When it comes to any supernaturally oriented anime, it’s always a difficult prospect to set up the world we’re about to see. Many anime have tried various approaches, but even when it’s done as well as they could hope it might still fall flat. Dumping a mountain of exposition on the viewer is hardly the best way to go about things. So in some ways I can almost applaud Myriad Colors Phantom World for trying their approach. Using several famous illusions to get the point across that the human mind is unreliable when it comes to what it can perceive. And from here MCPW makes the crazy leap that because our minds can be fooled by illusions designed to fool, altering minds can make fiction reality.
Which is utter bullshit.
The anime wants us to buy into the premise that because of some event, the human mind is now open to phantasms that lurk about the world. So if they want to play with ghosts, spirits and the like, just roll with it. Come up with some kind of excuse as to why we have a cast of teenage seers and roll with it. I honestly find issue with using illusions from the real world to justify their leap in logic. We didn’t have to drag such fun little bits of trivia through the mud in the process. The fact that illusions can fool people has NOTHING to do with the fact that spirits exist. The two ideas are completely different and have no reason to be connected like this.
Now I will say this, the visual idea to have everything look pixelated until our protagonist’s mind comes into focus is cool. But again it has nothing to do with the concept of ghosts and spirits being seen by people now. Not to mention this visual quirk is NEVER used again. At least not in the rest of the first episode.
As is usually the case, we have our lead rushing to get to school. Haruhiko is accompanied by a pixie-genie-fairy thing which has hardly said more than two lines but is already grating on my nerves. While he rushes off to school, we also get cut ins of the lead female fighting this large demon looking thing.
The fact that she’s in red bloomers is solely for fanservice, mind you.
While she continues to fight this thing (which we have no idea what it is or why it’s there or why she’s even fighting it), Haruhiko does his best to sketch the monster from a distance. We hear from a few extras (and that blasted pixie girl just floating around) that the red demon thing is a phantom, one responsible for “interrupting gym class and wrecking flower gardens”. I get that we haven’t been properly introduced yet to all the concepts. I get that it’s only been 4 minutes and 20 seconds since the show started. But jumping right into a fight scene with almost no grounding in the world we’re in is hardly the way to go about things. I have no idea what’s going on, why it’s happening or if I should be worried for Haruhiko and his half-dressed friend. Why are a couple high school kids fighting this thing in plain view of the school? Why isn’t anyone else helping them? And why is this deemed normal?
I know. Give it time. They’ll explain. But when it’s something this outlandish an explanation before it happens would better serve we the viewer than one to follow. Diving headfirst into this nonsense doesn’t get me interested in the anime. It turns me off and makes me not want to watch it. Part of the reason being the blatant fanservice of the girl half-dressed. The anime can’t trust us to stay attentive lest they sexualize a girl in the process.
You don’t know the half of it, purple haired girl.
Our resolution to this first of trials I’m sure is that Haruhiko’s drawing somehow absorbs the phantom, thereby neutralizing it. Of course such a spectacular feat is dismissed by other students, leading us to believe these two aren’t as adept as they appeared at first. Typically rookie introductions; can’t have our protagonists appear totally badass from the start. It’s funny how once the phantom is taken care of even the group of grade schoolers wanders off like they just finished watching a commercial on a TV. That’s about as lackluster as this world’s phantoms are.
Our female protagonist (Mai?) begins to assess the phantom in the picture. She states obvious nonsense like what you see in the caption, never mind she just fought this thing herself and witnesses its flaming mane as it nearly wrecked her. She then goes on to state that as a fire monster, it’s weakness is water. NO FUCKING WAY!! I’m glad you told us that, Mai. I never would have guessed WATER is how one beats a FIRE demon. THANK YOU! OUR LIVES ARE SAVED!
I wish I could provide a GIF file in this case but take my word for it when I say watching Mai erotically massage her own sides as she conjures up magic isn’t as titillating as it sounds. Neither is the follow up shot of her breasts being rubbed by her arms.
And yes we had to get this line from the pointless fairy character. She has NO PURPOSE IN THIS NARRATIVE.
After Mai’s magic show, we cut to a classroom where a teacher informs the two they won’t be getting paid for their efforts thanks to destroying “school infrastructure”.
Honestly I think it’s an improvement; like an art piece, really. Regardless, why are they getting paid for killing these phantoms? They’re high schoolers and yet part of their job is to eradicate these things for monetary compensation? I know anime likes to play with idea that teenagers are entirely self-sufficient (because any kind of parent would NEVER allow this nonsense to fly), but this is ridiculous even for anime standards. Mai MUST have family SOMEWHERE that can help pay for her meals and housing.
Haruhiko tells us that this is actually a club, which is hilarious in its own way. How does this club get the funds to pay its members? How much does it pay? Why does it even exist?
This is why parents exist, Mai. They pay for your rent, your food, your school supplies. Your job is to study and graduate. Unless that’s an American thing? Are Japanese high schoolers expected to work and earn their living as they study?
Haruhiko continues to exposit to us. Hosea Academy being a private school, what grades it covers, his hobbies, and just how much of a bookworm he is. Dropped in with all this otherwise pointless knowledge is a tidbit that’s almost dismissed just as quickly about talent like theirs being uncommon? At least that’s the impression I get. So students capable of fighting phantoms aren’t the norm. Which as of yet doesn’t explain why they aren’t lab rats instead of wandering freely, causing untold destruction to their surroundings and getting paid in the process.
We move directly on to our next set piece, this time in the middle a cemetery where a bunch of paper thin monsters are dancing around a girl. Just as Haruhiko decides he has to help her, the girl does this:
I will try my very best NOT to make constant oral jokes.
Haruhiko immediately recognizes what kind of power she has, which opens a million other questions. How many kinds of powers are there? Are they all named? How do people get these powers? How many people with powers exist? Did this girl with the power of a Hoover vacuum set on shag carpet learn how to suck from someone or did she practice on her own?
Yeah that’s not sexualized at all. She ends up devouring the cemetery scenery as well.
Haruhiko immediately spazzes out and rushes the girl, blabbing on about Pliny the Elder and manticores for no other reason than to make the anime seem a lot smarter than it actually is.
The manticore comment is probably because Haruhiko acknowledges just how deliciously she’d be able to enjoy ice cream through a straw.
Haruhiko’s goal is to get Reina (the girl) to join the phantom hunting club he’s a part of, but I’m sure his ultimate goal is to somehow direct her mouth towards his dick. Naturally Reina is fucking creeped out by Haruhiko’s pitch, and honestly who wouldn’t be? She darts past him when this happens:
He is able to OUTRUN GRAVITY TO POSITION HIMSELF UNDER THE FALLING REINA!
No, just because you point out it’s cliched, doesn’t make it any less cliched. Or stupid.
And somehow this is how they end up at the bottom of the stairs. I don’t even want to try anymore.
The next day, Haruhiko asks Reina again, this time without as much creep factor as before. Why he couldn’t just do this from the start? Well I imagine he was entranced by her ability to suck faster and harder than an F5 tornado. Of course, Reina is still against the idea of joining, no doubt still weirded out by Haruhiko having violated her personal space the day before. This all means nothing as she’s going to join before the episode ends anyway. In the end Haruhiko wins her over by buying her tons of food and then telling her working for the club could earn her money to keep eating like a cow.
Haruhiko then goes on to describe what the phantoms are, ranging from ghosts to spirits to monsters and how they were once considered fictional. Here’s where we get our explanation for the spirits and ghosts: a research facility was bombed and a virus got out that infected the populace. Infected them so they could see spirits and ghosts. I’m pretty sure that’s just a colorful way of calling everyone STARK RAVING MAD. He goes on to say that children who were breastfed developed the ability to use special powers like Haruhiko’s drawing or Reina’s blowjobs. Of course, this makes ZERO FUCKING SENSE.
I’m not trying to be an asshole here. Or throw a wrench into this because “well of COURSE it’s not real”. I’m just saying if this explosion happened “a little over a decade” ago, how the flying fuck are kids like Haruhiko, Mai and Reina capable of using these powers? Breastfeeding usually stops around age one, so why not just specify when this incident occurred? Leaving it ambiguous just makes it sound creepy to think these fifteen-sixteen year old kids were still sucking at their mother’s teet after they started walking. And why the hell aren’t normal adults capable of these powers? Wouldn’t they have better odds of manifesting them, being directly exposed to the virus rather than passing it down through genetics? Hell, not even genetics since it was through BREASTFEEDING that this happened.
The blatant lie that “most phantoms are harmless” is also idiotic, since we’ve already seen two separate creatures that tried to kill students and lead them to an early grave? THEY SEEM PRETTY HOSTILE AND HARMFUL TO ME. What probably galls me most about this premise is that rather than have these children who have these powers used as soldiers of some kind, they’re allowed to take on these dangerous missions as some sort of club activity. It makes no fucking sense whatsoever. Not the set up and definitely not the government’s willingness to let hormonally driven teenagers run amok with superpowers.
Also for some reason despite being “phantoms” they can also eat, because we see the annoying Ruru (fairy girl) do that. And ghosts consume food why? Or how considering they have no actual corporeal body? You can’t say they exist as a result of human minds being altered to perceive them and then have these otherwise incorporeal beings have a physical presence in the world. IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY.
Without much segue way, we meet out last bunch of “phantoms” for the episode. Utility pole phantoms. Now, there’s creativity, and then there’s utility pole phantoms. This shit would hardly fly in Earthbound. According to Mai, they exist because the poles are made of wood so its the trees they’re made of that have caused them to animate…? I don’t fucking know. It’s stupid as shit.
Reina points out that they’re not doing anything, just dicking around playing limbo. However because they’re causing “radio disturbances”, they have to go. Easy enough: have Haruhiko draw them since they’re not doing anything threatening and call it a day. What a lousy mission to be honest.
Instead we get to see Mai fondle her own boobs as she does more magic. What was wrong with having Haruhiko take care of them without causing a fight? Either way, Mai’s violent approach backfires when the utility poles (sigh) snap back with electrified wires. Again, why not just have Haruhiko draw them?
Haruhiko explains the reason the ghosts are dancing is because it was a custom in times past, to honor trees cut down. To which someone asks “Why limbo?”
So their plan is to dance the limbo with these pole ghosts to get them to bugger off. Because drawing them would be easier and therefore not fun.
The three proceed to dance the evening away, until one by one they start to fall. Or in Haruhiko’s case, he gets electrocuted because someone had to. Mai is the last one left when the poles lower the bar to a level that would be physically impossible for any human to limbo under. Much less Mai with her obscenely large rack. There’s just no way-
No. Fuck off. NO WAY.
Explaining it doesn’t make it any less disgusting and stupid.
There’s really nothing I can say at this point.
It’s at this point where they FINALLY remember that Haruhiko can use his drawing skills to seal them. Why they had to bother playing limbo with the poles in the first place is beyond me. It’s true that Mai fought the red demon at the start of the anime but Reina did swallow all the paper ghosts without a fight. Regardless, Haruhiko doesn’t have a sketchbook to draw them, so that plan is out. I knew he didn’t have one, but I was hoping the anime would remember that before the stupid limbo scenes.
So instead we get Reina to clean this mess up by sucking all three long, hard wooden poles down one after another.
After that, the group sees the poles they just sealed lying on the ground as lifeless things again. So… are these ghosts perceived because of the virus or are they actual ghosts that could always do this kind of shit? Again, the set up is inconsistent and pointless if all we have here is another plot involving ghosts causing mischief. What was the point of the brain altering virus nonsense?
Whatever. I don’t care.
We cut to a scene with a redhead talking to the club leader from earlier, who then leaves and walks by the main group as she does. Considering she’s featured prominently in the opening credits, she’ll either join at some point or be a rival. There’s no subtlety when it comes to these shows.
So they’re born of humans? Is that why we needed the stupid virus thing in the first place? Here’s a thought then: KILL EVERYONE WHO’S INFECTED! Problem solved! If there’s no source there can’t be phantoms anymore, right? There is no reason other than humanitarian as to why the Japanese government hasn’t just nuked the entire area around that research facility. Do we really want to keep living in a world where the same people we have fighting these phantoms are causing them to spawn in the first place? It’s highly contradictory and serves no logical sense other than to keep this shaky plot afloat.
But apparently people eat this shit up.
And I probably won’t stand to watch more because of it.