I can’t shake the feeling that the anime is shoehorning an awful lot of material into its version of Dimension W, knowing that this cour is its only turn on the dance floor (though I haven’t read enough of the manga to know that for sure). But the remarkable thing is how well that material holds up to the treatment. There have been bewildering moments, no doubt about it, but the story on the whole makes perfect sense and is actually coherent, and the characters have become fully realized individuals.
Dimension W is definitely a perfect fit for its Adult Swim slot – a timeless sci-fi, larger-than-life, intellectually dense and full of iconic characters. I actually like it better than Iwahara’s Darker Than Black, though I know that’ll be a minority opinion – I think Dimension W is more ambitious and in an odd way, more disciplined in its storytelling. There’s a lot going on here but it all has that Togashi-like sense of being excerpted from an encyclopedic source that was already written rather than made up on the fly.
The kitchen sink has definitely taken form these last couple of episodes, and Kamei-sensei and Suga-sensei are sliding those last few washers and screws into place. The research on Easter Island, it turns out, was all about warping – sending people through space using Dimension W to power a kind of teleport. Except it turns out living people don’t fare so well when that happens, as Haruka Seameyer seems well aware. He’s clearly to blame for the accident on Easter Island, and seemingly for Kyouma’s memory loss too – an event not caused by Kyouma having fallen into the void after all.
That last bit of information comes courtesy of KK, and speaking of KK he’s a double-agent on the payroll of someone who tasked him with keeping everyone in Salva’s expedition (and everyone else) away from what they were searching for on Easter Island. That would appear to be a kind of “one coil to rule them all” – the coil that rises above even the numbers, the coil that even Yurizaki-sensei declared was too dangerous to exist. Salva wants it, Loser wants it, Seameyer wants it, and whoever is holding KK’s leash wants to keep everyone away from it. Cue the melee at the close of this jousting tournament.
What really matters most in the end is Kyouma and his role in all this. As his memories start to trickle back, he seems to come to terms with Mira and who/what she is – and Loo is a key catalyst in that. After Mira saves him (with the help of the Eastriver siblings), Kyouma finally, for the first time, shows Mira some genuine affection (and boy, does she like it). And when they encounter Loo in the tunnels, Kyouma sees him for what he is – a kindly little kid being asked to do the work of a professional killer. But Kyouma also sees that Loo is, in a sense, a realization of what Miyabi might have become – and that only deepens his desire to protect Loo in the way he couldn’t protect Miyabi.
Miyabi is like a ghost who’s hovering over Kyouma’s shoulder through everything that happens in this story – a fitting and not accidental metaphor given the nature of the plot. We get to see Kyouma really go into badass – even berserker – mode for the first time here when he thinks KK has killed Loo. So much has been taken away from Kyouma – not just the love of his life, his memories and so many of his comrades, but his sense of honor too, as he feels he’s let them down – and he’s had this thrown in his face in the most painful ways. KK fucked with the wrong guy, basically.
Mira stopping Kyouma from killing KK will no doubt rub some viewers the wrong way, but for me it’s perfectly in-character. Of course Kyouma would have killed KK, but Miyabi wouldn’t, and that’s the point – she complemented him in every way. She was the gentleness and kindness that filled the gaps in him, and he loved her for it. And this incident is a way to show us that a link really does exist between Mira and Miyabi, perhaps more than simply the body that Mira inhabits.
There’s a lot going on here, I won’t deny that. Couched in all this hard sci-fi iconography are some fairly complex questions Iwahara is asking about the nature of identity, realty and perception. What are we to make of these seemingly empty bodies that return from the void, their “souls” gone forever? Where exactly did those souls go? Just how sentient is Mira, who’s seemingly all-mechanical yet shows undeniably human emotions – and how does she differ from Lwai, whose physical brain is seemingly intact inside a robotic body (of course the reveal that Lwai has multiple bodies could throw his whole nature into question)? With all the scientific jargon surrounding Dimension W, I think Iwahara is telling a story here that’s more metaphysical than anything – Dimension W is more than it seems to be. And that applies to the series that shares its name as well.