled with a lot of major turns and twists and can sometimes be a handful to follow. In short, we have a boy, Takeda, whose girlfriend, Toka, has split personalities: one being his sweet girlfriend, the other being the shinigami Boogiepop. We also have an eccentric girl, Naoko, who finds a mysterious mute named Echoes, who is named so because he can only communicate with her telepathically, who is on the search for a manticore who is feeding off human souls. And then there is the dark Saotome who is controlling the manticore and using her body fluids to make a drug called "Slave." Lastly there is the tough Nagi, who seems to be the only student who has any idea on the relationship of events surrounding Boogiepop, Echoes, the manticore and the disappearances.
If that makes it seem that there is a lot going on, that's because there is, and in honesty, most of the questions raised, important or not, are still not clearly answered. BaO is littered with a lot of vague exposition that sometimes hit their mark and sometimes leaves you more baffled than if they were to explain it at all. If you can keep up with the fast moving plot, then there is a lot for you to draw your own conclusions from, but I don't really think that was the intention of amateur director Ryu Kaneda. In the end all we really have are "Kinda's." We "kinda" know who Boogiepop is and why she appears. We "kinda" get the whole manticore thing and why she bothers with Saotome. And we only "kinda" understand what Echoes is up to.
BaO is a film that cannot rise above a B rank thriller. That is not at all to say the film is bad in all matters, but that every aspect of the film waivers. The production level is that of the typical Asian cult films that the American fans have come to expect, and the acting is par for the course. While there isn't much to say good or bad about the acting for the most part, there a handful of scenes that will be sure to make you sneer.
The main plague of BaO is the incoherent direction. Understandingly, the films story is a challenge in the likes of Memento, but the intersections of the student's stories are rushed and rather uneventful. While each student's story is intriguing in his or her own regards, their conclusions are only semi-gratifying.
All in all, Boogiepop and Others is a film that isn't a complete waste of time, but nothing extraordinarily special. If you are a fan of the series than it is must see. If you are an avid fan of Asian cult cinema, than you will probably be able to see this film for what it has to offer. If you are just an ordinary movie watcher looking for your next movie, than BaO is probably something you will want to stay away from.
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