This show is so boilerplate to me. Not the crappy kind like the moe studios’ output this season are being. More of the kind that you don’t mind watching, but you feel it should be a lot better than it actually is. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that way given how Dimension W isn’t nearly as well-liked as Rakugo or ERASED on APR, and its position on MAL hasn’t really budged since its initial premiere. Whilst you won’t exactly find a shortage of people who like this show, when it comes to actual discussion, Dimension W doesn’t exactly get an enthusiastic response.
In fact, if I’m being honest, I found the latest episode to be pretty boring even though I know a few people enjoyed it. Just a rote story consisting of nothing but exposition and the main female proving that she has a human’s heart underneath her robot exterior by way of saving kids. Ignoring the cliched nature of the writing, said actions don’t have any (immediate) consequences to the plot. It was an episode dedicated solely to character-building with no funny jokes or any kind of interesting story progression. Nothing but insipid execution all around.
But obviously, I don’t see the latest episode as a weak link in an otherwise great series. I see it as a culmination of everything wrong with Dimension W since it started. Ever since the show’s beginning, it hasn’t really done much to excite me even though the cyberpunk setting is ripe for all kinds of interesting philosophical themes and hi-concept scenarios, mostly due to its refusal to utilize any of them. Dimension W has one unique concept – utilizing energy from a fourth dimension by way of coils – and so far it’s been treated as nothing but a plot device for far less interesting stories like Mira learning the world is a rough place in regards to coils after losing her master, or the main dude being a war veteran that works as a junker and occasionally gets into (badly directed) fist fights with the people who get in his way. The two don’t even interact all that much to qualify the show as a buddy comedy or a futuristic version of Leon: The Professional. Did the writers really think that the very concept of a gruff dude and a meek artificial being getting into adventures together based on broadly defined futuristic technology is good enough to qualify as entertainment? That’s incredibly disappointing if that’s true.
Not helping is the fact that this futuristic setting is way too broad on a conceptual level alone. I’ve said this before in previous posts, but why am I supposed to care about what this show has to say regarding the evolution of technology and how the government utilizes it if it doesn’t have any real-world grounding whatsoever? Yes, alternate energy is a real thing we’re constantly on the look out for, but I could just replace the dimensional energy in this show with Hogwarts magic along with a weak justification regarding how said magic can power my cell phone and there’d be no difference to the narrative. A good futuristic anime about new technologies like Kaiba would make up for that by actually developing the world and tackling all sorts of high concepts through the characters and their interactions with the technology; but as I just stated last paragraph, Dimension W doesn’t do that, so the next step would be to base what’s happening on real-life events like how Darker than Black was based on the Cold War or how parts of Terror in Resonance were obviously based on the Tokyo subway sarin attack and push those metaphors to their limit.
Unfortunately, Dimension W has not made any clear connections with anything resembling actual human history besides the fact that technology evolves over the years and apparently we’ll indulge in inter dimensional stuff in the future. And even if there is one that I’m just not seeing, it’s not saying anything interesting with said connections. The moral of the story I’m getting so far is that futuristic technology/alternate fuels has its ups and downs. No shit, Sherlock. It wasn’t exactly very intriguing when the first adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist told that same story either – and incidentally, if you tell me that all this limitless alternate energy is being sapped from people’s souls like that show did, I will slap you across the face.
Also, this design…why? Thankfully, Dimension W hasn’t done anything perverted with Mira since the first episode, but seriously, why?
What I’m getting as is that Dimension W is generic. Not quite mediocre, but generic nevertheless, like half the Disney Animated Canon. It plays by all the rules of its genre, but it never does anything to stand out from the pack. Its characters are rote, it has no momentum, it doesn’t have anything interesting to say about its setting, and the direction/animation is bland. I’ve talked to a few friends who like the show and they say they enjoy it because of the dearth of cyberpunk premises anime has been having as of late, thus a show that hits all their check boxes like this does makes them happy. Fair enough, but even if I was particularly oriented towards the cyberpunk genre (I’m not), I’d have demanded more than this. In fact, it’d probably be because I’m a fan of the genre that I’d demand more than what Dimension W was giving me, just like I demanded more of all of 2015’s mystery anime.
You know why ERASED and Rakugo are sweeping the popularity votes whilst Dimension W has to share space with shoujo fluff like Red-Haired Snow White and
magical girl light novel comedies like Kono Suba Whatever? Because in addition to the fact that those two anime actually look nice and don’t do that stupid cost-saving trick with the white backgrounds around characters (seriously, what is up with that?), they’re actually using their concepts to give insights into heavy subject matter with the personal attention they deserve. The main characters are always pushing things forward so we never feel like an outsider in regards to the story, and whilst we can argue whether either anime goes into its themes with the right amount of heaviness, at least Rakugo presents the act of Japanese comedy as a thing that’s really hard to be successful at whilst ERASED makes it clear that even if the situation is clearly black, you can’t use pure white solutions to overcome it. And it’s not like their stories are all that original (well, maybe Rakugo’s is). They’re just a little more complex, yet more focused, than little girl hangs out with older man and gets into coil-related incidents. Or in the case of last week’s episode, just “plain incident”.
I mean is there anything about the show that stands out? That we can remember in a few days? Something besides the very concept of dimensional energy and a Professional-like buddy routine? Some playing with the cyberpunk tropes so that we learn something new about the dangers of technology? An actual fucking story with some actually memorable characters that utilizes coils in a way that’s actually interesting? After three episodes, the only thing I can really recall is a gentlemanly thief who goes by the name of Loser and the only thing that stands out about him is that gimmicky name. Is that really the only thing Dimension W is going to have to its name when it ends? Or is the show going to turn into Akira next week in regards to that dead guy at the cliffhanger of the third episode?
You may be getting a bunch of people saying that’s enough for them to you, Studio 3Hz, but I’m not one of them. Because to me, your anime doesn’t even reach the standards set by your genre, let alone exceed them. The Iron Giant is a sci-fi cartoon that meets expectations without surpassing them. Your show is more along the line of one of those 80s cyberpunk OVAs that nobody remembers anymore because they were just as forgettable as you are now.