Secret Santa: Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

I must preface this brief Secret Santa review with this statement:

None of the Secret Santa recommendations I received this year match my tastes (with the exception of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, but I’ve already seen that one, thus I received an additional entry as an exception).

22470With that in mind, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, through all of its positives and negatives, and though I enjoyed it to an extent, is simply not my cup of tea. As an action/thriller, my watching reminded me much of my experience with shows like Death Note and Monster, two other highly-acclaimed series that I also did not care for as much as most. If you’d like to read a bit of the exposition and what the general anime-consuming population thinks of the show, I recommend checking out its entry on MyAnimeList. Otherwise, I will be giving my honest, brief opinion below.

Tl;dr included at the bottom.

Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom is a perfect example of what I would call chuuni-bait. I don’t mean this to be degrading, as plenty of shows with similar themes have achieved greatness, but like another example of chuu-bait, Death Note, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom falls into the trap of exploring serious and dark themes in a realistic setting, only to portray scenes and settings that are utterly unrealistic and carry an air of what I would call pretentiousness. Fate/Stay Night is another example of this, however one that I tend to forgive primarily because its origin in the visual novel medium lends itself better to pretentious monologuing and ridiculous situations.

This series also makes heavy use of the time skip plot device, skipping large gaps of time on multiple occasions. While this device can often be (and often is) misused in order to avoid writing important character development and to allow for retconning, shows like Shinsekai Yori (From the New World) and Nagi no Asukara provide examples of stories which utilized time skips well in order to best make use of their respective episode counts. While I was excited at the first time skip in Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, the trope wore thin by the second and I generally felt that the plot didn’t really know where it was going, nor did the characters. People who should have died did not and characters transformed spectacularly both mentally and physically that caused a reaction of suspension of disbelief in order to continue watching with any sense of coherence, not to mention I never did figure out how old any of the characters are (apparently they were all significantly younger than I originally thought since two are in high school after a several year time skip).

By the end, I felt so mentally dragged around to so many locales with people with so many different alliances, I really didn’t know what to believe. The writing also did not manage to emotionally invest me in any of the characters (with the exception of Reiji and Cal in the second arc, excluding the third). As I watched, I was curious to see what would happen, but not invested enough to truly care. In fact, the last few episodes I was more interested in seeing how it all ended rather than seeing what happened to any individual character.

It might sound like I’m being harsh, and that would be because I am. However, despite all of these complaints, I still enjoyed watching Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom. The plot, with all of its flaws, still carried genuinely interesting developments with some truly maniacal villains (one in particular). If you like shows like Death Note, give it a shot. You’ll probably like it! Even though I didn’t feel it was particularly good, that doesn’t mean you won’t!

Grim-dark without the substance presence in literary classics to back it up... in my opinion, anyway.
Grim-dark without the substance presence in literary classics to back it up… in my opinion, anyway.


I really like the format we’ve selected for review in our recommendations pages, so I’ve decided to provide a recap of my opinions of Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom below:

Watch if you:
(+) Enjoy thrillers like Death Note and Monster
(+) Like large-scale character development over a large period of time

Skip if you:
(-) Are frustrated by unrealistic portrayals of places and young people in a real context
(-) Like happy endings
(-) Dislike action, violence, or thrillers in general

Biblical Themes:
(+) The depravity of man and worldly wisdom (and subjective morality)
(+) Transformation of character

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Nudity
(-) Alcohol consumption
(-) Murder/Assassination
(-) Blood/Gore/Violence
(-) Harsh language (depending on translation)

7 thoughts on “Secret Santa: Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

  1. Hey, great summary of the show! I feel much the same as you about it (that time skip was dang confusing), though I suspect for different reasons, since I tend to love Death Note and shows like it. I guess the reason I didn’t like it so much probably has to do with the show’s nihilistic, and really somewhat deterministic, perspective. As I recall, it was repeated many times through the show that there was no way for the protagonists to escape their fate, and unfortunately where I would have loved to see a redemptive ending, that hopeless statement was instead borne out as true. A sad message indeed, and I don’t think the show’s quality was negatively impacted by it, but it did impact how well it resonated with me personally.

    I would also note that your tick about the barbie-doll nudity is not entirely correct. Through most of the show that is the case, but in one of the early episodes (I think the first one, maybe?), you do see one of the operatives lounging topless on a beach chair, and there were definitely nipples iirc. (Not to be contrary, just fyi) 🙂

    1. Yes, I also disliked the nihilistic attitude (I have a similar complaint with many shows similar to it as well as entries in the Nasu-verse).

      Yes, I don’t know how I forgot that! Yeah, that’s in the very first episode. Edited.

  2. First off: Hi!

    Second: Back when I had something vaguely resembling a day job reviewing anime (for, I was sent “Phantom” to review, and did my dutiful best with it. I knew why it was ostensibly supposed to be a work of “quality”, but I also knew that once I was finished with it, I was about as likely to rewatch it as I was to subject myself to something like “Salò”. I no longer give people much credit for seeing their nihilism through to the bitter end in their creative works unless they do something, well, creative with it. Even “Texhnolyze” — my vote for the bleakest anime yet produced — was still watchable, because of the icy artistry of the whole thing, and when it was over I did in fact want to see it again. The only thing I wanted to do with “Phantom” after finishing with it was take a long hot shower and break the discs across my knee.

    1. Hi!

      Yes, I would say I responded roughly the same way (albeit maybe less extremely). I’m also a big fan of Texhnolyze despite its message because its presentation takes things much deeper than shows that ultimately attract an adolescent audience (like Death Note). I also consider Serial Experiments Lain one of the greatest entries in anime history, though, which likely influenced my opinion on Texhnolyze.

      Now and Then, Here and There is somewhat of a deconstruction of this type of narrative. It’s almost as though it attempt to push a nihilistic philosophy at you, while simultaneously providing a main character that just refuses to succumb to hopelessness.

  3. I must say I am insulted you grouped Death Note, Monster, and this all together, since I consider them all very different in quality (order being Monster > Phantom > Death Note), although I can see where you can peg similarities.

    On timeskips, I think the 2nd one was necessary to have, but they didn’t utilize it well. Aside from that, I’m pretty much in agreement with you as far as that plot device goes. Also, while I can’t tell you where it happens, there is a point where it branches from the source and becomes anime original. I have not read the VN, but Urobuchi said in an interview about how he thought the original ending wouldn’t have worked as well in anime. No clue what he meant by that, and since I am of the opinion he doesn’t know how to do anime scripts, I’m suspicious as to how true that actually is, but just a semi-interesting fact that probably leads to “anime sucks, VN is better!”

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