Boogiepop Phantom Rewatch – Episode Two

A post in the Epic Journey.

It’s amazing how about 2 years ago I could never find any goddamn Boogiepop images, and now they are easy as hell.

Episode 2’s main character is Hisashi Junouchi, a trademark coward. Unlike most Boogiepop characters, we are actually given a pretty decent backstory on Junouchi as is necessary to fully understand his character. Ever since he was a child, Junouchi wanted to be a hero. However, this is not to be confused with a hero complex (or ‘messiah complex’) , in which someone is obsessed with saving he world from threat. Junoushi is a coward, afraid of death and hardship. He is the sort of person who only helps others as a way of helping himself. Because he is able to help other people, it makes them seem weak, and only him, with all his strength, can save them. Junouchi is forced to come to terms with this early on in life when it was discovered that he had a bone tumor and would never be in peak physical condition. In his cowardice, he immediately decides that he will never be able to be a hero with his body in this condition.

One day, in the hospital, he overhears a conversation between a detective and a young girl who fans will immediately recognize as Nagi Kirima, one of Boogiepop’s major characters and self-proclaimed bearer of the aforementioned messiah complex. When she presses the detective about what he really wants to be, he answers that he wants to be a defender of justice. As a detective, there are rules he is bound by, but he wishes he could punish justice as he sees fit. Nagi’s reaction is that he could do it if he tried, and the detective laughs it off. Interestingly, this remark is not only important for Junouchi, but foreshadowing for the story itself. For Junouchi, hearing her say that the detective ‘could probably do it’ made him feel worse for his personal inability to. In Nagi’s mind, anyone can do whatever they set out to. After all, later in life she would be the one running a massive personal information network so that she can hunt down evil forces in the city and stop them when no one else can. however in Junoushi’s mind, he is stuck in a rut he will never get out of because he is too afraid to try.

That is, until the night that the pillar of light illuminated the sky and made everything in the city go nuts. For Junouchi, he gained a special power. It first appeared to him when his father spoke to him the following morning and Junouchi was able to see a huge spider on his chest. Everywhere he goes, people seem to have this spider. When he gets to class, a girl is called to get her scored test and it is announced that she got the highest score in class, a 98! As she walks back to her desk, Junouchi notices the spider. He sees that, as she sits down, she has a worried, distraught expression. He decides to meet her outside after class. He gets right to the point – ‘did you cheat on that test?’ Immediately the girl starts crying. That’s when Junouchi opens up her shirt, pulls the spider from her chest, and devours it. (if you’ve seen the show, you know how totally gross it is when he devours the spiders and they show it a lot, lol. I was eating dinner and everything.) The girl seems to feel completely fine now, and Junouchi comes to the conclusion that the spiders represent the knots in peoples’ hearts – something that worries them. Semi-immediately, he goes on an eating spree, removing the spiders from everyone’s hearts and making them feel better.

Finally, Junouchi has become a hero! In his own mind, at least, that is. Here’s where another directing trick helps explain things. Even though he seems to think he’s doing something heroic, Junouchi’s face always looks completely evil and sadistic when he eats the bugs, while the people always look totally dazed and out of it. Junouchi is telling us that he’s making people feel better, but honestly, we can’t be sure what he’s doing. The truth is, he doesn’t care about making other people feel better, just as long as he gets to feel like a hero. He’s sure of himself as some kind of savior to these people, and sure enough, it comes back to bite him in the ass.

Junouchi finds out, uh-oh! When he ate the bug off of his dad’s heart, he thought it would help him forget the pain of loosing his wife to a serial killer. (it should be noted that this is the same serial killer who plays a huge role in the Boogiepop universe, and whom Boogiepop’s backstory revolves around.) However it turns out that he’s eaten the memories of his mother altogether! Even in school he looks over and find the girl who he ate first to be cheating yet again! It’s become apparent that his power hasn’t been helping people at all! However, it’s much too far in the game fro Junouchi to simply give up. For the first time, he’s been able to feel like a hero, and without that, he can’t go on. He tells himself that his way is fine. ‘Isn’t it better to forget bad memories?’ Now he’s merely trying to justify his actions for himself. He needs the bugs! He starts to completely loose his mind, and when he forcefully takes the bug from a woman in the park, he as well as the audience is introduced to the show’s titular character, Boogiepop Phantom. Unlike Boogiepop, this one is far from human, as it teleports around, chasing down Junouchi. He is given a chance to get further away when Nagi jumps in, instantly realizing that this is not Boogiepop but some other force. Junouchi runs into an alley and faceplants. He doesn’t get up – his encounter with Nagi in the hospital years ago replays in his mind and he remembers just how much of a coward he is. He pleads for his life one last time as Boogiepop Phantom emerges, having apparently shaken off Nagi.

“Are you going to kill me?”

“No, I am here to take you there.”

Junouchi is given a final scene of his childhood – his friends yelling for him to come along… the time when he was truly a morally just hero who everyone loved… and then we see his school, where the gossip is that Junouchi, like others, has disappeared.

Getting onto the technical side, this episode was an audio feast. The parts where Junouchi is running away have his voice coming in warped huffs that add to the panic of the scene. Unlike the first episode which was completely dark and claustrophobic, this one varies from super-bright scenes that represent Junouchi’s moments of solace to super-dark ones that represent his depravity. This episode uses two songs from the soundtrack. For his running away and freaking out parts, Delirious is used – the song is definitely my favorite from the album and one of my favorite songs all-around. Delirious is once again well-representative of his personality. The episode also uses A Furrow Dub, a calm, relaxing track that soothes the mind, for the scene in which Junouchi ‘helps’ people. The song is reflective of the peace he believes he is bringing people and contrasts wonderfully the reality of what the audience actually sees.

Once again, i had a lot of fun with this analysis and look forward to tomorrow’s episode.