It's a fairly common trend in just about most action mediums, whether it be anime or not, to focus more on the action than the story. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom is part of that minority which focuses more on the story, and I have to say that it does a really good job of doing so without taking away from what makes an action medium well... an action medium.
The story follows the twisted and tragic life of Zwei, a teenage boy who has no recollection of his past, and is forced to become an assassin under the guidance of Ein, also known as "Phantom", who, like Zwei, has no recollection of her past, and is a highly trained assassin, or more like a near-invincible human weapon. This is all done under the supervision of "Scythe Master", a maniacal scientist with a calm demeanour, whose only goal in life is seemingly to create near-invincible human weapons or "Phantoms" just like Ein. He is contracted by a growing mafia organisation called Inferno who wishes to use his "Phantoms" to help seize ultimate control of the mafia underworld.
Now that's quite a load of information to take on before starting this anime and the entire premise of the story regarding Inferno takes time to develop and be fully explained. When things have been established and the story starts to take shape is when this anime really starts to get good. What this information fails to tell you though is that there are essentially three parts to the story, each being separated by a time skip of considerable length. Each part has its own merits and can be somewhat different to each other, and some people are sure to like one part more than the other two.
Each part explores different themes and develops the characters in different ways. The first part explores the growing relationship between Ein and Zwei, and follows their interactions with Inferno. The second part introduces Cal Devens, a young girl, who is taken in by Zwei in his attempt to find something or someone worth protecting and giving his life for. And the third part takes elements from the previous two parts and concludes the story in a tragic and bittersweet way.
There is very little I can actually fault the story with. There are a few plot holes, both major and minor. However, I feel as though the effect they had on how I viewed the story was extremely minimal. Unlike other plot holes in other anime that I viewed recently, I was able to overlook them with ease and continue immersing myself in this gripping tale.
On the other hand, some of the decisions the characters made throughout this anime really pissed me off. Like REALLY. There were few times during which I couldn't comprehend exactly what was going on in the minds of the characters, especially given how smart and cunning most of them are. If they made stupid decisions that had minor consequences, then I would've overlooked them like I did with the plot holes. However, considering the potential impact that most of these decisions had and the fact that characters were later going to contradict an earlier decision they already made, it really pissed me off that they decided to make such a decision. It's almost as though the creators wanted to forward the story by making the characters complete retards when they needed a calm head the most. There were arguably much better ways for the story to progress and much better ways in which such ways could be achieved. (Sorry for the mild profanity but this was really something I needed to get off my chest)
The characters in this anime are where it shines most. There are three main characters, being Ein, Zwei, and Cal, alongside an interesting supporting cast, consisting mainly of members of Inferno and "uncooperative" mafia groups.
Ein, Zwei, and Cal are developed almost perfectly. Each character has to live through events which change them, and their personality and attitude. For example, Zwei may be a cold hearted assassin yet he has a sense of morality which is continually explored throughout the anime, and through the exploration of this single trait, he changes and becomes a different person by the end of the anime.
The supporting cast is not explored very much at all. While there were somewhat interesting, they weren't interesting enough for us to really want to get to want to know more about. I personally believe that this is how a supporting cast is meant to be. They aren't meant to outshine the main characters. However, the anime gives us backstory about Lizzie and Claudia, a female duo who works in the higher ranks of Inferno's hierarchy. And I'm going to be honest, I didn't care about their backstory. While they do play somewhat major roles in the anime, their backstory is not needed at all. I cared very little for them because I was already engrossed with the main characters and their development.
I've never ventured to say I hate an opening or closing from an anime. And I was extremely tempted to say it regarding the openings and closing of this anime. I'm sure there are people who like it but I dislike the style of music used and I never ever bothered to watch any of the openings or closings following listening to them my first time.
On the other hand, the background music in this anime is superb. From the gangster music which was constantly played throughout the first and second parts to the music used during the more tear-jerking moments, particularly in the third part, I loved it all. It constantly helped emphasise the atmosphere and really immerse myself in this anime. I want to specifically point out some of the music in the third part. Without spoiling too much, I'd like to say that the distorted sound and the groaning of a woman really emphasised how messed up everything eventually got in the anime.
I watched Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom with english dubs. Now, I always feel like there is a rule which states that if an anime is set in an English speaking country, then the dubs are decent, if not better than decent. I can safely say that the statement still holds true in this anime. Ein and Zwei are bland due to their cold-hearted demeanours but showed their colourful side when needed. Cal's voice throughout the second part was that of pure innocence and young excitement, something which this anime was certainly lacking. The voice acting of the supporting cast was also really well done. Cunning and sly characters like Claudia always spoke in a suggestive and calm tone, while brutish and large characters always spoke with authority and confidence.
Art & Animation: 9/10
The art was great. The colours used mostly seemed darker in tone, and many scenes were in the dark which always added to the mafia underworld premise which the anime is set in.
The animation was even greater. Everything from the fight scenes, to the firing of bullets, to the splatters of blood, to what I like to call the "Phantom eyes", to driving cars were all animated extremely well. Everything felt smooth and flowed nicely.
I could've also give this category a 5/10 because things didn't go the way I wanted and the decisions some characters made just pissed me off big time. I'm going to be honest and say that it really hurt my heart to see things didn't end up the way I wanted but that's the beauty of a good anime. Things shouldn't be predictable nor should they go the way that the fans want it to. (But please let there be a remake where things end up the way I want them to)
I love Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom. It contained great action scenes, an immersive story, and a strong cast of characters. After every episode, I had the feeling I normally get when I watch a good anime; one where I let out a huge breath because I was so immersed in it that it feels as though I forget to breathe or one where I kick my legs in frustration because I want to really know what happens next. I recommend this anime to just about anyone because it has great action for the action anime fans but also a great story for those who aren't exactly into action.
Thank you for reading and hope you enjoyed! Any feedback is much appreciated.