Studio: Kyoto Animation
After an accident at a research laboratory, a virus escapes and infects all humans, giving them the ability to perceive ‘phantoms’, the truth behind the myth of all sorts of fantastical creatures and fairy tales. While most are harmless, some cause mischief and others disaster, and it is the teenagers and children of the world who have been naturally breastfed who have gained powers to fight and seal these monsters. At Hosea Academy, a certain club has been set up around fighting and gaining rewards for sealing phantoms, which includes the failing duo Haruhiko Ichijo and Mai Kawakami. As the worst team in the club they look for other unique students to bolster their abilities, taking on increasingly powerful phantoms along the way.
Episodes 1 & 2
Myriad Colors Phantom World is attached to the name of Kyoto Animation thanks to their annual light novel awards which attempt to pick out the newest, biggest hit to make into an anime. Usually, this ends up in nobody getting any prizes and everyone going home disappointed, but Kyoto Animation have the resources to pick up at least one out of the rabble.
While Kyoto Animation is known for their top-quality classics this is so far seemingly like it won’t reach that height. The nearest thing to compare it to is probably Beyond the Boundary, with both shows focussing on a bunch of teens battling supernatural monsters in some way. The phantoms in Myriad Colors Phantom World are a bit different to those in Beyond the Boundary, with the majority being more akin to ghosts or poltergeists, possessing ordinary inanimate objects and turning them into either a playful nuisance (like power lines who want to play limbo) or something a bit more dangerous (a security robot gone rogue). We’ve seen a larger titan-like monster and large hound, but these that seem like true demons are so far few and far between.
These phantoms are explained by exposition sequences in both episodes which is so far the show’s weakest element. At this point it doesn’t seem sure on its world construction and throws in a range of silly ideas for how humans can perceive and battle the phantoms. While the show is consistent in putting forward the idea that the virus allowed humans to see the phantoms, how they came into existence is explained in several different ways that suggests not even the novel’s original author knows where they come from. Perhaps they were there all the time, or perhaps they are the illusion of the human mind in response to the virus? By not picking a straight story their existence is much harder to believe in and in turn this makes the world confusing to understand. The statement that you have to be breastfed as a baby to develop powers to combat the phantoms is also an absurd idea that is the first pointer to a bit of a breast obsession going on.
This obsession mostly gets pushed on the busty Mai, who always has to grope herself in order to release her magical power, and later in episode one bends the laws of physics to bounce her impressive chest under the electrified wire being used as a limbo rope. You could say that at least they are trying something different with the fanservice, even making a joke about the accidental boob grab gag, but the longer shows in general employ it, the more boring this type of fanservice gets.
On the plus side you of course have Kyoto Animation’s gorgeous visuals and style. Everything feels soft and smooth, like you could poke it and it would go squish. It’s vibrant, crisp and colourful with the animation quality that they have become well known for. It’s surprising that they don’t get better work more often – if you want something doing well, Kyoto Animation would be one of the few studios to do it.
The key to this series working well is how they handle the character development, as Haruhiko and Mai add to their team and gradually become stronger. Mai already feels quite powerful, although lacking in the execution sometimes; but is really held back by Haruhiko who just stands there with a sketchbook in order to seal the phantoms they battle. The introduction of Reina the phantom eater in episode one instantly eliminates his usefulness, prompting him to try summoning phantoms instead in episode 2. It’s going to be interesting seeing how he is going to master this and fit into an evolving group which will also see the inevitable inclusion of the sonic weaponry of Koito Minase.
If it doesn’t take itself too seriously, I can see this taking off as an enjoyable madcap school hijinks show that fits towards the lower end of Kyoto Animation’s repertoire. It just needs to decide where everything is going and sort out that terrible world building. Other than that this isn’t that bad of a series to jump into.