Episode 12 – “The Mother Hath Returned” & Episode 13 – “The Eternal Phantom World”
While never quite dipping into the realm of being bad, Phantom World has certainly slipped and stumbled throughout this entire season, but where does the series end up when all is said and done? Turns out that these last two episodes are some of the best in the series, particularly in terms of story weight, and it feels like we’ve come a far way from Ruru fake-out firework deaths. For the first time in the entirety of the series, events lead directly from one episode to the next, something I’ve been wanting Phantom World to do since the beginning.
At the risk of sounding like a mad man, I would even go as far as to say that these last two episodes are great. They certainly aren’t enough to change anyone’s mind about Phantom World as a whole, but it’s nice to see that in the end there was a serviceable story hidden after all. There’s a formidable and incredibly attractive adversary in the mysterious phantom Enigma, creating palpable stakes for our once unstoppable band of heroes. By the end of the episode 12, Ruru’s fate is not so clear as it would have been in earlier episodes, and I really like that added gravity.
The theme of family comes full circle as Haruhiko gets the opportunity to make up lost time with his mom, or at least who he thinks is his mom. While it’s sad to think that the week or so they spend together is a lie, the whole ordeal with Enigma ultimately brings Haruhiko and his mom back together again. We even learn the origin of Ruru, a Phantom spawned from the depths of Haruhiko’s mind and inspired by his favorite childhood book about a genie. This all ties back to the idea that Phantoms are inextricably tied to humans, birthed from their hearts.
So where does Phantom World land in the end? Where it suffers in lack of narrative cohesion, it makes up for in fun characters, entertaining fight scenes, and of course amazing animation. And really, that’s enough for me.
“Might makes right. That is nature’s law!” ~ Enigma