Boogiepop And Others (Japan 2000)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 10/28/12
Cast: Sayaka Yoshino, Maya Kurosu, Ayana Sakai, Asumi Miwa, Mami Shimizu

Fascinating and utterly baffling. This live action adaptation of the novel of the same name is a confusing mess of five or more distinct storylines told in a non-linear fashion, that ultimately all tie into each other. Thankfully, there are enough cute girls in the mix to keep things interesting while your brain tries to put all the pieces together, but it can be a rough ride. Female high school students are disappearing and winding up dead. Space aliens, runaway telepaths, dangerous drugs, and a bizarre killer known as Boogiepop are all involved in the mystery, which plays out in the guise of a teen romance.

Admittedly, the first half of the film is so bizarre and so difficult to watch that I nearly turned it off on several occasions. It's hard trying to keep up with the various characters that come and go, and the non-linear story progression is maddening. It's kind of like being periodically handed individual pieces of a jig-saw puzzle. Each piece on its own is meaningless, and it isn't until the second half of the film that you have enough pieces that you can start seeing how they relate to each other and what the overall big picture is. At that point, the film stops being annoying and starts becoming intriguing.

The young actresses in the film are all adorable and wonderful to watch. Sayaka Yoshino plays the enigmatic Boogiepop, Maya Kurosu is the tough biker chick Nagi, Asumi Miwa is the doomed bad girl Naoko, and Mami Shimizu is the overly sheltered bookworm who has an unhealthy fascination with Nagi. The production values are quite good, and while the visual effects aren't particularly noteworthy, they're used sparingly and serve their purpose. Things become surprisingly tense and grim towards the end, which adds some shock value to an otherwise tame and light-hearted production. Definitely a slow starter, but if you have an open mind and enough stamina, it really pays off in the end.