Dimension W Episode 5 – Jumbled Mysteries and The Past’s Revenge

Last episode of Dimension W wasn’t very good. I wrote some words about it here. The biggest problem beyond last week’s apparent lack of energy and care by the creators was how little sense the mystery made, who were the other collectors, what was going on, why, etc. But while this episode had some thematic depth which I’d get to in a moment, it utterly failed as a mystery, because it was built on such shaky and uncertain footing.

Dimension W anime Episode 5 - Mabuchi Kyouma and Yurizaki Mira philosophize

Isn’t this or the inverse almost always true?

“Who? What? Why?” We got some of it this episode, but other revelations such as Marisa being Enamori sort of came out of nowhere, the opposition collectors came and went with nary a whoosh. Sure, later they explained some things, such as how the author was the person who got it all starting, but it was more like an infodump at the end, rather than a mystery. A proper mystery requires you to have enough information to follow what is going on, even if you don’t have the answers. This would be as if we were watching Inception, or Vanilla Sky, but they just removed half of the opening act, and most of the mid-section. So it fell flat.

We also had more sexualized and in-chains Mira, and the shot where Elizabeth was on the ground being choked also got some love (and literal “screenshake”, what the hell), cause this is the sort of thing the show cares about, but that’s “colour” that I barely see anymore, but this tendency of “Bad Animanga Writing” also manifested in a few other spots: “crazy villains“, yes, this bit at least with her made sense, as these ghosts are literally someone’s nightmare, so them coming off as crazy caricatures is somewhat the point, but it all adds up. But, what about this fella? Here we have someone cackling with glee over how he’s going to disrupt progress for the world because of people’s greed, and if that’s not enough, he’s also sexually assaulting Enamori, and then moving to film his own snuff film as he tries to choke her to death. This is terrible writing. Give us villains that aren’t caricatures, and even if they’re caricatures, you don’t have to keep pushing to make them worse on every possible vector, damn.

Now, once we’re past the downsides of this episode, which are its plot and storytelling, culminating in Mira flat outtelling us what we still don’t know of Kyouma, ever since the first episode, let’s talk about what it did do right, which was its theme and sci-fi ideas, even if it still didn’t do them as much justice, because they were rushed as everything else.

So, themes. The themes I hoped for ever since the show was announced, finally tackled. We first had Mira wondering whether she’ll still be herself if she’s “restarted”. Since she’ll go off of the same set of memories, and same set of preset personality modules, so she’d still be “herself”, right? But there’d be a gap, and she won’t be able to tell she’sreally herself. And this is a metaphor for every single one of us. We keep thinking of ourselves as “ourselves” because we have an uninterrupted chain of remembering we’re ourselves, but do we not “reset” ourselves every single night? And can we truly hold in our memories an uninterrupted chain going back a year or more? We can’t. But we choose to think of ourselves as still ourselves, as the same selves we used to be. But this is a decision we make, and not necessarily a truth. And sci-fi, and this talk of “resets” should make us perhaps question how we operate. But here the answer was a bit shouneny, rather than discussing the idea, but it wasn’t the episode’s focus.

Dimension W anime Episode 5 - caricature villain camera-man

Animanga Villains™. So bad.

What was the focus in this episode was the concept of past versus present, of how your past self comes back to kill your present self, which does tie to the above question, showing that we’re not the same people before and after being “reset”, and as time takes its toll on us. About how we change. It’s also the story of all stories, of our past mistakes coming to haunt us, or growing past our past.

This was also tied to the whole notion of the “fake world”, which Mira overcame, but this was a segment much hampered by this episode’s storytelling and rushed nature. People make up worlds in their minds, and they let the worlds they constructed control them, worlds where they can’t save the people they care for, so will turn about and save others, or murder passersby. Worlds where they can’t save themselves and thus will let others walk all over them, toy with them, and they’d take it, whether because they think they “deserve” it, or because they think they are helpless to avert the disaster. And those were the shackles Mira was held by, the shackles we are all held by, the ones inside our mind, that whisper to us that we are weak and powerless.

Until she decided to free herself, that she will not go quietly, by another’s decree, by her own fears, by imagining a new future with Kyouma, as a collector. And the writer managed to imagine a new world for himself, so he managed to keep on living, leaving behind his ghost.

But the show’s final notes aren’t all hopeful, because even as it tells us we can leave the fake world behind us, we end the episode with knowing that clinging to the fakeness might be a sweeter lie than truth, and that the past can never be simply abandoned, and we all need to pay our outstanding debts. And thus the cycle of revenge continues. Even if it took the form of messy storytelling.

Return to the Dimension W Episodic Notes page.

2 comments on “Dimension W Episode 5 – Jumbled Mysteries and The Past’s Revenge

  1. King Marth says:

    Silly construction company. They should know better than to threaten a small rural Japanese village with a dam project. Surest way to get a cute sickle-wielding girl involved.

    There’s a bit of the “useful details” redemption I was hoping for here, that piercing this other spatial direction can copy images of reality, though it’s about as hard a sci-fi description as the magic ghost water that channelled this alternate past. At least there was an amusing quote in “My logic has overwritten the logic of this world!”

    Agreed on how it was nice to see Mira acknowledge the problem of continuity of consciousness, though since she not only sleeps but has been turned off before it’s kind of weird to see that non-conclusion she reached. This on its own has the depth to be the controlling idea of a series, so even though it’s nice to see the show approach philosophy it’s also sad that this is the depth we can expect from it. I didn’t catch the parallel to the alternate-pasts though, there’s some promise there. Unfortunate that this seems to be on a Plastic Memories trajectory, there might be some accidentally insightful parts (like in Plastic Memories where someone met a robot they recognized who had since been formatted and had a new personality installed) but expectations are low.

    I was jarred by how quickly people figured out the weird rules for how ghosts worked, and only now the fridge logic suggests to me that Kyouma has seen these ghosts before in that “incident” which also explains why Albert made a point of mentioning ghosts last episode when giving the job.

    • Guy says:

      Manga fans said most of the “investigative” content of this arc was skipped, or compressed to milliseconds. But it’s pretty clear that the mystery made little sense and was rushed, in the anime format.

      As to Plastic Memories and the sci-fi glimpses here, I’m starting to realize anime is usually not the best medium for such stuff. At least not episodic content, and doubly so if it doesn’t go for a much slower pacing, such as Ergo Proxy or Texhnolyze. Because the show is far too busy with “plot-matter” to tackle, or character development, so it brings up ideas, and either doesn’t tackle them at all and leaves them to us (Mira being shut-down, and her “sleeping” isn’t properly shutting down, and she didn’t shut down since she joined Kyouma), or that it brings them up several times, but there’s still not deep exploration of it (the “past” theme). Because to actually develop ideas would require talking-heads, characters talking at length, or holding internal monologues. And that requires a very different pacing, and is better served within books, or 40-50 min episodes in live-action shows, that are more likely to give us such pacing.

      No, it’s not an excuse for how supposedly sci-fi shows actually address sci-fi, but it’s the growing realization and acceptance of how it is.

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