Oh what a strange beast this one is. Kyoto Animation’s newest project continues the, expected, trend of high production values, but has yet to impress when it comes to its story and characters. Add in the expectations that come along with being a KyoAni production, and the only other work that the studio has to back this one up being the lukewarm Beyond the Boundary, and the deck was definitely stacked against this one.
The most recent addition to the high school supernatural fantasy genre, Myriad Colours Phantom World follows a team of students who deal with troublesome phantoms – extra-dimensional entities that started to appear after a virus was released that granted young people special powers when they were infants. This team, in particular, is the worst at the school. Consisting of Haruhiko, a bookish young man with the ability to seal away and summon phantoms through drawing them, and Mai, an athletic and boorish young woman with some interesting elemental abilities, the team is not very effective at their job; tending to end with more collateral damage than success.
It’s a cliché set up, one that has been seen multiple times before, across numerous genres. It becomes even more apparent how cliché the setting is once Reina is introduced. The sheltered girl with an odd quirk, in this case an insatiable hunger that leads into her ability to devour phantoms, Reina joins the team due to her admiration/affection for Mai and blossoming interest in Haruhiko. Add in the elusive Koito, an especially skilled young woman with interesting sound based abilities, and the timid Kurumi, the token loli in the group with a potentially sentient teddy bear, and the series definitely has the makings of a harem series.
However, to its strength, Phantom World has yet to commit to a truly stereotypical harem series. Whether it’s through Haruhiko’s pathetic attempts to avoid the clichés, or the fact that not every character seems into the only male lead, the series is actively attempting to subvert or avoid many harem tropes. It’s a laudable effort as it manages to make the show more enjoyable to watch than if it had committed to being a harem series.
The fact that the series has not committed to being a harem series does not prevent the characterizations of its characters or a lack of a plotline from being an issue. So far, the series has been distinctly monster of the week with a little bit of characterization sprinkled here and there. There’s been enough presented that the characters are individually interesting, but they have yet to gel as a team. Whether it’s due to the unfair bullying of Haruhiko, the lack of a noticeable direction for Reina, or the monster of the week format; Phantom World needs to up its ante in both plot and characterization in future episodes to be truly compelling.
Fanservice in this series is also handled quite differently than normal. Although it is still present, and definitely off putting to many people, it’s handled in a way that makes it more amusing than sexy. And I kind of appreciate it for that. Focused primarily on Mai, and her oversized breasts, the fanservice makes itself present usually through her activities; such as the limbo sequence in the first episode, or the activations of her different elemental abilities. It’s not a commonly seen usage of fanservice, but it’s amusing nonetheless.
Overall, the series is doing a pretty decent job at being average. It’s yet to do anything special, other than the KyoAni production values, but it’s got a lot of potential. And with 11 episodes left to go, there’s plenty of time to see it pick up the pace.
Episode 1-3 Rating: 6/10
Myriad Colors Phantom World streams new episodes each Wednesday exclusively on Crunchyroll.