First Look: Myriad Colors: Phantom World

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Alternative Titles: Musaigen no Phantom World
Light novel Adaptation by Kyoto Animation
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

After a mysterious incident, human brains functions have been altered, allowing anyone to see the once-invisible phantoms running amok. Haruhiko and Mai, two students at the prestigious Hosea Academy, have teamed up to seal dangerous Phantoms and teach children about the advantages of not wearing a bra.

Aqua’s verdict: Myriad Colors, Zero Soul

Kyoto Animation are somewhat known for their ability to squeeze potential out of just about anything. They turned the meandering, inconsequential four-panel gags of Lucky Star into a somewhat coherent narrative that was far better than it had any right to be, added an original character to their adaptation of Love, Chunibyou and other Delusions who ended up stealing the show and even fixed their own missteps by providing an exquisite movie sequel to their snoozy anime original Tamako Market. Yet after the masterpiece that was Sound! Euphonium, Myriad Colours serves at a nasty reminder that in this industry, no one can be trusted to consistently deliver. It shows that not every turd can be polished, which begs the question what the hell they even saw in this abomination in the first place.

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Myriad Colors is the collateral damage of Kyoto Animation’s yearly light novel award, which is a) infamous for only ever awarding honorable mentions because the light novel medium is apparently so crappy they’d rather not give any award at all and b) consistently responsible for some of KyoAni’s most grating shows to date, like Chunibyou and Beyond the Boundary. I at least have to give Kyoto’s finest the credit for upholding their end of the bargain and adapting at least one honorable mention from its recent nominees, if only because director Tatsuya Ishihara probably wasn’t satisfied with receiving credits for superior shows he didn’t actually work on anymore. Like its pool of honorable mentions, Ishihara is KyoAni’s go-to director for formulaic trash, the guy they get when they wanna abandon their artistic ambitions for a while and just make a quick buck off of sleazy, blatant nerd bait. It’s no surprise, then, that this is exactly what Myriad Colors is.

Little more than a formulaic slog with some shiny, colourful Kyoto Animation topping, Myriad Colors revels in lousy exposition, poorly conceived pseudoscience (Chemical leakage altered the brain functions of everyone in the entire world? Schools paying pupils wages in kind? Breastfeeding gives you superpowers?) and an embarrassing fixation on breasts. Mai isn’t so much a character as she is a wobbling lump of squishy flesh designed from scratch, up to and including her superpowers, to be ogled from any angle, anatomy be damned, and the rest of Myriad Colors‘ merry crew of monster-hunting misfits isn’t exactly better. It’s a show best ignored with the sound muted, the subs off and an imaginary paper bag on every character’s head, so you can at least enjoy the various ways in which Haruhiko’s chatty fairy companion gets catapulted around the room without having to hear the trite horndog comments that caused her predicament.

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There are interesting and entertaining moments in this pilot, mind you. As aggravating the tropes it invokes are, the overdramatic scene in which Haruhiko attempts to avoid the standard ‘accidental groping’ scenario is endearing in its ridiculousness and there’s very little complaints one could have about a trio of funky utility poles dancing the limbo. Yet all these creative details only serve to toss glitter over a fundamentally rotten core. It’s a lump of coal tied with a fancy bow, a monkey wearing a golden ring, your creepy pervert uncle pulling up in a fancy Porche. It’s the bare essentials of a fantasy plot — there are monsters, there are kids with superpowers, they fight — that doesn’t even have the gall to introduce the ridiculously convoluted lore that defines a truly crappy light novel, lazily established to a point of approaching parody (“It’s common knowledge, but I’ll explain anyway.”) just to have some semblance of an excuse for cracking open another can of ‘quirky’ ladyfolk designed to cater to every single one of the top twenty most searched tags on a shady fetish site.

People love to complain about how Kyoto Animation should make more action anime and less slice-of-life dramas or comedies, but if Myriad Colors is any indication, it might not be such a bad idea to stick with what it does best. More so than visual flair, Kyoto Animation’s true strength has always lied in using subtlety and nuance to flesh out its ostensibly generic characters. Judging from his work on KyoAni’s Key shows and Love, Chunibyou and Other Delusions, Ishihara may be the only person at the studio who consistently and shamelessly fails at grasping this notion. Ironically, the further away from the realities of daily life Kyoto Animation go, the more generic their shows end up being. Myriad Colors may look like a show of theirs, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like one, and it doesn’t have the kooky humor of an Amagi Brilliant Park — to list another recent KyoAni show that seemed to be lacking their ‘magic touch’ a bit — to make up for it. It’s an annoying, puerile trudge of an adaptation that will only make the wait for A Silent Voice and season two of Euphonium harder to bear.

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Jel’s verdict: Myriad Potential… Wasted

If you can look past the awful presentation I actually think there was a lot of potential here. I like the idea of discovering traditional folklore and mysticism actually existing, as best illustrated by the dancing telephone pole tsukumogamis toward the end. I think even the staunchest critics can see the fun and creativity in that scene, particularly how they had to tackle the fight without physical violence. Unfortunately looking past the awful presentation is impossible because that is 90% of the episode, and good god is it bad. The matrix boobs are the easy target, but even beyond that the exposition is completely flat and lacking a single shred of subtlety or nuance. I don’t imagine things will be much different moving forward either, so instead let me say if you are interested in a good action comedy featuring Japanese folklore and hell, even better fan service, I’d suggest you watch Binbougami Ga! aka Good Luck Girl. Also keep an eye out for the upcoming Twin Star Exorcists, based on a manga by the same author. Man, haven’t had a chance to plug that in a while. Feels good.

Marlin’s verdict: Myriad T&A

It was incredibly frustrating watching this show. For every moment when you think things would be getting better, it’s as if the writers stop themselves just short of redeeming the material. For every time where you think they’re going to shirk one of the LN genre’s many pitfalls, it sidesteps the wrong direction right back into it. Even the “I’m going to avoid this accidental groping” bit didn’t do anything for me because it still gave in to the puerile fantasy of blameless voyerism. I was even okay with some of the fanservice in the beginning, as it didn’t seem too egregious. Certainly, by the first few minutes my joke verdict was Myriad Legs, but as the episode went on and it just piled and piled on gross and unnecessary fanservice it required an adjustment. I suppose it goes to show that anyone can make garbage look really well animated, but really well animated garbage is still garbage.

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Zigg’s verdict: Myriad Issues

I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised that Kyoto Animation occasionally makes pieces of tits’n’ass garbage like this, considering they’ve got a pretty lengthy track record of it by now, but it’s still a disappointment to see such a technically accomplished studio crank out something like this. Got to pay the bills I guess? As it is this is an utterly uninspired urban fantasy that is lifted by the beautiful animation and design work and then dragged down by a great deal of pandering to the baser instincts of the fanbase. There’s moments of beauty to be found here – the incredible sealing animations, or the delightfully surreal sight of dancing telephone poles – but their immediately dragged down by bad sex jokes and the tiresome trappings of the harem comedy. Best avoided.

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4 thoughts on “First Look: Myriad Colors: Phantom World

  1. Ugh the moment the main character starts to grope herself to cast a spell I had to stop. After Euphonium this show is a complete and utter waste of time. Dropped.

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