Dimension W – 07

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Dimension W’s best episode to date succeeds because it finally lets us into Kyouma’s past, both the heady highs and the devastating lows. Kyouma’s unplanned first meeting with Azumaya Miyabi, the girl who would become his soul mate, girlfriend, and fiancee, is a chance possibility that fits neatly in the show’s description of Dimension W as not only a place of infinite electrical energy, but infinite possibility.

Miyabi may be tiny and soft-spoken amateur photog, but she’s not scared of the semi-delinquent, samurai-looking Kyouma. Why would she be? He saved her! She also prefers her old-fashioned Pentax camera to anything with a coil, something that Kyouma either shares or will come to develop as he grows closer to her.

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The heady highs come first, and it’s just nice to see a young Kyouma who is happy and has whole life to look forward to. He gets into brawls to protect those weaker than him, and ends up in trouble a lot, but there’s the feeling he’ll be alright as long as he has Miyabi by his side to smooth his rough edges (and her sister Tsubaki to bail him out of jail!)

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Then come the devastating lows, as one little trip-and-fall by Miyabi reveals she has an incurable condition that will wear her muscles away to nothing, similar to ALS. Not willing to let such a fate be her reality, Kyouma desperately reaches out and claws at any possibility of saving her, including a full-body cybernetic replacement. Clearly, at this point, with Miyabi’s future on the line, he’s not above embracing the power of coils.

His efforts lead him into the restraining hold of Colin Keys, bodyguard to NTE Yurizaki Seira, Shidou’s wife. Together they’re gathering test subjects to achieve precisely what Miyabi needs: a new body through technology. The catch is, Kyouma has to agree to join Keys’ Beasts of Grendel. Before heading off to battle (presumably fighting a rogue NTE faction), he puts a ring on the bedridden Miyabi, promising to marry her when he returns.

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The battle is a victory, but only Kyouma and Al survive. When Kyouma awakens (he doesn’t remember most of the battle), Miyabi is already gone. Worse, due to a coil malfunction during experimentation, her head is gone, meaning Kyouma doesn’t even have the comfort of looking upon his love’s face before saying goodbye.

Don’t get me wrong: at its heart this is a pretty familiar story: a man twisted and haunted by his lost love rejects everything that he believes led to her destruction, which Mira embodies. But I can’t deny the intense emotions I felt when Miyabi slipped away, or the pain the Kyouma has felt ever since. He couldn’t save her or be there when she died either.

Also, I’m pretty sure Miyabi was voiced by Ueda Reina, the same seiyu that voices Mira (EDIT: According to MAL she’s voiced by Ohara Sayaka, same as her older sister). I’m grasping at straws in Dimension W here, but I’m thinking a part of Miyabi’s mind made it into Mira’s sophisticated cyberbrain, perhaps combined with that of the Yurizakis’ daughter.

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And that’s another reason why Kyouma is loath to get too close to Mira, or even treat her like he would a human being he doesn’t loathe: Maybe Kyouma sees and hears Miyabi in Mira’s voice and mannerisms, and Mira is guilty of nothing other than not being Miyabi. Sure, she may be the next best thing, but that may as well be the difference between infinity and zero, which is…infinite.

Nevertheless, Kyouma is taking Mira with him to Easter Island. He’s just not taking his old Toyota. Instead, he’s taking his gorgeous, newly fixed up Lexus LFA. The show doesn’t immediately explain why the change of cars – and why a car at all – until later, but for now it’s nice to see Kyouma’s taste in cars extends past the seventies.

Meanwhile, Prince Salva makes his case to the other 59 NTE central heads, and explains he’s using self-involved collectors instead of NTE staff to explore the island in order to avoid any possibility of appearances of internal NTE treachery, of the kind that led to the initial battle Kyouma participated in, as well as Yurizaki Seira’s assassination.

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Obviously, recruiting collectors from all around the globe meant we’d be bombarded with new characters, much like the haunted mansion mini-arc, but it bothered me less here since this is a competition to see who can get to the one functioning coil still on Easter Island, so you need competitors. They’re all colorful characters to boot, and Liz and Loser are there too.

Fortunately for Kyouma and Mira, bringing his LFA means having to take a separate flight, relying on Al to fly them to the ruined island. The other collectors travel with the prince aboard an NTE airship that is quickly downed by the strange and unpredictable probabilistic phenomena that rule Easter Island, as well as the sea and sky around it.

Kyouma does eventually explain he needs the car to race around the contour of the island in order to reach the coil first. And combined with the other collectors’ rough start and uncertain state, the episode ends with Kyouma and Mira in a good early position to be the ones to claim the 50 million dollar reward.

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Dimension W – 06

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Despite their intimate level of involvement in the case, Kyouma and Mira felt like background tourists in the Lake Yasogami arc. This week finds the show back on track, largely because despite the fact there is another whole new set of characters, both Kyouma and Mira feel a lot more connected to the events.

One of those new faces is the “Wind of Africa” Prince Salva-Enna-Tibesti. Loved by the ladies but pissed by how obvious they are, Salva is both CEO of the world’s #1 Robot manufacturer, Islero, and COO of one of the Central coil stations; #60. His aide Lasithi is almost certainly a robot, as is his younger brother, Prince Lwai.

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We learn the former when Salva is able to “bind” Lasithi with a command, while we learn the latter when the precocious Lwai (or “Loo”), eager to experience Japan, latches onto Kyouma (who is just minding his own business) and ends up spending the day with him as he avoids being picked up by Salva’s men.

Kyouma takes a distinct “why me” stance towards Lwai’s continued following, but when he accidentally destroys a fish-catching kiosk at the market (revealing his superhuman strength), Kyouma decides to at least get the kid some less conspicuous clothes.

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That leads him to the clothing store of Azumaya Tsubaki, who has a past with Kyouma (she calls her his “big sister” but they’re the same age.) Tsubaki is also related to Miyabi, a girl Kyouma presumably once loved but lost, and since her death has been unable to visit her grave but struggled to move on. This would explain his hesitance to get closer to Mira (other than the fact he distrusts technology…and most everyone/thing else).

Basically, this episode finally lets us a little bit into Kyouma. We meet someone close to him whom he does trust, and we see the source of much of his present and lasting bitterness and depression. He even shows kindness towards Loo, though Tsubaki’s assistants dress him in a girl’s yukata because he’s so pretty. When Lesithi shows up wanting Lwai to come with him, no discussion, Kyouma lets him go, but wishes him well.

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Knowing at this point that Salva is concerned with Lwai because he’s his new secret weapon, it’s not surprising when Lwai – in a totally different state of mind (or “mode”, as it were) shows up at Mary’s simply to easily kick her bodyguard Four’s ass (after an earlier scene showed how tough Four is).

Meanwhile, somewhere remote, Loser continues his search for Numbers, needing only one more, while his daughter Elizabeth assists. It’s here when I finally realized Liz has been around since the first Loser episode and has simply had a different look each time we’ve seen her (I wrongly thought she was a boy at first, and so didn’t realize the same character was at Lake Yasogami).

Anyway, now I know. And now she and Loser know something’s up at Central 47 (in Tokyo).

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That something is an open challenge from Salva and Islero, announcing a grand battle royale or race for all worthy collectors, as he announces to Claire over a very old glass of wine. Mary, not taking Four’s destruction lying down, wants Kyouma to go.

The venue of this “war to avoid war” will be Easter Island, a “sealed off island of ruin.” It resembles the rocky place we see in flashes of Kyouma’s memory, and it’s likely sealed off due to something to do with Dimension W.

While Kyouma is headed for Easter Island, it doesn’t look like he intends to bring Mira with him. Part of that is obviously because he’s still used to working alone and wants her out of his hair. But perhaps he doesn’t want to involve Ponkatsu in anything that will get her exposed or worse. He already seems to bear the burden of losing someone under his care.

After shooing Mira away from the garage where he tinkers on a car, he starts to reminisce on how he met another pretty young lady, Miyabi, quite by chance. I’m looking forward to that tale.

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Dimension W – 03

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After their first big job together (which nets Mira a cool ¥6 million cash) DW slows down a little, giving us a largely slice-of-life episode that still nudges some plot points forward. It also happens to be a slice of the lie of an android who thinks she’s a human and really might as well be one, since she has the same need for a place to live, relax, and heal her body.

After being paid and praised, Mira’s excited about interacting with society and carving out her little corner of it. I like how we first see Kyouma having bad dreams, then refuse to accept Mira in his house – too much gloom in there for her, plus he doesn’t want to lose privacy. Mira is plenty elated by the purchase of her very own trailer.

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However, that trailer doesn’t have a bathroom, so she has to use Kyouma’s. When he inevitably walks in on her, she doesn’t slap him, but just explains that for various reasons related to her unique specifications, she needs the damn toilet too sometimes, so they’ll just going to have to work out a system, whether it’s a door lock or simply knocking.

Kyouma, who hates all things Coil, seems to be (inadvertently or not) denying or at least limiting Mira’s humanity at every turn. He certainly has his reasons, but it’s not exactly nice that he doesn’t even bother saying goodbye before leaving, or help her transport her furnishings to her trailer (which she then has to carry herself, quite conspicuously!).

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He also leaves Mira to her own devices (tehe) in dealing with the snoopy neighborhood kids. Mira figures it out, being firm but not too strict with the youngins’, the most inquisitive of which, a girl named Shiora, asks if Mira is Kyouma’s new wife, and whether they’re “doin’ it” (complete with the vulgar Japanese gesture for sex I first saw in Shimoneta). Kids!

When the kids get a little rough in playing with Kyouma’s stacked car wrecks, and disaster is imminent, Mira springs into action like a superhero, putting the kids’ lives above worries about being exposed. She also scares the shit out of the kids, who assumed she was human.

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Man, I love the composition of first-person POV of Kyouma arriving at his place to see what chaos has been wrought in his absence. That clever camerawork is also used to reveal, in a way that’s both hilarious and heartbreaking, that Mira’s head popped off in the ruckus, and she’s been sheepishly sitting in her trailer all along, holding her head in her lap.

She’s worried that those kids will think she’s a monster, and also knowing she may have taken things a little far, since New Tesla could have easily discovered her, meaning the death of Kyouma, Mary, Koorogi, and probably others. Kyouma may see the beheaded Mira as proof she’s just a robotbut to do so would miss the fact that head aside, she’s acting like a human. The reality is, she’s much more than some robot.

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As for where Kyouma was while Mira was getting into trouble: he gets some info on the “Numbers”, which are mini-coils that draw from deep within Dimension W for their power, and which have caused bizarre accidents like the art museum, which NTE is always quick to cover up.

The incident with the cars has Kyouma brought to the Police department for questioning, but he’s soon released and summoned to the roof of NTE 47, where the COO, Clair Skyheart, is waiting for him.

Kyouma assumes she bailed him out for some reason, but it’s just a matter of her granddaughter Shiora telling her what happened and putting a good word in for him. Claire also wanted to meet another “beast of Grendel”, having been told about him by another apparent former beast, Albert.

Shiora whispers to Kyouma that she and the other kids didn’t tell anyone about Mira’s secret, and hope she feels better. The kids later pay a visit to Mira, who is glad they don’t hate or fear her. Of course they don’t; unlike Kyouma, technology has only ever been a force of good. On the other side of the spectrum, I could have done without Kyouma kicking her butt and calling her junk…

This was a fun episode that explores how far Mira’s come, how far she has yet to go, and how much more Kyouma has to learn about the right way to treat her, in addition to learning a little more about the Numbers. The teaser at the end is more of a preview for the next episode, which suggests Kyouma and Mira’s next mission will take them to a remote island castle where Robo-Murder Most Foul is afoot. Talk about a change of scenery!

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Dimension W – 02

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Before her first job as a collector under Kyouma, we learn the rest of the conversation cut off last week. Mira shows Mary footage of the murder of Shido’s daughter and mother, not long after she was first activated. This is information that could get everyone killed, so Mary elects to keep Mira under Kyouma’s supervision, partly because he’s competent, and partly because he’s the one who brought Mira to them, along with all her dangerous baggage.

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Mira is determined to become a good collector, which will in turn help her achieve her father’s dying directive: follow the illegal coils. Kyouma wants the coils, Mira wants info about where they came from and who built them. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership. But you can tell Kyouma doesn’t like suddenly having to deal with a partner, especially one who embodies the very technology he rejects.

Their first target as a pair is to extract the illegal coils being used by the flamboyant celebrity criminal Loser, who is staging a very flamboyant public robbery of an art museum for his legions of giddy fans. This crime-as-entertainment is another interesting detail of this futuristic society.

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Kyouma tells Mira to find the jamming devices hacking the communications grid around the museum, and it should lead her to the coils, while he goes after Loser himself. Kyouma goes off on his own, while also putting trust that his new partner will get her part of the job done.

Loser’s son and partner in crime is in constant contact, and does some research on Kyouma in the middle of the chase. Loser shows just how useful illegal coils can be when put to good use, learning about his enemy as he flees from him.

Among that which Loser learns explains how Kyouma can keep up with him despite lacking any coils of any kind. Our boy was once a member of Grendel, a kind of elite anti-coil assault squad. Kyouma is now using his skills and training from his dark past to pay the bills.

Then Loser tells him a bit abot him self, showing him his horribly burned, disfigured face, mentions his lost legs and wife, and blames New Tesla for all of it. He’s on a quest for revenge, and Kyouma would do well to stay out of it.

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But Kyouma will do no such thing. He’s on the job, and he’s not leaving without the illegal coils he came for. The museum curator inadvertently helps him lose the police, locking the place down to prevent them from discovering he himself uses illegal coils to power his sexy twin bodyguards.

What the curator doesn’t know is that within his most cherished work of art lies one of the “numbers”, special classified coils that are Loser’s true goal with the heists. He busies himself extracting the coil while Kyouma very easily dispatches the bodyguards.

Meanwhile, after racing to the highest point she can, Mira finds the devices she was looking for. They were disguised as pigeons flying amongst live ones, but her extra-human vision discerned differences in their patterns. After collecting the illegal coil-equipped robotic birds, she makes her presence known to their controller, Loser’s son, who can’t believe she’s human. But considering her sentience, I believe he’s mistaken. Though she is more than a human, she’s definitely a human.

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When the police start banging on the door to the chamber, the curator tries to fiddle with one of the illegal coils and sets it off, and we see for the first time just how terrifyingly awful a “dimensional collapse” can be, and how dangerous illegal coils are in the wrong hands. The curator is caught in the rift, which then hardens into a horrifying mass of duplicated robogirls mixed with pieces of the curator, who is still alive and conscious for it all. Yikes!

Illegal illegal coils are no joke. And while Mira doesn’t get any info from Loser, who is determined to get his revenge and so won’t recklessly reveal his sources, she did show that she’s collector material, and can work in concert with Kyouma even without supervision. This was another thrilling, stylish romp. Two eps in, Dimension W is looking…very good.

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Dimension W – 01 (First Impressions)

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Aesthetically, Dimension W has a lot in common with previous frenetic, detailed, stylish high-concept anime such as Rolling Girls, Classroom Crisis and Comet Lucifer. What DW has that those shows lacked is a certain maturity and focus to its world and the characters who inhabit it. Some proverbial meat to go with the candy.

In a world about fifty years from now when expensive gasoline is being quickly phased out for clean and infinite energy from the titular Dimension W, Mabuchi Kyouma kicks it old school: keeping his too-cool-for-school vintage Toyota 2000GT on the road by asking for half his pay in gas.

That pay comes from a job that’s become necessary in this new energy economy: he’s a “collector” of illegal coils, from which energy is drawn from Dimension W, getting them out of the hands of unsavory characters in the more shadowy parts of town.

Mabuchi wades in one side of the world to maintain his way of life while ostensibly working on behalf of the other, the imminent energy monopoly of New Tesla Corp. (Shinra, anyone?) which could well destroy that way of life someday.

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Mabuchi doesn’t seem to be thinking that far ahead; he works or money and gas, and has a good thing going. He’s also very good at his job, easily taking down his coil-using targets with good ol’ fashioned steel. But one variable is present at his latest job that he didn’t expect: a young girl one of his targets took captive.

Demonstrating what a consummate pro he is, Mabuchi doesn’t even care when his target has a gun pointed at the girl’s head, because rescuing her isn’t the job; collecting the coils is. So when the girl, who turns out to be an android who can pack a punch in a pinch, frees herself, she slaps Mabuchi for being such an uncaring jerk. This emotion, plus tears, from an alleged “robot,” throws Mabuchi off.

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When he’s woken up from unconsciousness by Albert Schumann, an acquaintance working for New Tesla (who looks forward to the day Mabuchi becomes “his”), he has to leave without the coils he came for, but then realizes he must’ve been had by the robot, using simulated emotions and tears to lower the guard of those she interacts with, making off with the coils.

What he doesn’t know, but we do, is that the girl, Mira, is gathering coilsfrom everywhere she can for her “father”, the reclusive and apparently dying former CEO of NT, Yurizaki Shidou.

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But Mabuchi can’t know that, so he assumes she’s the puppet of a rival collector, tracks her down and captures her. As he’s doing this, Schumann and his men have cornered Dr. Yurizaki, who activates some kind of elaborate coil “bomb” that blows out all the coils in the vicinity (including Mira’s).

The blast also apparently kills Yurizaki in the process, apparently to prevent his knowledge from ever being attained by the company he believes killed his wife and daughter and stole his research. Schumann tries to blame the incompetence of the past executive regime, to no avail.

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With all the excitement of the night givign way to the morning, Mabuchi takes Mira to his boss Mary, whose tech determine’s she’s far, far more than some other collector’s toy: she’s the most advanced and lifelike android he’s ever seen; something that could only have been built by Yurizaki.

Sure enough, when they plug new coils into her, she reacts to her half-nudity with shock and embarrassment (the camera is particularly interested in capturing every line and curve on her body). She even refers to herself as a girl, and it’s hard to argue with her. Finally, she prostrates herself and begs Mabuchi to take her on as his partner in collecting illegal coils.

With her father dead and leaving the implementation of his plans up to her, perhaps Mira sees Mabuchi as a skilled and useful partner in her mission, the particulars of which we’ll surely learn later on. And I’ll surely keep watching.

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