Type: OVA (3 episodes)
Next in series:
Phantom: the Animation
A guy becomes a witness to brutal assassination. In order to "clean up", he's nearly killed, but the organization decides to take him in and train him to be an assassin.
His personality remains, but his memories are wiped. He is given the name Zwei (two in German), and to work along side Ein (one). Zwei isn't convinced he can become a killer but doesn't have a choice. He's secretly decided to try to regain his past when he's given the chance. But what about Ein? What's her story, and should he try to take her along as well?
Phantom: Requiem was recommended to me, then I found out there was a three part OVA made before it. Preferring to do things in the right order, I figured I'd give this a watch, which turned out a mistake as Phantom the Animation is a chain of nearly everything done wrong in an anime.
The characters are bad. Ein is emotionless, and there isn't any particular reason to like or relate to her. Zwei's character attempts to bring a human element to the story but fails because he's simply unconvincing. Emotional content is really forced, and nothing flows naturally.
A disconnect with characters is bad news for any story, but when the story is pieced together as badly as it's done here, it actually doesn't make much of a difference. Phantom pretty much wallows in every cliche action movie logic failure there is, and is thus very predictable. By the middle I almost had the feeling this show might take a turn for the better, but it's a little scary how rigidly it adheres to such an unremarkable formula. The show almost had me for a few seconds during the epilogue, but then it screws that up too. Wow.
The main feature you might expect to hold this together is the action and violence. Phantom the Animation IS very violent, but often goes out of its way showing people getting killed only for the sake of doing so. Technical details are on par with the worst of 80's action movies, making it hard to watch. Bad guys with machine guns hurling volleys of bullets at people and not hitting them? Yes. Good guys return fire with pistols and hit EVERY TIME dead center in the forehead? Yes. Then puzzlingly in the third volume, Ein who had almost never missed (with uncanny head shots that would make even Counter Strike aim bots envious) repeatedly misses shots taken at Zwei - the bullets hitting at his feet no less!
The Phantom of Inferno visual novel is not a complicated concept. It's the depth of details and characters that makes it shine. Whoever decided to make Phantom the Animation missed the nuances of what made it special, and decided just to package violence in a Hollywood action movie format; Really really badly. Obviously it's better to avoid this disaster, but do consider Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom which does the visual novel justice.
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