What They Say:
Zwei is a young man forced into a life of murder. Ein is a girl as beautiful as she is lethal. Each is a perfect killing machine, on the run from the crime syndicate that created them: Inferno.
Now the assassins are in the crosshairs, struggling to reclaim their lives and survive the wrath of their former masters. It won’t be easy; even as power struggles threaten to tear Inferno apart, the organization unleashes a vicious mew instrument of death: Drei. She’s calculating, unhinged, and relentless in her mission to destroy Zwei and Ein. All three assassins have been twisted by their painful pasts – and each of these lost souls knows that a bloody final faceoff is their future.
For the first time in a while, I have a packaging review here. We see a shot of Zwei, posing with a gun tilted to the side on a grey background with black markings, with a half cropped face of Ein on the top right hand corner. It’s not bright or colourful, but definitely fits in with the style of the series with the title in the top right hand in both Japanese lettering and in English. The back is on a plain grey background with the above descriptions, with shots of the show on the left hand side in a column, with a lot of focus on the new character, Drei. It’s nothing that stands out immediately, but it fits in with the nature of the show so it still strikes out to you. The inside has an episode guide though it’s actually done wrong (Disc 1 says it has episodes 14-20, but it actually has episodes 14-21, whilst disc 2 has episodes 22-26, not 21-26) and an inside cover shot of Zwei shooting with a fainter version of him behind him which is kind of hard to see because of the fading on the background colours so not so good on the inside.
Each menu on the 2 discs is set up similarly, Disc 1 has Zwei on the background firing a rifle a la the same pose on the inside cover whilst Disc 2 has Ein in a white dress, almost maid like in almost a flashback to back in the first episode. The set up on the menus in both discs is the same, bar the extras only on disc 2, the regular selections are play all, episodes and set up with language selection as either English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0, subtitles selection one and off, with no scene selection in the episode selection list, all of the choices easy and straight forward enough to select.
All the extras were on the second disc, consisting of some interesting stuff. We had some short Japanese commercials for the show, as well as the textless openings and endings for the series (as it changes opening and ending part way through the series in this half).
The big extra was the second installment of the picture dramas, totaling just over 40 minutes long – it’s basically what the episodes of Phantom would be if it was a comedy. It’s a real change of pace and considering the dark, mysterious and serious side of the show it really catches you off guard, especially on how funny it can be. For example, the second episode on the selection is basically a board meeting at Inferno…where they decide for camaraderie to have it in the hot tub….which of course consists of guys only, bar Claudia. Cue hilarity ensuing hijinks. There’s another one when Ein as Eren and Zwei as Reiji are at school along with new character, with Lizzie as the gym teacher…training them to be a guerilla squad, or when Eren is trying her best to act like the cute ditzy little sister for Reiji…as their friends trail them suspecting them of far worse. And like last time, we finish with a puppet episode, as Ein puppet is training Zwei puppet in hand to hand combat, complete with training montage and Street Fighter parodies. Yes, they all sound as ridiculous as I’ve made them out to be, and it is really fun. Of course, complete outside what the show is about, but considering everything that happens in the show, it’s a real change of pace and showcases that the creators do have a sense of humour, and a very worthwhile extra.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I highly rated Phantom when I received the first half, a slightly different take of the girls with guns motif in the Bee Train style by using a male lead, as well as using him as a rookie being training by the female prototype, as Inferno’s plans become more and more interesting when it appears that Ein has died and Zwei has taken on a potential new partner. However, more secrets are uncovered, and more tragedies occur, as the series somehow manages to take an even darker turn for the worse…or better.
We left with Zwei, going by his real name Reiji now, found a new friend named Cal, hoping to train her due to her wanting to become involved first hand in dealing with who was the cause of her family’s murder. Meanwhile, Inferno are becoming more and more suspicious in their dealing with the Gotos, and Claudia is fast forwarding her own plans to destroy them from within. And worse, Reiji is certain he saw a glimpse of Ein yet he also knows he shot her, so things get more curious. Claudia decides to use Reiji to help find whoever killed Goto’s men, as he suspects Ein, he takes Cal along to get a first hand view of what he is expected to do. However, when things get more complicated with again a suspected Ein involved as his counter measure, he realizes he doesn’t want to drag an innocent girl like Cal into the darkness with him.
The first few episodes deal with this, leading to a point where he gets angry at Cal about wanting to do what he does, then realizes that he wanted someone like Cal where he was able to talk about what he does and vent his frustrations at, yet at the same time keep her mind away from the dark issues he has had to deal with. Cal’s role is interesting because she has a set goal in mind, she wants revenge and wants to join the darkness, yet she doesn’t lose her happy character despite the morbid situation she is in. However, with the reveal of Scythe Master’s true appearance and what Reiji suspected to be true that Ein is alive, they prepare to frame Reiji as the true cause of Goto’s men being killed, but at the same time make sure they reveal it was actually Claudia who orchestrated everything on both sides. This conflicts Reiji, especially as something that at first seems unimportant (the mentioning of a yakuza gang members sister Mio) that becomes quite big later on the series, it is easy to forget when Ein returns and switches between her Ein and Eren personas due to her connection with Reiji. It all ends quite tragically, not because any of the leads die, but rather because Reiji and Cal believe that the other has died due to unfortunate timing, (you don’t know Cal has survived until a later episode flashback) which leads to Reiji thinking it was his fault for Cal’s death and for dragging her into the darkness. It leads to a tense face-off between Ein and Reiji, Ein returns to being Eren as her memories slowly return and know about Inferno’s betrayal. This in combination with some tense moments with Claudia as everything she has worked for ends in failure sets us up for the final arc, where Eren/Reiji try to act out normal lives, knowing Scythe Master is still after them.
The arc is tremendous in its action sequences combined with how all the pieces begin to put together – the series can be a little confusing at times considering how you need to link Inferno with how they created ‘Phantom’ in the first place, but here it pictures together. They used Eren as the first prototype, as they are bringing more and more ‘Phantoms’ into the world – Scythe’s Master’s goals aren’t completely explored yet but the Claudia revenge plot is wrapped up sympathetically and the shock that Reiji has sent an innocent girl to her death because of her brush of darkness really gets his priorities straight, and feels with his mentor, he doesn’t want the same thing happening and to get the change to try and remove the darkness and become a regular human, despite all the problems that will need. It seems to work as the final arc deals with them going to Japan and trying to do that…which of course leads to more story.
Episode 19 is the flashback episode where we learn Cal is alive, and was waiting for Reiji due to a promise he made about always being together, not believe he is dead. However, she is found by Scythe Master, who basically breaks her mind, making her against Reiji, making her feel betrayed by him. She indeed enters the world of darkness, and is later revealed to be the third Phantom, Drei. This is not revealed until episode 20 where 2 years have passed since that day, with Reiji and Eren in Japan, actually enrolled as students at school. However, not so coincidentally it’s the same school where a girl named Mio is, who was mentioned as a connection with the Goto group from before – she appears to have a crush on Reiji, which after some help from Eren, he uses to his advantage because they realize Inferno have finally caught up to them. However, their assassin turns out to be an older Cal, shocking Reiji and especially as the innocence of her has complete vanished to be revealed now as a snarking, bitter young woman, who felt that Reiji betrayed her and now has been set to be the one to kill Eren and Reiji, or Ein and Zwei, her being Drei.
This leads to the final 5 episodes, where we get a confrontation between the three of them, with Drei not caring for Inferno’s plans, all she is focused is her revenge. It does lead to her kidnapping Mio, as we get a glimpse of how she felt betrayed and how she has changed over the years – it’s definitely heartbreaking considering her innocent and energetic character she was before, but at the same time her mind does seem to focus a bit more, especially as Scythe Master intended for those three Phantoms to be destroyed and be replaced by his perfect team of Phantoms. It is in fact Ein and Drei who eventually face off, with Reiji’s emotions a real struggle for him considering his friendship with Cal and his respect for Eren, and leads to an unpredictable ending (the final shots are ambiguous but at the same time, you know what’s happened). It’s very action packed, with an air of acknowledgement with Reiji’s character, that you cannot escape your past or the darkness, and he kind of accepts that as the credits roll.
The show is a real roller coaster – it’s dark and edgy, it has characters that whilst not the most engaging, are interesting enough and interactive with each other with the three Phantom’s in particular – Ein is the prototype gaining her memories back, showcasing she has always had her skills and wants to live, Zwei is the one who uses his emotions the most, and has the most guilt considering he was the cause and creation of the third Phantom, Drei – who brainwashed yet humanity is still in the back of her mind, her focus is separate from the others as she only has one motive, to kill her betrayer, and that alone allows her to focus, which ironically helps her recover a bit during her shoot out with Ein, as she definitely wanted salvation. If I had to pick a problem with the characters, it’s that the villains don’t seem focused enough in her role – i.e. it’s not seen as creating the Phantoms for any particular purpose, it’s definitely not world domination or anything like that, it’s just more to create the perfect assassins/bodyguards. Scythe Master isn’t a particularly interesting villain, Claudia was far more engaging as was her friend (and later killer) Lizzie, who also has an intriguing relationship with Cal/Drei but both sadly fall by the way side in the end, and the addition of Mio was a blink and miss moment from the previous arc, where her role all fits in with how Inferno is able to use her to their convenience, and it isn’t until Cal/Drei has to explain everything to her…in Phantom’s own way of course.
The action and mystery elements though can’t be faulted. This is a dark series, and the action scenes are very realistic, Drei’s motive is very well done in episode 19 as you know she has been brainwashed and unknowing of what happened that fateful night, especially as Reiji feels incredibly bad at thinking she died – so no matter Drei’s attitude, you do feel sorry for her, with the extra mix of adding Eren/Ein back into the picture especially as she tries to adjust into society, it gives a real ‘wildcard’ element in the series as you can’t decide who is the lead. The ending ending on a complex note, as you know what’s happened but it ends so ambiguously that you can make your own judgment of what happens after that. Whilst everything is tied up before the Drei arc with Inferno, it can confuse at times so you need to really get engrossed in the series, which fortunately for me, it does. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea though for exactly the same reasons why I like it, so it’s a real judgment call.
Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom is one of these unique series where you really have to pay attention to everything that is going on, otherwise you don’t know what you’re missing. Whilst the antagonists are fairly weak mostly, when Drei is revealed it turns into a real climax of action and characterization. Even before that, Reiji/Zwei was a gripping male lead, his concern over Cal that haunted him after the two year skip, his shock of the reveal and how he deals with it is engaging, whilst Eren’s humanization is succinct but developing. Cal/Drei changes completely and becomes a top antagonist as she has reason to hate Reiji, yet the viewer knows she shouldn’t be, and that’s why she’s engaging and we can’t really blame her for what she does. The action and mystery elements are superb, and the ending is beautiful. For me, it’s a great series but I will only recommend it on the grounds that if you’re looking for something action packed but not over the top and more thought provoking, then this is the series for you.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commercials, Clean Endings
Content Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: March 12th, 2012
Running Time: 312 minutes
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.