The first half of Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom was a lot better than I had expected, it may have been a bit clichéd but it was classy and didn't pull its punches. It certainly left me waiting for the second volume, and thankfully the second part doesn't let the series down.
Following the dramatic events of the first volume the Zwei has
become Inferno's top assassin. Now using his real name, Reiji, he has
taken on the codename Phantom previously held by his predecessor Ein, and like
her he has saved the life of a civilian under the condition he trains them to be
an assassin. His new charge, Cal, was a witness to one of Reiji's hits and
should therefore be killed, but the cost of saving her - turning her into a
killer like him - is too much for Reiji to bear. Instead he forms a kind
of surrogate family with her, reluctantly giving her a minimal amount of
training to keep Inferno off his back but knowing that this situation can't
last. Meanwhile Claudia continues to scheme her way to the top of
Inferno's hierarchy, using the yakuza Godoh family to strengthen her position.
However, her ambition hasn't gone unnoticed, and an unknown adversary is trying
to sabotage her negotiations by targeting the Godoh leaders. Claudia thinks
Inferno's number 2 Isaac Wisemel is behind the attacks but Reiji isn't so sure,
and he's worried that Claudia's scheming may have gone too far. There are
certainly plenty with a grudge against her and Reiji worries about how to
protect Cal from not only Inferno but also Claudia's enemies.
Unfortunately for him it could be too late, a ghost from his past has returned
and will soon turn his world upside down and with the vultures circling it could
be time to cut and run, but where would he go and how could he keep Cal alive?
Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom pleasantly surprised me for much of its first volume, and in this second half of the series it continues to do so. With Reiji in a difficult position and Claudia hurtling towards either glory or self destruction, events escalate quickly in this volume and not always in the directions you may expect it to. The storyline continues to be the series' strongest suit, with twists and turns and plenty of scheming to keep you interested. This volume stretches the boundaries of the series even further than
the first, with a huge change of pace and direction half way through that changes the focus from a dark, action-packed drama to almost a romantic comedy. One of my only criticisms of the first volume was that the relatively unoriginal setup, but as the series has progressed it has moved further and further away from the 'girls with guns' genre and taken its own direction. This volume demonstrates this quite strongly, and I must admit that the story didn't progress in the way I expected it to. The plots and counterplots fly back and forth as the bodycount grows and there are some surprising victims to go with the entirely expected return of Ein (I'm not giving anything away here, she's on the DVD cover). The change of focus is quite brave, but the series pulls it off.
As with the first volume this one is a classy affair, with
high quality animation, good music and great voice acting in both languages.
This time round the focus is on Reiji's relationship with Cal, and how the
re-appearance of Ein forces him to come to terms with his actions since she
disappeared and his relationship with her. It's these two plot strands
that bind the series together, and Claudia's treachery and scheming provides a
deliciously intriguing backdrop. It's impressive that with all of the
plots swirling around that the series manages to keep Reiji and his feelings
firmly at its heart, the series is primarily a character piece despite all of
the action and drama. The action this time round is even better than
before, and once again the series doesn't pull its punches with some seriously
Ironically the problem with this volume is the exact opposite of the one the first volume had. Last time the originality and familiar tropes the series employed were the main issue, but this time things are a bit more unpredictable and the tropes - such as the introduction of high school romance - work as a juxtaposition with the dark and violent focus of the series. However, the problem this time is that's a bit more far fetched in places, with some relatively contrived series of events that stretch the realms of believability. It still works in the
series' universe though and ultimately it's more about how the characters react to events than how they come to be, but it's still a bit disappointing and the only thing that takes the gloss of an otherwise excellent series.
This said, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom part 2 is still an impressive conclusion to a classy series. It has action and drama galore but combines it with an intriguing storyline and strong character development, something which can be a rarity these days. The series is dark and engrossing and poses some interesting ethical questions of its characters, particularly around how they justify their murderous actions and whether they deserve to live a normal life. This volume features some interesting twists that takes the story in new directions, and it's interesting to see how the characters develop over the course of the series. The sad thing is that the series doesn't have the profile of recent releases like Fairy Tail, and whilst it's not comparable in content it is a real shame if it gets overlooked in favour of its better known counterparts. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom is a series that grew as it progressed and it has been one of the best I have seen so far this year, it's dark, it's violent but it is also pretty impressive and makes a refreshing change from the normal anime actioners that hit our shelves. Don't pass it by.
Much the same as the first volume, but that's no bad thing! This time we get all of the clean opening and closing sequences from the series and some Japanese adverts for the series, but best of all we get another six picture dramas! The picture dramas feature the Japanese voice actors acting out a story over still images (and occasionally hand puppets), they're usually pretty irreverent and funny, with subjects ranging from combat training to bathing. Along with the other extras they amount to around 40mins of extras, which is pretty good value for money when combined with the series itself.