Musaigen no Phantom World Episode 1 [First Impression]
Kyoani didn’t find a way.
As I’m sure you all know by now, I’m very partial to Kyoani. I like their deep pockets, and them often animating ‘Honourable Mention’ submissions to their Kyoto Animation Awards light novel contest usually means that it’s harder to produce something mediocre. In fact, I loved their last project Hibike! Euphonium from beginning to end, although that came from a scarcely-known, already published novel rather than a story competition. I liked Chuunibyou and Free! well enough, and both of those came from that contest. Hyouka was great. The only recent Kyoani I found myself not liking very much at all was Amagi Brilliant Park.
Phantom World reminded me of Amagi Brilliant Park.
I really wasn’t all that impressed by this first episode, to be honest. And that really disappoints me. I kind of expected Kyoukai no Kanata, but got some kind of fanservice and comedy-filled variant of it instead, with no real semblance of a plot thus far. Usually the whole point of a pilot episode is to get people interested enough in it to want to continue, but Phantom World seems to not be following that formula much at all – it’s info-dumping the setting and introducing the characters, and trusting that Kyoani fans like myself will watch it regardless of how good or bad it is at least for the first three episodes. I admit that that’s most likely what will happen, because I still believe that Kyoani will find a way, but it’s not looking too good so far.
Why is its setting not good enough to get people interested? Because it’s basically Kyoukai no Kanata again, except worse. It’s set in a world where a virus has twisted the perception of reality and imagination for humans everywhere, allowing them to see ‘phantoms’ – which is here a term used to encompass ghosts, spirits, youkai and so on. A select few members of the population are born with supernatural powers that allow them to fight phantoms, as although some are harmless, others are disruptive and need to be defeated. Ichijou Haruhiko and his personal loli phantom belong to the phantom-hunting club at school, and is in the worst-ranked team with a big-breasted girl named Mai onee-sama. So far, he’s been trying to recruit more people (i.e. girls) to join his cause so that they can do better.
I told you it was like Kyoukai no Kanata. In fact, if we remove everything Kyoani-related from their classic character designs to their latest Mio and Sunohara expies, this plot actually sounds an awful lot like a school battle harem – a guy is special somehow, but is either the worst-ranked or a failure at fighting and is surrounded by a bunch of girls. And there’s fanservice everywhere, especially on Mayonnaise-sama’s part. I get that she has a nice body, but is it really necessary to have her boobs jiggle everywhere when she fights a phantom? Is it necessary for her to grope her boobs before activating an elemental spell? Was that entire last scene, where she rhythmically times the repeated bouncing of her boobs to play limbo with a bunch of phantoms who need their spirits appeased, really necessary? For real? Is that really how you wanted your very first episode of this series to end, Kyoani? It’s only been a day since Phantom World aired and I’ve already seen Mayonnaise-sama compared to all sorts of Kyoanis from Mori Summer to Sento, and honestly I’d rank her beneath them both.
Let it be known, however, that I’m not disinterested enough in this to not proclaim a best girl and all that. Reina-chan is adorable, especially when she opens her mouth to unrealistic proportions to eat phantoms. I hereby nominate her as best girl until we learn more about that Renge-lookalike loli who also looks very cute. It’s definitely a plus that Reina is voiced by Hayami Saori, although it’ll take some time for me to get used to it – from her character design she looks like a girl who’d have a soft, cutesy voice rather than a mellow and calming one like Hayamin’s. It’s because of Reina-chan and because of Kyoani that I’ll continue following and blogging this show, at least to the three episode mark to see whether it gets better. I’ll trust Kyoani, because they’re the only studio I care about who hasn’t ever severely let me down after I’ve placed my hopes in them. It’s watchable either way, but to me it’s fallen far beneath expectations enough to be a disappointment.
tl;dr Phantom World is weak. Is this really the same studio who did Euphonium last summer?
Possibility of Watching: Moderately High
Possibility of Blogging: Moderately High