「過去からの呼び声」 (Kakokara no Yobigoe)
“The Voice from the Past”
We interrupt this arc of your Dimension W broadcast with an extended flashback, finally lifting the curtain on Kyouma’s tragic past. And of course it’d be a tragic past, because Kyouma wouldn’t be a gritty anti-hero without one. Sure, it was possible that his backstory was that one time he stubbed his toe on a coil and now he hates them with passion, and while that would have amused me (for, deep down, I am both silly and horrible), it won’t really make for much of a story. Dimension W, evidently, has—inconceivably—a higher cause than making me giggle. So while Kyouma’s heartbreaking boy meets girl story is almost obligatory, it’s one that has to be told. It’s one thing to imply a dead lover, and depending on familiarity of genre conventions that may be enough, but it’s much better to see Kyouma’s past, as part of the general ‘show don’t tell’ preference. This is where we’re supposed to build more empathy for our protagonist, and elevate him from just a grumpy recalcitrant, so some episode—even half an episode’s time—should be well spent.
And thus Azumaya Miyabi (Ohara Sayaka), the dead lover archetype that haunts so many grim heroes (which would make Tsubaki an in-law; my bad on that one). Even if we didn’t already know that she was going to die, on account of already having seen her grave, her fate should have come as no surprise. She’s a childhood sweetheart, in a diabetically sugary relationship with a broody badass, and generally just too good for this sinful earth. While her end was somewhat more horrific than usual, she was fundamentally not the kind of character with long life expectancy; they magnetically attract terminal illnesses as a physical property. Unfortunately, happiness and fulfillment just aren’t great sources of conflict, but the blood of the happy and content makes for great story-fertiliser. Sadistic writers have hunted these rare creatures to the brink of extinction. We really need to start a breeding programme for them. If only mating was not almost always fatal.
While the turns of Kyouma’s backstory was predictable, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. Even though we know what will happen, that’s not the same as watching things play out, in the same way that we’re told from the outset that Romeo and Juliet are doomed but people still sit through five acts of it. There’s something to be said for effective execution, and I think Dimension W does Kyouma and Miyabi’s relationship quite well. It was cut succinctly, there was some interesting use of lighting, and the incredibly detailed camera made for easy symbolism. And perhaps it’s because we’re halfway through the series and have grown used to Kyouma, but watching his younger, clean-shaven self display emotional range has its own charm to it—even if the dominant emotions were desperation and despair. The comparison to the prickly and jaded Kyouma we’ve come to know makes his breakdown all the more chilling. I don’t think this episode would have been nearly as effective earlier in the series, or if you aren’t as invested in Kyouma as a character. Now we have an empathetic understanding of how Kyouma got the way he is, after a particularly bad day where both his fiance and all this mates are killed (save, of course, for the surfing sniper who’s probably too fabulous to die).
Of course, Kyouma’s past is not resolved so easily, what with the huge gap in his memory and the strange phenomenon on Easter Island. Considering that the coils’ creator had intended much more crazy things for Dimension W than just tapping it for electricity, and that Dimension W follows a more literal many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, there’s bound to be more to it when Kyouma steps into the
Gate ‘nothingness’. I would be surprised if we don’t see Miyabi in some form again.
On the less personal (and therefore arguably less interesting) side, thing are heating up as well, signaled not just by Kyouma breaking out a bigger batmobile, but also by a sudden increase in stakes and characters. So many new characters. There’s no way I’m going to remember their names, and maybe you will have problems too, so feel free to assign these labels to them as you wish: the comic relief one, the funny looking one, the possibly racist one, the token minority one, and the one who will die first. Mix and match. I don’t really care about any of them right now, so even if they’re eaten by a black hole I’ll just chalk them up as redshirts. I doubt they’ll be killed off so quickly though, right after an extended introductory sequence, and at least Loser Greenhough-Smith were on the blimp, and they look important, so some additional survivability should be bestowed on the rest of the crew simply by proximity. What purpose will they serve? No idea. But there’s a lot to uncover on that island. The nature of the coils. The truth of the New Tesla civil war. Whatever shady thing they’re plotting now. There’s so much story left to plumb, potentially. I wonder how long this arc is going to be yet.