Because four random words make a title, apparently
What’s the Story?
In the not too distant future a lab accident ends up changing the brain chemistry of every person on the planet (somebody’s definitely fired). Now humans can perceive creatures known as phantoms, which for some reason take the form of fairy tales and urban legends. Most of the phantoms are harmless and people have gotten used to their existence, however there are a small number of phantoms that can cause trouble. This calls for a team of specially trained adults with years of combat experience and the right mental fortitude…Ha ha ha ha, sorry…sorry I really couldn’t keep that up. No of course we get a bunch of kids to deal with them after school.
I know this is probably a bit early in the review to be talking about this, but I’m kind of struggling with the score for this one. It’s weird because there are some things that it does amazingly well, but most of it is just kind of…average. There’s nothing really bad here, but a lot of it only just makes it to the good the category. I suppose it’s a question of whether the average stuff drags it down more than the amazing stuff raises it up. I suppose I’ll just have to ramble on for near a 1000 words until I make my mind up (no change there then).
The most annoying thing about this anime is its wasted potential. The concept is something really interesting and a little unique. What are phantoms? Where do they really come from? Why do they resemble creatures from folklore? Where they always there? Or are they merely an extension of ourselves? Hell if I know. The anime clearly doesn’t care either. The phantoms are merely an excuse to have a monster of the week for our heroes to have to deal with while they get up to the usual anime hijinks. The show keeps mentioning that the line between reality and fantasy has been blurred, but we never really see any evidence of that. Yes people can now interact with fantasy creatures, but we have no idea how that has changed this society, it pretty much just looks like present day Japan with powered teenagers fighting magical creatures (and this may be evidence that I watch too much anime, but I assumed that’s what Japan is like anyway).
Also, due to this monster-of-the-week approach, we lose any kind of ongoing story. Oh the anime tries to set up an ongoing plot thread with a link to the company that brought the phantoms into existence in the first place, but that gets forgotten pretty quickly. The anime is far too happy to just mess around with one-off adventures that don’t have that much relevance beyond their 23 minute runtime. The result of this is that when the anime wants to have a Big Bad for the show-stopping finale they get introduced completely last minute, get built up as an unstoppable threat in one episode only to be beaten in the next. Outside of some impressive fight animation the whole finale falls kind of flat. Sure you can see that this super phantom is a physical threat, but everything about it feels rushed, it has no build up, its tragic back story and crazy mentally are dropped on you in one big clump and it’s no time before it’s sealed. And don’t even get me started on Haruhiko’s clichéd upgrade to unstoppable badass in order to win.
I said there was good stuff in this anime right? Visually, this anime is stunning. There’s a reason colour is in the title, I love the colour palette on this show. Everything is so bright and eye-catching, it’s really just a joy to watch. Throw on top of that some consistently amazing animation and you have a brilliant visual spectacle. The fight scenes are something else, you really feel the characters move and every hit hurts, though it’s not as if every penny is saved for the fights. That quality of movement even goes into just a pair of characters walking and talking. The visuals are definitely the best part of the anime.
That brings me to the characters and probably the reason why I don’t have any truly ill-feelings for this anime, yes I’ve been complaining for most of this review, but I did actually enjoy watching this series. On paper the characters aren’t really all that much to write about. They’re pretty much your standard stereotypes. Haruhiko is…well for one he’s the only guy, but his main role is as the nerd. He’s the bookworm you have all the background info on the phantom of the week, he even opens the episodes with tiny little lectures about the subject. Outside of the exposition though he’s there to be just pathetic enough that the girls can make fun of him, but be reliable enough to save the day when necessary (and of course win the girl’s affection with his good-natured heart).
The girls themselves are even less to write about. Mai is the sporty, bossy one, Reina is the nice girl with a big appetite, Koito is the sullen loner and Kurumi is the shy little girl. The anime tries to give them episodes to expand their back stories and develop their characters, but most are just superficial adventures. Don’t get me wrong, they’re fun episodes, like most of them are, but the most effect they ever have is just bonding the characters closer together. That’s what makes these characters work though; despite having little to work with they have enough personality and charm to be likeable. You do feel the bond between these characters and you have no idea how grateful I am that it never strays too far into harem territory. Yes all the girls like Haruhiko, and you’re free to ship whoever you like, but the show itself never tries to push those ships on to the audience, outside of Haruhiko and Mai, which I’m fine with.
Lastly I should talk about the fanservice. Watching the opening I was petrified of this show, there were so many shots of bouncing boobs and bottoms that I feared the worst. Oh there’s definitely a fair amount of fanservice in this show and there are the odd occasions where it strays into unbearable territory for me, but for the most part the anime keeps it to a level that isn’t too distracting. It even manages to have a bit of tongue in cheek fun with the fanservice in some scenes, its still fanservice, but at least they’re trying to use it for a purpose other than appealing to the downstairs department.
In the end, Myriad Colours Phantom World is a fun little show. As a visual piece of media it looks fantastic and has a likeable cast. The monsters of each week are creative and how they’re dealt with equally so. The plot does lack any kind of momentum, so that when it tries to have an epic finale it ends up as just a rather clichéd and flat letdown, but this is still probably worth a few episodes of your time.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.