Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom Part 2 (of 2) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, January 27, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Zwei’s life goes to hell in a hand basket after all that’s happened as he assumes the role of Phantom.
What They Say
A young man with no memories fights to salvage his humanity when he's forced into a life of murder by a dangerous crime syndicate called Inferno. The organization gives him a new name, Zwei, and molds him into a perfect killing machine, a meticulous instrument of death created to obey his masters' every deadly command.
Zwei's not the only puppet controlled by Inferno; Ein is a girl as beautiful as she is brutal, and as lethal as she is lost. While mafia violence escalates around them, the two assassins grow closer, and Zwei begins the struggle to reclaim his past and save Ein from a blood-soaked future.
Contains episodes 14-26.
The audio presentation for this release has the fairly standard setup for an action show with the original Japanese stereo track encoded at 192kbps and the English mix done in 5.1 at 44kbps. The show works well in stereo form with a good solid forward soundstage design as the action sequences has some good impact to it. The dialogue is generally very quiet but when it gets forceful it's well placed and clear even when low. The English language mix bumps things up a bit more with some added clarity and depth to it that helps generally with the action sequences and the music from the opening and closing sequences. The added volume level helps make it sound a bit more distinct as well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing throughout 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This set has thirteen episodes spread across two discs in a seven/six format. Phantom has an interesting palette to it in that it's very dark and murky with a lot of browns, grays and shadows throughout it. There are some very vibrant scenes, especially when it shows off LA, but the majority of it is very earthy. There's some noise to be had as expected and some of the backgrounds are stronger with it than others, though it doesn't become overly distracting depending on your setup and distance. I found it to be more noticeable on our plasma set for exampled compared to the main setup. The character designs hold out better overall as they're free of aliasing issues, but some of the backgrounds of city exteriors show off a bit of line noise during panning sequences.
The second collection of this series fits nicely into the chipboard box from the first with its limited edition but it also stands out well on its own. The release is done as half season sets have been done from FUNimation for the last couple of year with two thinpak cases inside a thin slipcover. The package as a whole fits into the existing box if you have that so you don't have to lose the slipcover. The front of the slipcover has a good shot of Zwei in his fully professional form as we see him in much of this set while the back of it is standard fare with a strip of shots down the left and a decent summary of the overall premise along the right side with a breakdown of what to expect for episode and disc count.
Inside the slipcover we get two clear thinpaks that mirror what we saw with the first set as it has Ein on one and Zwei on the other where they're in full dress mode with weapons in hand set against the black background. It looks style and fits in with the whole assassin angle. The back covers are the same as well with just the grayscale breakdown of the episode numbers and titles along the left with the target along the top to tie it all together. The reverse side artwork is also really nicely done as both covers focus on the character of Cal with one featuring the young version of her and the other featuring the older one while the right panels for both have the logo and schematic style to it.
The menu design for this series is very minimal overall, especially as all the extras are shunted off onto their own disc. Each of the discs have a full screen image that's static which shows off one of the lead characters. The only other thing you'll find on the main menu is just the logo, off to the lower left, with the minor navigation associated with it since there's not much to it. Everything is very easy to access and the submenus are straightforward and problem free. The disc doesn't highlight what the language selection is and it defaults to English with sign/song subtitles instead of reading any player presets.
There aren't any extras on the show discs themselves, though the second disc does include some trailers, but there is a separate disc included that has extras on them. The primary thing on the disc is that we get six picture drama episode which are similar to what we got on the first set where it’s mostly stuff that’s good for the laughs, though it again feels out of place sometimes considering how dark the show is. Unfortunately, they aren’t dubbed which makes them less fun for dub fans who want to see a different side of the characters. In addition to that, we get about four minutes worth of commercials from its original run and clean versions of both opening and closing sequences from the set, a practice I heartily like rather than just keeping the newer opening and closings. Give me all of them together
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Phantom was a rather curious piece as it worked three arcs into it, something I didn’t expect from a Bee Train show as they tend to really draw things out. The taste of El Cazador and Tsubasa are still on my lips so I expected more of the same. With the end of that set, we saw things change up with what was going on with Phantom as Ein protected Scythe Master from Zwei but ended up causing both of them to die and disappear. At this point in the series though, it’s hard to believe that Ein would be dead since only suits seem to die and stay dead. Seeing her show up just an episode or two into this set, first as a shadowed presence and then as something more, was essentially expected as she’s now going up against Zwei under a plot being orchestrated by Scythe Master to get revenge on Claudia after the way she manipulated him when it comes to the Inferno business in the first set.
Taking place some six months after Ein disappeared into the waters, Zwei has now become Claudia’s right hand man and is excelling at the role of Phantom, even though he’s remembered some of who he was. The idea of Phantom having to kill of its predecessor seems rather appropriate for Inferno and Claudia is building him up nicely all while undressing him when it suits her so she can have her way with him. Claudia’s game is pretty intense as she’s intending to use anything and everything at her disposal in order to secure her position with Inferno, a difficult thing since it’s a very male dominated group. While Ray pretty much treats her alright, Wisemel has it out for her and the two are pretty much playing against each other at various points under the table to slow the other down.
The focus is kept largely on Zwei at this point though as he carries out the jobs she has for him and deals with a deal she’s trying to broker with a Japanese group that we saw much earlier in the series. Where it goes into an altogether unsurprising direction is when Zwei is asked to help out a young girl named Cal who had her best friend Judy shot down in front of her during one of his missions. Zwei, going by Reiji with her, has his pangs of guilt and tries to assuage it by helping her out with some meals and the like all while making sure she doesn’t know enough to implicate him or anyone in Inferno for what happened. The Inferno guys just want Cal dead, so Reiji instead offers to make her his new assistant, thereby continuing on with the training of a potential new Phantom. While she’s a bit off at first, and he’s not entirely serious since he’s just trying to buy time, Cal does have some of that innate skill that both Eren and Reiji had that made them so attractive to Scythe Master.
The entire arc with Cal is appropriate enough since it’s just a variant of what happened to Reiji early on, albeit with significant differences since she knows who she is and Scythe Master isn’t controlling the situation. The storyline gets fairly convoluted as it progresses though because of Claudia’s plans and those of the Japanese gangsters that are involved as they actually have hidden ties to Scythe Master that become apparent and even within that there are other plans afoot involving hidden daughters in Japan of mafia bosses and the like that speaks of how to control your closest associates. That the entire arc with Cal ends in a big explosion isn’t a surprise either, but it leads to one of the more confusing elements of Phantom, which is the final arc of it all. So avoid the rest until the summary.
After the explosion that rocks Reiji as he thinks Cal is dead, and Cal thinks Reiji abandoned her because neither of them checked for the other afterwards, the story advances two years and puts us in Japan where Eren and Reiji are high school students. And unless I misread the sign, they’re second year high school students. Which means that at the beginning of the series when Reiji wakes up to Eren chasing him, he must have been fourteen or so at best. And Claudia was messing him over pretty good as a boytoy along the way too, especially considering how gangster-cool he was trying to look through much of this second set of episodes. Reiji simply looks too old to pull of high school at this point and while you can give on Eren a bit, it’s still a very hard sell based on what has come before.
The time in Japan definitely feels forced in a few ways, as the pair ends up spending time at the school where the hidden mafia daughter goes and she’s even got a bit of a crush on Reiji, though he’s unaware of her true nature. It’s all very idyllic and you can see how Reiji is getting back into a reality, but it’s all because Eren wants to see him happy. When Cal ends up arriving in Japan to destroy all this happiness, she’s gone from a short girl just before her growth spurt to a buxom hourglass of a woman with a real eye on vengeance for wrongs never truly made because both of them were idiots. Mixing in all the Japanese mafia elements, the Inferno grudges and Scythe’s own plans, it’s a big convoluted mess of a story that all comes down to killing, killing and more killing. And ending with a scene just before the final credits that truly made me angry.
I’ve had such an awkward relationship with Bee Train productions over the years and after El Cazador, they’ve left me a bit more wary than I used to be. Phantom tries to shake up their dynamic a bit with it being a male/female pairing filled with lots of gunplay and violence in Los Angeles, but it never felt like it was fully defined or knew what it wanted to do outside showing that some of these shooters, mostly the Phantom operatives themselves, really do care about each other. Care enough to make sure the other is dead, that is. The series has a lot of potential but it seems to squander it in odd places and the advances in the timeline made it all the more uncertain because it suddenly changes the characters that felt like they were at least late teens were now even younger. Add in that some of them do some very stupid things amid a convoluted set of events with opposing power players and all you can do is just enjoy the gunfights and music and leave it at that.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Picture Dramas 7-12 (subtitled), Original Commercials, Textless Opening Songs, Textless Closing Songs
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 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.
Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 17 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Phantom ~ Requiem for the Phantom ~