OP Sequence

OP: 「Absolute Soul」 by Suzuki Konomi

「焔牙(ブレイズ)」 (Homura Kiba (Bureizu))

I didn’t come in with high expectations, so I wasn’t that disappointed. I was still disappointed, though.

Before We Begin: Disclaimer

Before I launch into the review, let me preface something: I’m going to beat this show up a bit. If you enjoyed it, don’t let me stop you from watching it. Seriously. In this case, I’m burdened by great experience with the genre, so when I see Absolute Duo make the same mistakes I’ve seen a hundred times before—mistakes that are not crippling in and of themselves, but become so after endless repition—it turns me off. This show is all right so far. It’s decent. If it were earlier in my magical-fantasy-action-harem watching career, I’d probably like it more—just as I do with old shows that are probably exactly this good.

But that’s not where I am. So it’s getting a beating. If you enjoyed the first episode, continue reading at your own peril.

Fantasy Battle High School #4,732

As I said in the preview, Absolute Duo sticks largely to genre conventions. It’s a magical high school, the students fight each other, there’s a ton of technobabble, the main character is somehow different, and he inexplicably attracts cute girls despite flinching away from them in fear when they do sexy things, on purpose or not. (Not, in this case.) It’s tried and true. It’s average. It is what it is.

What disappointed me about this premiere is that everything felt like a slight downgrade from the manga I peeked at. Perhaps that keeps it closer to the original light novels, but light novels aren’t generally known for their writing prowess (exceptions notwithstanding), so it could have used some sprucing up. It’s little things like main character Kokonoe Tooru (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) (Note: Some translaters have been translating his name to Thor. It’s not. It’s Tooru, which just sounds like Thor in Japanese.) meeting Nagakura Imari (Tomatsu Haruka) outside the school, so we have a cute girl inexplicably introducing herself to him, when instead they could have easily started talking because they were seated next to each other at the assembly. Also, the animation is a bit shoddy all around. It doesn’t feel like they’re trying that hard.

Infodump Problems: Show, Don’t Tell

Another thing is Absolute Duo’s exposition problem, in that there’s too damn much of it. It’s not bad that they use all these terms—Blaze, Luciful, the Duo system, Irregular … though that last one brings back memories of a recent adaptation failure—it’s just that I don’t give a shit. Later on, I may give a shit. Explaining why nobody got hurt is cool (if convenient), and justifying how they can pull off all those crazy moves (with drugs—erh, Luciful, apparently) is fine too. But until we are introduced to the characters and develop a connection to them, who cares?

This is the old problem of telling instead of showing, which is an understandable mistake to make. Few writers are immune from slipping up on it occasionally, myself included. Yet I can’t help but wish the anime took a chance to improve on the source material rather than just copy it over. They don’t have to explain all these terms in the first episode, nor name all these characters, when I’ve already forgotten the names of every character who didn’t get in a conversation. Until Tooru and Julie are more than stereotypes, leave out as much as you can. Say “If you lose, we’ll take away your powers,” but don’t throw out another term until it’s necessary. Otherwise it becomes a lecture, and that’s not a good time.

Minor Quibbles

Most of my other problems with the story are minor quibbles, though they add up. For example: The Duo system is a transparent way to get Tooru and Julie Sigtuna (Yamamoto Nozomi) in the same room; they lurch into exposition suddenly and transparently; I don’t like Horie Yui in the principal role; Usa-sensei (Tamura Yukari) was funny at first, but became way over done quickly; and Tooru’s little shield looks silly. I mean, I understand wanting to make the weapons look cool, but it’s such a small shield, and it has holes in it. Guh!

Probably my biggest problem is something that flew by, but was devastating from a character perspective. Tooru is fighting Imari, she asks if he’s willing to admit defeat, and he says he is. Wait, what? They’re hinting at this big trauma, but his determination isn’t even enough to take him past the first hurtle until something else intervenes (the flying axe + Imari herself urging him to take it seriously). That plus Tooru refusing to teach Julie the punch attack because a girl’s body couldn’t handle it—they’re going to need to justify that heavily, otherwise I’m just going to keep screaming “Try giving birth you shitty kid!”—and it’s the small things that are destroying it for me. Which they needed to get right to elevate the average premise over its peers.

Looking Ahead

There are no current plans to blog this show. If I decide to keep watching it, you can always check in with me on twitter, or maybe tell me if it picks up. Until then, I’ll see you next post.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The premise is all right, but the execution is below average. Meh #abso_duo 01

Random thoughts:

  • It’s convenient how Blaze can only hurt souls, not the body. (Though that doesn’t sound any better.) Dog Days did it better.

I wrote a book! My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info) My personal site has also moved. Last four posts: Lessons from the Dresden Files: All alone, Mind meld, Interview with Little Red Reviewer, & Sneak Peek: Wage Slave Rebellion prologue.


ED Sequence

ED: 「Believe×Believe」 by Yamamoto Nozomi



      1. If Usa-sensei turned out to be a middle-to-senior aged woman or even a guy -while wearing that costume- i would have somewhat stuck around but nope, we get a hyperactive girl who looks no older than them *sighs* this world… As soon as not-so-fun bags started bouncing on her desk I lost all hope for this show (and wow her voice is nails on the chalkboard). Agree with it being cliche ridden, heck, even the side character designs are just rip offs. Pretty sure only thing I enjoyed was the opening credits (will probably plan on getting the full song when released). Shinmai Maou no Testament’s first ep was 10 times more enjoyable (albeit after the mid-way op) than this.

  1. They couldn’t have made a more generic fantasy harem if they tried:

    – Dark backstory of the MC. CHECK.

    – His power is different from the rest. CHECK.

    – Beautiful girl falling for him for no reason. CHECK.

    – Generic art that doesn’t stand out at all. CHECK.

    – MC who wouldn’t know what to do with a girl if his life depended on it. CHECK.

    – Cliche magic battle school setting. CHECK.

    As Stilts said, I too was not so disappointed as I didn’t expect much from this. Dropping it after this weak first episode.

    1. The author could have called the series “Generic Fantasy Battle School Harem #49”. That would be the icing of the generic cake 😀

      In al seriousness. I’ll give it the 3 episodes rule before drop.

      1. Yeah…maybe Miyazaki had a point when it came to his anime-rant. Either ways, off-topic but like Stilts said below, the spring season is looking good. Two shows I know on the top of my head coming out then is Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches (hurray for hetero, yaoi, yuri kisses all the way!) and Digimon Tri (our childhood revisited as the 1st series characters are reintroduced in their own storyline set in highschool)

  2. When I saw Tooru and Imari becoming friendly to each other, I thought this was going to be another SAO couple due to their respective VAs. (Kirito and Asuna’s VAs)

    Though that was quickly proven wrong as “Asuna” was quickly removed from the picture to be replaced by silver-haired loli. lol

  3. It is a fantasy high-school harem anime. You can pretty much summarize everything you said about it by simply saying it is that, and people who have found themselves caught in the outpouring of those types of series that have shown up over the last few years will immediately be able to deduce all those other details about it.

    As you said, it’s not that that’s inherently bad as a concept, but not only has it been done over and over; almost all of the examples cling so tightly to the same formula and tropes that I find myself wondering if someone is handing out a “how to write your own light novel” starter sheet to people where they just fill in the blanks with protagonist’s name, childhood friend’s name, tsundere’s name, kuudere’s name, etc. and one or two specific plot points, and all the rest of the details are pre-written for them.

  4. At least the opening (which was directed, storyboarded and key animated single-handedly by Ryouma Ebata) has awesome animation in the first half (it’s also not finished, the last ~30 seconds are episode footage; I hope he’ll have a chance to finish it so we can see more Ryouma Ebata’s fantastic animation).

  5. It was all about Rito a.k.a. “Usa-sensei” this episode, lol.

    But yeah, a pretty typical set-up it seems with some of the usual cast stereotypes – (somewhat) kuudere female lead, nice girl who “leaves” early but will probably return as an antagonist of some sort later, a girl (Tomoe) who already gives off the vibe of being a tsundere who will bash on Tooru for misunderstandings and/or breaking the rules somehow, a shy but otherwise normal girl, an eccentric teacher, and a loli authority figure.

    They try to tease people with what looks like a pretty epic event that’s to happen later on, but from my experience, a majority of the time, it tends to end up not really delivering…

    As an anime-only viewer, I’m not expecting anything groundbreaking or original. Heck, I’m getting similar vibes that I got from Trinity Seven, Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance, and so on. Then again, ever since anime has made 10-13 episodes the common standard for series’ (with a fraction being 20+ episodes, but tend to end up losing steam quickly or something that ends up downgrading them by the end), my bar has gotten pretty low as well…

  6. There may be some who claim the novel was better, well, to each their own, but I found it (the novel) even harder to read than many other similarly themed novels :p. I managed to read to the end of the first volume (as well as a few peeks at the second volume) and I’ll just say that it gets worst and worst plot-wise (not to mention that the characters are insufferable ^^; ). The manga was better, but I’ve not read it past the plot from the end of the first arc yet :p (where I suspect things might go south).

    1. To each his own indeed. I found volume 2 a little better actually, average as it is.

      Show Spoiler ▼

      But I can say that there definitely are better LNs out there in terms of storytelling. :p

  7. I’m feeling a fair bit of Magical Warfare on this one, thus I’ll lower my expectation a great deal.

    I expect this show to have multitudes of pacing problems, typical harem-ish scenarios that will make me cringe and sub par fight scenes despite their high quality make.

    If Absolute Due can exceed these hurdles, then it has successfully exceeded Magical Warfare which I still consider as the worst harem-action-fantasy anime of all

  8. The fact this looks to have its subs come out every Monday (with its small show number) is about the only reason I might consider sticking with it after 3 episodes. As already well described Absolute Duo is standard fare teenage harem fantasy with all the main tropes, just with a dash of (implied) Norse mythology and Swedish vocabulary to differentiate it from the countless other similar series.

    Personally not expecting anything spectacular or amazing here beyond the occasional joke (you have to admit, that stare was pretty funny) or neat action sequence. Absolute Duo overall just screams “seen it all before”.

  9. As I mentioned in the season preview, I’m not exactly a fan of this series, but I would like to point out a few things.

    I’m not sure which subs you saw, but the ones I’ve seen were not particularly accurate and of questionable quality at best. Tooru wants Imari to admit defeat, not the other way around; she’s been going all out with her Blaze but still can’t land a hit on Tooru, whom she thought was going easy on her since he hadn’t called out his Blaze yet. She doesn’t want to give in to an opponent who (she thinks) isn’t taking her seriously, but is more willing to after seeing that he wasn’t necessarily holding back, but had a shield rather than a weapon.

    Saying even this much might be a spoiler, but there is more to how convenient it is that Blaze only hurt the soul and not the body. This is a fairly common trait for whatever special power/magic a given fantasy battle high school has, anyway (Blade Dance had something pretty similar, though that was conditional on realm).

    Refusing to teach the punch was about the strain it puts on the body (note him holding his arm in the hall afterwards), not the pain tolerance required to actually do it. I’m aware that women generally have higher pain thresholds (I can’t really imagine how it would feel to give birth, but it seems pretty painful); however, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that a woman’s body (not to mention a loli high-schooler) is incapable of doing. I remember seeing somewhere that if you tried to put a man’s muscles on a woman’s skeletal structure, it would likely fracture the bones since they can’t handle the stress. It’s not a move that Tooru can use repeatedly, and it’s likely that her body wouldn’t hold up.

    As I said before, I thought the LN was worse than others of the genre even taking into account my lower standards for an LN. The writing was… not good, though I had some faint hope that that was due to translation more than the source. This first episode doesn’t give me a whole lotta hope on that front, and given 3(!?) more options in the (admittedly overdone and often cliche) genre, I’ll probably drop this one soon.

    1. The Tooru/Imari thing you described was how it was in the manga I peeked at, which makes him into a more tolerable MC. Either a translation mistake or an adaptation mistake there, though since he never asked her to give up—I don’t remember there being a time where he said anything, even if it was mistranslated—I was assuming the latter.

      Yes, pain tolerance and physical ability aren’t the same thing, but you can teach a woman nearly any martial arts technique a man can do (and vice versa), given certain minimums. If it’s a heavily strength-based technique, maybe the woman won’t hit as hard, but that doesn’t mean she can’t do it. Adding in magical drug techniques could certainly change the calculus, but from my seat it sounded more like a typical chauvinistic “women aren’t strong enough to handle this” excuse than anything else. I could be wrong, and I’m more sensitive to that than others, but that’s why they’re impressions instead of objective facts, ne? Nishishi~!

  10. Oh yes, do beat up the show, please. I’ve been waiting for someone with a better perspective on things to do that instead of bashing (which in my opinion, are senseless criticisms manifested mainly as sweeping statements).

    I largely agree with how generic the show seems to be with typical character archetypes, though the criticism in general that clichés in a show = bad show is…well, a little overplayed. It’s really in the execution, and I personally feel the LNs did a decent job of it at least (meaning to say I’ve seen poorer writing). The pilot episode, of course, can do much better than this.

    Like you I came in with low expectations but am still disappointed because the quality of the episode was at best mediocre throughout. None of the characters really left a lasting impression for first-time viewers, I’d say, and the subpar quality of animation reinforces that point. My disappointment increased when they didn’t delve into internal monologue with Tooru and expanded on the dialogue between Tooru and Imari, and they chose to waste time with mohou shoujo-esque poses for some of the Blaze users. The little optimist within, though, hopes that the show will AT LEAST get more entertaining as a kind of guilty pleasure at the very least or improve in terms of storytelling and pacing.

    The episode on the whole suffers from the same pacing issues that plagued Madan no Ou throughout, though the latter show was a larger disappointment because of the quality of the source material. Not too sure how things will pan out from here but I can safely say it’s going to be difficult to watch even as a LN reader.

    1. I think you’re generalizing Stilts’ comments a bit much. It’s even mentioned that it’s alright and decent so far.

      It’s just that the set-up and characters are things that have been done countless times already (just these last couple years even) in similar types of series’, so it’s hard to get excited or look forward to what comes next because chances are that it will stick with those same formulas. That doesn’t necessarily make the series bad in itself, but unless it pulls out something really different, entertaining, exciting, or something more unexpected, then even if the execution isn’t necessarily bad, it certainly doesn’t make the series good either since, again, it would be virtually the exact same situations we’ve seen countless times before.

      1. Oh no, he was fair enough. I don’t think tropes are bad, nor are shows similar to ones I’ve seen before necessarily bad.

        It’s just that, when I have so much experience with the genre, if you’re going to do the same things I’ve seen before, you have to do them well or my ire will turn against you. It’s easier to trip into the failure state, is what I’m saying.

        And I forgot to mention it in the post, but the mahou shoujo-esque poses were just silly. I remembering thinking “Well, I guess they’re going to be important. Saving budget, are we?” Orz

      2. The problem with the jaded view of new anime is that it isn’t very fair judgement for someone who doesn’t have the same experience. Nor for those with similar experience, but not bored with the genre. So my typ for Stils would be to include some tip for those that plans to watch most or all of this seasons action harem series, does it seem watchable or should it be the one avoid?

      3. @ Znail

        That’s why I put the disclaimer first. I also can’t answer whether I’d watch it yet, since I’ve only seen two of the four+ ones that are airing. So far, it isn’t looking good, though.

      4. Perhaps. That’s what typing on a smartphone with a tiny screen while half asleep does to you – you don’t have time to proofread your own comments. :p (Not to mention I misspelled mahou shoujo. Cardinal sin!)

        I also mentioned that much of how overused tropes are still…used again and again. You don’t just see this in anime too, but in movies and TV shows etc. What separates a mediocre show from a good one using the same kinds of tropes boils down to the execution, and that includes how the plot and characters develop, how subtly different the lore is, stuff like that.

        Generally, though, I’d concede that some of such shows don’t actually score high in terms of overall quality. It’s a little too early to judge Absolute Duo absolutely, though, but they better improve the quality of presentation or it will be just another forgettable show soon enough.

  11. In a medium already oversaturated with fantasy-harem-school concept using similar dead horse tropes and checklists over and over again, it’s kind of shame that this premiere fails to bring something noteworthy to the table. What with cheesy entrance ceremony, the whole “MC having superpower different than anyone else”, bouncy and overly cutesy homeroom teacher, to the MC sharing the same room with the main heroine with all the typical awkwardness. It’s like they’re trying too hard to hit every single LN checklists and present it in the most straighforward manner as possible.

  12. Mm. About the most positive thing I can say about this is that the backgrounds are really pretty. (At least when the obvious CG isn’t in the way.)

    Well, no. I also kind of like the way Torasaki treats the main character. Heh.

  13. i dont know the novel nor read it so i am completely blank on information so for me maybe episode 5 or 6…

    i have learned my lesson already it would be risky (i call it risky, YES) to drop this anime on first episode alone just to know later it became an anime like inou battle that becomes a hidden gem of the past season.

    The Last Idiot
    1. To be fair, Inou Battle had a much better premiere. If you drop a show you do risk missing a gem … but you also risk pissing away valuable time by watching a crappy one. I’m not saying to insta-drop it … I’ll still likely give it a few episodes … but risk cuts both ways.

  14. Let me put it this way: While watching the show, I thought “now all that’s missing is the MC stumbling and falling with his nose next to some bishoujo pantsu, then I’m out”. Which subsequently happened in the preview.

    Good lord.

  15. bahahahaha.
    Not this again.
    @Stilts, Maybe you were in a bad mood but you enjoyed trinity seven and not this? What part of hyper generic trinity seven was any better than this? the blatant fan service?
    I normally lay low and comment a bit but you’re pulling an “Enzo” here and god how that gets on my nerves. I have to rant. I have to tell you I don’t like how you put it.
    Defending generic show #4,302 aside, this premiere is everything you expect from a show like this, based on source material with the same content. Problem with generic this, generic that is simple: “The formula works, why change it?” This sells so it will be spiced, cut, copied, pasted and sold as brand new. Nothing new here and this hasn’t changed in many many years.
    Your best bet is to watch anime original stuff, they sometimes pull some interesting spins on things or carefully pick the unusual, innovative shows that appear every new moon and are largely ignored and ultimately doomed to oblivion. Whenever you feel things are getting stale in this medium it means you are no longer enjoying it. Don’t ask too much of it and don’t take it too seriously. Always remember, it is anime you’re watching.

    Helvetica Standard
    1. Problem with generic this, generic that is simple: “The formula works, why change it?”

      At the beginning everything is innovative. But if you use the same forumula over and over and over again , its becoming more and MORE and M-O-R-E generic, and then you reach the point where the formula is NOT working anymore. And I dont get why one should stop critizising because its just anime? There were enough shows in the last seasons that showed it can be done better…

    2. @ Helvetica Standard

      You’re misunderstanding something. I mentioned this above, but the problem is not that it has all been done before, nor that I can predict where it’s going. The problem is that it’s not done terribly well.

      When something is predictable, that can be fine if there’s good execution; sometimes we just want to read/watch something we know we’re going to like, even if it doesn’t blow our socks off, and that’s fine. I do it a lot! That’s why slice of life anime is a thing, and I enjoy many of them dearly.

      But when you can’t stand on novelty, surprise, or anything like that, you have to do all the small things well. It’s easier to slip into the failure state with experienced viewers, not because they’ve seen it before, but because they’ve seen it before done better.

      That’s why I prefaced the whole thing by saying that it was decent, and that it’s only seeing the same mistakes repeated over and over again—mistakes being the key word there; the same tropes are fine, but mistakes are not—that make me automatically give it a harder time.

      And Trinity Seven is at least partially responsible for the flogging. I went into that hoping for a well-executed story, but it went downhill fast. It partially recovered, but it did make me a little more careful going forward.

      Ohandalso, I don’t know what you mean by pulling an Enzo, but I like Enzo, so thanks. And Libélula is right: just because it’s anime doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve criticism when it’s fucking up. We criticize because we care.

  16. This show is like something a chuunibyou would think up in his daydreams and it’s like Magical Warfare 2.0 so far. I mean, this show is built out of every single cliché of this genre without any interesting input of its own, yet with all of its flaws. Bad infodumps, generic and aggravating characters, stupidly named powers, terrible production values, casual sexism and lame fanservice. It’s like something written by an anime-writing robot. They just didn’t care, I suppose.

    Not touching this with a ten-foot pole.

  17. It’s quite telling when the most interesting part of the episode was waiting to see how long the “jii~” sound effect would be this time, and how it would circle around Tooru this time.

    The fact that the anime didn’t even make an effort to make viewers care about this supposed friendship between Tooru and Imari was pretty dissapointing. The reveal of them having to fight lost all tension. With some development it might have been a better scene.

  18. The best thing this adaptation made: opening sequence animation.
    The martial art moves at the beginning looks cool and fluid. It looks stiff for character weapon introduction and actual battle sequence though, I was hoping that they kept the qualities…
    That introduction battle handled a bit poorly indeed, in the novel he didn’t look that obviously trying to give up, he instead told Imari to give up, since he know she can’t win against him if he fight seriously, I don’t know what kind of mixed up between the adaptation team member but they just made it looks like it’s the opposite <___________<
    The novel was really generic though…

  19. The one thing, or actually, things that bugs me the most are THE FUCKING BOOBS. What are wrong with them?! The proportion and the way that they are put on to the female character designs are just plain weird. The overall character design proportion (aside from the loli, and how they look in the OP,) doesn’t look great, but the boobs are the biggest offender. I know this is a harem anime, and I am not expecting it to be chaste at all. However, if you are going to put a bunch of girls and some fanservices in your show to sell the story, get the boobs right! Make them sexy not weird circular blobs sticking out of the chest!

    RESPECT THE BOOBS! Darn it!. (And I am female, I know how the boobs work.)

  20. Don’t want to be those kind of guys but… pain wise => A kick in the nuts > birthing.

    Birthing is a loooong prolonged pain, yes. Bright side…baby =D

    A decent hard kick in the nuts can knock you out maybe cause injury leading to death.
    An outlandish hard kick to the nuts will outright kill you.

    Just Saying ~

    1. Women’s crotches aren’t exactly shielded. The sensitive spots aren’t such an easy target, but there are plenty of nerve endings there too.

      And I’m sure getting shot or stabbed is worse than either, adrenaline aside. It isn’t a contest. My point is that women are plenty strong, so “You’re a girl, so no” isn’t a good reason. Like Salbazier said below, her being tiny would have been reason enough.

    1. Oh my god….those hands 0_0….this disproportionate hands!Man, this is why I hate these type of moe-blob character designs. The hand is supposed to cover a majority of your face when spread out but hers will probably only get half of it.

  21. Uuuuuuuuuu

    I’m gonna hate myself once this anime finishes, oh well.

    Not a very good first episode to be honest, animation was all over the place, used tropes are used and generic roles are filled one by one. Even through the opening as the numerous girls were shown, I pretty much counted outloud “Harem girl number 1… Harem girl number 2… Harem girl number 3…”

    Now I guess the Blaze (JUSTBLAZE) seems interesting since it isn’t magic for once (I will cry if magic will be introduced) as the opening showed MC literally get burned into a crisp what I assume is his Blaze. So there might be some EVIL side effects to the Blaze. I mean when the “drug” is called Luciful, one should quickly start questioning.

    Usa-sensei tho, TAKE ME NOW

  22. This is perhaps the most generic higschool/action/magic/harem LN-adaption I’ve seen yet. The only thing that distinguishes it from the rest of the pack is that it’s missing the violent tsundere, but I’m sure one will show up soon enough.

    I feel your pain on this Stilts, cliche as it may sound shows like this really are becoming a blight on the anime industry. It’s not that the concepts and tropes themselves are necessarily bad, it’s that they’re overused. Worse yet these LN advertisements only spend one cour introducing the setting and tying up a minor plot point or two before ending without resolving any major conflicts, only to be replaced by another LN adaption that does the exact same thing the next season. It’s comparable to how authors keep churning out near identical novels with different covers such as Brian Jacques with Redwall, Clive Cussler’s thrillers, or R.A. Salvatore with Drizzt. The first few books you read are great, but after a while the formula gets stale and looses its magic. Hopefully the anime industry will eventually transition away from the business model of acting as expensive advertisements for these dime a dozen rags.

    1. My only hope is that people realize that the LN well has been dug too deep, and slow down the number of them adapted each season. Of course, that’ll only happen if the LN doesn’t get a significant boost in sales and adaptations stop being useful commercials for them, so who knows. We’ve gone far beyond searching for hidden nuggets into blowing up the mountainside looking for that gold vein; I think this gold rush is pretty tapped out, at least in terms of quality. If the studios are gonna focus on this genre, I’d at least hope they would continue with the better ones and not leave so many dangling hooks at the end of every series.

  23. Since I don’t really feel like complaining about how underwhelming that first episode was, I’ll just add something of note.

    (Note: Some translaters have been translating his name to Thor. It’s not. It’s Tooru, which just sounds like Thor in Japanese.)

    This actually has me very confused at the moment. The hiragana spelling of his name is, in fact, Tooru. However, the official site list him as Tor. His actually name is written in kanji though so if it was supposed to be Tor I would have figured it’d be in katakana. (Which is funny because his friend Tora’s name is written in katakana.)

    In conclusion:

    Japanese is confusing as s***, why the hell am I trying to learn it?

    1. I take it as this: He’s Japanese, so his name is Tooru. If he was half-Gimlean (or some other thinly-veiled-expy-for-a-Scandinavian-country), then Thor would be reasonable, if silly. Since he’s not, Tooru it is.

      And to be fair, English is bonkers too. It’s just a different kind of bonkers. The larcenous, constantly-evolving kind of bonkers. It’s fun ^D^

  24. I honestly think we’re all judging the first episode too much. And like Helvica said, its kinda weird how you enjoyed Trinity Seven but this gets complained on the first episode. Sometimes anime has an eh start but ends up amazing later, everyone judged Cross Ange because of that one scene in the first episode which doesn’t happen much throughout the series and Cross Ange turned out amazing in the long wrong. I know people have their own opinion.

    I would give it honestly a few more episodes before you really judge it.
    And if it doesn’t get any better than drop the series. But that’s just me honestly.

    1. People had primed reactions. Sexual harassment has been taught to be criminal in most education systems in the world. When people contacted those scenes, there’s instantly a wall in front of them, a wall that takes effort to look beyond. That’s why Ange got the treatment it got. Not everyone made the extra step to look beyond the cover.

      For Absolute Duo, people were also primed by the many mediocre renditions of this genre. Like Trinity seven, it carries a similar premise of a magic academy. People just automatically linked the two up and shut it down. After all, for what we can see so far, it’s a complete rehash of all the other magic academy shows that are mostly mediocre.

    2. The difference is that I didn’t really end up liking Trinity Seven that much. It was okay, just as this is okay. The difference is that Trinity Seven had a better first episode with an encouraging main character … and then squandered its advantages. This isn’t showing any advantages.

      There’s not much of a different, but considering Trinity Seven was only all right in the end, it’s not fair to say “You liked that and not this, wtf!”. If this continues as it is now, I’d rank Trinity Seven BARELY higher, though functionally they’d be about the same. And there’s still plenty of time for Absolute Duo to prove itself to be better.

      It just didn’t in the premiere. Thus, it gets a beating in the one episode I’m liable to cover.

  25. ‘so we have a cute girl inexplicably introducing herself to him, when instead they could have easily started talking because they were seated next to each other at the assembly’

    That’s what happened originally in the source material.

    ‘Another thing is Absolute Duo’s exposition problem, in that there’s too damn much of it. […] But until we are introduced to the characters and develop a connection to them, who cares?’

    Is it? Doesn’t seems to much to me -but then again maybe I was desentized/used to downclock my brain with this of show. I don’t think throwing out the terms itself problematic. That’s par the course for fantsy works and cannot be avoided when the characters talked about them constantly. There is also the opposite problem: explain too little and then you’ll have people complaining that they don’t explain anything. Rather than complaining about the amount of terms, I rather complaint about the delivery They could have give explanations in a way that feels more natural or more ‘show, not tell’.
    ‘That plus Tooru refusing to teach Julie the punch attack because a girl’s body couldn’t handle it—they’re going to need to justify that heavily, otherwise I’m just going to keep screaming “Try giving birth you shitty kid!’

    You’re going to scream a lot then. :v As much I like this series, Tooru’s behavior can be facepalm inducing at times.

    They could really have come up with something better there. I mean, Yulie is tiny. Superhuman or not superhuman, saying that her small stature would not up for a physcially intensive technique would have make sense.

    Pity that the animation wasn’t to good. The manga art was gorgeous and the main reason I start reading this in the first place. At least the OP and the Blazes was cool enough.

    1. I don’t consider “that’s what happened in the source material” to be a good reason to do something, especially since the manga did what I described, and was better for it. Also:

      Yet I can’t help but wish the anime took a chance to improve on the source material rather than just copy it over.

      On the exposition, you’re right. The problem was less about the amount than how flagrant the delivery was. I still maintain they could, and should, have done less, but they could have done most of the infodumping they did if they had worked in the dialogue more naturally.

      And I know, right? If Tooru just said “I don’t know. It takes a lot of strength to do safely, and you’re pretty small. It might be too much for you.” would have been fine. Maybe a quick cut away later on to them trying it out (don’t even show it), just cut back in and go “No, that’s not going to work”, and Julie holding her arm and saying “That’s too bad.” Or something to that effect.

  26. As much as this show screamed mediocrity, I also wasn’t too disappointed. I haven’t read the source material, but it seems like you standard battle fantasy fare, though not as enjoyable as Bladedance (so far at least).

    Now if we want to talk about a very bad first episode, I can’t wait to see the discussion on Testament. I have read a lot of the source material for that show and the first episode made this show seem a lot better to me albeit still mediocre.

  27. This is everything I expected it to be when I read the manga, AVERAGE. Everything is “okay, not good or not bad”. I’m surprise this LN got a green lit for an anime adaption, because nothing is interesting AT ALL.

  28. M’kay, so the series is called Absolute Duo, the loli headmaster says it in front of the entire student body as if it were holy scripture and no one thinks to ask what that might mean or even mention it? Seriously?


    Ryan Ashfyre
  29. I forgive this on the basis that Suzuki Konomi is singing the OP. I’m very forgiving like that.

    I’m just not going to mention that I watched this during my lunch break, all the whilst slowly losing my appetite because Arata has officially ruined all harem protagonists for me. Damn it! Also the subs were calling Tooru ‘Thor’ and I just couldn’t take it seriously because that belongs on a Marvel poster or some Norse mythology textbook. Also the season preview fooled me with its pretty art; animation for this was just… sub-par. I guess?

  30. >read 4 volumes of the LN
    You know, I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to the magical-fantasy-harem-action-ecchi-light-novel genre. I eat this sort of series for breakfast. I could always find some things that I would like in a series and get some enjoyment in reading it.

    But for some reason, this series is just different. There’s just something about everything in this series that was just…bad(and I hardly say that). The writing, the characters, the plot, almost everything is just not the same as the other ones of the same mold. Sure, the girls are cute and even then that’s pushing it since the girls’ boobs(minus Julie and the director) seem like inflated balloons strapped to their bodies.
    I don’t mind cliches and character archetypes but this one doesn’t execute them in a fresh or a different way that would make it stand out. There’s no hook to it and it’s just totally flat. I hoped it would get better as I read on but it just didn’t.

    I’m still going to watch the anime just because I can. I’m just the sort of person who would torment myself in watching this. Maybe, just maybe, they could make some sort of improvement in the way it would be executed. At least there’s the OP song which is so good as expected of Suzuki Konomi.

    PS. As much as I like Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, he’s kinda getting typecasted to voice these kinds of roles. Just this season, aside from this, he’s in another series of the same genre(Fafnir). And all 3 MC that he’ll voice this season seems to be LN adaptations, though one isn’t a magical-fantasy-action-ecchi series. Next season, he’ll be in 2 more LN adaptations(and 1 manga adaptation). He’s the seiyuu in demand currently I guess. I’m already hearing the complaints about him. Poor guy.

    1. This is the same thing of what Jun Fukuyama pulled after he voiced Lulouch. It always happens every couple of years or once in a decade. (i.e. a new male MC gets a lucky break with a main MC role and end up being huge success and gets fame and high prized role of all other anime following after for a couple of years.)

  31. Episode 2 was good. A few minor problems, such as the ’embrace me’ joke didn’t utilized to its maximum funniness, forced comedic situation, and superflous butt-shot. However, the scenes with Julie was done excellently. Good second episode overral. Also, unlike with the first ep, this time the studio removed the sexist bit.

  32. From the current pacing, we may get 12 episodes that cover up to 4 volume of LN. This seems to be a bad news.

    Or maybe they can somehow extend (which they should) the content of volume 2-3 for the rest 10 episodes.
    Show Spoiler ▼

  33. Episode 3 was terribad… ugh. I had to vent.

    Transitions: chaotic, nonexistent. Scenes just “happen” one after another, with little explanation. For example, why is Tooru watching Hotaka run? Why is Hotaka running? How far did Hotaka just run? If you knew the answers to those questions, then you read the book! Otherwise, you were clueless like most viewers. (Why is how far she ran relevant? Because it tells us how powerful they’ve all become! It’s important as part of the setting, but now it’s lost. It’s just another scene where someone’s trying to run to get better at something. W/E.)

    Battles: LOL. The battles were laughably bad. Hotaka’s “Attack” was more cute than threatening. It’s a LN series about people hopped up on nanomachines fighting hand to hand, yet all of the violence was removed to the point of the fights being just plain silly. Blood? What blood?

    Animation: The scene at the end where Julie falls on Tooru was the one that stuck out in my mind. If she’s supposed to trip, make it look like it, but it looks like she just dove on him for the hell of it. Screams low-budget.

    Guess I’m just watching it for the “Ja”s now. It stared out okay, but this episode was terrible.


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