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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
2.5 Dimensional Seduction

How would you rate episode 1 of
2.5 Dimensional Seduction ?
Community score: 3.1



What is this?

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Okumura, the president of the school's manga club, claims to have no interest in real girls. He's your typical otaku, obsessed with a sexy (fictional) 2D manga character known as Lilliel. Then the new school year starts, and a real girl named Ririsa whose passion is cosplay joins the club. Ririsa convinces Okumura to become her photographer and her favorite manga character is Lilliel. Not only that, but Ririsa is into modeling the fetish stuff. The boundaries between 2D and 3D start to blur as this hot-blooded romantic comedy unfolds.

2.5 Dimensional Seduction is based on the manga series by Yū Hashimoto. The anime series is streaming on HIDIVE on Fridays.


How was the first episode?

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Caitlin Moore
Rating:

A dear friend of mine swears up and down that 2.5 Dimensional Seduction gets good. She's a high-level competitive cosplayer and she told me that the focus shifts away from Okumura and comes to focus almost entirely on the cast of female cosplayers. I believe her because I love and trust her and she's never steered me wrong. Still, knowing that didn't make this episode any easier to sit through.

The first issue is that Okumura sucks. He's a hardcore misogynist, which is just as core to his identity as being a hardcore otaku. I wanted to give him a swirlie immediately, which probably wouldn't do much to endear him to women but I don't care. When a girl walks into the club room, he immediately tries to dismiss her as liking “shoujo crap,” which raises my hackles further. Maybe he's not meant to be right but the fact that Ririsa needs to somehow “prove” her worthiness to joining the manga club by liking a fan service series.

Maybe we're supposed to think he's a dipshit. Maybe the narrative will go on to prove him wrong. MAYBE. But he's such a common type of noxious fan that it felt a bit like having war flashbacks watching him try to gatekeep icky girls. Men have actively pushed women out of anime fandom for decades in ways still felt by fandom, as detailed in the paper, “Do female anime fans exist?” by Aurelie Petit.

I didn't get the sense that his views were being challenged; not really. Here he is, contemplating just how much he hates girls, and here wanders a girl who happens to like the same horny anime he does. I know there are female fans like that; some are my good friends, even if we don't have the same taste. She comes across as a “Cool Girl,” here to be a perfect fantasy girlfriend without any need for him to grow first. She starts changing in front of him! She asks him to help with her boob zipper! She shows him her panties! She doesn't care about that stupid girly shoujo, she likes real anime: the kind where girls show their boobs. It felt like a slap to the face to fans like me, who like girly series, get turned off by fan service, and have faced hostility when trying to enter fan spaces.

Also, knowing what goes into cosplay makes it very hard to believe that she could make something picture-perfect out of vinyl, an extremely difficult material to work with, for her first cosplay.


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James Beckett
Rating:

It's going to be difficult for a lot of folks to avoid comparing 2.5 Dimensional Seduction to its very popular forebear, My Dress-Up Darling, and I don't think that is necessarily unfair. After all the basic premise of both stories is essentially the same: An ostracized young man who has a deep love for a somewhat unusual hobby finds a friend (and maybe something more) in the beautiful and blunt girl who barges into her life and ropes him into her lifelong passion for cosplay. For anyone coming at 2.5 Dimensional Seduction as fans of My Dress-Up Darling, though, you may want to be aware of some key differences between the two series.

For one, there's our protagonist, Masamune Okumura. In short, he kind of sucks. Now, I'm not even mad about the fact that his proudly misogynistic and anti-social dedication to obsessing over his one anime waifu, Lilliel. Does all of that make Masamune a very grating and, frankly, embarrassing character to spend a bunch of time with as our show's protagonist? Yes, yes it does. The whole point of stories is to see how characters grow and change, though, so I anticipate that a big point of 2.5 Dimensional Seduction is to see Masamune grow out of his most cringe-inducing habits and personality traits. However, the fact that he's little more than a barely reorganized mishmash of cliches that you only really find in bad, low-effort comedies still makes Masamune suck as a character. Compared to the comparatively very human and interesting leading man of My Dress-Up Darling, Wakana, there's simply no contest. I just don't care to spend a whole season following this guy around.

Then there's the treatment of Ririsa, the gal who dreams of being a cosplay queen. To be honest, both 2.5 Dimensional Seduction and My Dress-Up Darling are not ashamed to flaunt their heroine's assets and take the camera to some leery places while the girls toss off their clothes to don their costumes. Again, though, the area where 2.5 Dimensional Seduction falls flat is tone. Instead of feeling like a very confident and straightforward young woman, Ririsa is the same kind of freak as Masamune, except she's got boobies that she is all too happy to expose to our vehemently antisocial dweeb of a protagonist. It's all there in the title, really. The focus here feels much more like it is on “seduction”, with the whole cosplay gimmick coming across as sheer wish fulfillment. I won't pretend that there isn't an element of idealized fantasy for shows like My Dress-Up Darling, either, since every romantic comedy is rooted in some degree of wish fulfillment. I just wish 2.5 Dimensional Seduction felt like it was wish fulfillment aimed at a slightly aged-up demographic.

I suppose I could also go on about comparisons to the way 2.5 Dimensional Seduction's art and production values compare to My Dress-Up Darling, but that would be getting into true apples-to-oranges territory. 2.5 Dimensional Seduction may not look as polished or lively as My Dress-Up Darling, but it's a perfectly nice-looking anime. My issues with it lie purely in the shortcomings of its writing and characterization. This is not a terrible toon by any means, but it's almost certainly not for me.


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Rebecca Silverman
Rating:

How could I resist rating this 2.5? Even if old-school harem shows are your thing, this struggles to rise above blatant wish fulfillment – it's about two hot girls and one regular otaku guy if the opening theme is to be believed – although there is something at least a little appealing about the way Ririsa is portrayed. She's got some of what made Marin of My Dress Up Darling such a good character, namely that she's fully devoted to her craft and is comfortable with her body. Or at least, she's comfortable when she's dressed up, which reads as very relatable, and not just for the age group. Costumes, anime or otherwise, permit us to be someone else, and that someone might be much more comfortable wearing less clothing or acting in ways that we would never do under normal circumstances. Putting on a costume is freeing, and Ririsa captures that nicely.

Of course, that also means a hefty dose of fanservice, although the episode is actually quite coy about it. Ririsa likes the sexy ladies and has since she was little. Naturally, those are the costumes she gravitates towards. For her, it seems to be less about being sexy and more about the confidence that those characters embody. She really thinks about all the little details and first gets in male lead Okumura's good graces when she doesn't freak out about a strippable figure of their mutual favorite character, Liliel, but instead critiques it for its poor choice of underwear. Cosplay is about becoming someone else for Ririsa, and if cosplay is involved, she has zero compunctions about her body.

That's something that Okumura isn't at all ready for. Thanks to a bad experience as a kid, he's all-in on the 2D girls, and Ririsa doesn't act like he expects real girls to. That's where my major reservation about the story comes in; Okumura has a very sexist view of what girls are “supposed” to be like, and the way the show has Ririsa shoot them down feels a lot like the way girls into nerd subcultures are expected to prove themselves to guys. Ririsa has to be even more into Liliel for Okumura to accept her, and she also has to be into the character in pretty much the same way he is. She has to be one of the guys, but with a female body, or at least that's the way it's presented here.

It could change going forward, and with a planned two consecutive cours (as far as I'm aware), there's certainly plenty of time for that to happen. For a first episode, this ably does its job of presenting the characters and situations, and while I'm very leery of what looks like the addition of a teacher to the cast based on the theme songs, I think that if you like the genre, you ought to be very happy, even with some of the hoary old tropes like “grabs boob and doesn't let go” or “sexy pratfalls” being trotted out yet again. It's no My Dress Up Darling, but it's not entirely without potential.


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Nicholas Dupree
Rating:

Mid-way through this episode, our protagonist proudly proclaims “A true otaku never judges someone by the things they love!” It's a nice sentiment, honestly. When so much fandom can feel harsh and tribal, it's refreshing to see an otaku character who just respects the passion and dedication of another fan, regardless of what they're passionate about. It's just a shame that a few minutes earlier he was loudly denouncing the main heroine because he assumed she liked, and I quote, “shoujo bullcrap.” Those two contradictory declarations do a pretty good job of summing up why this show could have worked, and why it almost certainly won't.

I do believe that this show sincerely wants to be about celebrating passion and fandom, and I don't have any issue with the show focusing on erotic cosplay as its avenue. Sure, it'd be nice for variety's sake if we could get stories about cosplay that don't solely involve the female cast dressing in sexy costumes, but there's plenty of room to do something interesting with the topic while also piling on the cheesecake. It's just that 2.5D doesn't seem interested in any of that. The level of detail put into Ririsa's first cosplay tells me it has some appreciation for the craft of amateur costume-making, but it's mostly concerned with the end product of traditionally attractive girls in revealing and impractical outfits. Anything outside of Masamune's – and presumably the audience's – specific taste in anime or anything else is either nonexistent or casually looked down upon with no pushback. That pretty much sabotages any message it might be trying for.

Take Ririsa for instance. For one, it's incredibly convenient that the first girl otaku Masamune ever meets is not only a fan of his singular favorite anime, but also loves it for the same reasons as him – the better to not challenge him in any way. You might think that Ririsa being specifically interested in sexy cosplay would mean she has some kind of interest in sex or enjoys showing off her body, but through this whole episode, she seems clueless about sex altogether, so doe-eyed and innocent that she'll start stripping in front of an open window with countless strangers passing by, without even realizing what's happening. What personal satisfaction she does get comes from looking as identical to the character as possible, rather than anything more personal. She doesn't feel like an actual character with her passions and interests, but an idealized, literal fantasy girl for Masamune to attach to. Not only is that just kind of creepy, it makes for a really uninteresting romantic dynamic, because one character is getting everything they want for nothing, and the other wants nothing but to give them everything they want.

That sucks because, like I said, you can make something funny or interesting out of this. You could take the idea of erotic cosplay seriously enough to dig into the motivations of such cosplayers. You could maybe even introduce male cosplayers, or crossplayers, or just portray different kinds of sexy outside of the most traditional anime heroine archetypes. For the characters, you could actually challenge Masamune's isolated and chauvinistic attitude by forcing him to share his school-sanctioned nerd cave with characters who like other kinds of anime or push him to reassess his defensive reliance on “2D” girls in lieu of building relationships. Hell, it could just be a fun odd-couple comedy about a pair of nerds slowly making friends and maybe flashing their fiddly bits now and then like in My Dress-Up Darling. Instead, all this episode really offers is some decently animated cheesecake, a few old-school lucky pervert gags, and a whole lot of wasted potential.


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Richard Eisenbeis
Rating:

Look, I'm sure there's some sort of joke to be made here about giving this one a score of 2.5 but, honestly, it's how I feel. Typically, 2.5 is my score for “bog-standard.” If it does nothing to excite me or anger me—or is just par for the course for an anime of its type—I give it a 2.5. That said, my reason for the score this time around is a bit different.

There were a few things in this episode that left me rather unimpressed. From falling back on the accidental pervert trope to the uninspired character designs, I wasn't feeling this episode. And honestly, the actual contents of what we get here involving cosplay don't hold a candle to the vastly superior My Dress-Up Darling. But while I deducted a star for unoriginality, the anime did manage to earn it back—though not in any way I would have expected.

Simply put, our protagonist, Masamune, is a brilliantly realized character, even if I kinda hate his guts. He is the perfect example of a certain kind of otaku: the self-absorbed, holier-than-thou type. He can't get a girl and, instead of working on himself, he doubles down on the idea that he's fine the way he is—and that the kind of relationships others have he doesn't even want. Of course, this is a lie. He's lonely and deluding himself to protect his massive insecurities.

And then he spouts great ideals—like that a true otaku would never judge someone based on the things they like—while at the same time looking for ways to gatekeep Lilysa from both the club and the Liliel fandom in general just because she's a girl. He doesn't even see his hypocrisy, and it's so true to life that it hurts. I don't know if the original author, Yū Hashimoto, was originally an otaku like this (and grew out of it) or if Hashimoto simply knew people like this. However, I am in awe of how well the character has been done, especially in a single 22-minute episode.

So, yeah. 2.5 Dimensional Seduction gets a 2.5 from me. And if nothing else, it elicited an emotional reaction (though probably not the one it was hoping for).


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