Absolute Duo Episode 1 [ First Impression ]

Oki’s Impression

Right off the bat my major interest with Absolute Duo stems from the fact that it goes against the tone of what it says it is- This is supposed to be a harem show but it both lives and breathes initial tension and emits no plot of that nature-…at first. And that’s what I wanted it to be the entire time. Unfortunately it does not stay that way.

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Even in the beginning we have our main character, Tohru/Toru THOR IN SOME TRANSLATIONS IDK??? thor lmao omg I can’t believe they romanize it that way omfg, who is seemingly nonchalant. I admit in the first few scenes I saw in the beginning I thought, no way, this guy? He seems like a wimp. But the interesting thing about the intro is it was supposed to seem oblique and do the normal anime thing of cutting us to the real stuff, and I was surprised to find him a little more laid back? Despite his appearance he wasn’t your average jump in guy right away, he was laid back to an extent. I kind of realized eventually he was just typical and that was disappointing, but I had hope for those glorious ten minutes, sobs.

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Despite using Absolute Duo for Japanese practice, the major plot lays itself out pretty nicely. Everyone will have a ‘partner’ but it’s not that simple, YOU GOTTA FIGHT TO PROVE YOSELF and nothing is creepier than Sakuya the Chairman. But what I was worried about was still pretty much up in the air: why the hell is this labeled a harem show? Is it going to be a subtle build up harem show and mostly ignore than the girl’s all want him or are we going Infinite Stratos here? It was a bad sign when two potential love interests show up RIGHT AWAY. Then it was kind of crushed when the chairman(? I caught her name better than her title lol) is like “lol partners aint easy bro have fun fightin’ with yo blaze’

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I like you, troll lady. But isn’t it kind of predictable for an anime with fightng to go OOOOH IT’S SPECIAL NOW YOU ALL MUST FIGHT OOOOH!!!! Even worse, the cool opening is really cheapened when all the fighting stances used in it are stock footage you don’t even wait an episode to show ugh. A lot of this episode really shows how generic this whole premise is. I’m a guy with a SHIELD I’M SO SPECIAL I am beyond what you even know mortals fear me I am the main character. The girl he hangs out with first already is so generic, I don’t mean the main girl because for once we aren’t getting the red haired kind of prominent female love interest main- nope, smaller boobed almost loli quiet girl. And I’m cool with this, I liked Angel Beats. Even so, it’s funny that the first girl is basically a decoy he fights, CAUSE YA GOTTA FIGHT TO PROVE YO WORTH.

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But what’s the issue? Well, shit, it’s kind of boring at times. Like I get you’re trying to say this is a cool special school but I should be more invested before you throw me in? Already Toru/Thor’s got this angsty bullshit going on like ooooh my family died and some shit and there’s this sword guy who I gotta beat, Okay I’m calling it now, his Blaze manifested as a shield because in his heart he had a desire to protect those around him from ever being hurt again. I hope not. Actually this show looks like it has a lot of promise. There’s a lot to be said for the animation already and the art style isn’t bad, and I actually enjoy the OST and find in some places it can be refreshing. The resting music is a little different than normal.

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Julie actually looks interesting. If I had to give a reason I think it might be a good show it’s because it’s not going through the tired and true main girl routine. I know that might sound vague to you but isn’t it a little tiring to see the same type of heroine?  It’s just. . . so far? It’s a set up episode man. I can’t say I hate it, it’s a lot of talking and some fighting beforehand and there’s a lot of explanation I had to listen to a few times to get since I was watching it raw, but honestly? I didn’t even need to? Most of this show explains itself. If you ever need to watch an anime and practice your Japanese, something with a plot like this might help because I admit there are times I went ‘wow, why did I bother translating that? It said exactly what I thought it did.’ Get your verbs down and this show kind of tells itself.

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All of the girls are introduced very quickly and they’re very. . . I dunno? I can already feel some of my interest slip the more focus goes on them and away from the premises that deal with the main character. I guess this whole idea would mean a lot more to me if I didn’t feel the ‘partner’ dynamic was kinda moved in on by every girl imaginable?  They’re all gonna want him. And he’s the SUPER SPECIAL SHIELD GUY.

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Ultimately what can I rate this? It’s potential is a 7 out of Ten. . but I honestly didn’t enjoy it. It might turn out better but with so many people interested? I’ll pass. This is my final review for it unless magic happens. My enjoyment? a 4 out of ten. Cute girls in a serious plot, been done before and works well in other places, but not what I’m looking for in my Winter lineup.

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Oki

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6 Responses

  1. I’m liking it as of episode 2. They introduced some intriguing elements, but it remains to be seen how it will play out. I think that whether they begin to address the question raised in the final scene of the episode in the next, or they just fill it with lots of school life scenes, will be a sign as to how serious they’re taking their overall plot here…

    To be honest… I’m not seeing the harem aspect anymore, especially after certain decisions that were made by certain characters, along with certain revelations. Maybe it’s not the MC that gets the harem, or harem is being used just to mean lots of nice girls in the main cast.

    To be honest, watching Tor, Tora and Julie is like watching Tatsumi, Lubbock and Akame in a different life. Thor is more composed than Tatsumi, but less ambitious. Tora is very book-friendly and such a bro, but not perverted (granted Lubbock did that to deflect feelings for Najenda). Julie has that same initially detached, yet eventually heartfelt attitude to those she works with, but she’s not crazy about eating. It’s rather awesome!

    I also really liked this one line that Tor had about protecting someone, which would’ve sounded like typical MC talk, if not for a revelation by Julie earlier and the fact that he’s shield equipped.

  2. Okay, so… I’m actually so proud of the latest episode (8)! I’m seriously just as intense about it as I am about Aldnoah.Zero’s latest episode!

    That’s kind of funny actually, because as I look back at the Team’s 2015 Winter Preview for confirmation, just about the same people were interested in both shows (Eva, Vantage, Savage, MidnightDevont and you, Oki). Although, I have no idea how many of you decided to follow the show after all.

    Then again, maybe I’m a sucker for character development, plot progression and foreshadowing especially that send my mind into theory-crafting mode, which certainly happened thanks to episodes 7 and 8. And, to be fair, I must admit that I already know my theory is correct thanks to a spoilerific piece of promo art, which was probably leaked.

    Before I describe what the flow of elements has been like, let me start with something shorter and highlight some of the nice things I’ve seen this series do up to now:
    +Good at following up with new elements almost immediately if not in the next episode
    +Focus on more than just Julie and Tor, while still keeping them at the forefront
    +Atypical behaviour for something called a harem (distinct stands on feelings, girl who apologizes competently for misunderstandings, good reasons for bonds)
    +Basically a-harem-but-not-really show
    +This way of seeming like it’ll cut off certain moments like a typical harem, but then letting it fly free
    +Little that’s outright wasted as far as plot (characters, past events, implications of history between characters, Duos that get along so there’s no annoying bickering)
    +Catches itself on things that would be too convenient during fights
    +More or less total annihilation of “I’m super special” trope
    +Kind of fools you with its cuter art style until reality comes knocking
    +Making revelations that simultaneously enhance overall mystery, but not in a frustrating “answers just create more questions” kind of way
    +The studio seems to take the plot seriously, or at least have pride in it (reasonable compromises with source material, multiple EDs with original songs by main cast)

    Absolute Duo has definitely hit its highest note yet even without considering the prediction I made based on foreshadowing, and that prediction will just be an even higher note. It looks as though they’ll deliver on the potential of both notes quite well, based on how they’ve followed up each time with new elements or advancements! They even made an interesting compromise with episode 8’s first half, at least, it looked like a compromise. If they’d done it exactly as people reported in the LN, the second half would’ve been more expected, though, slightly more grounded (although few saw it as unreasonable anyway).

    Honestly, I don’t know how much more is left to cover of the LN, nor if the LN is even finished, but this also looks solid enough for a season 2 in terms of both delivery and content. It just really seems as though it’s been getting stronger as its gone on.

    Still, I understand that it’s 8 episodes in, but if you were willing to wade through 11 episodes of Cross Ange before counting it worthy of its full title, then I think this could be a pleasant experience as well (especially with a cast that’s generally in a better mood)! Even if you don’t watch it now, I’d say to at least keep it in mind to see how people are taking it as of the second-to-last or the very last episode of this season :)

    Thanks for taking the time to read this!

    Now about that flow of elements, I’d say it’s been pretty nice and I went back through the episodes to snag the highlights. You don’t need to read this, but I figured it’d be a decent overview of things. I tried to do this as best as I could without being spoilerific…

    Episode 2 gave us:
    +more on the Blazes, more insight on Tor’s too
    +More insight into Julie’s character and bond with Tor
    +expansion on the seriousness of Duos
    +hint that not all is as straightforward as a school, even this one

    Episode 3 gave us:
    +expansion on education methods
    +delivered on the hint about not all being straightforward
    +reduction of “I’m super special” trope
    +seed for the best moment of latest episode
    +troubles of other main cast member (so it’s not just Tor with a conflict)
    +non-classroom revelations about Blazes (that have implications on Tor’s problem with his Blaze and revenge)
    +more on Tor’s past prompting insight on Julie’s (giving further reason for the pairing from a story perspective)
    +overall tone and gravity of what they’re training for made more serious
    -Nice mod on OP to follow up w/episode 2’s most significant development

    Episode 4 gave us:
    +a little more on Tor and Tora’s bond
    +new characters introduced
    +further reduction of “I’m super special” (won’t say how exactly)
    +more insight into teacher cast and gravity of training
    +Tor’s resolve
    -New ED

    Episode 5 gave us:
    +further significant insight & development on training (without anyone suddenly being OP)
    +further insight on what more or less eliminated the “I’m super special” trope
    +more on troubles of main cast members (keeping focus from just Tor and Julie)
    +hint that one of the main cast may be connected to Tor’s past
    +Tor’s resolve part 2
    +nice subtle consistency with an aspect of Tomoe’s character
    +break in education method (avoids repetitiveness from story perspective)
    +more insight on headmaster’s priorities

    Episode 6 gave us:
    +mostly about that second to last point for episode 5
    +almost seems to bring back “I’m super special” trope to break illusion of school life vs reality
    +more complex student battles to follow up training development from episode 5
    +main cast says hello to reality… and its “little friend”
    +insight/implications on two newest characters outside of school life (I avoided spoiling when they first appear)
    +taste of the gravity of what they’re training for, while enhancing the mystery of what it is
    +a reminder not to let the cutesy art fool you…
    +somewhat major atypical harem behaviour/solid distinctions in female cast (rather than vague emotional stands from typical harem cast)

    Episode 7 gave us:
    +expanding on distinctions from episode 6
    +major and multiple training developments
    +more insight on headmaster’s M.O.
    +starting to come full circle with things from episode 1 (so less is wasted from a story perspective)
    +developments in real world

    I left out episode 8 just in case you decide to check it out now, although, a few things have been said of it already :) If you’ve come this far, then thank you once more for taking the time out to read this!

    • Vantage says:

      I am still watching Absolute Duo, but sadly I only view it as mediocre to average at best. It might be because it’s outshone on Mondays by the glorious surrealism of Yuri Kuma Arashi and the heroics of Yowamushi Pedal, but I’m not feeling it. Aldnoah.Zero is in a completely different league to Absolute Duo in everything from its plot and society to animation and combat scenes – and Cross Ange (which is brilliant, by the way) is in a different league to A.Z with plot twists and shock value at least. The harem is just too strong with this one, and it’s a massive chip on its shoulder. I know it’s not as bad as it could be… but it’s still pretty bad.

      Alongside that, the lack of explanation to a lot of terms (Exception? Selection?), the fact they can level up by injecting another dose of that drug and the rushed pacing is making it seem like the plot is gently drifting at sea with no destination in sight. It’s like Mahouka again, except this time I’m experiencing it from the point of view of someone who isn’t familiar with the series. Are you acquainted with the source material? I know having prior knowledge can change a lot, because I looked on Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance (a couple of seasons ago, similar genre) quite favourably -probably because I’d read the entire light novel series to date- whereas the general reception to that was lukewarm.

      I initially continued watching Absolute Duo to give it a chance, and I think the plot twist with Usa-sensei being an evil bitch was the high point of the series. The climax to the Lilith arc would have been better but for how extremely rushed the entire thing was. I still don’t understand who those people were, why they wanted Lilith or how they even had anything to do with anything. Or why the battle moved from the school grounds to a shopping mall, until they decided to mention it halfway through. Now those people are back and setting fire to mountains, and it’s all very confusing. These days I’m watching it… just because. Also I like the OP.

      …That being said, I’m rooting for Miyabi. She’s nice and I think Julie looks a bit too young for Tor.

      • I’m really grateful for your perspective, because to be honest I considered that there was just something personal that was leaving me so hyped. Plus, knowing it’s not in the same league as Cross Ange or Aldnoah.Zero had me nervous about saying all this, so I opted to suggesting to check out what people say once it’s over at least… otherwise I might convince someone to watch 8 episodes much to their dissatisfaction :T

        I’d say that of all the bias I considered and have now confirmed to have for it, knowing the source material isn’t one of them. I’d never even heard about the story until the winter preview. I think I really AM just a sucker for any kind of character development that’s combined with foreshadowing, that shocks my mind into theory crafting… Plus, I know my theory is 100% correct now thanks to a certain spoiler I came across.

        Said theory is about Miyabi, too, and how her full potential is about to be unlocked. After that spoiler I looked up whether or not it was part of the source material and found that it was, but that’s all the source material I know now. Granted, the anime might spoil what an epic development it should be… I hope it won’t.

        Anyway, thanks again for your more sane perspective – fitting for one called Vantage.

        • Vantage says:

          Unfortunately, my perspectives may not always be that sane! I strongly believe that there’s nothing wrong with being biased. If you want to hype it, then by all means do so. I, for one, unconditionally worship anything iyashikei. These days, there seems to be a lot of pressure (though that might not be the right word) towards only liking anime series that are ‘good’. While there’s logic in that, and it’s valuable to go for high-quality anime, there’s nothing wrong with liking something because you like it – no matter how objectively shitty it might be. I’m watching Isuca this season, and as a show it’s utterly shambolic. Unoriginal, rushed and the main villain is the best girl because everyone else is bland and boring. But I’m mildly entertained by it, so why not? There may be a whole ton of reasons to dislike something, but it’s fine to still choose to like it and just enjoy the ride despite all that. Because ultimately you watch anime to enjoy yourself, right?

          I think these sorts of inclinations are rapidly coaxed out by being exposed to a community of critical fans. Or by blogging, ironically enough. But to an extent it happens naturally the more you watch. Lots of people look for things that are new and exciting after having watched the same old thing over and over, and are not too keen on the well-worn tropes. To me, Absolute Duo comes under the latter category. I sometimes think back on shows like the first season of Infinite Stratos – the second doesn’t exist. I watched that back when it aired in 2010, and loved it. But if I decided to pick it up today, I’m not sure I’d have the same reaction the me 5 years ago had.

          • Indeed, there’s nothing wrong with being biased as long as it’s not a conversation where things should be discussed objectively. I’m thankful for your input so that I wouldn’t mislead any of you who were looking out for this series, however impossible that might be given the wealth of experience you all have with anime compared to me.

            I can’t say that I feel that pressure, at least, not as yet. I’m fairly new, not a reviewer or a blogger and most of my commenting on anime episodes has to do with either theory-crafting or offering more pleasant perspectives on things people find unpleasant (Slaine up to now and Miyabi supposedly being valueless, as examples). Still, another thanks for considering that almost hidden, yet prominent pressure of watching anime and offering some positive reinforcement :) You’re tempting me to give Isuca another shot. I mean I somehow managed to find Vanadis enjoyable enough, despite having to sigh like a parent acknowledging their child still has much to learn after each episode!

            I hear you. Watching the original Beyblade back again, I felt that novelty around it that I did when I was younger, but it all felt a lot less serious since I’ve had more experience with grander things. Still, simplicity can be sweet. If Absolute Duo hasn’t actually been steadily improving like I thought and I’ve simply been enjoying it more and more, hopefully it can begin to improve by delivering on what I know is coming next!

            Apparently the LN was a lot more balanced in terms of displaying the content of each character. If they’d gone down that route for the anime, we’d have more solid characters and put the meaningful action even further behind. I guess it would’ve been like a better version of Inou Battle. The other underlying issue Absolute Duo’s had so far is that we’ve had enemies, but not much of a taste of what the “real” enemies will be like other than in episode 3. Up to now it’s just been implication after implication, which has its own excitement admittedly.

            Just got to wait and see… Anyway, thank you one final time for discussing this with me!

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