Posted by psgels on 25 September 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Phantom



Okay, time for me to review my favourite anime of the past Spring and Summer Season: Phantom, or Requiem from the Phantom. It’s based on a visual novel by Nitroplus, and while it starts off as a Noir clone at first, it develops into something much more. It shows a story about a couple of assassins inside the modern American mafia.

It sets itself apart with an amazing cast of characters. Especially Ein and Zwei develop into a bunch of strong and sympathetic characters, but also most of the side-characters are memorable. They’re all incredibly well acted; the voice actors really managed to capture their characters, and there’s always a lot of subtlety in their actions and development.

This is all accompanied by a terrific execution. Dialogues between people often move slow, but a lot of things are said in-between the lines. The creators have a great sense of build-up, and know exactly how to deliver the plot twists with as much of an impact as possible. Despite the subtlety, the action-scenes also pack a punch. This show knows that gunfights between excellent marksmen can last very short, and they made excellent use of this in their build-up.

Since this is a Bee-Train series, the music is without a doubt excellent, but at the same time you can see that they’re trying out a few new things here and there. The use of music throughout the series is downright excellent, but what amazed me the most is the incredible size and versatility of the different background tunes. Hikaru Nanase, who also did the soundtrack of Noein and Zone of the Enders, created an incredibly versatile set of tracks for this series. The drawings are also continuously crisp, without hardly any distorted frames, and the animation itself is also pretty decent.

A bit of a lesser point of this series is that there are sometimes strange leaps in logic. One character may have escaped death a bit too narrowly, and this series also forces you to assume that with the right training, a bunch of teenagers can become much better at handling guns than any adult out there.

Nevertheless though, I personally loved this series. It’s a show that’s constantly evolving, even within its distinct three arcs. The major theme of this series, in which the best course of action doesn’t always get taken due to a sad combination of circumstances, is excellently explored by the cast. The characters in this series are deep and complex, and often you find them saying things while in reality they actually believe in something completely different. With an ending that you’ll either love or hate, this is a great recommendation if you like dark yet slow-paced series and don’t mind teenagers in your anime.

Storytelling: 10/10
Characters: 10/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10

21 Responses

  1. supertauren says:

    Besides the whole kid-being-better-than-adult problem which this series suffers from, like all anime, this series has been awesome!

  2. Camario says:

    For the last time, the historical record demands making it completely clear that the visual novel came out before Noir even existed. Why do you think Kirika looks like Ein? =P

    In all seriousness…I tend to agree with this review. I’ve actually come to appreciate that major theme, as bittersweet as it is, but even then I won’t deny it’s always a hard thing to accept. I can understand why some people have had negative knee-jerk reactions to Reiji’s actions and omissions.

    In my opinion not all of the gunfights were what I’d consider good, at least not in terms of action, but even then the show tried to make up for it in other ways.

    It’s definitely a dark story with a well developed core cast of characters, all in all, and I ultimately think this adaptation managed to stay true to both the spirit and the letter of the visual novel without being a complete copy, but it’s clear that the anime staff made some decisions that will probably be unpopular with the average viewer and that even I had to sit down to think about before understanding them.

  3. Shinn says:

    This how was awesome, I’m sad to see that it’s over!

  4. i-k says:

    Nice review, I’ll finally get around to watching it soon

  5. Arseni says:

    This anime reminded me a lot of Gungrave…. and both were awesome.

    For those who have seen Gungrave, who do you think would win in a fight – Brandon Heat or Azuma Reiji?

  6. Perrin4869 says:

    This anime is probably my biggest disappointment of 2009. While there are series like Pandora Hearts which I could hardly stand also, thinking back Pandora Hearts never delivered for me, while Phantom did. And while Pandora Hearts could be thought as more a personal dislike of the genre, in my opinion Phantom is an example of fiction done wrong. The first arc, while it started slow, ended up being awesome, and the second arc started very strong as well. But around episode 15 everything started to fall apart in my opinion. Here’s my little summary on the flaws I found unacceptable in Phantom (of course, spoilers follow):
    The first of all is of course the inconsistencies. Here they went as far as showing flashbacks of people acting a certain way, and a minute afterwards we see them doing something that negates the way they acted in the flashback completely. The 2 examples I remember are Shiga being shown as the most loyal person to his aniki, always standing by him, just to see him killing him a minute later, and the second is a flashback in which we see Lizzie joining Inferno with Claudia to support her in her revenge, and 2 minutes later, she goes ahead and kills her, presumably because she felt betrayed… That’s why I thought in the end Claudia would come back, that her death was just faked, but in the end I was proved wrong. While they didn’t go for another Ein, they dug themselves a huge hole, because either way her death is just wrong.
    The other thing I found intolerable is how Ein was portrayed. At the beginning she seems like a rational person who doesn’t show any emotions. She kept this way all throughout the first arc, even when Reiji escaped with her. It almost seemed like she just tagged along for no reason at all, and when the moment came for separating with Reiji, she had no problem at it. She went as far as stopping a bullet with her body for her master. And at the end of the second arc, when her master sends her on a suicide mission, she suddenly decides that because Reiji didn’t kill her she should give an annoying speech about him being her other self, and some other crap that hurt my ears, and then started crying! And of course, she ends up running away with him. What caused this change in her personality, I guess we’ll never know.
    And then they decided it would be a great idea to turn the setting to a high school. I sincerely believed up until that point that this was a story about adults. But no, the creators proved me wrong by showing Reiji and Ein turn from cold blooded killers to high school students. To make matters worse, the reason they gave for it was because in the high school there was a girl they could use as leverage in case things went awry. Sure, because you must get to know the people you plan to kidnap before doing so. Oh, and they also made this girl fall in love with Reiji so much, that even after finding out that he’s an assassin, she couldn’t care. And the cheesy romance… But really, why did it have to be a high school, for God’s sake? If they wanted to have normal lives, anything could have worked, there was no reason for the creators to go for a high school. It’s just sad.
    Close to the end we have Reiji thinking to himself about how much he doesn’t want people around him to get hurt anymore. What’s his solution to it? Go and kill the person whose life he ruined. Is that fitting of someone who doesn’t want anyone to get hurt? Of course not, someone like that would have made a deal with Cal, like making her promise to stop the killings after she’s done with him! But, of course, this anime goes for the biggest impact, so they had Reiji kill Cal…
    And in the finale, we have SM’s masterpieces, the results of his long research, his improvements on the faulty prototypes he previously trained being killed like rats by his prototypes. I mean, he must have learned his lessons, and improved on the mistakes he did while training Reiji and Helen. There’s no way they could have ended up killed so easily by the prototypes! And then he accepted getting killed by Ein, even though the last time he stood before Reiji pointing a gun at him, he ran like a dog. What a lame villain!
    In short, even after hearing people try to explain why all this is happened the way it did, nothing takes away the feeling of how artificial it all feels. None of the characters feel one bit genuine, they all act the way the creators want whenever they want, more or less the way it was in Code Geass. As good as the first arc was, and as good as the second arc started, and as sophisticated as the twist at the end of the second arc was with the whole conspiration Claudia planned, it was all dragged down by the points I just mentioned.

  7. someguy says:

    “Close to the end we have Reiji thinking to himself about how much he doesn’t want people around him to get hurt anymore. What’s his solution to it? Go and kill the person whose life he ruined. Is that fitting of someone who doesn’t want anyone to get hurt?”

    Spot on here. They showed Reiji was a Intelligent person who cared for Cal.. and this is the result..

    I agree with Mio as well. they didn’t need to include her and have her ‘in love’ with Reiji, now that was lame. She didn’t do anything in the end. Though I didn’t think it was a bad plot point, it was pointless when they were developing her character, over say ellen.

    The school setting while Poor.. wasn’t so bad as some of the story points.. like Reiji just staying in School while knowing that Ellen is there and most likey is going after Cal.. which could either get Ellen, Cal or Mio killed. Yet what does Reiji Do.. Nothing.. Smart Guy.

    But really, I cant understand some of your thoughts about Ellen. It had been shown she was being ‘mind controlled’ by SM so what did you expect? For her to just ‘get over it’

    With Lizze though, it was shown she held ‘moral principle ‘Mafia Code’ over anything else. So that why she killed Cald. But then it makes her Death cheap.. when Lizze doesn’t end up killing Cal.. as she is getting ‘tried’ of this. To Bad for Claudia she didn’t feel this way before she was shot -_-

    The Production Vaules made people Overlook some problems (imo) I agree there were a few inconsistencies. But it still in the end was a Decent show.

  8. Fluca says:

    For me, this series would’ve been perfect if only they had removed zwei and the school bit from the story. Without it, I’d give it a 10/10 (the ending was awesome, btw). With it 7/10 at best.

  9. Fluca says:

    For me, this series would’ve been perfect if only they had removed zwei and the school bit from the story. Without it, I’d give it a 10/10 (the ending was awesome, btw). With it 7/10 at best.

  10. Fluca says:

    Dang. I’ve gotta brush up on my German. lol. When I said Zwei I meant Drei (Cal).

  11. DLP says:

    Great series, with a perfect ending.

    The change in setting to high school was brilliant and worked perfectly. Great characterization, direction, and music.

    The only flaws in the series were the three-times use of “oh, I think they’re dead – no they aren’t.” It should have only been used once, with Cal, not with Ein, Cal *and* Reiji.

    Mio’s character wasn’t pointless. She was Reiji’s victory. By refusing to stay with her, and drag her down into darkness, he showed he’d learned from what happened with Cal. And also made it clear that he chose Ellen.

  12. Chosenone says:

    Reiji didn’t ‘chose Ellen’ He was never in the position that he had to choose to save Ellen over Cal or Mio. Reiji was simply trying his best the situation he was in while keeping the promises he could keep. And So while he did kill Cal.. it wasn’t because he choose ellen over Cal. Cal was only ever Cold towards Reiji and said she hated him.. will kill him.. make him suffer.. ect (Cal was Broken.. partly due to her past and this phantom life) so for all Reiji knows Cal doesn’t care about him at all anymore and had enjoyed this phantom lifestyle.. though it might of brought her some pain and sadness. Reiji thought there was only one way to settle it. Reiji made the desion to kill Cal. Not for ‘ellen’ (he could of teamed up with ellen to make sure that Cal does die and no harm come to ellen if he looses) because he was the one who made Cal like this (in his mind) and she was out of control and there was only one way he could take action.(Unbelievably Stupid of him.. but.. It seemed Reiji did get more stupid in this Arc) If the words that Cal said to Reiji after he shot her.. where said before the Showdown. Reiji would of never shot her to kill. He didn’t realize untill Cal final words that Cal still loved him and in the end all she wanted was Reiji love and she wasn’t really enjoying this phantom lifestyle (Though Cal does enjoy being an assasin and being able to Protect herself she doesn’t enjoy the life she was living as a puppet of Inferno in hate/despair) And didn’t want to make him suffer. Reiji does have Good intentions towards the people her cares for.

    Reiji was just friends with Mio, he didn’t want to get her hurt, but then again he doesn’t want to get anyone hurt. (apart from Inferno and the like) he didn’t ‘refuse’ to stay with her. He never had any decsion to make to stay with ‘her’ or leave. He had no promise with Mio and wasn’t her girlfriend or anything.

    Just to Note: Reiji did! drag Mio into the mess. While he wasn’t the one who thought up the plan. That goes to Ellen. He accepted the plan and went ahead with it, which makes him just as bad in the end. As he could of just left Mio alone.. and not used her to escape. But that what he did ‘use her’ Just like Reiji has said he had Used people, played people all for the sake of living.

    The ending is interesting because.. It in no way shows that Reiji and ellen are closer together. In the end after the failed ‘normal life in japan’ ‘dream life’ and after Cal’s death.. all Reiji wanted was to fufill a Promise to Ellen. It wasn’t really about living a life with! her.

    Reiji guilt is so massive that once he has done what he promises others, death awaits him.

    There was one key scene.. (After he meets with ellen after he thinks Cal had Died)

    “Cal.. you’ll have to wait a bit for me, there is still something I have to do (fullfill the promise yo ellen)”

    Though promblems arise.. Reiji did get ‘caught up’ in his ‘Dream’ The 6 months he was in Japan.. he forgot his past and was living normally. So he wasn’t able to full fill the promise to ellen.

    There wasn’t one Girl that Reiji favored over anyone in the end. The show was simply a drama with complex relationships. They Cut-out parts of ellen true path from this ending for a reason! If they wanted to a pairing to be ‘final’ they could of done it. While it might look like an ellen ending to some people. In the end it wasn’t. A couple of key scenes removed and the death added was to make sure this, And in the end it makes this a ending for the anime, and not just a copy of the VN.

    The title, really tells the story of the show. Requiem for the Phantom.

  13. iwashere says:

    is it just me, but is anyone else botehred by Cal`s body change? i mean, last time we saw her, she was still a lil flatchested kid, but then, BAM! she became big-boobed and all in just, say, 2 years? o__________o”

  14. Ferdinand says:

    I watch this anime immediately after seen this review. I finished watching in 2 days, and I gotta say I am very disappointed with this anime and also your review. First I find zwei’s voice is annoying, it just not fit with assassin cold blooded character, second too many illogical things in this anime, like it feels it is so easy to become great assassin, most of the time they only practice shooting, knife really?? every gangster do that also all of the plot twist are predictable, i didn’t have any feeling of surprise while watching this. then, cal’s body change really2 not make sense, I didnt get what the creators think about, it should just said 4 years later or more. The changing plot to Japanese Highschool stuff make it even worse and unrealistic, overall i gave it 7 and psgels, I dont know what your taste is but i found your review just not right. its your opinion but giving this better score than gungrave, full metal alchemist original, clannad after story even Kimi ga nozomu eien?? you really have a bad taste..

  15. totoum says:

    ferdinand: some of your complaints were actually pointed out by psgels

    “A bit of a lesser point of this series is that there are sometimes strange leaps in logic. One character may have escaped death a bit too narrowly, and this series also forces you to assume that with the right training, a bunch of teenagers can become much better at handling guns than any adult out there.”

    I guess the difference between you two is that you consider these crutial while psges finds them trivial.

    ” i didn’t have any feeling of surprise while watching this. ”

    not even at the very last scene of the last episode?

    “The changing plot to Japanese Highschool stuff make it even worse and unrealistic,”

    How so,he needs to get out of the US , he’s japanese , he’s a teenager,makes perfect sense to me.

  16. Ferdinand says:

    totoum: yeah I admit the last scene was a little bit surprising but still it doesn’t help cover up all of the weaknesses in these series, not mention most people hate this ending, personally I like it.

    The changing plot is unrealistic for me, it doesn’t show how they got to japan, eren doesn’t have passport and how do they apply for highschool, I am not sure but u need like a citizenship, student permit and they act like they were brother and sisters probably u need a family card not sure though, but certainly you need some requirements for that.

    yeah I am talking bout reality here, I know its anime, at least they shown their fake ids. it would be more realistic if they run far away like village areas, mountain, etc. many choices why highschool ?? if they want to keep that girl mio, they can just watch her, not need to be highschool student, that what professional assassin supposed to do.

    yeah I find these crucial, probably because I watched movie like Bourne Ultimatum and Taken, that’s why I found these one feel unrealistic.

  17. Ferdinand says:

    totoum: yeah I admit the last scene was a little bit surprising but still it doesn’t help cover up all of the weaknesses in these series, not mention most people hate this ending, personally I like it.

    The changing plot is unrealistic for me, it doesn’t show how they got to japan, eren doesn’t have passport and how do they apply for highschool, I am not sure but u need like a citizenship, student permit and they act like they were brother and sisters probably u need a family card not sure though, but certainly you need some requirements for that.

    yeah I am talking bout reality here, I know its anime, at least they shown their fake ids. it would be more realistic if they run far away like village areas, mountain, etc. many choices why highschool ?? if they want to keep that girl mio, they can just watch her, not need to be highschool student, that what professional assassin supposed to do.

    yeah I find these crucial, probably because I watched movie like Bourne Ultimatum and Taken, that’s why I found these one feel unrealistic.

  18. windy says:

    I’ve found this series amazing despite the coincidences and some little wrong twists( it just shows that the characters may have commited some actions on the spur of the moment but those affected them and proved to have a consequence on their later actions ( Lizzie)) it could have made, it was a brilliant, excellent and awesome series!!! But agree, the way Reiji killed Cal, it was a deeply tensed moment that played on our emotions, for that the creators did manage to achieve that point in the most amazing way, but I also felt it could have been avoided ( and Claudia’s death too, I guess, but is there any good ending for her? She ends up tragically or sadly no matter the ways her life turn).

  19. Antalk says:

    Here is my two cents: Phantom is by far the best I have watched…so far. The opening theme sets the tone for each episode (’til they changed it) and the story lines were deep and the ending, NEVER SAW IT COMING! I recommend you devote your time to this series.

  20. Lord Haw says:

    I was blown away by this series. Found the plot to be quite detailed and it caught me by surprise a few times. The most jarring change was the Japan arc though. Last you saw they were heading to Mexico and then suddenly they are in high school in Japan. Had to look twice to make sure I was still watching Phantom! The change was that much different. But it did work from a plot perspective. A well done suspensefull anime overall in my opinion.

  21. TimeMask says:

    When I saw your review title was just called Phantom I wasn’t sure if this was a Phantom of Inferno review.

    I watched this anime a while back but I’m planning on reviewing it on my blog.

    I agree with your rating as this was a great anime but the ending felt odd for him to be killed in such a way as he seemed to almost have superhuman abilities. However he is still just human so he couldn’t sense the bullet from behind.

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  • Emma
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 06:53 AM)
    Okay even though I don’t watch western tv shows all that much I finally properly spent whole day going through black mirror. For the larger part this is creative, unpredictable, well thought out/written, varied, I like the technological end of it, the stories manage to fit into the short film runtime without ever feeling like they needed more time and its clear that Charlie Brooker has a lot to say with this and is very intelligent man, some of it does ring fairly true.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 03:17 AM)
    @Aidan: …Jesus I read that wrong at first and read it as Liam Neeson…
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 02:09 AM)
    @swa, and hearing those lines voiced by Liam O’Brien would be a godsend.
  • swa
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 01:24 AM)
    Even in slow paced intermezzo episodes and with just a couple of lines, still so GARcher.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 10:25 PM)
    And really shinichi and Reiko’s growth as characters do make up for a lot.
    Your not wrong on the love triangles normalcy now that I think about it but I found those parts to be forgettable though not detrimental.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 10:23 PM)
    Now granted its all still a very good series of course.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 10:03 PM)
    @Emma: I don’t know, although the characters are flat the love triangle still seems to work here. That’s probably due to relatively normal way they interact with eachother which doesn’t have too many “senpai!” moments.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 09:39 PM)
    *there
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 09:39 PM)
    I think going through Parasyte again as an anime outside of the soundtrack I’m starting to realize that I wasn’t really into the characters beyond Reiko, Shinichi and Migi a whole lot. Beyond that I was mainly their for the violence.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 09:18 PM)
    I don’t even know how they are going to get to where the PP movie poster suggests, as Akane is wearing a police-like uniform in that while her inspector status was reinstated by the end of the second season, so bunch of more contrived (and possibly inconsequential) events are sure to ensue.

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