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Visual Novel / Phantom of Inferno

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Phantom of Inferno is the first (2000) release by the visual novel developer nitro+, whose games are almost invariably dark, scary, and full of murder. Nitroplus can be considered a blender of ideas, but Phantom in fact has a simple story in comparison to their other games.

The story follows the life of a young man who sees something he shouldn't have seen, is captured and brainwashed by a shadowy organization called Inferno and then is given the choice "join or die". He is trained as an assassin by a soft-spoken girl called Ein. Ein is Inferno's top assassin, code-named "Phantom" and controlled by the sinister Scythe Master, who also brainwashed the man. The man is given the name Zwei and begins his work at Inferno.

The game was first given an adaptation which tried to sum up the game in 3 OVA episodes in 2004. In 2009, a new anime entitled Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ was produced by Bee Train with Yosuke Kuroda writing and supervising the scripts (including a few from the original scenarist Gen Urobuchi himself) and directed by Koichi Mashimo. The game has since been remade for the Xbox 360 featuring the anime design created by Bee Train, for 2012 release. This release was ported on PC in 2013.

Notably, previews for the original game's second release aired at around the same time as Noir, which led to viewers connecting the two (as they have similar themes).

This work provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: Lots of people die. Drei, Scythe Master, Ein, Zwei, Claudia, Lizzie, a LOT of people. Just take your pick.
  • At the Opera Tonight: One of Zwei's coolest moments comes at the start of chapter 2 where he assassinates a rival gang boss who's visiting the opera (or to be precise a performance of The Phantom of the Opera) by infiltrating the performance in disguise as The Phantom and shooting his target from the stage in the middle of the show.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: While there's no crowning ceremony as such, the "Reiji Ending" from the game sees Reiji lead the Zahlen Schwestern to massacre the assembled leaders of Inferno and make Reiji the head of all organised crime in America.
  • Badass Normal: Reiji had implausible fighting capabilities before joining Inferno.
    • Later turned into just plain badass after the first time skip
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: The second opening plays with this. The actual footage makes things look like a slice of life series, but the intentional Soundtrack Dissonance from the song by Ali Project suggests that things aren't nearly as peaceful as they seem.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The OVA features several messy deaths of the Boom, Headshot! variety.
  • Death by Adaptation: The anime follows the "Ein" path from the visual novel and features the "Road of the Cerulean Sky" ending from it as its conclusion, with the exception that in this version, Reiji and Ein both die at the very end.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the OAV, Claudia's role was almost completely slashed so that she only appears briefly in the third episode. Additionally, since the OAV only loosely followed in Visual Novel's first act, Cal's only makes a very brief background cameo during the second episode, and notably she's a brunette rather than a blonde.
  • Depraved Bisexual: In Phantom: Integration, Drei is one temporarily.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The last 15 seconds of the anime turned it from Bittersweet Ending to Downer Ending. Since everyone capable of killing Reiji and Ein had already been introduced and defeated, whoever shot Reiji after the credits wouldn't be recognized in a lineup by Chekhov or viewers.
  • Downer Ending (Anime): In literally the last minute of the show, Reiji is shot & killed by a disguised assassin in a passing hay wagon, and Ein commits suicide by consuming a poisonous Oxytropis leaf.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The anime's ending was going this way...but see Downer Ending above! Augh!
  • Expy: Drei looks exactly like Elise from the Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever OVA, and though Elise is much more professional and Drei much more wild, their similarities don't end at using guns, speaking Gratuitous English and wearing purple. Both are introduced after the bulk of the story and are put at odds with the male lead, whom they hate after a traumatic childhood incident involving a bomb planted by the Big Bad, and the female lead, who's just along for the ride.
    • Cal has some similarities with Mathilda: a teenaged girl trying to hire an assassin to avenge her murdered sibling, beginning to fall in love with said assassin, and learning the art of killing herself.
    • Ein has one in the form of Kirika from Noir, who is essentially the same character in an Alternate Universe.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: One of the Zahlen Schwestern gets this treatment.
  • Fanservice: Ein, Claudia, Drei, Mio, and the Zahlen Schwestern.
  • Fan Disservice: Scythe Master licking Ein suggestively in the first couple hours of play. Also Drei violently tearing off Mio's clothes.
  • Gainax Ending: In the anime, Reiji is shot dead and Ein lies in the grass smiling. Questions remain, is Ein dead, did Inferno kill Reiji or did Ein? Is Ein dead, did she eat a poison flower? The ending is still hotly debated.
    • It's not clear if Reiji was actually killed either. We never actually see him get hit, and he has survived bullet wounds in the past.
  • Genre Shift: Joked around with. The anime's second opening will leave you surprised.
  • Geographic Flexibility: the anime dub states that everything is occurring around Los Angeles, with the desert scenes likely occurring in the Mojave desert to the east. However, if you look at "LA" (or know anything about it), it doesn't have the following: Honolulu's skyline, New York's Chrysler Building, Miami's shoreline, etc.
    • This is made even worse when Ein drives what appears to be a Fiat Cinquecento, which was never available in North America.
  • The Gift: Reiji catches Scythe's eye and is trained into Zwei instead of being killed out of hand when he displays a natural affinity for fighting.
    • Cal also displays a genius-level intellect and knack for handling weapons which intrigues Reiji, and eventually leads to her being turned into Drei by Scythe.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the "Reiji Ending", Reiji uses his experience with Ein to take control of the Zahlen Schwesten and subvert them until they serve him rather than Scythe. He then turns them against Inferno and wipes out their leadership, taking control himself.
  • Homage: Cal recites lines from films such as Dirty Harry and Taxi Driver as she is learning to fire a gun.
  • Intimate Lotion Application: Played With in episode 3 of ~Requiem for the Phantom~. Ein visits the Scythe Master to report to him, and we get a creepy scene where she strips naked and allows him to rub a lotion all over her body, in a similar manner to how he oils and cleans his guns. While the scene has some creepy sexual connotations, it's also a metaphor for how he sees her as his "perfect" and most prized weapon.
  • It's All My Fault: Zwei after realizing that, not only did Cal become the new Phantom, but it's his fault, since he's the one who taught her to use a gun, and the one who left her abandoned after somebody blew up his living space.
    • To be fair, he did think she was dead.
  • Karma Houdini: In the anime Raymond McGuire, leader of Inferno, has Reiji assassinated and Ein commits suicide, and even though he's lost Scythe Master and his assassins, still controls Inferno and most of the US criminal underworld.
  • Lighter and Softer / Denser and Wackier: The Picture Dramas, which frequently portray Reiji as both the Only Sane Man and a major Butt-Monkey, Ein as The Comically Serious, and Scythe as a Large Ham with the entire cast discussing rather mundane things most of the time rather than anything crime or assassin related but still treating everything as Serious Business. Several of the shorts even portray Reiji and Ein as live-action puppets.
  • Mafia Princess: Mio. Even she doesn't know about it.
  • Mood Whiplash: The first half of Episode 20 in the anime. After such a solemn ending to the last episode, you may question if the anime is playing a joke on you by suddenly switching gears to a high school comedy. However, for the second half of the episode it's just buissness as usual.
    • Ein and Zwei suffer from this, though often it is part of their cover. It almost seems as if Ein and Zwei are completely seperate people from Eren and Reiji.
  • Mutually Exclusive Party Members: If you come down to the choice between Ein and Cal at the end of chapter 3, the one Reiji doesn't search for will die by the end.
    • Take a Third Option: There's only one way to get through chapter 3 with both Ein and Cal alive- take the Mio route. Ein will remain Reiji's platonic ally in protecting Mio, and while Cal won't forgive Reiji for betraying her, she'll at least stop trying to kill him.
  • Not Brainwashed: Drei is the result of Scythe's "thought experiment" to see if keeping her memories and playing on her old grudges will keep her as loyal and efficient as removing her memories altogether would.
  • Not Quite Dead: Over and over and over...
  • The Ojou: Mio.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: Drei's music box.
  • Rape as Drama: It's implied that Drei does this to Mio. With a gun barrel.
  • Recap Episode: Episode 11. Parts of episode 19 as well, but not as bad as episode 11.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: A real rampage in one of the game's potential bad endings; after Reiji's apartment is bombed, apparently killing Cal then instead of letting Reiji succumb to a Heroic BSoD you can instead choose "Kill Everyone". Reiji promptly kills EVERYONE, slaughtering his way through pretty much everyone in Inferno, ignoring all the wounds his takes until he reaches McGuire and, despite letting McGuire shoot him, kills him before succumbing to his wounds. Unfortunately, just to drive home that this is a bad ending and keep you from enjoying yourself a bit too much, you still get the scene of Cal sobbing in lonely despair in the ruins of your apartment.
  • Scars are Forever: In the anime after Reiji is shot by Scythe at one point, the bullet wounds leave permanent scars over his body. This is most evident in one brief scene where he's sun-tanning on his apartment roof and they're clearly visible over his chest. Eren also has a scar where she was shot by Lizzie.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The first episode has a few homages to Scarface (1983) including the Giant Globe bearing the words The World is Mine.
    • Reiji and Cal's initial relationship is a notable homage to one between the two protagonists of the film Leon.
    • In the Picture Dramas, Scythe takes on the identity of Agent Back Jauer. Ein also pretends to be Lum in one of them.
  • Shown Their Work: The original game went into ridiculous levels of detail when it came to the guns. You got lectures.
  • Slasher Smile: Reiji near the end of episode 10.
  • Sleep Cute: Cal and Reiji in the second anime, oddly replacing a sex scene.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Is it Elen or Eren?
  • Super Prototype: Played with. Ein is Scythe's prototype assassin, an apparently ordinary girl he used his brainwashing, mental conditioning and induced amnesia on to turn into an emotionless killer. His second attempt with Zwei, attempting similar techniques on a boy with a natural instinct for killing and allowing Ein to train him, arguably produced a more deadly killer, but Zwei proved ultimately impossible to control, as well as less clinically professional. Drei, his third project based around training another girl with a knack for combat by exploiting The Power of Hate generated another deadly human killing machine, but the ultimate result was still only roughly equivalent to Ein. Finally he created the Zahlen Schwestern, a mass-produced group of female assassins utilizing the same techniques he used to create Ein, but when Ein and the Zahlen Schwestern actually fight each other, she wipes them out almost single-handedly, even registering disappointment that development had advanced so little since her own creation. In the end, it's debatable who the deadliest is, but Ein seems to have the greatest edge because of her cold precision.
  • The Syndicate: Inferno.
  • Updated Re-release: Releases on DVD and PS2 add voice acting, but remove sexual content. Phantom: Integration adds more sexual content and an extra ending, but removes voice acting.
  • Vague Age: The only apparent reason to why Drei grew up and Ein/Zwei didn't.
  • Video Game Remake: Remade for Xbox 360 featuring the new character designs created in the anime series ~Requiem for the Phantom~ as well as the voice cast of the anime.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: One episode has Ein carry out a hit at the Paris hotel.
  • White Mask of Doom: Worn by assassins.
  • You Are Number 6: Ein, Zwei, Drei as well as the individual members of the Zahlen Schwestern in the anime.

Alternative Title(s): Phantom Of Inferno, Phantom Requiem For The Phantom