Space Battleship Tiramisu Zwei continues the trend of focusing on the minutia for its humour with this week both Isuzu and Subaru getting called on fairly petty things by minor characters.
In Isuzu’s case, one of his compatriots who has clearly been given an artificial universal sense joins him for a drink which he then makes her pay for. That said, it isn’t that part that tips her over the edge. She’s still a little put out but she’d probably have coped. No, what tips her over the edge is firstly that his wallet is a velcro one and very different from her illusion of what he would carry and then that he asks for her points on his card. In a show that sets brothers against each other in an epic space battle, this is what we spend half an episode on, and yet it is where this anime actually manages to hit its mark because it is all just so overblown it ends up being funny.
Then the robot head decides to leave Subaru and ends up going to the cockpit of the Neo-Durandel where he meets the AI. Now the AI is also incredibly petty having finally found someone to voice complaints to. And of all the things it could complain about, it gets stuck on the fact that Subaru has been sticking stickers to his outside.
However, all this means that once again the overall plot has screeched to an absolute halt and while the episode was amusing enough it all amounts to very little other than six minutes of filled in screen time.
On that note, this is probably my last episode review for this one as it really is just the same thing each week. I will do a full season review once it is done provided I get to the end of the season.
Once again, Space Battleship Tiramisu proves itself baffling in the way it handles plot. It is almost as if it can’t handle having a plot or a direction for too long and after an episode or even half an episode it literally jettisons whatever thought process was being followed to throw something random in before the characters just seem to forget what was happening before (not entirely but enough that any tension that might ever have been constructed is instantly eroded). And thus it is that Isuzu holding the father hostage lasts until some random delivery guy shows up, proves he can also operate the Neo Durandel and Isuzu decides he’s had enough and runs away.
But it doesn’t make any sense. Isuzu was the only one who seemed to have a weapon or a team in place so he should have been able to either take the new machine or destroy it even if he couldn’t use it. And yet he just abandoned his plan and ran laving his enemies and their new shiny weapon perfectly in-tact. While I’m not asking for much in the way of logic from a show that featured a talking pubic hair in season one I’d at least like the characters to occasionally at least act in their own best interest.
Then, instead of looking at the massive security breach that has seemingly just occurred, Subaru and his father get on with testing the Neo Durandel and apparently some universe sense is awakening in Subaru. Let’s be real, the guy is just hopeless and yet somehow manages to occasionally win in space. But I did appreciate the use of yakisoba preparation as a means of testing deft handling of the Durandel and the image of Subaru drifting around surrounded by floating noodles was kind of amusing.
As always, this anime remains watchable enough with the occasional spark of really solid narrative and humour and then there’s everything else. Fortunately with short episodes that everything else doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Well it turns out that Subaru and Isuzu’s father is as flaky as either one of his sons and most of the episode focuses on a reoccurring joke involving him getting caught up in email scams. It didn’t exactly have a lot of staying power so while it was nice to see why both the sons are the way they are, it is interesting to note that Subaru seems more or less indifferent to seeing his father again (outside of getting a new Durandel) whereas Isuzu seems to have some genuine daddy issues.
Those issues come to a head at the end of the episode after Isuzu’s side start attacking the base. My real question was why hadn’t anyone anticipated that given Isuzu has just kind of been wandering around and seeing the latest technology that the ‘enemy’ has developed (not that the reason for the war or the sides has ever been adequately explained anyway).
However, for those who miss the neat freak Subaru, here we have a case of messing up the new cockpit minutes after entering by spilling miso soup (still not sure where the soup or the bowl actually came from). It is a throw back to the reoccurring joke of season one and here it sticks its landing but that’s mostly because in contrast to the father and email scam joke it is better.
Once again, this episode is pretty much what you would expect if you’ve watched season one.
Given I ended the season one review with a firm statement saying I was done with this show and not interested in a season two, it seems strange that as we go into the Autumn season that I was overcome with curiosity about what they were going to do in a second season. The final episode of season one ended dramatically with both brothers falling to Earth and I will admit, curiosity got the better of me.
There’s no apparent improvement on this from season one. We still have an okay story being buried under some fairly lame jokes that are missing the mark more than hitting, or are played overly long given the short episode run time. Here we get Subaru suffering from with withdrawal given his cockpit has essentially been destroyed. First we see him hyperventilating on the beach and then he rushes into the city (inexplicably knowing exactly where to go) and finding various substitutes for his cockpit with his brother in hot pursuit. The basic idea of him suffering because of the loss of the Durandel is fine, the length of the not quite seven minute episode that is eaten with this series of events is not given the decreasing returns in the humour.
However, this show does still remember how to make you want more of it despite its failings and the boys playing with the merchandise from the show and critiquing the Subaru model pilot was pretty well delivered before we get an introduction to a new character. Basically, if you made it through season one and are curious, check it out, otherwise this isn’t exactly a must watch.
A young man from Japan wakes up without memories and finds himself thrust into a world of assassins and betrayal. He’s a puppet for an organisation known as Inferno and he exists only to kill. However, he might not want to stay a puppet forever and as he grows closer to Ein, another of Inferno’s assassins, he’ll begin to think of a different future.
Phantom is one of those series that is really fun to watch and you get drawn into the story and the intrigue but when you think about it after all the plot holes that you kind of saw at the time just become more and more apparent. That said, this isn’t a story that wants you to look closely at it. It’s a story that wants you to journey with the characters to their end point and it wants to shock you along the way.
Fair warning, shocks in this series come in the form of nudity, sexual encounters, murder (obviously), torture, brain washing, and the young age of certain characters and the situations they find themselves in. If you can stomach that (and while it isn’t overly gratuitous it is at times confronting) then you’ll probably have a blast watching the boy named Zwei become the best assassin ever before trying to get away and reclaim an actual life.
The story very much follows Zwei (and we do learn his real name but given even the character realises he’s gone too far down the road to return to that life this revelation doesn’t really change the fact that he has become Zwei whether he did it willingly or not). We meet him after he’s had his memories stripped and he is forced to endure a fairly harsh training regime to become an assassin. While he doesn’t strike the audience as particularly formidable early on, you realise he’s accelerating through the training sequence quite quickly and when we get the flashback to find out how he came to be in Inferno’s hands at all you realise why the crazy guy keeps carrying on about natural talent. (Yes, crazy guy has a name and no I don’t remember it.)
But as much as the story follows this action and Zwei’s transformation, it also builds some intrigue and solid character relationships. That’s probably the strength of this series is it manages to balance some very cool action with those slower character building moments and it gives us a sense of the world Zwei has found himself in but never tries to info-dump on us. Mostly because everyone is pretty keen on keeping Zwei in the dark so it isn’t as though he knows much about what is going on or why.
Once we progress to carrying out missions, we see Ein and Zwei and the clear difference between them. Ein is undoubtably a killing machine but while Zwei is talented he never has the outright blankness of personality that afflicts Ein. Nor is he technically all that rebellious and it is the intrigues within Inferno and the manipulation of some of its members that ultimately tip Zwei’s hand.
What I like is that Zwei tries numerous times to get out of this life he finds himself in, and to help remove Ein from it, but they continuously get drawn back in. It is only during the later stages of the series that a break is made and fortunately that bit of boredom (and probably the weakest moment of the series given we end up in a Japanese school setting which serves no real purpose other than anime and its ongoing obsession with Japanese schools) only lasts a short period of time.
Cal’s arrival in the story in the later half is both confronting and a brilliant move for the story. Zwei has been in the organisation for a long period of time when he takes Cal on and ends up doing much the same thing to her that was done to him before he abandons her. This leads to a major confrontation between them later, though the actual confrontation sounds better in theory than the delivery of it.
And this is probably the major criticism of Phantom. It has a really solid first half but the second half with Cal and the running away to Japan and other events is decidedly weaker. It doesn’t help that many of the main players introduced in the first half are no longer in the story or have taken on new roles. This is where we start seeing major plot holes and start seeing the cracks in the characters and the reality that have been constructed.
Most likely, this won’t ruin your viewing experience but it does change a series from being a must watch to just being a good time with a few bumps along the road. That said if you like something a bit dark and assassination sounds like a nice plot device then definitely jump into this series. I had a lot of fun with it though I’ll admit it is far from perfect.
If you’ve seen Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, let me know your thoughts.
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