Nitro+ is back again with an anime adaptation of their visual novel, Phantom -PHANTOM OF INFERNO-, in the form of a twenty-six episode series called Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom. Phantom is animated by Beetrain and has a script written by Gen Urobochi, Hideki Shirane, and other staff writers. The plot follows a tourist named Reiji who unwittingly becomes a part of the assassin group Inferno, which is based in the United States, after witnessing their ace assassin, Ein, finish her most recent kill. He is then taken and brainwashed to become Inferno’s next assassin with no memory of his past.
In terms of story, the character development is fantastic. Reiji struggles to find his own identity as well as build a rapport with Ein and his apprentice Cal. Nitro+ seems to love playing with their viewers as they constantly put their characters through utter hell by torturing them, giving them hope, and then taking it away from them. This vicious cycle is what poor Renji goes through as he forms relationships with people around him who are involved in the dirty work of being an assassin. However, the strong character development seems to have only been given to Reiji and not to anyone else. Ein seems be stuck forever in the brainwash phase, and only starts regaining control of herself towards the end. Cal’s motive for revenge on Reiji in the second half of the series seems a bit flawed due to Reiji thinking she was dead. Plus, Cal’s physical development in two years is completely ridiculous – Ein and Reiji stay the same while Cal grows huge breasts and looks like she aged ten years.
Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom is so well paced that I flew through the first nineteen episodes. Action filled almost every episode and I was happy to see Reiji’s development as an assassin. We also see a very engaging power struggle within Inferno that kept me entertained before and after the first time skip. However, as soon as I entered the second time skip, things started going downhill. I feel that the story could have ended at the end of the first time skip with Reiji and Ein escaping to Mexico after ditching Inferno for good. That said, even though I think they could have done away with the third arc, Nitro+ did a decent job with sabotaging Ein and Reiji’s attempt at a normal life until the very end of the series. The ending for Phantom can either be viewed as extremely disappointing or as a synchronous culmination to the dark and depressing cycle that Nitro+ employed throughout all three story arcs.
***Warning, ending spoilers ahead! Highlight to read.***:
To put it simply, Cal dies, Reiji dies, and Ein lives When I completed the series I was leaning towards feeling extremely disappointed since Reiji is merely shot by a passing assassin. In the visual novel, Reiji either ends up living with Ein, dying along with Cal after failing to shoot her in a duel, or ending up with another character named Mio who doesn’t have as prominent of a role in the anime. It seems as though the anime could have had as fleshed out and fulfilling an ending as any of the three from the visual novel..
I felt that the music for the series was not as notable as other series. It felt like I was watching Noir or Madlax. The opening and ending theme felt really similar to the music style of Yuki Kajiura. Even though Phantom is directed by the same director for Noir and Madlax , I would have loved to hear some variation in terms of music since Hikaru Nanase is in charge of music this time around. The graphics for Phantom are smooth and rather crisp, especially on the blu-ray version. We get a nice 1080p 1.78:1 widescreen presentation which looks great on my television.
The English dub for Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom is decent. Ein’s voice actress did a good job portraying Ein’s rather dull and lifeless character. Overall, the casting of the series matched their Japanese counterparts relatively well. FUNimation also did an excellent job in including worthwhile extra features. Unlike normal releases, we are treated with a picture drama which is basically anime stills with camera panning. These were included in the Japanese release as extras, so I’m glad that they decided to include them in the U.S. version. It makes the boxset slightly more appealing. You are, of course, given the usual textless opening and endings to the series.
Overall, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom has a generally good story, albeit some pacing and character development problems. If you like Beetrain’s previous work such as Noir or Madlax, you’ll probably enjoy this one. However, if you are looking for a more well developed story, I would suggest taking a look at Nitro+’s visual novel version instead of watching this.
Things I Loved:
+ Very fast paced in the first half
+ Nice extras for the boxset
+ Reiji has nice character development
Things I Hated:
-Awkward pacing in the second half
-Lack of character development for other characters
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the distributor
Images copyrighted:FUNimation/Genco, Bee Train