Phantom: The Animation

OVA (3 eps)
3.384 out of 5 from 1,507 votes
Rank #8,536

One fateful day, Reiji was on his way to a hotel in Los Angeles when he ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time: in the middle of an assassination. After these traumatic events, the young man was kidnapped, his memories erased, and given a choice: fight for the organization, or die. Now, with a new name and identity, Zwei must kill at the drop of a hat along with the organization's top assassin Ein (codename Phantom). As the bodies pile and the blood is continuously spilled, Ein and Zwei find themselves growing closer together in a world where they have no past and no future...

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StoryWithin the first three minutes of the first episode, I knew this would be something that kicked ass. Thankfully enough, I wasn't mistaken. Phantom takes place in Los Angeles, where a young man whose name we don't know (though based on other reviews I've seen, I guess his name is Reiji) has come to visit from Japan. The reason seems to be something related to being accepted to a school. I don't believe the school is in LA, though the details aren't totally clear, and don't really matter anyways. Our young protagonist is dropped off in the middle of nowhere by his inept taxi driver, and ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time -- in the middle of an assassination. After this, it all goes downhill for the poor lad. He's been kidnapped by a mysterious organization, his memories erased, and is told he can choose between death and living as an assassin for them. Can you guess what he chooses? Alongside this young man, who has been dubbed "Zwei", is "Ein" (these being the german words for "two" and "one"), a young woman who is the organization's best assassin, retaining the title of "Phantom". As the OVA moves along, the duo train together, kill together, and live together as best they can in their world full of death and bloodshed. Eventually, something interesting happens with the two, throwing their world into turmoil, and leading up to events that neither of them could imagine. Saying anything else would be a spoiler, so I'd suggest not reading many reviews or descriptions of the show (besides here, of course!). Needless to say, Phantom is an incredible mix of action, drama, and tragedy at its core. The way the story ended up playing out was tragic and moving to say the least... it's been awhile since I've seen anything which made me think "wow" with a heavy heart when I turned off the final episode. Although it was only three episodes in length, the story managed to contain a very compelling amount of character development as well, especially the relationship between Ein and Zwei. Literally the only thing that didn't sit entirely well with me was the ending, which was a bit confusing and leaves things open to your imagination a bit. While tragic, I would have preferred a completely tragic ending, which would have fit with the tone of the OVA perfectly. Regardless, a fantastic story and quite amazing that it could be portrayed so well in only three 30-minute episodes. AnimationThe animation and visuals in Phantom were absolutely stunning. The first shot of the first episode makes you understand that this will not be a light fluffy viewing, with a panoramic shot of the city that looks like something straight out of a futuristic cyberpunk thriller. Dark City also came to mind. Regardless of what time of day it was in the series, all the colors and backgrounds were bright and vibrant. Rich oranges and reds were used with sunset scenes, dark blues, greens, and grays were used fluidly in the night scenes. All the contraptions the duo used looked very futuristic and cyberpunk. The character designs reminded me of a cross between Interlude and Hitsuji no Uta, both of which had great designs (albeit a bit strange), in my opinion. The expressions really drove it home, especially Ein's face after she goes through with the killings. The expressions really helped to humanize the characters, and make you feel more empathetic towards them. Little effects like smoke from the already-fired gun were impressive as well. In general, beautiful animation that fit so perfectly with the tone and feel of the series. SoundI rarely watch a series where the music seems to fit so perfectly. The first few minutes of the show are great not only visually and content-wise, but musically as well. The music was probably what set up the series the most for being kickass, due to its tone. It reminded me of something from the first Resident Evil movie, or anything techy and cyberpunk that would be futuristic. Orchestral bits were combined with guitar (but not wailing buttrock or anythong) or keyboard synths, making a blend of edgy beats that fit remarkably well with the action that's on screen. The voice acting was superb and in general, the music kicked ass, hands down. A perfect choice for the OVA. CharactersWith only three episodes to flesh out the main characters, you'd think that Phantom wouldn't have succeeded much. Admittedly, we don't hear long monologues about the characters' pasts (especially since they themselves have had their memories erased), but nonetheless, it's surprising how empathetic we feel towards them by the end of the three episodes. I'm not sure what it was that drew me in... perhaps watching the horrific situation these two teens are in, and knowing what they'd like to do with their lives but is impossible. Maybe it helped that we see a glimpse of Ein's past filled with traumatic incidents, or that we know Zwei's path in life would have been much different had he not been dropped off at the wrong place in the wrong time. Ein and Zwei's relationship was heart wrenching and compelling to watch develop and change, especially when certain events near the end occur. Other characters are discussed briefly such as Scythe, the man who orders the duo to go kill people, but they aren't fleshed out like Ein and Zwei. There was only one character who I didn't like because of the design alone: one of the syndicate women, who looked like a man. OverallPhantom left me thinking "wow" at the end, and definitely had an impact. I knew almost nothing about the show prior to watching and had no expectations, and was pleasantly surprised at how incredible it ended up being. The animation was gorgeous, the character development was tragic and moving, the story was interesting, and the music was perfect. All in all, this was a fantastic OVA that any fans of dark things or sad tales would enjoy. I highly recommend checking it out.

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