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Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ #2 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Monday, 05 March 2012 12:56
Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~Every so often, you come across a series where you can point to an episode or event and say "Stop right there. Forget that everything after than point exists, and you'll be a whole lot happier". Phantom is unfortunately almost the poster-child for that effect - which is doubly annoying when you think how good it started off as...

Having Cal around the place is proving useful - she can cook, for a start, and she's got a good line in stories that's keeping him entertained. Having told McGwire and Claudia that he'd take her as his apprentice, though, Reiji has to explain to her what's going to be expected of her, and start the job of turning a young girl into a killer. Not that she seems to have any reservations about what that involves. Claudia, meanwhile, hasn't forgotten that Wisemel tried to undermine her position, and has plans for dealing with him. Permanently. But Scythe Master, it seems, hasn't forgotten how Claudia managed to run him out of Inferno, and has made his own plans to turn the table on her - plans that will see Reiji come face-to-face with Eren again...

So. As mentioned in the review of part one, Phantom can be split neatly into three arcs: Scythe's rise and fall, Claudia's rise and fall, and Ein & Zwei's eventual attempt to escape their destiny. This disc has the second and third arcs, which are a mixed bag - the first is the series at its best, with the political jockeying within Inferno forming the backbone of the story, punctuated with impressively done hit-job scenes. The essential replacement of Ein with young girl Cal in the second arc, giving Zwei yet another reason to want to get away from the life of a killer, is an inspired stroke for that stage of the story, keeping the storyline fresh and giving Zwei someone he can work with while Ein is off the scene. Given the way that she'd ultimately sided with Scythe at the end of the first arc - his brainwashing runs deep - it's no surprise to see her make a return, fighting on Scythe's side, in the second arc, and the "friends turned enemies" aspect as the former partners work out their issues is enjoyable to watch, too.

But while Cal's introduction works well for a while, she's also the reason that the series ultimately loses its way. The third arc moves the setting from the American west coast over to Japan, placing Ein and Zwei (now free from Inferno's control and living under the names Eren and Reiji, posing as brother and sister) into the roles of high-school students & trying to live normal lives - until Cal, feeling the pain of her apparent betrayal at Zwei's hands, comes looking for them. It's here that the series essentially falls apart: first of all, the high-school setting makes no sense given what's already known of the show's timeline at that point (being at least three years' on from the beginning of the series, both of them should be in their early 20s by then), while the personality of Cal when she makes her appearance is so far removed from the loyal young girl that Zwei first took under his wing that it's almost impossible to make the mental connection. Yes, there have been influences on her to make her that way, but it still doesn't seem right - and that's the problem with the whole arc, when compared to the two that preceded it. It also seems to be trying to repeat the "friends turned enemies" aspect that we had with Eren and Reiji in the second arc, but this time around it feels forced and unnecessary. The whole set-up of the arc feels far too convenient, too, with Reiji having decided to set up home near people that anyone with an ounce of sense should have known to steer clear of.

In the end, it feels as though somewhere along the line someone has decided that, great, we've created three characters here that the audience can connect to and feel sympathy for: let's mess with that relationship, and see how much we can undermine it. Cal goes bad, Zwei resorts to using innocent third-parties for cover, and even when you feel that a happy ending might be salvaged from the wreckage of the storyline, rocks fall and everyone dies. In the figurative sense, at least. It's a huge "Screw you!" to everyone who followed the series to that point, and to say I was unhappy with the closing arc would be an understatement.

I'd go so far as to say, stop at the end of the second arc (episode 18). The ending there is still a downer, but less of one than the final arc manages to produce. You also don't have to deal with the wreckage that the final arc becomes, which should at least leave you feeling that watching that far was worthwhile. For the show to do so well for two thirds of its run and then fall apart is hugely disappointing (and I can't blame Bee Train for that, as I understand the series follows the storyline of the game quite closely). There's a lot of good stuff here, but because of that closing arc, you might want to think before you buy.

Rating - ***