Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~

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KiraRin's avatar By KiraRin on Dec 9, 2009

Story

Recently I've seen plenty of good shows, but none have kept me hooked from the get-go. None, that is, until I fired up Phantom ~Requiem of the Phantom~ and polished off every one of the twenty-six episodes in a week (not bad considering how little I have actually been at home recently). Early nights were cast aside and my much needed beauty sleep forgotten, as I felt the urge to continue the journey with the characters and find out what happens next.

Trained by an unlikely waif-like killer, Reiji is an innocent bystander who is forced to unleash his untapped potential to become another of the warped teacher, Scythe Masters', murderers. Called the Phantom, Ein is a young, agile girl with an natural instinct for bloodshed and thus a valuable comodity amongst the mafia. The relationship between the trio is somewhat twisted; Scythe plays a two-faced father - first nurturing and then disposing of his two deadly protege, whilst Ein and Zwei (Reiji's new code name) obey their paternal figurehead unquestioningly. Seeing the poor, naive boy dragged into a mercenary world that is so far flung from his own gives a sense of sympath for his predicament, and the trials he faces as he aims to become the best in his field are utterly engrossing.

The slick fighting scenes are what most people will remember the show for, but the hint of romance and relationships are what I found attractive. Unfortunately, the final third of the show takes place in a traditional Japanese high school, almost as if the writers felt the urge to draw as diverse of a crowd as possible whilst continuing to tell a dark and violent tale. The abrupt departure from the brutal streets of New York left me initially confused, especially with timeline jumps that left some characters untouched, whilst others aged very quickly. Ignoring this minor continuity issue, the ending sparks some debate amongst anime fans; many complain about the surprise twist, but I found it a moving way to top off a very well told story.

Overall, Phantom successfully weaves an intriguing tale of misplaced loyalties and betrayal, topping it off with lashings of action. With three distinct changes of pace and setting, the flow of the story seems to drag in places as the underworld politics become a little excessive as the main focus in the middle section. However, the increase in action towards the mid-point of the show more than makes up for these short-lived moments of mediocrity; twists and turns aplenty from the underlying gangster tale sees various groups of mafia facing off against yakuza to keep the show feeling fresh. At the risk of upsetting any Pacino puritans, the gangster's rise and struggle for power is almost as tasty and epic as Scarface.


Animation

Wow. Just wow. Be prepared to have your socks knocked off by the visual smorgasbord that reveres both characters and scenery alike. The small things about the cast are undoubtedly special; from the slick movement of the hair during a shrug, to a character simply blinking, it is all seamless and much more realistic than anything I have seen before. Whilst the background artwork features impressive shots like a slow-motion helicopter ride over a night-time city, the foreground presents CG vehicles blended in seamlessly with a busy street. As is the norm with such impressive visual shows like this, the middle of Phantom seems to be less accomplished than the opening. Although forgivable and still watchable, it prevents me from bestowing a perfect mark upon the animation.


Sound

The tones of Ali Project are unmistakable in the ED (also recognisable for the Rozen Maiden and .Hack//Roots themes). Awash with rich Lilium-esque tones, the OP is both an aural and visual treat. Claudia's musical theme recalls back to the languid tones of 90's porn, which is fitting considering the size of the woman's bust. Reiji is also awarded his own tune part way through the series; a frequently played quirky rap song that would probably be dreadful on the radio fits perfectly with a sudden release of tension built up in the first half of the show. Musically equivalent to a soliloquy, the incidental soundtrack rewards the attentive listener with a wide range of emotionally stirring tones.


Characters

Playing a real love/hate game with the viewers’ emotions, the cast of Phantom is likable for the most part, but they all suffer from glaring human flaws. Then again, this gives each character a believably realistic edge that sets them apart from the recent deluge of the flat and predictable personalities in other recent shows. Ein’s cold and robotic nature occasionally slips to reveal a shy girl who spends her life looking for stability. It is a shame her complex side is spoilt by the inevitable need to clothe herself in revealing dresses and swimsuits. The unfortunate exploitation of the female form also plagues Claudia and newly blossoming Cal. Ignoring the minor ecchi lapses, each girl undergoes some serious development, and quickly leaps into a league of their own. For his part, Reiji plays an unlikely hero perfectly, dragged into a world so different from the one he knows and learning to adapt and finally excel in his new career as a trained assassin. His quiet understanding and protective nature resonate in stark contrast to the transformation into a heartless killer.


Overall

I cannot help but draw a parallel between GunGrave and Phantom. However, doing so also highlights that the story lacks the gut-wrenching punch of its predecessor, and so fails to reach breathtaking heights of excellence. That said, the show will definitely impress with gorgeous visuals, haunting melodies and fascinating plotline. Grab a drink, put your phone on silent and get ready to immerse yourself in an easily marathonable show.

8/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
7/10 characters
8/10 overall
Osiummaster's avatar By Osiummaster on Jul 30, 2014

First let me start off by saying that this anime left me with very mixed feelings. On one hand I really liked the story. People complaining about the progressions seem to be complete morons as everytime there was a time skip there was a purpose in it and you could clearly see how the time in between events affected the characters

The real problem with this anime

After a certain time the anime just keeps ditching and introducing new characters. I am never in a position to choose the side of one of the characters, because they seem to have so few ideas about how they are going to fix their problems, aside from shooting everyone there doesn't seem to be a clear goal that the characters ever had in mind, and aside from always having temporary solutions they have no goal or thought about life whatsoever. They just live to see another day or whatever. 

In the end I wasn't able to connect with any of the characters, and some of their decisions seemed to blatantly go against their beliefs. They preferred to shoot eachother before even clearing up any misunderstandings and their actions seemed completely contrary to the mindset they should have had.

Story:

The story itsself was really interesting and the setting was pretty nice. Aside from the main characters which were mostly just pawns dictated by the decisions of othes it had great progression and showed a really dark side of the mafia. It showed betrayal and mistrust, and how people can set up and use others to get higher up. It was pretty much the only thing that kept me watching

Animation:

would be about a 7 nowadays I guess. It was decent, even for it's time,  but nowhere even comparable to things like Death Note.

Sound:

Holy fuck that was awfull. I hated every fucking opening and ending that this anime had, and half of the soundtrack was utter garbage. Even during normal moments in the anime they felt the need to play dramatic choir music as if something was about to go down, while they were just talking. I understand that they want some drama, playing this shit literally half of every episode just annoyed the hell out of me and really ruined the feeling for me. If they would have just used some dark'ish sounds in the background it would have made this anime so much better.

This is the first time that the soundtrack actually RUINED an anime for me.

Characters:

The main characters would have been very interesting if they actually talked or explained some of their ideology and ideas. Unfortunately they were pretty much as predictable as the "Scythe Master" described them to be, and they never seemt to actually get a free will. Aside from one event included in a time skip, their actions were always dictated by others and it never really left for a surprise. The few times the decided to take matters in their own hands they just did unexplicable things that should have went completely againt their ideas. Also a little more background story wouldn't have hurt.

Conclusion:

I mainly judge an anime by its story, and it was actually really good. However characters just got introduced and ditched all the time, it was hard to actually care for anyone. Plot wise it was still great and I'd say this still makes it worth.

8/10 story
7/10 animation
2/10 sound
5/10 characters
7/10 overall
GosoxJ's avatar By GosoxJ on Oct 3, 2009

Just like its name, Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ is a convoluted mess. It’s only by a great feat of skill, or luck, that it avoids being a complete disaster.

The story is quite simply, all over the place. Jumping from mediocre action scenes to the tedium of daily life under the main characters (being enslaved to a criminal syndicate doesn’t really lead to much excitement outside the workplace) to the inner workings and politics behind Inferno. Individually these elements would have a hard time cracking mediocre. Unsurprisingly, when thrown together they’re not any better. To make matters worse, the constant shifting gives birth to pacing about as smooth and consistent as a mountain.

Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~’s sole strength and base of consistency lies in its animation.  The animation manages to remain a fair bit above average for the vast majority of the series, although it does falter in places. Generally, the characters and backgrounds look nice, even if they are a bit uninspired. Top it off with a little C.G.I. and you’ve got some nice visuals.

The audio actually serves a fair complement to the series. The voice acting doesn’t leave much room for complaint and the voices generally fit the characters fairly well. The music also manages to get the job done, but isn’t likely to entice or enchant. Comparatively, the audio could easily be a strength of the series, if not for the fact it’s so easily overshadowed. You’re far more likely to be thinking about how annoying you find the character as opposed to how well his voice fits.

The characters are essentially baseless. Having two main characters with no memories doesn’t create a lot of room for any sort of back-story. The sparse bit that the show does supply comes mainly from minor characters and isn’t particularly informative, insightful, or interesting. Complementing this is an essential lack of anything reminiscent of emotional depth or complexity. Perhaps the most effective way of describing the characters is to juxtapose them to a cloud. It looks as if there’s quite a fair bit of substance, but upon closer inspection it’s just a loose collection of various water droplets. It’s nothing more than a blanket of volume that pretends to have mass, doing nothing but going where the wind will take it.

Despite the readily apparent flaws I still found Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ to be moderately enjoyable. Even though it stumbled the entire length of the race, it still managed to avoid a last-place finish.  

If you can deal with characters who are more like pieces simply moving across the board (as opposed to complex and detailed individuals), a disjointed plot, uneven pacing,  and the general inconsistencies that the show brings, you could quite possibly derive a fair bit of entertainment from Bee Train’s latest.

3.5/10 story
7.8/10 animation
7.3/10 sound
3/10 characters
5.7/10 overall
Garyuu's avatar By Garyuu on Oct 6, 2009

Really, really liked this show. Good characters, and story. It was pretty sad at times. I love shows that bring up your emotions. The ending was actually pretty good. It did not make much sense, but you had to figure it out.

9/10 story
7.5/10 animation
7/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
Vicktus's avatar By Vicktus on Sep 7, 2014

I’m going to cut to the chase; Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom (Phantom henceforth) is not anything exceptional.  Still, I think Phantom is a solid show.  The thing with Phantom is that it doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses, like Attack on Titan, however it does fall short in a lot of important areas as well.  Let’s break it down:

***Be warned that this review will contain some specific details and spoilers ahead***

Art: 10/10 – I have absolutely no complaints about this show’s art.  The production values are outstanding, and the action sequences are solid.  The coloring and the backgrounds are mostly dark, and I think it suited this show’s atmosphere perfectly.

I liked the character figures quite a bit as well.  They are very well proportioned, and quite realistic looking.  My absolute only complaint here (and it’s a personal one) is that I could not stand Eren’s hairdo in the last arc of the story.  It was just… blegh.

The animation was quite crisp.  The gun battles were coherent, and the combat action, while quick, was well done.  An effect that resonates with my particularly was the champagne bubbles that the heads of the syndicate were drinking.  It was unbelievably cool.

This show’s art and animation are top notch, and work very effectively to aide this show’s dark atmosphere, and so I give this section a full score.

Sound: 9/10 – I have little to complain about regarding this show’s sound as well.

The voice acting was superb.  I watched the whole thing dubbed, and was very pleased with the performances. You absolutely would not be able to create a gritty show focused on crime and murder when half the cast sounds like they’re tripping on helium, and  it seems the writers knew this well.  The characters were mature, and though I’ve seen some complaints about Ein’s flatness, I thought that effect suited her character perfectly.

I actually really liked the show’s first OT.  It was dark, and moody, and subtly creepy – it’s a great first impression for a sure that lives up to be bloody and dark.

I mostly liked the background music also.  If I had to make any complaint, it might be that the track seemed to lack versatility.  The same themes, while good, were sort of used over and over again.

I don’t have much to say about the sound effects other than that they were solid.  The gun-shots were good, and when the slides on the semi-auto pistols were cocked, it sounded real.

Story: 6/10 – The story to Phantom has some things that it did really well, and some things that it did really poorly. 

The show starts off very interesting, even though the whole amnesia thing is a bit of a cliché.  The main character is thrown right into (what he thinks to be) a life or death situation, and the show launches from there, in the creation of this killer.  I think my only complaint about this show’s premise might be that they should not have shown you Scythe master, and all the behind-the-scenes crap.  It would have made the initial battle between Zwei and Ein a lot creepier and immersive to the viewer (rather than us knowing it was a test).

I have major issues with this show’s pacing.  To be fair, the show never drags, and I never had to force myself to watch through it, but it still took way too long on some things (Zwei’s training) and not nearly enough time on others (the final arc).  This is made worse by the fact that there were (as I recall) a couple recap episodes, which is just totally unnecessary for a 26 episode show.  Actually, recap episodes are unnecessary, period.  I also was not crazy about the rigidity within the story arcs.  They were hard breaks from the Zwei/Ein duo, to the Reiji/Cal duo, to the Reiji/Eren duo.  Time-skips are ok in some circumstances, but this show over-abused them, and the result seems to be that most of the character development happened off-screen.  Indeed, much changed (including the characters) between the arcs, but it makes the writing feel lazy when it seems to overly happen off-screen.

I think the show actually has a fair amount of complexity.  It combines a gritty mafia-crime theme with a theme of brainwashed assassins, and for the most part, these themes melded fairly well.  The show more or less explained that Scythe Master was educated in psychology and neurology, so that added a deal of credibility to his ability to manipulate and mold people the way he did.  It touches on themes of morality, but it does so maturely, and realistically.  For instance, it is quite clear throughout the show that Zwei/Reiji is a naturally good-natured person, but even still, he goes through great lengths, often against his morality to survive – this theme gave the show a refreshingly realistic feel, and the complications of the circumstances were handled maturely, and not in a black-and-white fashion.

The show lacked plausibility almost entirely in my opinion.  One thing that was a little aggravating was that the show didn’t seem to show any consistency in the power of the major characters.  This was my thought when Reiji and Eren so easily got caught on their first outing, yet apparently lasted a couple years on their second with little resistance.  It also seemed odd that Reiji and Eren, even after (presumably) 2 years of not practicing or regular using their abilities as assassins, so easily defeated the new protégé’s sent after them.  And yet again, they were utterly impotent and flat footed at the end, in Mongolia.  It seemed like their abilities fluctuated as the story required it to, and that was a little frustrating as a viewer.  I was sort of pleased that Ein’s big advantaged over all the newer minions was that they were essentially modeled after her.  That made her advantage somewhat plausible, at least.

The show never seemed to explain how Scythe trained his assassins, either.  Being a dual PhD and neuroscience and psychology, you could ok, I get that he is skilled at brainwashing/manipulation, but he never exhibited any sort of combat prowess or expertise.  That part should have been explained better.

Though I believe more time could have been spent on the conclusion, I was mostly satisfied with it.  Cal’s segment was sort of bizarre and unfounded (I will elaborate with details in the “Characters” section.  All that aside, I was satisfied with the development of the relationship between Reiji and Eren – which dodged a major cliché by never becoming romantic.  I was satisfied with the final battle, even though it felt really rushed, and a bit implausible, but I was mostly satisfied with the very ending, which brought the show together, and gave it the kick-in-the-ass it desperately needed.

Characters: 7/10 – For the most part, I liked this show’s characters, though I am not without my complaints regarding some of the characters in the show.

The main characters were Reiji(Zwei), and Eren(Ein), and I thought they were both very well written.  Reiji was a great lead to follow.  He was likable, and good natured, but he was also practical, and with strong survival instinct.  He was a gray character, and such, made some abhorrent decisions and actions in the interest of self-survival.  He’s not so much an anti-hero,  like Lelouch from Code Geass, say – he would make the “right” decision anytime his direct survival wasn’t at stake – but he still felt a lot more well-rounded than some of the drivel who strut their way into the lead roles of some of these other shows (like Naruto).

Likewise, I liked Ein a lot.  She was a simple character, but not because she was poorly written.  It was well founded within her personality – she was subservient and malleable by nature.  This one of the reasons Scythe Master liked her so much as his primary prototype in the first place.

Speaking of Scythe master, I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the construction of his character.  Early on, I liked how he was written quite a bit.  He clearly had motives of ascending to power, but the means of doing so was his real passion (molding assassins).  Some things that I found odd about him were as follows:

1.      For someone who claims to be adept at understanding and shaping human psyche, it seemed overly obvious that Zwei was never going to shape up to be the sort of drone Ein was.  I wonder why the Scythe did not detect this, or if he did, why he chose to do nothing about it.

2.      Likewise, I don’t understand anything of his rationale in Drei.  He was self-admitting in that didn’t even try to control her.  And clearly, with his side project of other assassins, didn’t have any particular investment in her.  It can be argued he kept her to ultimately torment Zwei, but the risk did not seem to measure up if that was his only reason.  There didn’t seem to be much of a relationship between him and her (only through her and Lizzie)

3.      His over-willingness to put himself in danger at the end did not seem to add up either.  Through the entire show he acted out of self-interest.  Obtaining a position of power meant something to him, and that was made clear early on.  It’s further perpetuated that he had a strong sense of self-interest, and self preservation, as he was quite scared looking when he was running from Zwei at the end of the first arc.  In that episode, he was terrified of his impending doom, yet at the end when held at gun-point from Eren, he seemed content to die.  Sure, it made sense that he wanted to see his former and his newer creations duke it out, so to speak, but it seemed bizarre that he’d put himself in the position of being amidst it all.

I thought Claudia’s character was mostly well written, though I didn’t seem to understand Lizzie one bit.  She seemed to regularly switch from callous and violent, to thoughtful and noble, without any apparent reason.  Later on she talks of things like loyalty, lines that shouldn’t be crossed, etc… etc… yet the facts remain: she’s a killer – and she couldn’t possibly have been so uppity if she was perfectly ok with them essentially enslaving children to turn them into killers.  I just didn’t get it – I hated how uppity she would get about honor when she clearly had hardly any to speak of during much of the show – this inconsistency carries to how she manages to pull the trigger on who (appears to be her best friend), but cannot do the same when confronted with girl who was out of control and on a rampage.  It just didn’t add up.

My last complaint about specific characters is going to be Maguire – who is honestly the real arch-villain of the show (even though the show tried so hard to make it Scythe Master).  He just seemed overly enigmatic in contrast with the rest of the plot.  What struck me as odd, was the fact that he never seemed to be in any apparent danger, even despite the fact that all of his underlings were callous power-hungry killers who were murdering/setting each other up to climb in rank.  Why was he seemingly so detached from those challenges?  Why didn’t the show bother to develop him more?  It’s just a note of disappointment, I suppose.

While the main characters really didn’t have any backdrop, this flaw was largely excused by the plot – especially for Ein.  The only reason I deducted one point, is because Zwei(Reiji) does  regain his memory, but almost nothing seems to come of it.  He fleetingly thinks about returning home – but even then the viewer is shown nothing about who he was, or what he wanted to do.  The writers could have so easily augmented the severity (and tragedy) of Zwei’s story with a little background on him, and what his goals were previously.

For the most part, I thought Zwei and Ein’s developments were strong, and well-founded.  My one issue with this, (which I mentioned before) is that the show overused time-skips.  So while the characters were indeed dynamic and changing, many of the major changes happen off-screen.  To be fair, some of this is well-done, especially during Zwei’s transformation into an assassin.  But his changes to the middle and final arcs are totally off-screen.  My complaint in this area extends to Ein (in the final arc).

I hated Cal’s story progression.  Her hatred towards Reiji never seemed to add up.  No matter how hard the show tried to force it.  It seemed obvious on some level, that Cal was a naturally violent girl, but the fact that she more or less convinced herself to serve Scythe (without brainwashing) seemed unfounded, and out in left field.  Especially given how quickly she made a 180 during one of the final scenes.  Her plot-line just seemed to lack foundation in the final arc.

Without spoiling anything, I will simply state that I think the characters have a very satisfying catharsis.

Overall: 7.5/10 – This show could have easily been much better if it had better pacing, and if the story was less disjointed.  It could have also grounded itself a little better instead of having the main characters regularly fluctuate from helpless to god-mode for no apparent reason.

While I had trashed the pacing of the show several times, make no mistake it doesn’t get completely out of control slow, like, say, most popular shounen series – and the show always did a fair job to hold my interest and keep me watching.  In fact, I think I burned through all 26 episodes in about a week, which, given my busy schedule, is quite a fair pace.

If you're like me, and have already watched a whole huge host of shows, but haven't seen this one, give it a watch.  I'm not sure it's going to knock your socks off, but it's certainly worth a go.


Thanks to Roriconfan for the template for the excused scorings below.

ART SECTION: 10/10
General Artwork 2/2 (solid)
Character Figures 2/2 (realistic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (dark and moody)
Animation 2/2 (solid)
Visual Effects 2/2 (great)

SOUND SECTION: 9/10
Voice Acting 3/3 (mature and well acted)
Music Themes 3/4 (OT is cool, most BGM was solid)
Sound Effects 3/3 (solid)

STORY SECTION: 6/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (slowish, too many recaps, rigid story arcs)
Complexity 2/2 (psychological themes)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 2/2 (a bit rushed, but well founded, and tragic)

CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 1/2 (solid for some, off for others)
Personality 2/2 (well pronounced)
Backdrop 1/2 (mostly absent, but excused by story)
Development 1/2 (strong, but unobserved/unfounded)
Catharsis 2/2 (well founded)

VALUE SECTION: 5/10
Historical Value 1/3 (it doesn’t seem terribly big)
Rewatchability 2/3 (pacing issues, but decent amounts of action)
Memorability 2/4 (tragic, but a bit anti-climatic)

ENJOYMENT SECTION: 7/10
Art 1/1 (outstanding)
Sound 2/2 (great)
Story 2/3 (interesting)
Characters 2/4 (unique and interesting)

VERDICT: 7.5/10

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
7.5/10 overall