Myriad Colors Phantom World
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Myriad Colors Phantom World ?
Myriad Colors Phantom World has progressed for 11 episodes with little semblance of an overarching plot, to the point where I started assuming that it was not intended to have one. That changes with its next-to-last episode, which shows that it may have been (at least vaguely) setting something up after all. But it may be too late for the sudden plot push to have much impact.
The episode starts by showing that Haruhiko's team has progressed from being the lowest-ranked Phantom-hunting group at the beginning of the season to the top-ranked one. Granted, a lot of this has to do with the addition of capable new members and their capacity to learn teamwork, but most of the credit goes to Haruhiko. For as much as he's been picked on, he has significantly expanded his own abilities over the series and played a key role in attracting the other girls into the fold. While established anime fans will intuitively understand that as a harem set-up (and we do get a harem-like moment when all of the girls are asked to express what they think of Haruhiko), could there actually be more to it than that? While Haruhiko has been perceived as the weakest of the group since he doesn't directly fight, the expanding range of his abilities has suggested a much broader potential than anyone else. That draws the attention of a foe, which leads to a deception, which sets Haruhiko up for a big fall.
The foe is Enigma, a Phantom unlike any other: it takes a human form (a trenchcoat-wearing woman with vampire-like fangs and swirls in her eyes) and attacks ability users. What makes her truly dangerous though, is that she can drain the ability her target possesses and use it for herself. After handily taking down two other trios of ability users, she is stopped by Haruhiko and crew, but his effort to seal her apparently doesn't last long. She did distinctly react to Haruhiko's ability though, so is it any wonder that Haruhiko's long-absent mother suddenly shows up again? It's very suspicious, but no one else seems to think so – in fact, everyone is happy that he has renewed his connection with his mother – but Koito does get an odd vibe off her. They eventually discover that the unprecedented feeling arose because Koito has never encountered a human possessed by a Phantom before, and that's exactly what's going on with Haruhiko's mother. Enigma has taken up residence in his mother to get close enough to Haruhiko to steal his ability, although she does knock around the girls with her previously stolen abilities first. (Yes, this does beg the question of why Enigma didn't do it much earlier in the week when she was playing house with Haruhiko, although her comments somewhat suggest that she may have been observing him to get a sense of his powers.) The episode ends on a dire note: Haruhiko is down and Enigma has escaped with his abilities. So why is Ruru also down?
Hence we have the series' first true two-episode arc. In retrospect, there have been little tidbits scattered throughout the series pointing in this direction. Many of Haruhiko's opening lectures have at least vaguely suggested that Ruru is probably some figment of his imagination (or perhaps an extension of his psyche?), so seeing her faint when Haruhiko loses his ability isn't surprising. That Haruhiko's mother comes into play is also not surprising, since she has been prominently mentioned a couple of times, especially last episode. Neither is the notion that someone (or something) might have taken an interest in Haruhiko's expanded power, though the writing has been subtler about how versatile Haruhiko has become. And it can't be coincidence that the device from episode 2, which Haruhiko was also tinkering with last episode, finally gets identified by Koito: it is an access device for the servers of Alayashiki, the corporation responsible for the incident ten years ago that altered everyone's brains and started the whole Phantom phenomenon. But what kind of connection does it have to what's going on now? And what will Haruhiko find out when he (presumably) uses it next episode?
So for once we actually have a sense of tension and anticipation coming out of the episode, since things are as bad as they have been at any point in the series. Sadly, the groundwork laid is too ephemeral for the moment to hit as hard as it could, but the episode does back it up with a couple of other nice moments, such as one brief but beautiful mid-episode scene where Haruhiko runs after his mother as she is about to leave and merges with an image of himself as a youngster watching her go – only this time he isn't just watching. The sudden artistic and musical shift when Enigma is revealed (the bright series turns dark and the music takes on an ominously heavy rock beat) also deserves mention.
Will the final episode be able to achieve a sufficient amount of gravitas? After maintaining such a languid pace so far, I have doubts. This feels much more like a series approaching a midway point than an end.
Myriad Colors Phantom World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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