OP: 「Genesis」 by STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION
I have long since given up on seeing another season of Darker than BLACK, since the much maligned second season didn’t sell all that well. It was with a heavy heart that I did so, since DtB was one of my favourite shows of its decade, and it certainly seemed to want a sequel. But, no, a Darker than Black 3 was too much of a long shot to hold my breath for, so instead each anime season I browse around for suitable substitute—a DtB ‘fix’, if you will. Some gritty urban fantasy, or some stylish BONES show, was enough to keep me going in the short term, but nothing was going to compare to a hit of the pure stuff.
Yes, my relationship with anime is entirely healthy. Why do you ask?
My long flirtation with other, definitely non-addictive animated media may be over, though. Dimension W could well be the spiritual successor to Darker than Black. The connection is actually rather close. The author of the original Dimension W manga, Iwahara Yuji, was actually the character designer for Darker than Black, and also wrote the excellent DtB manga Shikkoku no Hana. So it should be no surprise if Dimension W draws influences from what is at least partially Iwahara’s earlier work. Just look at our male lead, one Mabuchi Kyouma (Ono Daisuke). He’s a
Contractor Collector, a jerk with a heart, and likes perching on high places. He even has the blades and the wires. And now he’s going to be paired up, buddy cop style, with a Doll robot (Ueda Reina) who inexplicably has emotions (and is also, Three Laws non-compliant). Accuse me of reading too much into it if you wish, but I love it already. Ah, that’s the stuff.
DtB deja vu aside, I liked the rest of this episode, too. Sure, the setup is probably something you’ve seen before, but there’s nothing wrong with the tried and true of cyberpunk. Nikola Tesla is one of easiest scientists to integrate into science fiction (mainly because he invented all the coolest stuff), and an extension of his Wardenclyffe dream is an old fantasy, but isn’t sci-fi most plausible—and most interesting—when it builds on history? Isn’t that what separates speculative fiction with pulled-out-of-the-aether fiction? And doesn’t it just make it much easier to connect the dots? Don’t call it a bunch of old tropes, call it a very easy to understand setting. The world dominant energy corporation? The contrast between the high-tech city and the slums? The genius visionary who now repudiates his gifts to mankind? The recalcitrant who refuses to embrace the future? Those are greatest hits of sci-fi, and cyberpunk in particular, and I have no problem with short-handing some world building by giving the good stuff a new paint job. And, hey, even if you have less tolerance for that than I, or you aren’t as fond of cyberpunk, Dimension W still has all the good things an anime fan wants when looking for a blockbuster. There’s action, intrigue, and cheesecake—the anime Triforce. Come, it’s the first episode and they’ve already exploded a chunk of the city. What more can you want?
So, overall, this was a very solid pilot to an entertaining looking show. It’s even relatively easy to get into for hard science fiction, with only short bursts of technobabble, mostly when the resident techhead gets excited, or from gibberish that can be safely ignored. Otherwise, there are only a few things that may trip you up, depending on your personal tolerance for Exposition By Convenient News Items or a show taking bites out of its single piece of cheesecake a few too many times. This, plus the somewhat predictable flow of the plot for this episode, form some minor quibbles. As of the next episode we’ll probably learn more about the task that had been left for Mira, why she needs to collect illegal coils and, heck, more about everything in general. And then we can start discussing robot ethics and energy policy and supply-demand economics for gasoline and whatever. We’re well set up for it after a pilot that quite adeptly establishes both the world and a number of key characters. With everything looking so good to go, I would count Dimension W as another high potential show of the season.
ED: 「Contrast」 by Fo’xTails