- Trailer: English dubbed version
- What it’s about: The criminal organisation “Inferno” is looking to expand its operations to a global scale. And it’s making rapid progress, in large part thanks to its policy of assassinating the heads of other crime families – a task it delegates to the mysterious “Phantom”. One day, a Japanese tourist is caught up in one of Phantom’s missions, and shows enough aptitude to be given an ultimatum: train to kill the enemies of Inferno, or be killed and discarded.
- Why you should watch it: The central question posed by the show is this: How much of your own soul are you willing to sacrifice in order to survive? At what price freedom? It’s a fantastic story – the writer (Gen Urobuchi) spins out an expansive plot filled with backstabbing, plotting and murder, and fleshes it out with characters that are both self-aware and with rational motivations. Phantom leans heavily on its action-packed assassination missions for exciting the audience, but it doesn’t neglect development of the arcs of even of the secondary characters. Everything has a cost in the world of Phantom, and nobody gets a happy ending.
- Caveats: I feel personally that too much focus was given to introspection – while not full-on wangsty, it edges towards it at some points. The characters are all far too young for what they’re supposed to be doing, to the point of breaking suspension of disbelief. This wouldn’t be so bad if you could be left to imagine that they’re all *really* in their mid-twenties, but the show rubs your face in it towards the end. Adding to the “suspension of disbelief” factor is the “action hero” nature of the characters, who are able to walk through a hail of bullets without being touched.
- Themes: Guilt, indoctrination, the cycle of violence.
- Similar works: Psycho-pass explores several of the same ideas, particularly with its idea of “enforcers”. Speed Grapher and Darker Than Black are also of a kind, though they’re superpower shows at heart. Outside of anime, the first half of the show resembles Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series, with elements of Besson’s Leon the Professional thrown in for good measure.