Having not heard about Phantom: Requiem For The Phantom (P:RftP for short) before and having to watch the second part of the series, I felt inclined to go straight from the beginning of the first part and do a 26 episode marathon in 2 days, something I have rarely done before and after this little escapade, shall not be doing again for a long time. Anyway, let us begin!
The first part of P:RftP opens with a young tourist being given a package by a flustered and scared reporter, begging him to alert the police as soon as possible, with the journalist then running away and being gunned down by a mysterious and vicious masked lady.
Our tourist then awakens with no memories of his past, his name or any idea of where he now is and is forced to pit himself in a fight for survival against the masked killer we saw previously gunning down a terrified reporter. We later see this is all a test for what is to be his grooming to become a feared and deadly assassin by the alias ‘Phantom’, created by ‘Scythe Master’, a twisted psychological genius, for a ruthless crime syndicate, Inferno, bent on becoming the emperors at the top of a pyramid of mafia families, with the masked vixen revealing herself as ‘Ein’, bestowing the young and manipulated killer his new title, ‘Zwei’.
As each episode passes, the story constantly moves, although at times the story arc’s can go from super fast paced to normal and (even though i was on a power run of the episodes), I was finding myself hitting the rewind button a few times just to stay up on what was going on, with my mind just giving up on some parts. The relationship between our two Phantoms develops accordingly until there are spanners in the works where Zwei is coaxed into become a bodyguard (amongst other things) by Claudia, a female associate desperate to climb the ranks of Inferno, creating her way up through deceit, lies, manipulation and murder.
Murder is something our assassins make easy to watch as the there is so much of it, their cool and calm dispositions in each ‘hit’ make it a little easier to deal with the heavy load of violence in this series, although there is one particular assassination that tested even me. I like my controversy but I waived this as it was an integral factor in Zwei’s character development proving he truly was ‘Phantom’, and was a great addition to the story which had been rather bereft of emotion.
With Part 2, Zwei takes in and begins to train a young natural called ‘Cal’. A witness to a collateral problem Inferno would rather be without and just want her done away with. I thought for such a young one (best guess aged 12-13) she always seemed so chirpy & naive about killing and her jokes about ‘De Niro’ (good ol’ Godfather II star Rob) got old quickly. Although again, it was really only there to add a juxtaposition to Ein’s wonderfully drab and emotionless core. With a new depth to Zwei coming through as he challenges himself on whether he wants to subject this girl to the ‘life’ he has forged; an Existence achieved only by manipulated murder.
Fast forward two years – yeah, I too was like, ‘what’? – and we see our hellish assassinating duo in high school. (Way to lower the tone.) A few episodes are wasted away trying to lull us into a sense that all is well in high school, blah, blah, blah. I can truly say I was not impressed by this plot twist, however it did serve as exactly what a thought it would be, and that was a plateau for more of Inferno’s manipulation and destruction.
Staying as spoiler free as possible, we saunter through to the end, which I did enjoy, it takes you where you want to go at what I believe, was a good speed and started wrapping things up nicely. One scene made me reach for the kleenex – which I am sure was due more to the fact I had been staring at this animation for almost 5 hours – as I was genuinely happy to have been evoked by this show just when I was giving up faith that there was going to be anything else but death, with a side of death, coated in death.
But I warn you now, the ending had me screaming at my television set and wondering ‘did I really wait all this time..?’. Though I am sure some people may find it intriguing, I would be interested to put it to the consumer whether the ending was what they expected, or just one last attempt to try and beg for some last minute recognition?
Character wise, Zwei has some good moments and his character begins to feel very natural and easy to follow, but Ein’s constant drones and emotionlessness to everything becomes a little difficult to to keep watching, especially as the subject matter is already darker than black. Cal also shows hidden depth towards the end which I really like and began to feel that she was the true reason I was watching to the end as I was starting to feel for her. Scythe Master stayed crazy through out, adding metaphor to everything and his obsession of all this being a stage show. Not going to be Michael Bay any time soon, matey. Lizzie adds some laughs with her ‘tongue in cheek’ dialogue but honorable composure and all the mafia guys are 100% mafia guys.
As far as story goes, P:RftP has nothing new and there is A LOT of recycling going on. I don’t mind a 30 second refresh every episode, or even a revision episode 13 down the line, but when 5 minute chunks of previous episodes are just bombed in with a little film grain added to prove it’s a revision / memory, I feel cheated that I’m watching exactly what I saw 40 minutes ago because they might not have enough material. And with that said condensing the show from 26 episodes to about 18 or so is not an impossible idea, it may even boost the tension and pace that P:RfaP almost reaches.
The music in the show was great, I really liked the mix between orchestral scoring, rock ‘trax’ and sometimes an amalgamation of the two which just really framed the picture well. (Cal’s theme really touching me every time I heard it.) But the tunes used to open the shows were an odd choice and feel somewhat short of an A-level composition at times.
‘Phantom’ breaks no new grounds and will not wow with visuals, there are also some points that just make me think the artists have dropped their pencils and still continued going on. With eyebrow lines coming through hair and backgrounds drawn to a par standard it’s not going to smash similar shows out of the ring, but for a few episodes you can get something out of this show and if you don’t take it too seriously there are rewards for just watching it. Some of the fight scenes look pretty cool and Zwei ain’t a half bad protagonist really. This isn’t as fluid as Part 1, but give it a watch just for the conclusion, but beware of the ending as I have little hair left now.
– Jimi Hart
Available to purchase on DVD now from Manga Entertainment UK. Order at Amazon UK HERE.