With no idea what I was getting into, I watched Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~. And I learned a lesson from watching this anime: sometimes you should take the path less travelled and watch something you never hear about. Because Phantom is so good, it should be talked about. Phantom is so good I couldn’t stop watching it. Phantom is so good it manages to make you love despicable characters and feel bad for them throughout. Phantom is an anime made straight from the hands of the gods. There are so few things wrong with this anime, it should be illegal to have that many things right. Sure this won’t appeal to everyone, sure it’s not a total gore and violence-fest. It’s a character-driven, plot intensive show that doesn’t need the amazing fight sequences to keep it afloat. All it needs is Ein and Zwei, two of the most likeable characters I’ve ever seen in any anime.
Let me stop sucking Bee Train’s train and tell you about this anime and why it’s so good before I go back to sucking that train. It tastes good.
A teenage boy loses his memories and finds himself thrown into a world of assassins, gangs, and rich organizations that keep them in line, all in Los Angeles. He is trained to be an assassin by Ein, a girl who has also lost her memory and is nothing more than a killing machine. Zwei, the new name given to the teenage boy, fights side by side with Ein, known as Phantom. Phantom is Inferno’s best assassin, Inferno being an organization run by different gangs and assassins. As the plot progresses we see a lot of deception and a lot of character development. It’s really hard to give a big plot description without giving a lot away, as this series revolves around many characters, all with their own agendas. Part of the drama is how everyone seems to be playing each other and no character seems to have a single mask they wear, they have two masks that are complete opposites.
The action is intense. It’s not amazingly amazing, but the shootouts and knife fights are so well done and so exciting that you’ll wish there were more. But at the same time, the progress of the story is so edge of your seat dramatic that you want to see that play out more so. It balances these two things so well and in the end, you just wish there was more of Phantom to watch.
The idea of setting this in Los Angeles is original and smart. It’s exciting to see an anime that doesn’t stay in Japan and the idea of people running off to Mexico and the use of the Bloodies (the Bloods essentially) as bad guys is goddamn smart. It feels like something almost American.
The second act of the series, the final seven episodes, you’ll either love or hate. It moves into Japanese high school territory. This can be a total turn off, as I was pretty appalled by the turn of events. But when you look into it,
it is actually pretty good. Ein and Zwei wanted to be normal and live normal lives. To the Japanese, a normal anime would be in Japanese high school. So it only makes sense to put it there. This is also where I wonder how old the characters are. At the point they go to high school it has been three years since Zwei started training as an assassin. Zwei is also driving a car and going into casinos and stuff at that point. So he must have a forged ID or something because I figured him to be about seventeen or eighteen during the LA arc. This becomes equally confusing when Cal, a girl whose sister has died and lives with Zwei during his time in LA, comes back two years later to Japan. From a petite little eleven or twelve year old girl, she becomes a giant breasted, tall, Amazonian woman on a motorcycle (or, quite simply, fan service). I just didn’t understand the ages and some of that kind of stuff.
The ending is fantastic. It’s been a long time since I’ve choked up, but I did watching the final battles of Phantom. And the very, very end is…unexpected? I liked the very end, but I was kind of shocked.
Cal quotes Danny DeVito and Clint Eastwood at one point in the anime. And movies starring those two are apt movies to say that this anime was inspired by. The underworld and assassins and gangsters. It’s like an homage to the old 70’s and 80’s crime films. Hell, the use of the watch with music as a device for when to shoot during a stand-off comes straight out of the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns.
The animation is good, but not great. It’s smooth and the characters are easily distinguishable. Hell, I have no complaints here, so let’s move on.
The music is another thing entirely. The first opening is fantastic, the ending meh. The second acts opening and endings are just meh. The music during the show is really good and the voice actors are really good as well.
The characters of the series are where Phantom really shines. Ein is a likeable heroine. Despite being a bad guy, you feel genuinely bad for her situation and her development throughout the series is really great. From a girl with nothing to live for but to kill to a girl who lives to see her partner smile, it’s quite cute and the hints of romance just add to that cuteness.
Zwei is another likeable character. As the main character, and a male, you would expect him to be pretty bland (as is the case with many anime), but he turns out to have a whole lot of personality. His development is just as good as that of Ein, maybe even better. Even though he is a killer and detests himself, I loved him.
Cal was so cute and so fun to watch in the first act. In the second act, she just becomes so likeable for some reason, even more so than at first. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because of how bad you feel for her. If I had to say that one character was my favorite, it was Cal. I loved her throughout.
Claudia McCunnen is another character I’ll bring up because she’s the other character that really stood out to me. I liked her because she was a bad guy, but a good guy, but a bad guy. She’s the only member of Inferno I truly felt bad for and had emotions for.
The bad guys of the series are fucking bad guys. They don’t piss around. Scythe Master is a freaking godsend in a medium with so many lame bad guys with stupid intentions. Scythe Master is just a bad guy. Pure and simple. He doesn’t need to have a lot of reasons to be bad, because he’s crazy. And the insane bad guys are always the best. Oh, I hated him. I hated him so much. But I loved hating him.
There are no bad characters here. They are all good. None are annoying, none are stupid, none are cardboard.
Phantom is awesome. It’s everything I’ve ever loved in anything thrown together. Assassins, gangsters, an awesome underworld, double and triple crosses, a smidge of romance, a lot of drama, a lot of likeable characters, and some seriously sad moments. The only wrongs it truly has are some of the music and the change of Cal from a twelve year old to a twenty year old. Otherwise, it’s nearly pitch-perfect in the drama and action department.
I loved this series more than I ever expected myself to.
Phantom is a 8/10.