What's our reason for existence? We all have one, but often, those reasons were given to us before we were even born. Most of us have the luxury of being surrounded by friends, family, siblings, etc. But what happens when we're completely stripped of all of those, and are thrown out to find a new existence on our own?
Story - 9:
The core plot of Requiem for the Phantom centers around one's pursuit of one's reason to exist. To find one's place in the world. And as the viewer quickly discovers, successfully accomplishing this is quite an ambitious task. This is due to the fact that the environment itself forbids such concepts. In the dark, chaotic underworld, assassins are trained to be ghosts, empty beings that only do, never question. Deviation from this is frowned upon, and only guilt and regret awaits those who even try to stray from this rule.
The plot therefore quickly spirals into a tug of war between the will of the characters, and the environment they're in. As such, the events themselves revolve much around a single decision. Which is better? Being a ghost of non existence doing only as ordered so, but as a result feeling no guilt or sin, or having an existence, but feeling the regret of all the sins one has committed?
How the plot progresses, is through changes in each character's perspective on the above question. As each episode goes by, you'll feel as if they're "growing", gaining new intuition through their interactions with each other. They begin to see new beauty in the world that they've never seen before, eventually, reach their own respective decisions to "the question". The anime's definition of "at least at peace."
The brilliance of the plot itself lies in how well weaved together everything is. Each action has an implication, and each implication has an effect. Each effect creates an emotion, and each emotion affects how the characters perceive the world, and themselves. Nothing is wasted. Every minute of each episode had a reason for being there, and taking any of them away would harm the overall experience. In fact, you'll be surprised how many times you'll ask yourself "what would I have done?".
However, as sentimental and philosophical as the plot is, it isn't perfect. Along the path of ambition that the creators have taken, there are definitely a few hiccups. There are two points within the plot that suffer from what I call, "time lapse syndrome". A point in the story of which a character has a certain personality and attitude/behaviour, and then after a screen caption of "x months later...", their personality completely changes. Because we're not shown the events inbetween, only the before and afters, it makes the viewer feel as if the creators simply ran out of time, and decided to leave the rest up to our imaginations. Nothing wrong with using the imagination of the viewer to develop the plot of course, but the fact that we're not shown the complete picture does hurt the progression of the plot.
Art - 10
To be honest, I think the L.A. skyscrapers looked better in this anime than in real life. The artistic style used not only compliments incredibly well with the dark atmosphere of the anime, but also in bring out L.A's "true colours" if you will. All in all, it's evident that the creators took the time in creating a world that was thoroughly believable visually.
Sound - 10
Again, like with the art, the OSTs compliment the anime quite well. The falsettos compound the experience during dramatic situations, and the epic beats make those fights seem even more badass. Both the opening and the ending songs are quite catchy as well.
Characters - 9
For the most part, each character in the series existed to provide different perspectives on the same environment. They also act as the messengers that pass on the morals and consequences of events of the anime onto the viewer. It is also because of this diversity of personalities represented through each character that makes the series so compelling and enjoyable. It's consistently interesting to see how each character addresses their own issues based upon their own morals and goals, and how their different decisions bring upon them different consequences later on. For example, the behaviour of one character might show that too much ambition eventually backfires, while another may show that intense love could quickly turn into intense hate.
The choice for the two main characters were also excellent. The personalities of Zwei and Ein compliment each other perfectly. While Zwei eventually develops his own will, Ein remains trapped, without her own will, and therefore unable to act on her own unless ordered to. The journey that the two take together to reclaim Ein's past is so emotional because you understand very early on, that both of them, were just innocent bystanders tossed into a world that doesn't make sense. Yet it is because of this, that each of their achievements feel so much more worthy. And it is also the reason why this series does so well in delivering the emotion of losing oneself completely, and then slowly reclaiming what you have lost.
However, the series does also trip slightly over it's own ambition. The large character base meant that some characters didn't get the development that they deserved, while others didn't even get to contribute to the plot because they were introduced so late. But in light of everything that's going on, these were very small errors that will hardly be noticeable.
Overall - 9
Requiem for the Phantom is one of those animes that will suck you in from episode one, and take you on a journey of deception, deceit and a slight hint of hope, of which you'll be sitting on the edge of your seat until the very end. It's one of those animes that will make you think and relate to the characters, and perhaps even change your own perspective on life...for better or for worse.
But above all, it's an anime that shows that even the darkest of worlds aren't completely devoid of light, and after you've finished watching it, it'll have left an impact that you'll never forget.