|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~
(11 episodes watched, 4 years ago)|
Of the Spring 2009 titles I've come across, Phantom proved to be the weakest title I seen of my season watches. The premise of teens being brainwashed into assassins for a criminal syndicate is an interesting, but unoriginal premise since I already seen brainwashing being used for Gunslinger Girl and that series pulled off its drama far better than what I've seen from Phantom. While you were able to get into the heads of the characters in GSG, Phantom hardly features any character depth for anyone other than Zwei as the folks in Phantom are either opportunists making for power grabs or in the case of Ein, just blindly following orders. The plot looked like it was picking up between episodes 8 and 9 which it did as Zwei finally got enough backbone to ditch Inferno and take Ein with him. Too bad Ein was still the same emotionless and obedient tool as she had been for Scythe Master and some pretty stupid actions on Zwei's account in episode 10 screwed up his development. Then by the time the end of episode 11 came around, I decided that I just had enough after seeing what became of Zwei. Phantom's shallow characterization did just enough to make me ditch watching the series.
(all episodes watched, as of now)
Again, I'm wondering how jaded I can be with my earlier look into this series. Phantom explores a scenario of teenage Zwei brainwashed, wiped of his memories and forced into becoming an assassin for the crime syndicate known as Inferno. The series starts off exploring the "what if" scenario of a teen being conditioned into an emotionless tool with the harsh training that he is subjected to by another brainwashed teen assassin named Ein. As the series progresses and Zwei becomes immersed in the criminal underworld of Inferno, he finds himself dealing with deception, rival crime syndicates, morality and coming to learn of his lost past. There is a good amount of focus on Zwei's character in his situation as he finds himself increasingly coming into conflict with his morality and the situation he is forced into due to Inferno's influence. Ein also gets her focus as the influence of Zwei leads her to have doubts over the loyalty programmed into her by her "creator", Scythe Master, and the bond between the two becomes a major focus in later episodes as both come to rely on one another in the dark world they were forced into and it is these developments that are the major strength of the series.
Another solid element was during the middle of the show's run when Zwei befriends and raises an orphaned girl named Cal in a scenario similar to the 1994 crime thriller film, The Professional. Some shocking events that develop during the later points of this arc lead to a surprising plot twist that develops into the final episodes of the series that further complicate Zwei and Ein's situation with Inferno. The ending that results in the end of the series is bittersweet, but fitting considering the dark path that the two leads were seemingly forced on tragically.
Outside of Zwei, Ein and Cal though, depth and development on other characters in Phantom are a bit of a mixed bag. Claudia and Lizzie are given some background with their characters that reveal the former's motives for her involvement in Inferno, but not enough was explored with them for me to care for their characters. Several gangs focused on at certain points in the series with some prominent figures of them get solid focus on their personalities and motives, one of which has an influential role that can be seen throughout Phantom's second half. Others like Scythe Master, Wisemal and Phantom's leader Raymond McGuire don't get much in the way of development or depth with Wisemal and McGuire existing only to explore Inferno's power structure and Scythe Master being the cliched grandeur and corrupted scientist.
Another weakness of the series for me was that there are occasions where Phantom can get a bit overbearing in showing off the dark elements of its storytelling. The series likes to be quite blatant at points in depicting the thoughts of its characters as they are reflected in spoken monologues and blatant onscreen symbols of the characters such as Scythe Master taking nude pictures of Ein while she is surrounded and embraced by mannequins to show how she is nothing but a thing to him. Also while the soundtrack to the series is pleasing on the ears with its dramatic and tense pieces, some choices of insert musical tracks are occasional mood killers during the title's dramatic scenes with their overbearing melodies.
Visually, Phantom is artistically pleasing with vast and highly detailed scenic shots of various landscapes like cities and deserts, with similar efforts also being applied to the designs of characters. Action scenes are clearly the highlight of Phantom's visual presentation with many instances of fluid movement and great choreography displayed during battles with knives, firearms and hand-to-hand. Vehicles within the series are animated in CG which move as fluidly as characters in battle scenes, yet isn't smoothly integrated with the regular animation.
While having some issues, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom is still a solid action-drama worth looking into that delves into the developments faced by Zwei and Ein as they come to grips with the moral implications of their deeds and defy the criminal syndicate that forced them onto their dark and tragic struggles.
Last updated Wednesday, September 25 2013. Created Monday, June 22 2009.
Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~
(Five episodes watched):|
A car pulls up to the gate of a impressive mansion, where two MIB style sentries wave it away. Suddenly, with two shots from a silenced pistol, the driver skillfully kills them both. And the message is...?
The thought which came to my mind was that this show is trying a little too hard to be cool. It's like the makers feel that they don't have to bother to tell me whether this guy is one of the good or bad ones, because his skill as an assassin (and supernatural aura) makes him cool, so surely I'll like him--and that irritates me. Frankly, at the end of the episode I don't know whether I should like Ein and Zwei (one and two), and that's a problem which continued into subsequent episodes and eventually made me give up on this show. They seem to have been brainwashed but they also (Zwei, at least) seem to have an anger to them: "If I can't run, I can only kill; kill or be killed!" (or was this violent notion itself part of his brainwashing?). I asked myself why I had taken a liking to Golgo 13, another anime professional assassin, yet was rubbed the wrong way by these two. I think it's that while Golgo is spotlessly emotionless, he chooses his own jobs and everybody he kills more or less deserved it. But Ein and Zwei kill with no obvious motive. Why have they accepted their roles as assasins? How much of their original minds still exist? Do they embrace--or even know--the ideals of "Inferno"? Do they care if their targets have done anything which might justify their being terminated? And what's this "sixth sense" they supposedly possess? If Zwei was just an innocent tourist who was abducted, why does he have this frightening killer instinct? Does everyone have it, deep down? Above all, how do I know that these two characters are anything more than murderers anyhow? It all sounded like nonsense to me, and one reason I abandoned the series was that no answers seemed to be forthcoming.
I guess that since Phantom didn't seem particularly "cool" to me, and clearly wasn't a comedy, I automatically went looking for plausibility instead. But this isn't making a whole lot of sense. Zwei gives up any hopes of escaping (if he ever had them) quite easily. He protests at first that he doesn't want to be an assasin, but it seems to be the training itself, not some sort of drugs or hypnotism, that brainwashes him into accepting the role; as if handling deadly weapons somehow awakens his killer instinct. Why doesn't he ask Ein any serious questions, like why doesn't she mind being a killer? I was having a hard time maintaining interest. The problem is, if they really are just mindless killers, why should I care about them? Even if they can't help what they are doing, there's no reason to feel sorry for a robot. Zwei is given a little lecture about 'freedom', but it doesn't make much sense. Above all, don't entrust him with deadly weapons if he's not either fully brainwashed or has willingly accepted his job! How did Claudia know he wouldn't take her hostage, or kill her, and use her car to escape?
On another note, one intriguing thing about the show is the thinly veiled hints that Ein and Zwei will wind up as lovers. Him being on top of her as he disarmed her in episode one brought thoughts of rape to my mind. Her casual attitude towards nudity in episode two had me wondering if she would nonchalantly ask him if he wanted to have sex. But nothing more than hints showed up before I quit watching the show
One problem is that the pair seems to work for organized crime, which again discourages feelings of sympathy for them. Maybe the idea was that since they act as enforcers of a sort, carrying out the judgements of mafia high command on rebellious subordinates, then their actions are excusable since they are only killing criminals. But their lack of any sort of regret--Zwei seems to be becoming even more callous--causes me to feel very little reason to like them. In episode four we start to get some mixed but interesting signals from Ein, who may have feelings after all. She seems to fear that Zwei "will see the real me as who I am", and finds the look in his eyes to be "scary". Is she jealous that he's progressing so quickly towards feared professional assasin status? Or is she not as heartless as she seems, and fears he'll discover that? Or maybe something else?
...and in the next episode all of these hints are shoved aside and Ein and Zwei go back to work killing people. I wonder if the shootouts are supposed to be cool, because they make no sense. A small army of SMG armed thugs can't handle one fairly important character armed only with a pistol (at virtual point-blank range)? Inferno seems completely despicable, yet I'm expected to be thrilled by it's people and like them? Why am I watching this? Will this story ever go anywhere? Not only are the two assasins' personalities going nowhere likeable, but now even their victims are sympathetic people. Something's got to be wrong when I start wishing Ein and Zwei will get killed.
Maybe the idea was to depict the innocent boy Zwei being forced to become an assasin, going morally downhill, but eventually scraping together some ethics and breaking out of the trap he's in, along with Ein; but I got so many mixed signals from the start that I have little confidence that this will happen. I don't know whether the two have been brainwashed or not, whether they really have some incredible killer instinct (or this was just an excuse to explain Zwei being spared), or whether they feel the slightest pity for their victims. Did the makers forget the cardinal rule that the protagonists of a series must be interesting, likeable people?
My favorite line: "I'm so going to hell for this" --Kuro
Last updated Thursday, September 26 2013. Created Friday, April 10 2009.
Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~
(3 epi watched)|
I am a fan of the original game. I love the singer of the OP Kokia. What more can I ask for? The first episodes shows the start of Phantom, and it just slightly differs from the game. Close enough to be familiar, far enough for me not to expect everything.
2 points to note. First, both Ein and Zwei show poses in which they look like puppets (Ein in the corridor when she first appears, and Zwei in the OP). Hmm i am undecided if I like it or it is unnecessary and ostentatious. Second, the pair act a bit arrogant when on assignment, shooting without looking, taking time to finish off the target etc. This takes away the professionalism the pair are supposed to exhibit as the best assassins in the world.
Ok... the essentials are still there... but just the bare essentials. I mean, how does a professionally trained assasin miss 2 shots against someone at close range, while the target is either not aware of it, or not moving to dodge it? Poor... very poor. I cannot help but to compare this with the game... This gives way too little insights into the characters' mentalities and situation. It keeps information at the bare minimum. I do not see how someone unfamiliar with the game can appreiciate the situation, or the reason behind each character's actions. This seems to target those who have already played the game, and bring them through the contents of the game, but does not really draw new people into the intricate story and psychology... a watch at best if this keeps up...
Last updated Saturday, April 25 2009. Created Saturday, April 04 2009.