Phantom is about a large crime syndicate called Inferno whose goal is to take over all the smaller gangs and mafia families; eventually becoming the largest criminal organisation in the world. The most dangerous weapon in Inferno's arsenal is a near invincible super assassin known as Phantom. When a Japanese tourist ends up witnessing one of Phantom's murders, one of the leaders of Inferno, Scythe Master, captures him and brainwashes him into becoming a second Phantom. Given the name Zwei, he is soon drawn into a world where deceit and violence are his only means of survival, hoping to one day regain his lost memories and return to the life he was forced to leave behind.
The story of Phantom is easily my favourite part of the show. The focus, for a large part of the series anyway, is on the politics of the criminal underworld; full of backstabbing and double crossing and seeing all the various members of different organisations scheming their way up the ladder is fantastically entertaining to watch and trying to figure out what everyone is up to and seeing their long games unfold is fun and something I haven't really seen in anime. It reminded me a little of Game of Thrones, another show that manages to make the politics of the world really engaging. Sprinkled in are plenty of some really great action bits, mostly consisting of assassinations and shootouts. As good as the action in the show is, it can be sparse, so I wouldn't go in expecting to see an action anime as you'd be a tad disappointed. My only gripe with the story is the last 6 or so episodes aren't quite as good as the preceding 20 and I thought episode 19 would have been a perfectly fine finale, even if it would have left the show fairly open ended. If you've seen Death Note, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. It's a little hard to talk without spoiling it about but the focus shifts a fair bit and just feels a little unnecessary.
On top of an outstanding story, the characters are also great for the most part. Almost all the main characters have some really good development and have a lot of depth. Zwei in particular makes for a fantastic lead, who changes and adapts throughout the series and whilst you don't always want to root for him, I think this just adds to his character, showing that he is a flawed person. If I had to pick a favourite character, I'd have to go with Cal, a girl who Zwei takes in after finding her at scene of a murder. The direction her character goes in is heartbreaking and where she ends up really packs an emotional gut punch.
Honestly, I'd recommend everyone go check out this series if what you've read here sounds even kind of interesting to you. Whilst it was released in the UK by Manga, the US blu ray is Region B compatible and is actually far cheaper than their DVD only release, going for less than £15 shipped on Amazon, so there isn't really an excuse not to check out this superb show.
Original Publish Date: 14/5/16