Type: TV (26 episodes)
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Phantom Of Inferno
A Japanese boy visits America, and witnesses a murder. He's pursued for days in order for the killer to tie up loose ends. He shows an amazing will to live. Instead of killing him, his memories are erased. His given the choice to become an assassin, or die. He chooses to live. His new name is simply a number: Zwei.
His partner is a brainwashed girl known as Ein, aka the Phantom. Her job is to keep the international crime syndicate Inferno in power, and eliminate its enemies. Zwei has been inducted into this world as well, and leading him to do their dirty work. Even if he doesn't have his memories, Zwei realizes that he's still human. He wants his memories and his life back. Getting out of Inferno seems impossible enough, but Zwei realizes he wants to save Ein as well. She may be even a bigger obstacle than Inferno itself.
Phantom was a visual novel/game released around 2000. In 2004 they made an OVA I made the mistake of watching. My advice is to pretend it doesn't exist, because I sure wish it didn't. It had potential, and I thought of a list of things the series could do to fix things. Apparently someone else had the same idea, so nearly 10 years later they released Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom. It starts all over from the beginning and does it right. By the end of the first episode I knew it would work this time. In fact Requiem does pretty much everything I would have done to make this show awesome. Yes, EVERYTHING.
I took to the characters right away. Ein is typical for the emotionless doll kind of character, yet just human enough to empathize with. The anime takes Zwei's perspective, and it would take me forever to cover how much his story changes him and everything he goes through. Sometimes it's like he's changed into someone else, and yet he's never so far out that he's out of character. Complimenting these two are a lot of great characters also caught up in the complex and dangerous world of Inferno.
The Phantom of Inferno visual novel can go in many directions with sub plots, so it's really amazing this doesn't come apart at the seams and retains coherency. Zwei's story starts a typical action story, but his path takes VERY strange turns as the show progresses. The story is seriously awesome until episode 20 when the show kind of loses its mind (for a few episodes). The end falters with a climax involving the latest super assassins. I thought that was a let down considering the build up to a more personal vendetta. I'm also the kind of guy who likes at least SOME kind of happy ending, so the conclusion left me with mixed feelings. This can be avoided if you simply stop the show when Mio sees bloody tracks leading away from the church. You can assume it just turns out happy. It's about as conclusive anyway.
My main complaints involve the last 6 or so epixodes where it gets weird. Phantom Requiem is supposed to take place over months, but so much is covered, it seems like it could only happen in years (which it actually does in the visual novel). It's easy to write that off until Zwei returns to Japan and goes BACK to high school. Then farther jarring time distortion, an adorable girl transforms into a bodacious fully stacked woman in about 2 years. Seriously, what in the hell did they feed that girl? There are other minor logic flaws, but they're more easily missed and don't impact the story.
I give this show high marks in depth due to attention to detail in ballistics. Not just pointing and shooting, but the way guns are held, the pause in breathing when taking a sniper shot, and semi-automatic pistols cycling when shot. Pretty cool stuff. The soundtrack is also outstanding aside from the obnoxious ending theme. The dub is exceptional as well.
With all the fawning I've done over this anime, you may wonder why I don't rate it as excellent. I had mixed feelings on the ending, which is a factor. More so than that, while Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom is an outstanding action title; in the end it's still ONLY an action title. I'm burned out on typical action flicks, which is why I watch anime, but I have to admit Phantom Requiem shows the outstanding potential this genre is capable of when done right. Highly recommended.
Zwei: This is just a bad dream ... I can wake up from.
Ein: Believe that if you want. Just keep thinking everything is a dream. But it's going to be a very long one.
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