Panning the Stream: Dimension W, Grimgar, Schwarzesmarken

Winter may not be bright, but things are looking up a little.

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The weekend premiere deluge is at last at an end, so Panning posts should come a little slower and less frantically for the next couple days. It was a matter of quantity over quality, that’s for darn sure, but out of the muddy stream comes, if not a pile of gold nuggets, then at least an edible fish or two. Hit the jump for a trio whose caliber varies as wildly as their settings.

Dimension W

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Studio: Studio 3Hz, Orange
Based on: The manga by Iwahara Yuuji
Streaming On: Funimation (U.S./Canada)

In a Sentence: In a near-future where humanity has found a way to tap into inexhaustible energy via “Coils,” Collector Mabuchi finds himself entangled with a girl connected to the man who discovered this energy in the first place.

How was it? Good! YAY.

Overall
As you can perhaps tell from that convoluted “in a sentence” description, Dimension W is a multi-layered, fully realized SF future that wastes no time diving right into its story and characters. The episode itself does a much better job explaining its world than I did, teasing out details as it goes in a way that’s surprisingly graceful and coherent given just how much is laid out in 22-odd minutes of action-focused narrative.

The story seems to be following two primary characters: Mabuchi, one of those rare adult  anime protagonists, and Mira, a less-rare anime robot girl. Barring some very mild but out-of-place fanservice, I really don’t have any complaints about this one. It’s well animated, confidently narrated, and revealed just enough about its game and players to pique interest and encourage me to come back for more. And really, when push comes to shove, that’s all I ask of my pilots.

On the Fence

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash (Hai to Gensou no Gurimugaru)

There are a few things I quite like about this one, particularly the look, as Grimgar is lush with gorgeous storybook backgrounds and attractive, soft-edged character designs. The premise seems to be another gamers-trapped-in-an-MMO story, but with some important distinctions—the cast has no memory of how they arrived here so they don’t know they’re in a game, and the focus is on low-level players trying to survive rather than top-tier teams—that help it stand out from the pack. So, basically, the Grimgar packaging is real shiny.

The actual content is much shakier: The first half has a restrained, quiet tone that rides the line between melancholy (good) and dull (bad), and the second is irritatingly full of light novel cliches involving its female characters’s breast sizes and fanservicey camera angles (although I did like that the flamboyantly gay character refused to put up with any homophobic BS). Since this was a lot of set-up and very little plot, and since this is shaping up to be a mighty slim season, I think I’ll give it one more to see if it can drop its skeevy, more cliched elements and build a proper story. No promises beyond that, though.

Schwarzesmarken

I’m still trying to decide if Schnitzelmachshnell is so bad it’s good or just plain bad, but from its convoluted premise (alt-history East/West Germany but also with MECHA! and also with ALIENS!) to its hideous CG monsters to its water-balloon-boobed ladies to its absurd implication that the guy who thinks PTSD-riddled teens shouldn’t go to battle is the real asshole around here, Schwarzbiergarten is a big hot mess. The thing is, it’s a pretty entertaining hot mess, shifting between bloody battles and conspiracy theories with grimdark abandon. Could this be the awesomely awful show of the season? Only another episode will tell me for certain.

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5 thoughts on “Panning the Stream: Dimension W, Grimgar, Schwarzesmarken

  1. The Muv Luv series that Shwartz is pay off is an impressively mixed bag, and for me certainly falls into terrible but fun. The last one sry up its grimdark scenario will before turning it away tho make it a harem anime. I expect something similar here. Iffy on the whole Eat West Germany Stasi conspiracy angle regardless. Seems unneeded with the perfectly good grimdark aliens they’ve already established as terrifying (Muv Luv legitimately gave my daughter nightmares the first ep)

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    • The Stasi of the GDR were historically even more notorious secret police than even the KGB and GRU.

      In the 1983 of Muv Luv humanity is on the defensive after the BETA broke out of central Asia and Russia has been split in half by their advance with most Russians heading east thus leaving their Warsaw Pact allies alone to stop the BETA in eastern Europe. The Muv Luv Stasi are thus stuck with suppressing information on the BETA from the public (only soldiers and pilots are allowed to know the true form of the BETA due to their somewhat human appearance) and are trying to keep the GDR from becoming a failed state. So their craziness is a bit justified.

      I do also hope that this doesn’t go the route of Total Eclipse (which failed at its highwire act of balancing harem/rebels vs government/human drama) and sticks to the tone of Muv Luv Alternative visual novel (government conspiracies in the background of human drama and grimdark fights vs aliens).

      That being said I’ve heard the Total Eclipse visual novel ties up the loose ends of the anime pretty well, good luck trying to find a translated copy of that tho.

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  2. Wow, the fanservice sure looks superstrong in “We Didn’t Even Bother Let Someone Check Our Fantasy German Because We’re Too Busy Drawing Giant Boobs On Every Female Character” judging from the trailer. Otherwise this could have been really fun for me as a German. Ach, well …

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  3. At the moment, Dimension W and Grimgar are the two that interest me most.

    While DW has a strong vibe of Wolverine hates ZPM’s, there’s enough interesting stuff to make me want to see where it goes.

    As for Grimgar, while I didn’t care for the fanservicy parts, at least they used it to inform the characters, so that’s still better than Phantom World. We’ll see how it goes, but for the moment, I’m willing to cut it a bit of slack.

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  4. I hope you’re able to stay with Schwarzesmarken even if it becomes a hate-watch. I know its hard for any Muv Luv series to shed its eroge roots (gotta sell to the diehards cause Japan’s anime market is fucked) with their torpedo tit ladies but I hear this should be better than Total Eclipse as far as plot and grimdark go. Unfortunately I hear its got a lower budget than TE did.

    Still, Muv Luv Alternative is a pretty interesting universe, Japan surrenders early, Germany gets nuked instead, give the timeline a gander. I’m just a sucker for mecha vs aliens tho.

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