Requiem for the Phantom

Phantom was a good anime. I dare say great anime….until the final ending scenes. All the lurid character development fell like spent shell casings in the final scene. It left me feeling cold and cheated. I don’t always want a happy ending; I didn’t expect one from this anime. With the characters a traditional happy ending wasn’t possible, but…yeah. I will just say I am disappointed with Phantom’s conclusion.

Phantom opens with a 15 year old boy who find himself without any memories and an ultimatum. Join the mafia organization “Inferno” and learn to be an assassin or die. He is given the name ‘Zwei’ and trained by a mysterious girl named ‘Ein’ (German for the numbers 2 and 1 respectively). Inferno is essentially the United Nations of mafias.  Zwei quickly becomes an even better assassin than Ein.

The story follows the deteration of Zwei and Ein’s humanity as they murder. Ein has lost almost all her humanity when we meet her thanks to her handler and local crazy, Scythe Master. After twists and betrayals, Zwei and Ein manage to escape the syndicate long enough to begin recovering their humanity. There is also a mild love interest.

Ein's sexuality is uncomfortable and bizarre. She is obviously molested by her Master

Despite being based on a visual novel, Phantom has very good character develop and pacing. Zwei and Ein are tormented but resigned to forever carry the atrocities they commit. There isn’t any of the expected “emo wrist slashing” melodrama and whining that some anime falls into. The characters are all mature, believable, and adult. The first opening theme song, “Karma” is haunting and sets the mood for this dark, violent anime.

The story keeps you guessing. Not all episodes, especially the early ones, are related to the larger arc, but they serve as a backdrop to Zwei and Ein’s development.

The animation is fluid and dark. The environments are especially detailed. Generally the environments are believable and convincing. Mafia members act like you’d think they would.

I am mixed about Phantom. I liked the character development, psychology and suspense. The world was dark, violent, and believable. Yet, the ending ruined the anime. If you watch this one, stop watching the final episode about 5-10 minutes early. It will leave you feeling more satisfied than the actual ending.

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