Sometimes you come across “dark horse” animes – the ones that you don’t pay much attention to but when you start watching it, it sinks its hooks in you and never lets go until the ride is done… Dimension W is one such dark horse for me because I never would have guessed that this was a show I would marathon in 1 day! Want to know why it had me hitting play one after the other? Read on…
This anime is based on the manga by Yuji Iwahara, which falls into the seinen, sci-fi and action categories. There have been 10 volumes published since 2011 and it’s still ongoing. Incidentally, this isn’t the first time that we would have come across Iwahara’s work since he provided the original character designs for “Darker than Black”. The anime was adapted in a collaborative effort by Studio 3Hz and Orange animation studios. Now, you’d be forgiven for having never actually heard of these two before considering that Studio 3Hz has only produced three animes (including Dimension W) and two games so far. Orange animation is a little more prolific in the industry however they are not a studio that produces anime independently. They have worked on a variety of different animes from a number of different studios and essentially focus on the fine details of the animation process, e.g. 2nd key animation, background art, in-between animation etc., to bring us a more complete product. Sticking with the somewhat unknown, even the director of the show, Kanta Kamei, has only worked as lead director on 6 animes (including Dimension W). He has worked on Tales of Vesperia, Saenai Heroine no Sodatakata, Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin and Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru, but his most well-known work is Usagi Drop. All of these elements just served to keep this anime a bit more hidden under the radar when compared to the blockbusters that are usually dished up by the big name studios.
Some of the previous works from the character designer and director.
Since this has been placed in the sci-fi genre, one has a basic idea of what to expect – a slightly futuristic world which has seen some hardships but has come out on the other side. True to form, this is pretty much what we find in Dimension W, but the future is never without changes and in this one the world no longer relies on fossil fuels for power but rather, taps into another dimension as an unlimited power source. For those not up to speed with their maths/physics, there exists 3 theoretical “dimensions”, i.e. the x, y and z axes which are part of the Cartesian coordinate system. Not to get bogged down by the details but these dimensions exist in our physical world. In the show, there has been the discovery of a new dimension which has been labelled “W”. This dimension does not exist in our world in the way that we can physically identify but it can be tapped into through the use of “coils” (sort of like a conductor that draws power from Dimension W). These coils (equivalent to batteries) are stabilised by enormous towers that have been placed around the world and society functions quite happily with this new technology however, there is always a catch. The use of this technology is heavily monitored and data is constantly sent back to New Tesla – the company that brought this new technology to bear – so if you were to use it for something illegal, the company would be made aware and you would of course face the consequences. Since this is the case, there are those who have started making fakes, i.e. illegal coils that can draw power from dimension w without it being detected by New Tesla and so you can use it in any way you please. The one drawback to this is that these coils are not stabilised since it is only legal coils that are stabilised by the towers. The other drawback is that there are people like Mabuchi Kyoma around who are known as “collectors” – people whose job it is to find, collect and bring back these illegal coils to New Tesla in exchange for rewards.
It’s a brave new world as dimension w unleashes a world of possibilities.
Mabuchi Kyoma is our main character and is a bit of an unusual fellow because rather than following suit with the rest of the world and switching to coils, Kyoma hates coils and is a believer in old school power. He is one of the only people still using a battery operated cellphone and driving petrol-powered cars. He makes his living as a collector and is very good at his job – so good that he is the only person that doesn’t rely on coil-related power to do his job and is considered almost superhuman in some respects. The plot of the story follows Kyoma as he goes about his job and comes into contact with an interesting robot named Mira whilst on a case. He and this robot come to form a team that go on collection jobs together but the plot quickly evolves as the mystery surrounding the coils, their power and their true potential come to light.
Kyoma and Mira: an unlikely but effective combination.
A true dark horse, this anime picked me up and swept me away on this sci-fi adventure that blends action with intellect as you go deeper into the concept of the coils and dimension W. The story itself starts off rather harmlessly and gives you a steady introduction to the various characters/players in this game and helps you find your footing without spoon-feeding you. I like that aspect of the show because rather than explaining everything, you slowly figure out and piece together the background of the world you’re living in. And just when you come to grips with that, you’re thrown something new to keep in mind, and just when you have a handle on that, some new information is thrown your way. So this story remains dynamic and keeps you mentally engaged as you come to grips with the information you’re given. You are also slowly introduced to the main characters of the series and are left guessing as to whether they are friend or foe.
Some of the other characters we meet along the way.
This is another aspect of the show I liked – each character comes with their own perspective and has their own agenda and goals that they want to fulfil. It’s only as the show progresses that the interconnections between the characters become clear as they each try to reach their goal(s). Because of the somewhat shorter time frame that this show is set in, character development is minimal however this isn’t necessarily a drawback because rather than have the characters move forward and develop, we go to the past to see how they have developed to reach this point in their lives. This was a nice touch because the movement from present to past helps put all the pieces together and actually ties in with dimension W itself.
Events of the past have an influence the future.
The existence of dimension W (the concept) is another element of the show that will have your mind doing backflips as you try to work out how it all works. Admittedly, it may require you to put your maths/physics cap on because dimension W is not just a power source but is exactly as it is named – a “dimension”. There is space and time and in dimension W, these elements intersect where alternative versions of the world – both past and present – can exist. It may take a minute to realise what’s going on but once you get an understanding of things, you can piece things together as you watch. I do like these sorts of animes that push you to use your brain and think a bit out of the box. But this anime evades the pitfalls associated with this sort of genre and skilfully tells the story without it seeming completely implausible.
This anime is not short on action.
I also enjoyed how the story, although sci-fi based and containing a fair amount of action, also deals with the feelings of the various characters. This stems from their various motivations for why they’re involved with the business of coils – no matter which side they’re on. Even the robot that serves as Kyoma’s sidekick has her own set of human-like properties which makes her more endearing than annoying. That, to me, was quite a feat because female roles in anime are usually quite stereotyped, where they serve more to annoy than impress (in my opinion).
Scenes from a cyberpunk future.
The animation itself is decent and provides the right feeling of motion that’s needed in a show of this kind – especially since Kyoma is a fan of old school technology, which includes driving his beloved Toyota 2000GT (or a Lexus LFA if he’s got a need for speed). There are awesome landscapes, which lends itself to putting us in the context of this new world, and the character designs are varied. And of course, the music gets its time in the spotlight. Stereo Dive Foundation, who also provided the intro for Gangsta., features in the OP and that song+animation alone was enough to keep me hitting play just so I could hear/see it again…and again… and again… The ending theme is provided by Fo’xTails and provides a nice outro to the episodes.
Nothing beats some classic horsepower: Toyota and its other division Lexus are featured.
I suppose there is an environmental message behind it all, given the rate at which we exhaust natural resources and fuels, so perhaps this anime serves as a bit of a warning of what our future may look like. Although whether we would find something like dimension w is highly debatable.. All in all, Dimension W has a little bit of something for everyone but leans more on the action side of things with a nice twist of science fiction as the background setting and dose of slice-of-life/relationships thrown in for good measure. But if you’re looking for a short trip to another dimension, then this anime is just the ticket…
Image credits: Studio 3Hz, Orange Animation
End: Dimension W Anime Review