It isn’t easy having to stay focused and pay attention sometimes, whether that be in the classroom, at work, or in a terrible piece of media. But it is oftentimes more than not a make-or-break element for media- no matter how it looks, however likable the characters are, the story is the centerpiece, so something clumsy or confusing will leave a black mark on something that is otherwise magnificent. It was surprising to see how quickly “Dimension W” grabbed the attention of “Adult Swim” and myself, having been sold on just seeing the catchy and flashy opening. However, a friend’s comment on how the plot fell apart towards the end did leave me a bit wary on whether the initial elation I felt would last as the series progressed.
The plot sounds intriguing enough, taking a slight leaf out of “Gundam 00,” with humanity having moved on from relying on fossil fuels and having achieved an unlimited source of energy through “Dimension W.” Through the usage of “coils” provided by the monopoly New Tesla Energy Company, it has rendered individuals such as main character Mabuchi Kyouma an ancient relic. The main crimes in this day and age, which Kyouma, as a collector, fights against to earn his keep, include the illegal harvesting of genuine coils and usage of counterfeit coils. Kyouma instead adheres to a strict “no coils” policy, instead using threaded anti-coil daggers to restrain opponents and disable their coils and other equipment. This policy and strategy, which oftentimes is beneficial to him, stems from a tragic incident in his past, and lends to his stoic, enigmatic personality and abrasive, no-nonsense dialogue. In the age of unlimited energy, Kyouma instead uses a battery-powered cellular phone and petroleum-powered Japanese sports cars. His character astonishingly pairs well with the perky and sweet Mira Yurizaki, a coil-powered robot whose mannerisms blur the boundary between human and machine, with one of the few tell-tale signs of this being a tail which she uses to interface and hack computer systems.
While these two characters are very likable, being well-fleshed out with solid stories and personalities, many other side characters fall short of the mark. The main problem here is that there are too many of them, and the vast majority of them are given insufficient amounts of screen time, and the series must use this time to advance the plot and also develop the personalities and back stories of these characters. Doing this is the first sign of plot disruption, as the initial plotline of Kyouma being a collector is merely a method of constructing his character. The actual plotline is in the second half of the series, as parts of Kyouma’s past and the reasoning behind his hatred of coils are slowly unveiled. It is here where many antagonists are introduced in the present day timeline, and where the flaws are most prevalent. Side antagonists are shown temporarily and then tossed aside, forgotten, in a rubbish bin, while main antagonists suffer from a fast plotline which develops their characters rapidly and haphazardly. The problem is accentuated because of the fact that the concept and framework of “Dimension W” as an energy source is clumsily explained, with random elements just cut and pasted together to form the mechanicals of this important plot element. The pieces are all there, in the sense that all the details are in the user agreement for a piece of software. It’s just that things could have been constructed in an understandable manner had the producers just chosen to cut out a lot of the secondary clutter and focused exclusively on the main centerpieces.
It’s a shame that this important element is such a letdown, because it significantly drowns out so many of “Dimension W’s” plus points. The opening and ending themes are catchy and draw viewers in to delightful, vibrant scenery and very detailed drawings. It creates a bright, glowing atmosphere, even in moments of sorrow and angst, but the series manages to make it so that the bright atmosphere emphasizes the negative emotions. The atmosphere and emotions are also accompanied by well-done choreography, with fast, coordinated animation and plenty of action. While the fight and ability details contribute a layer of creativity to the series and demonstrate that the budget was not skimped, some of the details that “Dimension W” got correct show just how many ideas got integrated into the series. The most noticeable aspect for me as an automobile enthusiast is getting Kyouma’s vehicles and their engine notes correct. However, the overall integration of these aspects into the series is only half-successful. For instance, a big letdown is that the fight between one of the minor antagonists and the character “Loser” is skipped, and it could have been an opportunity to flesh out at least one of the minor antagonists. Over 70% of the secondary antagonists are not given a chance to display their battle prowess, and instead the series fights with itself by not being able to decide whether to focus on the antagonists themselves or Kyouma’s internal struggle to reconcile with his past. Instead, in an attempt to do everything in a limited time frame, the result is a series where many aspects are half-baked. Even the ending does not give the secondary antagonists closure to their backstories, though the main antagonist gets a partially conclusive ending. The series does have a conclusive ending, but the producers tried to organize it by randomly tossing things around to see which plotlines are fully concluded.
In the end, I ended up at least a bit disappointed at “Dimension W.” There are many good elements in the series, but there are so many thrown in that everything isn’t able to organically gel together in the little time that there is. The series is very well drawn and the main characters are well-thought out, making them very likable. However, many of the secondary characters are underdeveloped, unnecessary, and clutter up the series. There are too many elements and details just thrown in, and focusing on said items means less time and effort is reserved for the main storyline, since the series just doesn’t know who or what to devote the most attention to. Perhaps the biggest example here is the “dam” story arc, where the basic plotline is too weakly developed, the factions and motivation confusing, the tie-in of past events to current relevance flimsy, and the tie-in of mechanicals for “Dimension W” as an energy source poorly explained and haphazardly thrown in to advance the plot. A good effort was made at trying to be creative with “Dimension W,” but in the end, the series falls short of its full potential. Is it worth watching? Somewhat. While a second season may help, the fact that “Dimension W” has basically crammed everything into the existing 12-episode series and churned out a relatively conclusive ending and completed storylines for almost everything means that any sequel would have to untangle said storylines and further develop them. A large part would be about reminiscing the past, which doesn’t seem interesting. Perhaps the upcoming OVA will tie up some of the existing loose ends.