© 1999 AIC / Pioneer LDC
You know what I love about Dual? It's so easy to describe. Just think "El-Hazard meets Evangelion". Or "Tenchi Muyo meets Evangelion". Or "Hand Maid May meets Evangel...". I think you get the point.
Dual centers on Kazuki Yotsuga, your typical high school student in a typical high school uniform attending a typical high school. But Kazuki also suffers from not-so-typical visions of giant robots battling in the streets; visions so vivid that Kazuki often reacts hysterically, much the bemusement of bystanders. Kazuki deals with the visions by publishing them as stories on the Internet. This attracts the attention of classmate Mitsuki, who is naturally the most beautiful girl in school. Mitsuki is intrigued by his stories and takes Kazuki to meet her eccentric scientist father, Ken Sanada. Mr. Sanada is equally receptive to Kazuki, if only to use him as a guinea pig for an experiment with parallel dimensions. And lo-and-behold, Kazuki is sent into an alternate world where the giant robots from his visions are real.
It turns out there is a war going on in this alternate world, between the Earth Defense Force and the armies of one Hiroshi Rara. Back in Kazuki's dimension Ken Sanada and Hiroshi Rara are competing scientists; here, they are competing generals. Kazuki winds up in the hands of the EDF and meets the alternate Ken Sanada. It also turns out that Mitsuki has been sent over, although through some trick of interdimensional physics, arrived a month earlier. She, too, is a member of the EDF—a pilot of one of the giant robots, in fact. And soon enough, so is Kazuki.
If the plot sounds even remotely familiar, you're not alone. Dual almost shamelessly combines various anime conventions together into a single package. You've got your lone male protagonist sent to another dimension to battle the forces of evil, an gaggle of females to fawn over him, Evangelion-inspired mecha, the list goes on. Even the characters are cookie-cutter stereotypes from other anime. And while Dual's storytelling does bring everything together, it was nothing I hadn't seen before.
For the most part, Dual is quite a bit of fun. Even the conflict itself is lighthearted. Battles are scheduled in advance, giving plenty of time to evacuate civilians. The two sides fight until one side surrenders and apparently there are never causalities. It's like a game of chess, except with giant robots for the pieces and lots of innocuous collateral damage.
When Dual isn't serving up giant mechas wrecking the city, it focuses on the harem-style romance between Kazuki and almost the entire female cast. This aspect of the plot provides more comic relief than tension, and Dual goes a bit overboard, with as many as four women at any given moment fawning over Kazuki. The hijinks of the characters are amusing, as the female characters try to win over Kazuki by going straight to his stomach. I don't think I've seen an anime with so many scenes of characters just eating.
Produced by AIC, it's a given that Dual will pack solid production values. While the animation is a touch sparse in places, the character designs and artwork are good. A few 3D rendered sequences are also used, and while slightly jarring, they get the job done. The music in Dual is another highlight, particularly the bouncy opening theme. Dubbing is decent, although I found myself favoring the original Japanese language track.
The biggest disappointment about Dual is its lack of originality. For an unseasoned fan this won't matter, and in many respects, Dual is just plain fun. But if you've seen anime like El-Hazard, Tenchi Muyo, and Evangelion, there's nothing in Dual that will surprise you.
The Verdict: * * * (average)
|last modified: 03/02/2004||The Anime Critic and associated content © 1999-2003 Pete Harcoff. All rights reserved.|