Anime Meta-Review


Dual! : Parallel Trouble Adventure


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Title Info

  • seen: 1-13 of 13
  • type: TV
  • grade: flawed
  • form: sub
  • made: 1999
  • Review created: Wed Jan 24 15:19:17 EST 2001
  • mod: Thu Apr 26 22:09:46 EST 2001

It's got huge mecha, an exciting alternative world, a bevy of attractive women and the production muscle of pioneer behind it all. How could such a sure-fire thing fail? well, I don't know either, but you can read on and share my surprise.


The story has to have one of the coolest opening i've ever seen. It's both very quiet and mundane while promising strange and epic things ahead. In any case another building is going up somewhere in Japan. One of the workers, busy moving dirt from here to there, finds something weird. A strange rock surface with odd decorations that ooze mystery. However the foreman is having none of this, as all it means to him is another delay. Thus the instruction comes to break it up and ship it out with the trucks full of dirt. This seems a waste to the laborer, but he's not going to argue. He does, however, notice a small keystone which might make a good souvenir. Thus he does, and doesn't, keep a piece of the stone.

And that's the trick. This single act splits reality into two very different parallel worlds. Both worlds initially being shown as halves of a split screen. In one he throws the thing into the truck. In the other he pockets it. We then cut forward some number of years to where his son is having problems at school. He keeps getting distracted by the fights between huge mecha, or flinching at nearby impacts. The main problem being that he's the only one who sees them, thus he is regarded as extremely weird and his detailed stories of these fights as delusional. It's also sort of spooky, because we get to see through his eyes and it does look very real. The `quiet schoolroom' atmosphere while he watches life and death struggles between huge mecha is fantastic to watch.

It doesn't last too long though (curses) as he actually finds that one girl seems to take him seriously. She also happens to be the most attractive and desirable girl in the school. Although, it also might have something to do with the fact that her father is well down the mad scientist path and seems to believe in the existence of parallel worlds. He even believes in the possibility of travel between them...all he needs is a potential guinea pig.


That's a really long synopsis and actually a bit spoilerful. I can do this because it's really cool and because it ends up being largely meaningless. The novel element, the idea of a guy living in one world and seeing into another, fades almost completely once he actually ends up in the alternate world. Mind you it's a fairly different world, since in this world hyper-advanced technology has led to significant changes in politics. This includes a, somewhat organized and polite, state of war between the two leading experts in this new scientific field. It also turns out that these mecha, which appear to have a secret behind them, can only be piloted by young females...leading to a healthy number of attractive young women in the series. The one exception to this being our hero, who seems to have some strange connection to this parallel world. This grants him the ability to pilot a mecha, and also access to surprising levels of power when doing so. Indeed the sort of power that might imbalance the conflict in this world and unravel the mysteries behind this strange technology.

But the whole series has a problem. In an effort to recapture the familiar pioneer magic the anime is loaded full of familiar elements. It also means that the show never seems entirely certain what it is going to be. The giant mecha stuff has a rich heritage, so perhaps it is going to be a serious mecha combat show. It also borrows a lot of elements from Neon Genesis Evangelion and has some comedy, so perhaps it is mecha satire. Then again there's a lot of weirdness in general so perhaps it's an alternate world anime. Although given the profusion of attractive women, all of whom instantly fall (in one way or another) for the shy and insecure male lead, it's probably a romantic comedy. But, at the end of the day, it feels like a big mess. Not only does it seemingly alternate between these styles but it can't seem to settle down on a style of its own. And the elements of the different styles do not integrate.

The main kicker being that, really, it's simply not that good. And the staff seem to realise this because the quality in writing and production goes through the floor in the later episodes. Characterization gets sloppy, the story has holes and the direction is loose. The comedy, the action and every other element completely fail to match the skill, style and promise of the first four episodes. As a result not only is it disappointing in general, but it's not even that much fun to watch. Each element, but especially the `guy surrounded by babes' romantic comedy, is very average and lacks any sense of energy or interest. Indeed the complete failure of the `harem' element, which does absorb a sizable amount of the show, is moderately surprising. The writer knows how to introduce more women, but he's got little idea of what to do with them or how to express personality or interaction after that point. It's just really, really lifeless.

And it's not really a problem that is solved before, or during, the conclusion when it comes around. There's some large gaps in the story, justified as being time passing while crossing between worlds, but in effect it mostly seems to allow them to jump to the conclusion. And the conclusion itself tries to be impressive and tie up all the loose story ends. But ultimately it seems pretty flat considering the number of revelations and character revisions being flung around. And as for the deep secret behind the world of dual, well, don't get your hopes up. Does he select one of his harem and actually express his love? if you hoped that then you haven't been studying how the `tenchi' formula works. Although even Tenchi would give up in disgust on this hopelessly unperceptive and inert clod.

As mentioned this is a pioneer title. As a result the production is maddeningly familiar with many of the characters feeling overly familiar. Likewise the mecha and technology also seem to be borrowed, and badly integrated, rather than specially designed for this series. Still, at it's best the production is clean and bright, with the computer assistance allowing some impressive effects. Sadly this best lasts only for the first four episodes and in the opening. After this point it looks sort of sketchy and lazy and has some really unexciting action sequences. It's not too bad, it's certainly watchable, but coming from pioneer it's distinctly average. The voices are good, although best used for some of the minor characters. The opening music is good stuff, while background music was minimal and forgettable.

Other Reviews

  • Lord Carnage review Lord Carnage has a very preliminary (one episode) and negative review of this title. He considers it derivative, overly familiar in look and formula and lacking much in the way of positive attributes. I hate to be the one to have to say that the first episodes are the best parts of the series (3/5) ... but expect that to drop.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:17 WST 2009