Absolute Duo is a by-the-numbers Magic Battle School Coming-of-Age Romantic Adventure genre piece, featuring talented voice work, decent visuals, and the least imaginative script I’ve seen in a long time.
I might go so far as to claim author Takumi Hiiragiboshi is a soulless hack or possibly a robot, only capable of producing quality through its strict adherence to convention and above average production values.
Where Binan Koukou surprised me by being good, Absolute Duo surprised me for being not.
Our story follows Tōru “Thor” Kokonoe on his first day at Kouryou Academy, an elite high school where students manifest their souls as weapons known as Blazes.
Thor is special because he’s the protagonist and his Blaze can only make a shield. This unique attribute is revealed during the freshman classes’ opening test, where they must defeat the student next to them or be expelled.
Thor’s specialness (and his name) draw the attention of fellow special freshman Julie Sigtuna, a whitish haired Scandinavian girl who is powerful and demure and, because she sits next to Thor in homeroom, his room mate.
Several cliched characters are introduced, like the cat-eared homeroom teacher and the child-as-principle who wears black gothic lolita costumes. Likewise, Thor’s tormented past and reason for joining the academy are eluded to before he gives up trying to swap room mates and settles in for an awkward night wear a beautiful girl doesn’t wear clothes and snuggles up to him because: protagonist.
You’ll enjoy this if: the genre hasn’t burnt you out yet. It’s like Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, except youthier, or Trinity Seven, except with brighter colors and a less overt harem element (though it has notable boob jiggle moments).
More over, Absolute Duo’s visuals and fights are adequate — hopelessly outclassed in this post-SAO/Fate era of mega-budget action anime — but adequate. Likewise, Thor is voiced by Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, who voiced SAO’s Kirito.
However, you probably won’t find Absolute Duo interesting, because you’ve seen something almost identical to it before. A quiet, well meaning teen male protagonist who’s really good at everything, thrust into an embarrassing parent-free living situation with a girl? Magic/Technology equipped teens battling each other to ‘grow stronger’ and one day undo the details of their tragic back stories?
A soft spoken white-haired girl who’s quiet focus makes her a fantastic warrior but she’s fascinated by the protagonist because reasons? She even falls asleep in his lap because she got too tired and left him freaking out over the polite thing to do!
Copy. Paste. Rinse. Repeat.
I expect Thor to swoop in and save the day, Kirito-style on a regular basis and slowly build up a harem along the way. Towards the end, he’ll have a show down with the smirking jerk-sack that killed whoever in his backstory, win, and it will be all good.
Maybe there will be a twist here and there — the villain looks vaguely like the protagonist so could turn out to be a family member or even the protagonist himself — but I’m not holding my breath.
First impression? Obviously not so good.