When watching Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, which was recently released on DVD and Blu-ray from FUNimation Entertainment, there’s only one thought that comes to mind: This is anime done right.
The series, which began life as a visual novel, is a no-holds-barred look at the life of two assassins in search of their former selves. Zwei, a young man, becomes the dutiful student of Ein, a brutal killer who seems to have no feelings whatsoever. They both work for a crime syndicate known as the Inferno, which has aspirations of taking territory away from established crime families in the United States.
The 26-episode series begins with Zwei’s uncomfortable introduction to the assassin life. He’s taken in, given this strange new name and made to believe he’s no longer a man, but a machine. If he doesn’t kill, Ein tells him, then he will be killed. Through a series of training sessions, most of them involving marksmanship, Zwei begins shedding his former self and morphing into this cold-blooded killer. Still, the transition is not perfect. Every so often, he has lingering memories of his former life and how Inferno captured him.
The most mysterious thing about his new life is not the domineering organization or killer assignments. It’s Ein, this intoxicatingly beautiful girl who takes down her targets with ease. What makes her so odd is that she’s completely passive to all of the bloodshed; she doesn’t love it or hate it. It’s almost as if someone has removed her ability to feel emotions.
Of course, Zwei looks at this odd girl as his future. In a few years, he will soon forget how to care for his victims. He will simply point, shoot and move on to the next assignment.
Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom is a skilled anime series that is easy to understand, a rare quality among these TV shows. Too often, they become so convoluted and dense that it’s difficult to figure out what the creators are trying to say. In Phantom, everything and everyone remains mysterious, but decipherable.
The animation style is nicely simplistic. Different portraits are used as establishing shots and then just a few characters or objects move, almost as if they are stuck in a painting. It’s a neat trick that makes for a unique style. The theme songs by Kokia and Ali Project are also catchy, featuring dizzying vocals that are somewhat dreamy.
The series is not for children. There’s a good deal of animated violence and brief animated nudity. Most of the action is centered on death and murder, so Phantom proves to be quite dark. Zwei and Ein are not exactly a happy couple. Sometimes they are forced to pose as boyfriend-girlfriend, but it’s all a ruse. They are, in fact, taking notes on their next assassination attempt. Behind the smiles and doting eyes are cold-blooded killers and blank stares. The whole point of the series is whether that darkness is permanent or escapable.
By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
Rated TV MA