Set in modern day London, the story takes place in a world where "Shadows" are born from human fear and anxiety. A young girl arrives to study abroad, only to be caught in a bizarre incident as she enters university. In a city with no acquaintances, the helpless girl wanders into "Café Forbidden," a mysterious café that exclusively opens at midnight. She meets an assortment of handsome men employed at the café, where guardians who protect the boundary between humans and shadow convene. (Source: MAL News)
It’s easy to dismiss the otome and reverse harem genre troupes that Phantom In The Twilight has, but since it’s an original series that’s made to promote Chinese game developer Happy Elements’s (which brought us Spring 2018’s Last Period, which was a fun time) latest smartphone game, the similarities could not be stark contrasted until the series started fleshing out itself, with the final product being a completely different stand-alone media, all on its own.
Handled by Fumiaki Maruto (Saekano, Classroom Crisis) and Shunsaku Yano for the overall series composition, Phantom In The Twilight tells us the tale of two friends: Baileu Ton and Mu Shinyao, who has just arrived in London, supposedly for a student exchange program, when suddenly evil forces kidnap Shinyao and leaves Ton in the lurch. In comes 4 men: Vlad the vampire, Luke the Wolf, Toryu the machine-gun frontman, and Wayne the Polygon walk-talk-hacker child-looking kid, with a fierce and cunning true side.
These men, who are called the Twilights, work together at Café Forbidden, the mysterious night-only café that serves as a haven for what they call Umbra: living creatures of the shadow world that was once governed by Sha Rijan to keep peace between both humans and Umbra. It is there too that Ton learns that she is the descendent of Sha Rijan, and has to use her powers to maintain the same peace that the fromer has upheld against the Snowmary Corporation, guarded by 2 men: Haysin and Backup. Each responsible for the power development of both Ton and Shinyao respectively, for both to face each other in an inevitable fight. Along with other side characters (Chris, Detective Gregory on the good side; Van Helsing on the bad side), it’s an action-packed supernatural fight that honestly is anything but noteworthy, yet it works to give the original game more retrospective (how this adaptation follows the game, I have no idea so don’t ask me how).
The character designs were intriguing yet appealing. Created by Hidari (Fire Emblem Echoes), all characters were uniquely designed to give them their characteristic traits, and based on how the anime adaptation went all out with, it’s easy to see why their course of action resembles the demeanor look they have on their faces and expression to keep moving forward and not letting their enemies breathe space. I specially like how both genders were represented here with the troupes being absent, such as Ton with her tomboy-ish shorts and not being the damsel-in-distress (while Shinyao is the total opposite, but silent with an invisible but strong power), and the Twilight guys who are constantly saving the day (with Luke’s brother Chris siding with the Twilights to protect Shinyao at all costs).
Speaking of relation-“ships”, I naturally ALSO thought that there would be this constant scene of the main guy fawning over the girl MC, even if vaguely shown in the OP sequence. And earlier I’ve said the otome and reverse harem clichés are red flags, but guess what? This series ADDS another one into the mix (with Chris and Shinyao becoming the hidden couple) as if one isn’t enough! And if that ain’t gonna break the bank, they throw the clichés out almost immediately! Simply ingenious.
For a world that’s as large as London would go, I have to say that Liden Flims did a good job relating the world-building and confining to the elements of the show, showcasing the vast lands of London and imitating the actual landmarks to a T. The action scenes felt strong too, but a little overdone, as is with the sacrifice of quality in a 50/50 supernatural-action packed series that just chocks emotions of anticipation and “fine”-ness. And of course, the art is striking and beautiful, just as you would expect from the series itself.
The music, probably is the lowest point of the series (to my taste). The OP, aside from its generic genetics, has grown on me a lot. I still don’t like it mind you, but it eclipses the setting of the overall going-into-the-story and setting quite nicely. May’n’s ED feels very out of place, until you realize that it’s the overarching finale of both Ton and Shinyao coming and returning “HOME” to one another as is with their childhood memories, and that’s where the ED starts making sense. It’s a good song, but the execution was somewhat wrong.
Overall, Phantom In The Twilight has nothing special going for it regardless of its “Original” source, but what it does, it executes in what it could succeed at, and that is all that it matters. Think nothing of the general troupes that fills your tastes when you start watching this show, and you will end up fine.