Myriad Colors Phantom World
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Myriad Colors Phantom World ?
It took four episodes, but Phantom World finally got a story worthy of its pretty artistry. Sadly, it is a one-off which does absolutely nothing to solve the series' two biggest problems: the lack of an ongoing story and a distinct shortage of storytelling spark.
What the episode does do is provide a healthy dose of character development for Reina, who is even the focal point character for a good chunk of the episode. Previous episodes have hinted that she has an especially restrictive home life, and that does seem to be the case; she lives in a security camera-guarded home with parents who question her over every little thing which doesn't seem perfect. They also don't like or tolerate Phantoms, so Reina has not told them about her club activities for fear of their rejection of it. She also is depressed about the absence of an older sister, a motorcycle enthusiast who had her fill of their parents and left. Mai reminds Reina a lot of her older sister (presumably in temperament?), which thus explains the seeming attraction she was showing towards Mai last episode; she apparently sees Mai as a fill-in. As a result of all of this, she is reluctant to return home on many days, and that makes her vulnerable to a hypnotic Phantom who appears as a bus. When first Haruhiko and then also Mai tag along, they also eventually find themselves drawn in to Reina's little fantasy world where those entranced sprout bunny ears and two talking bunnies serve as her parents. Haruhiko eventually snaps out of it long enough to rescue Reina, too, who is given the option of continuing her dream family or returning to the real world. With some new determination under her belt, she eventually does the latter.
On the informational side, we learn that toilets are sometimes associated with otherworldly passage (not really hard to understand why, actually), so that's the best place to break free of otherworldly influence. And boy, does Haruhiko take one for the team in what he has to suffer through to pull it off! The resolution of the whole affair oozes sentiment, with the messages seeming to be that Reina retreating into her fantasy world isn't going to solve anything, and that nothing is actually going to change in the real world unless she makes it happen. The musical score at that point plays the sentimentality up well, hitting just the right notes to make it affecting without being treacly.
The visual gimmickry here is as much the treat as the storytelling, though. Reina's dream world has a rough, artificial look to it compared to the normal backgrounds and animation, complete with a slightly grainy texture; sadly, the effect mostly did not survive the shrinking I had to do with the screen shot, so it isn't going to come through well in the above picture. Seeing the regularly-animated characters set against the dream setting animation is an interesting visual effect, one which gives a definite visual separation between being part of the dream and part of reality. The episode is worth checking out just to see this effect in play.
As the episode comes off in the end, it is still pretty tame stuff and the only real story advancement is in Reina's situation and, to a much lesser extent, Koito's. (She is actually voluntarily talking to them a little bit now.) This is a blip in the right direction, but more will be needed to get the series on track.
Myriad Colors Phantom World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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