Phantom in the Twilight – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)

While not my most anticipated anime of Summer 2018, Phantom in the Twilight was quite the curiosity within this season’s lineup. It’s a Chinese co-production co-written by Fumiaki Maruto (creator/writer of Saekano), set in modern-day London. That has to be a little interesting. Normally, I’m apprehensive about starting a new Chinese co-produced anime. It pains me to say it (especially since I’m Chinese) but a lot of them tend to be of very questionable quality. Maybe I’m somehow watching the wrong ones but I can’t think of any that I’d consider to be great. Maybe that’ll change in the near future though. If nothing else, Phantom in the Twilight is the first co-production in a while that I was able to enjoy.

The story of Phantom seems straightforward enough. Baileu Ton (Kana Hanazawa) is a young woman studying abroad in London with a friend and upon arriving, her luggage gets stolen by a goblin. While pursuing the creature, she stumbles upon a cafe run by a group of supernatural men: a vampire named Vlad (Takahiro Sakurai), a werewolf named Luke (Nobuhiko Okamoto), and a jiangshi (I think?) named Toryu (Tomokazu Sugita). Oddly enough, they happen to be associates of Ton’s great-grandmother who opened the cafe when she lived in London. Even though Vlad alters Ton’s memories at the end of the first episode, it’s safe to assume that the latter will soon get more involved with her ancestor’s legacy and the people tied to it.

For the most part, this screams like your usual otome scenario. Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me if there ends up being a mobile game made out of Phantom since the Chinese company co-producing it is a game developer. That said, I thought the execution was pretty respectable.

The most appealing aspect of Phantom for me is Ton’s character. The easy route would’ve been to make her a passively present self-insert for the viewer but she ends up being a lot more defined than you’d expect. She seems to always be willing to take matters into her own hands such as when she chases after the goblin thief and later tries take on a monster for Vlad, despite the latter being a capable fighter and a vampire. Even more interesting is that Tou accepts what’s happening before her quite well. From the get go, she already has a passing knowledge of the supernatural and when she unlocks her great grandmother’s chain-based weapon, she readily uses it without a second thought. Perhaps the most curious part of Ton though is her relationship with her best friend Shayao. Having the latter get kidnapped could give Ton a personal reason to get involved in the story beyond running into a couple of good looking monster guys.

Just in terms of pure entertainment value, I had fun sitting through Phantom‘s first episode. The fight animation could stand to be a bit better (I guess Liden Films’ budget went more towards Hanebado!) but it was still cool seeing the men fight in this episode. Vlad incorporating martial arts during combat is a solid visual hint towards his connection with Ton’s ancestor. Toryu pulling out a Gatling Gun was hilariously awesome. In terms of art, the London-based backgrounds are pleasing to eye and Hidari’s character designs for the show are solid.

While hardly the best premiere of the season, I’m impressed that Phantom in the Twilight is competent in the first place given the rough track record of Chinese co-productions before it. Who knows, maybe this will be the first one that I really get into. I’ll give this anime the three episode rule and see where it goes.

OP: “Flowery song” by Jiro Wan

ED: “Home” by May’n

A really lovely ED; May’n’s voice is so soothing. It could actually go down as one of my favorite EDs of the year. I’m a little surprised how much this ED emphasizes the relationship between Tou and Shayao. Man, what if they’re the ship that ends up sailing in this anime? Their one scene together at the beginning of the episode sure was intimate now that I think about it.

Thanks for reading!

Phantom in the Twilight is officially available on Crunchyroll.

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