Phantom of Inferno


Phantom of Inferno

"Phantom of Inferno" is a visual novel game created by Nitroplus, and distributed by Hirameki International (a subsidiary of the Japanese visual novel publisher Hirameki). It came out in Japan in 2001, and then was distributed in America as an AnimePlay title in 2003. The story can take either a dark action/drama path or can turn into a romantic drama depending on the choice of the player.

Plot

Phantom currently resides as both an interactive ("choose your own adventure") video game and small 3 part OVA anime series

Video game

"Phantom of Inferno" is a story detailing the life of a 15-year-old Japanese boy who is kidnapped after witnessing the killing of a reporter. After being kidnapped his memories of his past life are erased and is given the choice to join Inferno or die. He makes the only choice he can to join and is given the name Zwei and will study under Ein. She is also known as Phantom since this is the title given to the organization's top assassin.

Inferno is said to be the United Nations that exists only for crime syndicates. As Zwei makes his way through training and various missions, deceit and betrayal occur even within Inferno that slowly puts Zwei in increasing danger. Along the way, he meets a girl by the name of Cal Devens and though he tries to protect her, she too is drawn into Inferno to become the assassin, Drei.

The game is divided into three chapters. The first chapter deals with Zwei being turned into a killer and has two main "routes" to follow, the Ein route and the Claudia route. No matter what route you choose, the chapter ends with Scythe escaping and Ein presumably dead, unless you opt to escape back to Japan. The second chapter starts off one year after the events in the first chapter, and deals with Claudia's plan to bring the Godoh group into the organization, Scythe's revenge, and the introduction of a new character, Cal Devens. It contains the Cal route and the final Claudia route.

English DVD version

The DVD version of the game, translated to English and distributed by Hirameki International, is known to suffer a variety of problems.

The game can be difficult to play on a PC, as many media players will not display the video and subtitles properly or at all. Two known media players that do work include VLC and PowerDVD. VLC will run with no problems, including allowing you to fast forward through scenes with the slider bar, but the password system will give you a blank screen if you attempt to use it. PowerDVD will run fine as well, but sometimes it will not let you use the slider bar to fast forward through scenes, which can make it more time consuming to replay the game and obtain different endings. PowerDVD also has a working fast-forward option, however it can to cause the player to freeze up and stop responding at certain scenes.

In addition to that, the DVD version removed the save/load system from the PC version, replacing it with a password system to jump to selected points in the story. The CG gallery was also removed in porting, and there is no way to go back and re-read the text in previous scenes. The English subtitles also suffer from various quality issues, such as a large amount of typo or grammar mistakes, liberal translations, and they sometimes fail to show up at certain points in the story. One particular instance has the character Cal say "Thanks" in the English subtitles, at a time when Zwei is asking her about her age.

OVA - Phantom: The Animation

The OVA series follows Zwei as he makes a trip to America, only to witness an assassination which leads to his memory loss and indoctrination into Inferno. Though not as heavily as in the game, we see Zwei's training before he goes with Ein to help with an assassination. Though a different path is taken, deceit and betrayal rip apart Inferno and place Ein and Zwei on opposite sides which eventually leads to their climatic battle at the end of the anime.

Characters

;Zwei (Reiji): The title character of the story, Zwei was a perfectly ordinary tourist before witnessing an Inferno assassination, and being kidnapped. He was able to allude his pursuers long enough that they realized he had a natural survival instinct that was perfect for an assassin. He had his memory erased through a combination of drug and hypnotherapy. The name Zwei is simply a code name to show he is the second experimental assassin created by Scythe Master. Through Claudia, one of the three top executives of Inferno, Zwei is able to learn his true identity as Reiji Azuma. When he returns to Japan, he goes back to using his name.Game seiyū: Kōsuke Okano
OVA seiyū: Takahiro Sakurai
OVA English voice actor: David Keefir

;Ein (Elen): An assassin with such skill she was given the codename, "Phantom", a designation given to only the best killer in Inferno. She was found by Scythe Master and was his first test subject to be given his assassin processing treatment. She has no memories of her past, and is incredibly apathetic. When she escapes to Japan, she changes her name to Elen and claims to be Reiji's twin sister. A long and rigorous investigation by Elen and Reiji traces her history back to Ulan Bator, Mongolia, and though the trail manages to stop there, Elen is able to find some peace in the area.Game/OVA seiyū: Omi Minami
OVA English voice actor: Mela Lee

;Claudia McCunnen: A beautiful executive of Inferno who is quick to befriend and manipulate Zwei. Though she seems to have good intentions, she is quietly manipulating Inferno and its actions. "This cunning and double sided nature is never shown in the anime."Game/OVA seiyū: Kikuko Inoue
OVA English voice actor: Cindy Robinson

;Lizzie Garland: Claudia's loyal childhood friend and bodyguard.Game/OVA seiyū: Ai Orikasa
OVA English voice actor: Megan Hollingshead

;Scythe Master: A scientist with sadistic delusions of grandeur. He is the creator of Ein, Zwei, Drei, and the members of the Zählen Schwestern. "He is referred to as Master Scythe in the OVA dub."Game seiyū: Ken Narita
OVA seiyū: Kazuhiro Nakata
OVA English voice actor: Dave Mallow

;Isaac Wisemel: A brutal executive of Inferno, and leader of the Los Angeles gang, the "Bloodies".OVA seiyū: Shinpachi Tsuji
OVA English voice actor: Kirk Thornton

;Raymond McGuire: A quiet and calculating Colombian drug lord who other executives of Inferno are quick to obey. "His family name is erroneously spelled "McGwire" in the OVA."OVA seiyū: Sho Hayami
OVA English voice actor: Steve Staley

;Mio Fujioka: A young girl who is unaware that her father is a boss in the yakuza. Reiji goes to her high school when Elen and he escapes back to Japan. Mio soon finds herself developing feelings for him.Game seiyū: Junko Asami

;Drei (Cal Devens): A young girl that tried to hire Zwei, thinking he was a killer for justice, by using money she had unknowingly stolen from Inferno. Zwei tries to hide her from Inferno but is unsuccessful and in a move to save her life asks that she becomes his assistant as he had been to Ein. After an attempt on his life, Zwei took her for dead and was forced to leave America to go into hiding. Cal believe that she had been left behind by Zwei and is manipulated by a now exonerated Scythe, who turns her beliefs into full hatred for Zwei and trains her as his third assassin, Drei.Game seiyū: Satomi Kōrogi

;Zählen Schwestern: Six girls who all went through Scythe Master's finalized assassin creation process. They are nearly the same quality of killers as the first three, and took nowhere near as much time to train since the process to make them was based on all the original three's data. They all wear white carnival masks and are named: Vier, Fünf, Sechs, Seiben, Acht and Neun.

Routes

Unlike standard Visual Novels where you usually focus on a single girl near the start and delve more into her story, the story is much more interleaved in Phantom of Inferno. The game is divided into 3 chapters, and each chapter has different routes which will affect the sequence of events, as well as vary the scenes and endings that you will get.

Chapter 1

Ein's route

To get on Ein's route, simply think about her on the first night, and call to her on the night of the final test. After returning from the body guard assignment, save Ein, do not let her go, and console her in the motel room. At the final confrontation at the compound, Reiji will attempt to shoot Scythe, but Ein jumps into the way, taking the bullet for him. Scythe then escapes.

Claudia's route

To get on Claudia's route, you must learn to drive the F40 and sleep with Claudia during the body guard assignment. You must also choose to save Ein, but instead, plan to return to Inferno. During the final confrontation at the compound, Reiji will be shot at by an unknown sniper and both will play a game of cat and mouse to try and discover each other's position. Seeing someone's shadow behind him, Reiji turns and fires, hitting Ein, who had not fired even though she had gotten the drop on Reiji. Scythe then shoots Reiji and is about to finish him off when Lizzie arrives and saves his life. Scythe still manages to escape however.

Chapter 2

The events in chapter 2 will be decided by who's route you took in chapter 1, as well as whether you partially or completely finished them. Cal's path is necessary for several of the chapter 2 endings.

Cal's route

Cal's route is very strict because a single deviation will cause the game to treat it as if you had never met Cal in the first place. Generally speaking, all the options in Cal's route will be "Cal or something else", and you must pick the Cal-related option (such as going shopping with her). If you turn her down once, or simply choose to not trust her at the beginning, then the story immediately assumes that you never met her in the first place, which, depending on your decisions, may seem rather odd (Choosing not to go shopping with Cal for instance, completely removes her appearance from any further scenes, almost as if she went shopping but never came back).

The exception is if you chose not to accept Cal's confession, in which case she will still show up in the game afterwards. However you will not be able to get the Southbound ending and will be relegated to a dead end where Ein shoots you in the desert warehouse.

If you completed Claudia's path in chapter 1 and start on Cal's path in chapter 2, then you will have to pick which path you wish to complete. You will have the option to go to Claudia's house(which will put you on Claudia's route in chapter 2) or not(Cal's route).

Claudia's route

This route is only available if you had completed Claudia's route in chapter 1. There are only three key points here. You must visit Claudia's house when given the chance, stop her there, and shoot Lizzie when she draws her gun. After going to get the MO disk, you will have a final duel with Ein and Scythe will reveal Claudia's full plan. After a harrowing car chase, you will reach the hangar where Claudia is supposed to meet Gambino's representative, and choose which of the Claudia route endings you wish to receive.

If you do NOT shoot Lizzie, Claudia simply leaves, and Reiji, with nothing left, goes to the desert warehouse and waits for death in the form of Ein.

Route to chapter three

Getting to chapter three may be tricky, since it requires a specific set of circumstances. You must have completed both Ein and Cal's paths, confirmed the sniper's identity, and discovered the identity of the attackers at the harbor. After the loft is bombed, you must "Hide". After this you will meet up with Ein at the warehouse and escape southwards. However, Cal is still alive and thinks that Reiji lied to her. She is then discovered by Scythe, who encourages this belief, and which will form one of the crucial plot points of chapter three.

Endings

According to the official PS2 game guidebook, the endings are as follows :

Chapter 1

The Endless Nightmare : Reiji escapes back to Japan and resumes his life, but feels as if he is living in a dream and cant get rid of his fear that he will wake up to the "real world" where he is an assassin. Ein apparently survives and re-appears in Japan, presumably sent to find and possibly terminate him, although Reiji is not completely sure that it is her he sees on the street.

Chapter 2

The End of the Long Dream : To get this ending, you must do Claudia's path in chapter 1 and 2, but not meet Cal, and then do not shoot Lizzie when she draws her gun. Reiji then goes to the warehouse in the desert and waits for Ein to find and kill him, which she does, lamenting his death and the scar in her heart.

Southbound : To get this ending, you must complete Ein's path in chapter 1 but not fully complete Cal's path in chapter 2, and must also identify the sniper and attackers at the harbor. Reiji goes to the warehouse in the desert and waits for Ein to kill him, but Ein asks Reiji to kill her instead, as Scythe has no more use for her and she sees no other purpose in her life. Neither is able to kill the other, and finally they vow to head south this time to start a new life together (having headed north on their failed attempt to run away from Inferno in chapter 1). This can be considered Ein's happy ending, and is more or less the same as the path to chapter 3, but since Reiji has no complete relationship with Cal, the 2 of them simply head south to start a new life together.

Fugitives : This ending requires you to follow the full Cal path in chapter 2 but NOT finish Ein's path in chapter 1 or Claudia's path in chapter 2. After the loft is bombed, you must select to "Hide". After this Cal will arrive back from her shopping trip and Reiji vows to escape with her and start a new life together.

Vengeful Spirits : This ending requires you to follow the full Cal path in Chapter 2. After the loft is bombed, you should select the option to "Kill everyone". Reiji goes berserk and storms Inferno HQ, killing over 20 men and McGuire in the process before dying of multiple wounds, as he believes Inferno has taken Cal away from him. However, Cal was not in the apartment during the explosion. She waits faithfully for him to return as he promised to, finally accusing him of lying to her after the third morning.

At this point, the alternative option "Hide" simply causes Reiji to go hide at the warehouse in the desert and wait for Ein to kill him, which she does. It is nearly identical to the "The End of the Long Dream" ending.

From Atop the Hill : There are 2 variations of this ending. Both require you to finish Claudia's route in chapter 1 and 2 completely and finish off by selecting "Shoot Claudia" at the hangar. One version requires you not to have met Cal or broken off the relationship early on, and the other requires you to have gone as far with the Cal route as possible in addition to Claudia's route. Reiji remembers that he vowed to survive at all costs, and shoots Claudia at the hangar, bringing her body and the disk back to Inferno.

5 years later, Inferno has united all the underworld kingpins in America and is poised to conquer the new century. Then all the kingpins are shot by Scythe's elite team, the Zählen Schwestern, as part of Reiji's plan to take over Inferno and manipulate the criminal underground for himself. He was able to do this because the Zählen Schwestern were created based on Ein's data, and as he once tried to communicate with Ein, he managed to communicate with the Zählen Schwestern and get them to trust in him. Reiji then shoots Scythe. If you also did the Cal route, then Lizzie reports that Cal managed to assassinate McGuire in Colombia. Reiji gives her the title of Phantom, as she became his best assassin in the 5 years since the hangar incident. If you did not meet Cal, then she is simply not mentioned. In both variations, Lizzie is disgusted with what Reiji has become, leaving the organization for the country to start a bar. Reiji finally visits Claudia's grave at a small cemetery on top of a lonely hill, looking down at the city below.

If you are playing the DVD version, you will get the first part of the ending password here. The ending password unlocks several extras such as the various production trailers, TV commercials, nearly all of the FMV sequences, and the sound track. However, the English translated DVD version has the "Gun Gallery" locked out for unknown reasons. The gun gallery is used to showcase all the guns that are in the game.

The Woman in the High Castle : Unlike "From Atop the Hill", this ending has only one version regardless of whether you met Cal or not. Reiji chooses to accept fate and allow Claudia to shoot him, and helps her by pretending to try and shoot her. Reiji ends up dying in Claudia's arms, telling her that she needs to live and get back all the things stolen from her, and to take revenge on Inferno.

One year later, Claudia has hooked up with the new No.2 man of the Gambino family, and is slowly manipulating both him and the family for her own purposes. However, she still keeps the .38 special cartridge form the bullet that she shot Reiji with, and can't seem to get rid of it or forget what she did that morning in the Hangar. As she stands at a window looking down at the city below her, she vows to become stronger or she will lose to someone like her previous, merciless self.

This ending will give you the first part of the ending password as well.

Chapter 3

Road of the Cerulean Sky : This can be considered Ein's "True Ending". To obtain this ending, do not fully complete Mio's path in chapter 3, and at the final choice, choose to go after Elen. Reiji will find Elen in the church, and after a tearful reunion they get married right there and then. Reiji insists on fighting Cal, and manages to get Elen to promise him to leave and wait for him, and that he would definitely return to her. Cal arrives at the appointed time, and takes out the pocket watch that Reiji bought for her 2 years ago from a street vendor while the two of them were preparing for the counter snipe operation. Setting it on the altar, she opens it, starting the music, and sets the stage for the duel. When the music stops, both go for their guns, but Reiji is faster and Cal suffers a fatal wound. In the end, as she lies dying in Reiji's arms, Cal forgives Reiji for everything. Shortly after, the Godoh group sends 20 men to assault the church. Reiji nearly runs out of ammo, but is saved by the sudden appearance of Elen, and they manage to escape.

Scythe arrives after the sun has set with the Zählen Schwestern and manages to get Shiga to back off and let him handle the situation. In the ensuing battle, Elen shoots Scythe, and all the members of the Zählen Schwestern are killed. When the semester starts, Mio, who was rescued from the ruins by Shiga(and who of course insisted it was a kidnapping motivated by money), cant help but feel it was a dream. Regardless, she resolves to live her life and meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Elen and Reiji start a long and arduous investigation into Scythe and Elen's past, trying to discover her identity. They eventually trace her back to a Hong Kong brothel that handled young girls, and then to Ulan Bator, Mongolia, where the trail runs cold. Eventually a young translator gives them the advice to go to the grasslands and look at the sky to find Elen's homeland. With no other options, they do that, and Elen discovers that this place really is her homeland, and she ends the investigation, stating that she is satisfied just to be here with Reiji.

This ending will give you the second part of the ending password.

Cherry Blossom Avenue: This is Mio's only ending. Like "Road of the Cerulean Sky", Cal and Elen fight one another at the church only to be interrupted by Godoh's men. During this time, Mio's bodyguard, Shiga, is fatally wounded and dies as he attempts to drive Mio back to her home. Reiji visits Mio to explain that he can no longer stay with her as it will get her involved with Inferno. After Reiji spends the night with her, events shift to the school fight scene from "Dusty Desert Trails." Reiji, Elen, and Cal are all being hunted by Scythe and the Zählen Schwestern, so a temporary alliance with Cal is created. After Reiji and Elen dispatch the Zählen Schwestern, Drei shoots Scythe, as revenge for allowing herself to be manipulated by him. Cal smiles at Reiji, telling him that she'll let him live for now but will assuredly kill him eventually, leaving.

The next day, Reiji meets with Mio's grandfather, the head of the Godoh group, and tells him to end his life of criminal activity for Mio's sake. The Godoh head refuses, so Reiji coldly threatens to kill everyone affiliated with the group before leaving the head in shock. Later, Reiji and Elen watch Mio visiting Shiga's grave from afar at the cemetery, with Elen asking Reiji if he's really sure about taking on the Godoh for the sake of one girl. The final scene shows cherry blossom petals fall all around Mio as she declares to look towards the future with optimism.

Dusty Desert Trails : This can be considered Cal's "True ending". As with "Road of the Cerulean Sky", do not fully complete Mio's path and at the last choice, choose to go after Drei. In this ending, Reiji rescues Mio, and they part with no explanations as Reiji is still trying to prevent her from getting mixed up in the mess. Cal returns and finds Mio gone, and calls Reiji. Taunting her over the phone, Reiji arranges a duel at the church in one hour, with the intent to deliberately lose. As the music box stops and Cal is about to fire, Elen appears and forces Cal to dodge and miss. Elen and Cal then have a duel which Elen is about to win, but Reiji jumps in front of Cal, blocking the knife with his back and fainting. Cal is stunned that Reiji would do something like this for her, and Elen explains that this is what he wished for.

Godoh's men attack the church, and Elen convinces Cal to take Reiji and escape from the back while she holds them off. After the sun has set, Scythe shows up at the church with the Zählen Schwestern and marvels at the mound of corpses. Meanwhile, Cal has hidden in the school with Reiji, and Cal has reverted back to her happy personality before she became Drei. She demands that Reiji have sex with her, but just as they are about to start, three members of the Zählen Schwestern launch a surprise attack and are taken out by Cal almost instantly. Cal then goes to try and draw out the other three, but one of them sweeps the building looking for Reiji and falls into his trap. Just as Reiji is about to go help Cal, he is shot by Scythe. Cal blows up the last two Zählen Schwestern using the chemistry lab, but is forced to drop her guns as Scythe uses Reiji as a hostage. Scythe is about to shoot Cal, but is shot by Elen who suffered fatal wounds from the battle with Godoh's men, and she dies in Cal's arms.

An unspecified amount of time later, Reiji and Cal have become well known free lance assassins known as "Phantom" and hitched a ride on a truck heading to a desert town "Santa Madelia", presumably somewhere in Mexico(as one of the gangsters there use the term "gringo"), their target being the gang boss of the town with the whole town there to protect him. They make plans to go on a holiday after this job, and think about how they will be together, always.

This ending will give you the last part of the ending password.

Trivia

# The names of the assassins are German numbers. Ein, Zwei, Drei,...Neun (1,2,3,...9). Also, "Zahlen Schwester" is German for "Numbered Sisters"
# Though credited as "Zwei/Reiji Azuma" in the OVA, Zwei's real name, Reiji, is never mentioned in it. In the English DVD version distributed by Hirameki International, the audio says "Azuma" while the English subtitles vary from "Agatsuma" to "Azuma" at different points, however Azuma is the family name used primarily throughout.
# Since the anime only roughly covers the first chapter of the game, Cal/Drei is never introduced though at the end of the first episode Ein puts on a blond wig matching Cal's hair color ("this killing was not in the game"). And in the 2nd episode, while stopped at a light when getting groceries, Zwei is standing next to a girl that looks exactly like Cal except with brown hair and purple eyes. This is an obvious reference to Cal as she is dressed exactly like Cal and even has the band-aid on her cheek.


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