by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Dimension W ?
Dimension W has delivered its first episode that I can wholeheartedly recommend. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's also the least action-driven so far. After two episodes of intense plot setup, it's nice to get some downtime with our main characters. Mira in particular needed the attention she received here. While I've been cautious in my praise for Dimension W up to this point, this was the first time that I could fully get behind where it's going.
We open on Kyouma and Mira rendezvousing with coil madame Mary after their encounter with the dapper thief Loser. New Tesla awards Mira a huge sum for foiling Loser's pigeon-based communication network, which Kyouma slightly resents. (He's barely scraped by with his antiquated abilities, while Mira's coil-based computing immediately rakes in the cash.) Mira's success also comes with a warning from Mary – that she should be more careful about using her super robot powers in the future, since New Tesla will kill them all if they catch wind of Mira's identity. Concerned but still happy, Mira shares the spoils with Kyouma and heads home to establish their domestic situation. After some awkwardness involving a shared bathroom (yes, robots do need to pee, Mira exposits after Kyouma walks in on her), she's given her own living space – a trailer outside the gas station where Kyouma lives. There, she meets the children who play in Kyouma's junkyard. He's constantly chasing them off, but they keep coming back to run around through his piles of precariously-stacked cars. (This is a strange future where children are willing to go outside and don't just play video games all day.)
One day, Kyouma leaves Mira alone while he's off conducting some business. She doesn't know to chase away the kids, and they end up knocking over a stack of cars. They're about to die squishy deaths, but Mira throws herself in to save them. They're fine, but she gets beheaded, though still remains totally functional due to super robot powers. The kids see all of this, and it looks like Mira's cover as a super advanced humanoid robot is blown. But when Kyouma gets back, everything is fine, and he's only called in for safety violations regarding the stacks of cars. Even those are quickly brushed away. Judging by the fact that he's still alive, it looks like New Tesla didn't find out about Mira. The answer comes from the Chief Operating Officer of the local coil tower, Clair Skyheart. It turns out that her granddaughter, Shiora, was one of the children Mira befriended. The kids, inspired by Mira's kindness and sacrifice, explained that the accident was their fault and didn't reveal Mira's secret. In return, Skyheart brushed aside the charges against Kyouma. Mira is safe for now, and she's gained a friend – as well as a liability – in a high place.
For now, Kyouma and Mira return to their lives. But it seems that Claire Skyheart had ulterior motives in meeting with Kyouma – she's interested in him as “the other beast of Grendel,” one of the presumably multiple surviving anti-coil soldiers who fought in some sort of war. It seems that New Tesla intends to use him for something, but we don't know what yet. For now, Kyouma and Mira seem to be settling into their life of Luddite slumming and odd jobs.
This episode depicts the awkward beginning of Mira and Kyouma's relationship. Genre convention mandates that they're going to bond at some point, but for now, Kyouma just seems cold to her. The only question is what sort of relationship they'll form. Right now it's wavering between two possibilities – romantic or familiar. Considering that Kyouma is an older, scruffier guy while Mira looks and acts like a child, I hope that it's the latter. Kyouma hasn't expressed any interest in her, but there's also an extended sequence where the kids mistake Mira for his wife. I hope that the angle is “Mira develops an adolescent crush on her older caretaker” and not setup for an actual romance. (Coincidentally, there was a similar issue in another show by the same director, Bunny Drop.) Somehow though, even that scene is still charming. Dimension W has a knack for making Mira naïve and eager without totally infantilizing her. It helps that the episode is genuinely funny – there were some good gags surrounding how she tries to hide her robot powers. (The best was her screaming to distract the vendor as she carried away all her purchased furniture on her back.) I'll likely get a clearer sense of where this is going whenever they decide to tell us more about Kyouma, who is still largely a cipher. I hope that his much-touted disdain for coils builds up into something interesting.
I've been impressed by Dimension W's worldbuilding. Exposition sequences are tight, and otherwise the work is mostly done through implication. While much of this show's setting is taken straight out of the playbook for more adventure-y cyberpunk (with the ur-examples being Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, and, more recently, Darker than Black), enough remains distinct (the coils and their surrounding culture) to make this feel like more than a rehash. While much has been said about how director Kanta Kamei struggles with action, he excels at intimate pathos. The scene where Kyouma walks in on Mira cradling her own head in her arms did a great job of encapsulating their relationship through visuals alone. Mira uses kindness to overcompensate for her physical inhumanity. She wants to be loved, so she hides how much she's struggling after her father's death. She wants to be useful to Kyouma so that he'll accept her. Kyouma, meanwhile, is beginning to understand and maybe even care a bit about this strange girl he's taken in, but refuses to drop his standoffish demeanor. So far, they aren't very complex characters, but they are likable and well-articulated. I'm excited to see how they develop.
As it stands right now, Dimension W is fun, smartly put-together action-and-intrigue anime in a sci-fi setting. It has the potential to seize on its premise's knack for social commentary (energy issues are interesting) and become something on the more thoughtful end of the spectrum, like Psycho-Pass, but I'll count those chickens when (and if) they hatch. Over its extended debut, Dimension W has had its ups and downs, but this third installment leaves me enthusiastic for more. It's a Dimension Win.
Dimension W is currently streaming on Funimation.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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