Anime

Dimension W—To Live and Die in the Past

Dimension W revolves around the titular fourth dimension beyond X, Y, and Z, a mysterious realm from which society has learned to extract limitless clean energy through the use of coils. However, there are those that make use of untraceable counterfeit coils to carry out their nefarious goals, and it’s up to collectors to find and subdue these criminals—and, naturally, collect their coils. Kyouma Mabuchi is such a collector, but one at odds with the modernized world around him. He eschews the convenience of coils almost entirely, making use of humble skewer-like weapons and driving a gasoline powered car he restored himself. Even his clothing is a throwback, being much more in line with traditional Japanese attire than anything kin to the contemporary.

It’s a quirk that immediately endeared me to Dimension W as it’s the sort of eccentricity that resonates with me. Despite using computers nearly all my life, I’ve always felt kinship to the physical, to old dusty tomes and tabletop games that were created before I was born. Even with the digital world, I find myself gravitating to the “retro” classics of yesteryear with their pixels, beeps, and boops. There’s just something inherently romantic about obselescence, and it’s a theme that Dimension W visits numerous times in its narrative.

DimensionW-Duo But Kyouma is only one half of the equation, and in short order he’s paired with Mira, a mysteriously advanced, and of course coil-powered, android that represents everything Kyouma has done his best to leave behind. It’s no secret that I love the gynoid archetype—Miho, after all, was the first character I created for OVA—and Mira is a particularly likable example. The strained relationship between the duo gives some meat to the usual robot-girl-wants-to-be-accepted-as-human plotline, and the combination of these opposites just made me fall in love with the show.

In fact, I really wish there was more of it. In the first few episodes you see glimpses of a sort of slice-of-life story that could have been. Whether it’s Mira fixing up her Airstream trailer with second-hand furniture or Kyouma tinkering with his cars, there was real room to show off the development of their relationship. Alas, by episode 4, the show’s plot is picking up speed, and by midway through the series devotes almost every minute juggling its mysteries and secrets, carefully pacing its reveals so you never quite have the entire picture, whether its the specters of Kyouma’s past, the ominous existence of the original Numbers coils, or the true nature of Dimension W itself. In fact, there are so many secrets, and Dimension W is such a malleable plot device, that you never really get true satisfaction from many of the plot developments.

DimensionW-GasStation But the pseudo-science of Dimension W isn’t what the story is about really (despite how many long expository segments are devoted to it). It’s about loss and the acceptance of loss, and about the dangers of unchecked desire, all displayed through gorgeously animated action sequences and an eclectic cast of quirky characters. Whether it’s Loser, the prolific criminal who seemingly never succeeds at stealing but has become sort of a public hero and phenomenon for it, or the delightfully bizarre competing collectors featured during the story’s final arc, or just Kyouma’s clever use of his skewer-and-cable weapons, Dimension W is just a lot of fun to look at.

And Mira is really, really cute.

DimensionW-Mira

But still, I remember the creator’s Chikyu Misaki, a short but amazing work that deftly balanced the everyday with its over-the-top conspiracies, mysteries, and action, and I wish Dimension W was as evenly distributed. But I guess 12 episodes is not a lot of time to do both. I’d be curious if the original manga gives the pair more room to breathe and a more fleshed out, gradual path to the catharsis of their relationship—perhaps a bit more of that feeling that is repeatedly promised in the show’s closing credits.

DimensionW-Airstream

Dimension W and OVA

The entire collector premise is a great set up for a game of OVA. The collection missions serve as a clear episodic goal for each adventure, and coils serve as the perfect excuse for almost any Ability or special power. By the same token, very little in Dimension W really requires any special rules or elaboration of the concepts presented in the main rulebook. But taking a look at Kyouma, he’s a really fascinating build because his signature weapons really never do much, if any, damage. It’s a collection of tricks to bring opponents to his level where he can pummel them with abandon.

Kyouma Mabuchi

Abilities: Agile +1, Art of Invisibility +1, Attack +2, Combat Expert +3, Evasive +3, Intimidating +1, Iron-Willed +2, Knowledge (Classic Vehicle Maintenance, Operation, and Repair) +3, Perceptive +1, Quick +1, Strong +2, Tough +2, Unique Ability +2 (Skewers Allow Increased Mobility akin to Flight), Vehicle (Toyota 2000GT) +3

Weaknesses: Amnesia –1 (Memories from the Easter Island Incident), Emotionless –1, Hatred –2 (Coils), Infamous –1 (Beast of Grendel), Love Interest –1 (Lost Love), Loner –2, Quirk –1 (Old-Fashioned Dress), Short-Tempered –2, Servitude –1 (Mary), Stubborn –1

Attacks:

  • Martial Arts — ROLL: 6, DX: 5
  • Skewer Technique: Impale — ROLL: 6, DX: 3 (Armor Piercing, Ranged; Weapon)
  • Skewer Technique: Impede — ROLL: 6, DX: 2 (Impairing, Ranged; Ineffective, Weapon)
  • Skewer Technique: Trip — ROLL: 6, DX: 2 (Stunning, Ranged; Ineffective, Weapon)
  • Skewer Technique: Entangle — ROLL: 6, DX: 1/2 (Paralyzing x2, Ranged; Ineffective x3, Weapon)

And of course, we can’t ignore everyone’s favorite green-haired bot girl:

Mira

Abilities: Agile +2, Cute! +2, Dexterous +2, Evasive +1, Heightened Sense (Sight) +3, Life Support +3, Perceptive +1, Quick +3, Strong +3, Unique Ability +2 (Coil-Interfacing Tail)

Weaknesses: Bizarre Appearance –1 (Robot Features), Guardian –2 (Kyouma), Kind-Hearted -1, Naive –1, Obsession –2 (Follow her father’s wishes to follow the coils), Secret –1 (Identity as a highly advanced robot), Sensitivity –1 (Being referred to as a robot)

DimensionW-Kick

What about you readers? Do you have a favorite unlikely duo from anime? Or is there a particular android that sets your circuits abuzz? Tell me about it in the comments! Also, if you’d like to support this blog, consider purchasing Dimension W merchandise like comics and figures or anything else from this link!

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