I’m going to apologize in advance here, but I need to gloat a little bit in this review. And why do I need to gloat? Well, it’s because I called the fact that Haruhiko could carry an episode centred on him way back at the start of the series and had my beliefs reaffirmed frequently up to this episode where it finally happened.
In contrast to last week’s episode focused on Ruru’s desire to be big, this week we got Haruhiko being small. And by small, I mean that his age reverted to that of a first grader, alongside all of his memories and his mental state at the time.
It’s an interesting premise for an episode and it was one that allowed us to really dig into who Haruhiko is, and how he became that way. Honestly, if this series was a little different, they probably could have stretched things out a little longer – giving more time to expand upon how who he was at this age led to who he is at his actual age – but what they did with the episode’s content was still amazing.
It also gave Mai a chance to shine, once again reaffirming why she is our lead heroine in this series. As she takes over the role of looking after the elementary school age Haruhiko, she shows a side of herself that has only been hinted at in the past. Nurturing and caring without ever losing that tough outer hide that she has, this was a great way of showing off a pretty cool female character in a motherly position. Actually, between this episode’s events, and the entirety of ERASED, I think we have some up and comers for the title of best anime moms.
Anyway, the fact that this episode centres so heavily on Haruhiko’s loneliness due to his father traveling the world for work, and the fact that his mother left him, really tugs at the heartstrings in a natural way. They never draw the idea out, or attempt to make it overly melodramatic, and it works really well. Capping it all off with the essay he wrote in first grade about a fabricated family event, this one manages to be heartfelt and heartbreaking all without overdoing the sappiness that seems to come with the territory.
This episode also manages to give us one of the most ludicrously awesome villains; this time with a sandman phantom, as Mai calls it, which goes ballistic after having a cat pee on it.
Overall, KyoAni has been doing really well with the past few episodes. With every major character in the main cast having been given an episode focused on them, and proving that Haruhiko could definitely be the centre of an episode’s story, it’s looking like it’s time to actually do something with a possible mini story arc for the remaining two episodes. With Haruhiko working on the device they found, and Mai scarily suffering from some sort of heart attack symptoms during the fight, we may have a multi-episode story coming up for us.
Episode 11 Rating: 9/10
Phantom World streams new episodes Wednesdays exclusively on Crunchyroll.