What They Say:
When people become capable of seeing “phantoms”, trouble begins brewing from the few creatures looking to cause mischief. Luckily, people like Haruhiko Ichijo have special abilities to face them. Together with the vivacious Mai and his fairy-phantom companion, they take on the danger born from the human mind. But their team needs a lot of work and some fresh new faces to be successful!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language in stereo and an English language dub in 5.1, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is one that spends most of its time on dialogue but some of the phantom elements provide for more action pieces to get underway, which is silly and fun with some good moments of directionality and impact as they move about the screen and the cast tries to deal with it. Most of the show is focused on character interactions and these are mostly straightforward though Ruru is able to provide a little extra movement across the screen with how she flies. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes and OVA are spread across two discs with nine on the first and the rest on the second. Animation by Kyoto Animation, the series is one that stands out beautifully with fluid movement sequences, bright and vibrant designs, and just a lot of great detail to both characters and backgrounds, which we kind of expect from the studio most of the time. Funimation’s encoding of it brings it to life beautifully as it feels rich and vibrant throughout and the high motion sequences look fantastic. This is one of those series that reminds you of just how good animation can be in bringing things to life and the importance of a good color palette to bring something richer to the execution.
The packaging for this limited edition release comes in a heavy chipboard box that works the artwork to its advantage, with the front panel showing off three of the main girls in the foreground in their school uniforms, smiles highlighting their respective personalities. The logo along the bottom works well enough as it has the white fading into the artwork above it and it provides a little weight for it. The back cover uses another great key visual that features the cast as a whole with some of the visual illusion design work to it that’s appealing with the detail and color of it all. Inside the case we get two Blu-ray cases to hold the two separate formats where the front cover has the nice artwork with Mai on one and Ruru on the other that’s colored well and has all the right design pieces with the white background to highlight them more. The back covers use the same characters, this time in swimsuits, against a black background while showing off the episodes by number and title on each disc and noting that all the extras are on the Blu-ray side only, none on the DVD.This release also has a really great set of lenticular cards with character artwork that changes in very fun ways while not going totally in the fanservice direction.
The menu design for this release is one that follows the standard style Funimation applies but it comes across as very weak. The main menu uses pieces from the opening sequence, which is smart since it’s often the best looking animation, but with it rotating in the words for phantom world repeatedly it just doesn’t flow well in this form. Add in that the animation bits themselves in it aren’t the best and we get a navigation strip that employs the weakest part of the show design with the grayscale checkerboard pattern in the corners, it’s not all that inspiring of a menu nor one that you really can latch onto in order to set the mood. The plus side is that the menus do load quickly and easily as you move about in both the top level and as the pop-up menu, but it’s not one that you’ll linger in.
The extras for this release are definitely a good thing for the fans as there’s a lot to dig into. Dub fans get a commentary track for one episode while we also get a round of web previews and the clean opening and closing sequences. The various promos and commercials are included as well. The big extra, however, is the seven-part OVA series that was included with the Japanese releases that totals about 45 minutes running time. It’s not, well, fully animated, but it looks great and extends the story. I only made it a few minutes into it, however, as the show had simply worn me down by the time I got to the extras.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a novel series that kicked off in 2013, the anime adaptation of Myriad Colors Phantom World arrived in the winter 2016 season with Kyoto Animation tackling it in all their standard high-end form. With a strong creative team behind it and top-notch animation that reminds you why you like what they produce, the show had a fair bit of anticipation but also just a sense of caution as the novels themselves weren’t things that had a huge following – two had been released at the time and the third landed during the broadcast of the anime itself. While I had thoroughly enjoyed watching the announcements and delighting in the quality of the promos, this was my first actual experience with the show itself.
The premise of the series is one that makes for a good bit of fun but you definitely don’t want to apply “how the real world would react” ideas to it because you can only imagine a lot of bad things. Years prior to the start of this, an experimental virus got loose that altered the way everyone’s brains are wired, which has opened up a whole new view of the world as they can see other dimensional beings that are dubbed phantoms. This can turn a normal area into something far different than what it is and it mostly allows people to see and interact with these creatures as they exist within our world but no longer outside of our view. With a range of creatures from playful “spirit” types to more dangerous ones and a mix of those that are just going about their lives, living is essentially a bit more complicated now as these colorfully creative beings move through our view.
What this viral rewrite has also done is set it so that some kids born after the event are able to do more than just interact with these creatures but also do battle and seal the more problematic ones. They’re not exactly in high-demand because most of the phantoms just hang around and are friendly, but having people that can deal with the more problematic ones is good. So, naturally, the show focuses around a first-year student named Haruhiko who has put together a club of those like him that can deal with this. Haruhiko’s a decent guy that’s got a strong background thanks to having a very big library in his house which allows him to be the one with lots of knowledge to apply to situations. His skill in sealing is also nicely creative as he draws them in a sketchbook and works the seal in that way, which gives us some creative moments that stand out as he “does battle” with them.
The show brings in those that work with him, such as the second-year in the busy and action-packed Mai that channels elemental powers as well as Reina, another first-year that can consume phantoms as her method of sealing. Reina’s a bit more interesting in her background early on as she’s hiding what she can do from her parents since they’re totally anti-phantom and want nothing to do with it and naturally the gang helps her out with that. Mai is less fleshed out when you get down to it but she provides the brawn and fanservice for the show. The series also works in Koito as the cool and aloof transfer student who has an impressive ability in how she seals but it’s problematic from her childhood – but useful enough that she’s brought in by adult authorities to help out from time to time with trouble phantoms. And to add just the right dose of cuteness, Haruhiko has a close companion in the “I Dream of Jeannie” style Ruru, a pint-sized phantom that hangs out with everyone and gets into plenty of trouble. Admittedly, the episode where she gets full-sized form and appears as a new transfer student that the others aren’t aware of made for a lot of fun as she got to experience proper school life, even if it is a familiar story point.
The problem with the show is that it really is just entirely by the numbers. We get small things from the character’s pasts that have to be dealt with over the course of it but they’re almost like afterschool specials in how they’re wrapped up so quickly and with a little bow. What that leaves us with is a show that works through a range of one-off things that the gang has to deal with, such as phantom gorillas that invade a hot spring or the delusion of a proper family life that’s not true for the group that they get sucked into. They’re all familiar story ideas and very little of it does anything to make the characters engaging, and that’s mostly because the series spends its time making it so vibrant and full of life and phantom material that it drowns everything else. It’s all style over substance and it lacks the heart that other Kyoto Animation productions have to really draw you into the stories and the characters.
Myriad Colors Phantom World is a bright, colorful, and empty series that delivers in a big way with the quality of animation and design but lacks the heart and soul to make it work. So much of it felt forgettable minutes after finishing an episode that I ended up finding the nearly pure-fanservice OVA beach episode to be the most memorable because it at least embraced the fanservice there and had fun with it. I can’t overstate how much I liked the animation but that isn’t anywhere near enough to carry any series, though it can salve things to some degree. Funimation went all in on a great package and they put together a really strong slate of extras overall all while ensuring a solid dub and a great encode. For fans of the show you’ll likely be delighted with this and glad for all the attention that it got. For me, it’s one of the weakest of the Kyoto Animation series that I think I’ve seen.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 7 Commentary, “Limitless Phantom World” 1-7, Web Previews, Promo Videos & Commercial Collection, Textless Opening & Closing Song
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 21st, 2018
Running Time: 350 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.