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).
With 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!
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
(+) The depravity of man and worldly wisdom (and subjective morality)
(+) Transformation of character
Content to Look Out For:
(-) Alcohol consumption
(-) Harsh language (depending on translation)