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.
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.
This show is depressing. All the characters are in really sad situations, and the show manages to protray their subsequent morally abominable actions without making the characters seem abominable. They all had reasons for acting the way they did, and they were all interesting. Unfortunately, however, one of the characters' changed drastically in the middle of the show, and I don't think her motivations were explored sufficiently; there were tons of scenes with that character acting crazily, yet I felt those scenes merely created drama, rather than adding depth to that character. Spoiler alert: I'm referring to Cal. We hear about her feelings, and we infer the causes of those feelings, but I feel the creators would have been better served showing her motivations in more detail.
Still, the characters, even that one, were sympathetic, and so this show worked as a tragedy; it show made me wonder about the whether the characters' fates were set, whether they had follow the paths they did...this is sign that the presentation of the show was good.
The music was suitably depressing, enhancing the tone of the show well. The script was a bit angsty though; admittedly, the show called for angst, but at times, I felt as though I were being manipulated, rather than witnessing the characters' true thoughts and feelings. At these points, the characters were just too angsty.
Also, the ending of this show left a bad taste in my mouth, as I don't think it properly conveyed emotional or moral closure. I won't go into it here, so not to spoil.
Overall, a good show.
Phantom: Requiem for a Phantom: Season 1 Review
Phantom: Requiem for a Phantom is essentially Gunslinger Girls: The Teenage Years, where the assassins are gun-totin' invincibles that wear tight black body suits and a less cool version of Hei's mask fromDarker Than Black.
As in Gunslinger Girls, here, we have main characters, Ein and Zwei, that are forced into becoming ruthless assassins for an organization called Inferno. Inferno's aim, as far as I can tell, is to take over the entire underworld of gangs, mafia, and other criminal organizations. To facilitate this, Inferno has a bunch of fear-inducing assassins, and the top dog is anointed with the title "Phantom."
The story revolves around Inferno's machinations at world domination and the internal scheming and rivalries that set the screen afire with bloodshed. The scheming, etc., is not particularly interesting, and most of it is nonsensical, but then again watching anime always requires a suspension of disbelief for maximum enjoyment.
Slightly more interesting are the character's storylines. The viewer gets to see how Zwei is recruited by Ein, the first Phantom of Inferno, and turned into an assassin worthy of the Phantom title himself. We see how Zwei, in turn, sets in motion a chain of events that leads to another young person getting turned into the third Phantom of Inferno. Those were the more interesting stories to follow, rather than the random plotting and scheming.
I hated when the setting shifted from the criminal underworld to a random high school in Japan toward the last third of the series, but I suppose that can't be helped. Where there are teen anime characters, they must attend a school with a bevy of annoying female characters -- isn't that written in the anime rule book somewhere?
The animation was quite good. A few cinematic choices annoyed me. First, I was frequently annoyed by the long, drawn-out action sequences (e.g., Cal vs. anyone when she was using that watch) and the even longer, drawn-out death scenes.
Second, many of the random quasi-naked and sexual scenes bothered me. I'm no prude, but I feel strongly that nudity and sex shouldn't be used solely for eye candy or to appease fan lust; I prefer when they are used to further either the story line or the character development.
For example, I found the scenes of Scythe Master oiling down Ein's young, mostly naked body and of Mio's clothes being ripped off disturbing. Ditto to the constant shots of Clo's cleavage or the scenes of her feeling up Zwei. And I didn't think they added to the dynamic between the characters in a productive way.
By contrast, I didn't mind the obviously sexual positions that the directors occasionally put Zwei and Ein in -- not because I "want" them to "get together" or anything, but because their physical body language illustrated something about their characters that their words did not. In other words, in that case, the sexual cinematography added something to the story.
Third, I must declare that I hate scenes where characters scream "Nooooooooooo!!" or some character's name at the top of their lungs. So much more might be said with a scene of quiet agony. Not everyone reacts to strong emotions by screaming "Caaaaaaal" or "Errrreeeen!!!" (or, for that matter, "Steeeeellllllaaaaa!!!"). The screaming-when-upset/grieving motif is overused, ineffective, and, quite frankly, irritating.
Other than that, I found the animation to be pretty good overall. Nice, dark colors.
The music for this series was below average, in my opinion. The ending theme to Phantom has got to be one of the more annoying songs I have heard in anime. The angel choir musical interludes were a bit too... obvious for me, I think, though I must admit to enjoying the hilarious "badass sexy" musical theme that accompanied Zwei/Reiji's succession to the Phantom title. The song so obviously screamed "I'm now a badass sexy assassin wearing a sexy suit" that I just had to laugh.
As for the voice acting, I wasn't the hugest fan. I found that the English voice acting from our leads, in particular, was kind of wooden -- especially Zwei/Reiji. I can remember only one line where Zwei's delivery really stood out for me in a good way (the scene where he yells at Cal that she'll be "fucked up too"). Ein/Eren's voice was a little too "I am a robot, and so my voice is flat."
And, of course, young Cal's voice annoyed the hell out of me, as young anime girls are wont to do. (To be fair, I enjoyed older Cal's voice a lot -- it had a nice grit to it that reminded me a little of Angie Harmon's work as Barbara Gordon in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.)
The characters were a mixed bag.
Phantom attempted to develop some characters, but fell short of building an emotional connection between the characters and the audience. Clo and Lizzy, for example, never resonated with me as characters on any level. Neither did the gaggle of high school girls near the end of the series. The series tried really hard to flesh out Clo beyond her breasts -- they gave her some flashback scenes to her days on the street with her brother, for example, but it felt like a haphazard attachment of emotional baggage rather than something that truly motivated her character. Likewise, Phantom made a half-hearted attempt at carving out a space for Daisuke Godo and his buddy, Shiga, but it was exactly that: half-hearted.
As a villain, Scythe Master was too much of a caricature to be truly great, but his pale white hair and awful suit and sunglasses made for a conveniently easy man to hate (oh, right, and the fact that he turns young people into killers and oils them up -- ick). NOTE: For an example of a deliciously fantastic villain, see Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
As for our main characters...
Reiji/Zwei had the standard pretty boy design -- he looks similar to Light Yagami fromDeath Note. His transformation from the inexperienced boy (dressed in plain clothes) in the first half of the season into the badass Phantom (complete with gold chain, longer hair, less baby fat, and a sleek, sexy suit with PINK dress shirt) was pretty blatant, but hilarious. His character development did take some nonsensical turns -- why did he rejoin Inferno after being beat up a bit? why did he go ballistic when going after Scythe Master? But overall, Phantom did a good job with fleshing him out as a character. But I would have loved to see Reiji attempt to go home to his family and watch that interaction, rather than just see him make one phone call. A missed opportunity.
Eren/Ein looked a little bit like Rei from Evangelion. She was too frequently unclothed or half-clothed. And she was almost too robotic, too brainwashed to make a compelling character. When you create a character whose primary character traits are 1) lack of memory; 2) lack of free will; and 3) complete obedience, she becomes hard to care about as a lead. Of course, this made her ultimate face-off with Scythe Master meaningful. But it was a long way to wait for a payoff at the series end. I suppose Ein's shell started to crack as Reiji/Zwei ascended in Inferno, but Phantom didn't really let the viewers see any interesting character emotions from Ein's descent. Another missed opportunity.
Lastly, I will just say that young Cal = Annoying Anime Girl Archetype. Older Cal was pretty interesting, though 1) the use of the watch that Reiji gave her was gimicky and overdone and 2) how did she grow so tall (and how did her breasts grow so large) in the span of two years?
It took me a while to warm up to Phantom: Requiem for a Phantom, but I ended up enjoying it. From the guns a'blazin' to Reiji/Zwei's "badass" Phantom song, there was a lot to enjoy. There was a lot to dislike as well, but overall, I found Phantom to be worth the time investment.
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.
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.
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.
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.