December 06, 2010

Mystery Meat -- Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure

I was reminded of Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventures by going through Ubu's review list, and since I don't really have a lot to blog about these days, I figured it would make a decent Mystery Meat post.

It's something of a standard mecha story, and in general I really don't like Mecha stories, so I figured I'd get one ep into it, give up, and then write a scathing put-down.

But you know what? It ain't half bad. I just finished ep 3, and I may even watch more of it.

It suffers from the same problem that the Tenchi Muyo Ryo-Ohki series (from the same author) did, in that it can't really make up its mind whether it is comedy or not. The first ep is loaded with scenes which I could tell were supposed to make me chuckle, though none of them did.

What actually caught me by surprise was the extent to which it seems to be ripping off Evangelion. In fact, at this point I'm tempted to say that it's a deliberate parody. But it could also be thought of as "Evangelion done right."

It isn't pretentious, for one thing. That's one really huge thing. And unlike Shinji, Kazuki is sympathetic and likeable. So far, little or no angst. And considering the spots of comedy that keep being interspersed with the action, I assume it'll stay that way.

There was one huge logic error that came out in ep 2.

Anyway, other improvements: Gendo was repulsive, but Ken isn't. Rei was creepy, but D isn't, at least so far. Asuka was also repulsive, but Mitsuki isn't. In fact the only character we've seen so far who is even slightly repulsive is the UN inspector, and she's being played for laughs.

Kazuki's voice seemed familiar, so I looked it up. The same seiyuu did the voice of Kazuya in Hand Maid May. (He was also Arc in Petite Princess Yucie, and I never would have made that connection.)

The "bizarre loser of a guy who turns out to have an extraordinary skill with a mech that surprises everyone" trope is a common one: Vandread and Martian Successor Nadesico spring to mind. This is another. In this case they've taken it one step further: before Kazuki showed up, it was thought that only girls could run them. (That one is being recycled in an upcoming Winter series.)

The Ken character is being handled in an interesting way. The first Ken (which we only see in the first episode) is a mad scientist, a complete loonytune. The second Ken, in the alternate world, is still eccentric, but he's a lot more responsible, and even admirable. I think the reason the UN inspector is obnoxious is so that when Ken bedevils her (which he does a lot of) the audience is sympathetic to him, and likes him for it. It's certainly that way for me.

He's fun. He certainly isn't a flaming son-of-a-bitch like Gendo is. And in general, Dual leaves out all the horror which was the foundation of so much in Evangelion. For instance, D's background story isn't the nightmare that Rei's was.

The mechs look a lot like the mechs in Evangelion, though they don't drag around power cords. One is red, one is blue, and one is white, but they mixed some of the colors up. My memory of Eva is getting a bit dim, but it seems to me that Asuka was red, Shinji was blue, and Rei was white. In this one, Kazuki's got the white one and D is in the blue one.

Evangelion was supposed to challenge us, involve us, make us think, make us feel. For a lot of people all it made them feel was, "Why am I wasting my time on this drek?", or "Why is this director so full of himself?"

Dual doesn't have such high aspirations. It's just trying to entertain, with the huge benefit of all the winks to people who had seen Evangelion and weren't impressed by it. And that's fine with me, because I'm one of them.

I may well watch more of it. Haven't really decided yet.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Mystery Meat at 07:08 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
Post contains 702 words, total size 5 kb.

1 Shinji's was purple and Rei's was orange at first and blue later. The white ones were the really, really creepy mass-production models...

I still prefer RahXephon for my works-like-Eva fix, for reasons I won't talk about 'coz this is a Dual thread, and because Steven would hate RahX too (not for the same reasons as Eva, but for good and proper reasons).

Biggest problem Dual had was coming out pretty close to Eva, and being, well, really derivative of Eva. It didn't have the (gaping) problems Eva had, but it didn't have a lot of the good bits either, and the bits that it did have everybody had just gotten from Eva... But it wasn't a BAD show.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at December 06, 2010 08:31 PM (pWQz4)

2 I never did finish Dual, although I did read summaries of the later eps.

It is definitely a parody of Eva, but it is also quite confused.  It tries to keep sort of the same feel as Tenchi, but it doesn't quite succeed, and the whole "harem" thing gets a bit silly for my tastes.  I found that other than Mitsuki, I just couldn't really care about or identify with the characters, and she made it really tough at times.

The logic error is a plot point... sort of.  Anything else gets spoilertagged.

Avatar, I concur with pretty much everything you said about all 3 series.

Personally, I don't see Evangelion as originally written as pretentious, so much as its turn-all-the-old-tropes-on-their-head-and-introduce-scores-of-new-ones bit has overly influenced a huge chunk of anime ever since, even if indirectly.  That has retroactively made it... I dunno, passe?

Posted by: BigD at December 06, 2010 09:56 PM (LjWr8)

3 It's definitely pretentious. It's packed chock full of references to things that the writers picked up out of a high school psych textbook, but aren't using correctly, with some Bible references for flavor.

I spent a few months redoing the script with a much more talented translator than the one who originally worked on the project. We made lots of improvements, but the casualty was our respect for the show...

RahXephon was a lot like that too, honestly. At one point we had two conflicting theories for what was actually going on, and sent a long request to the Japanese writers to find out which one of them was closer to what they had in mind; their response was basically "you're reasoning out things that were written for Rule of Cool". But at least they admitted it!

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at December 06, 2010 10:19 PM (mRjOr)

4 The worst part of Dual for me was the way ending . Another common trope was .

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at December 06, 2010 10:46 PM (9KseV)

5 Dual was definitely meant as a follow-up to Evangelion, and like RahXephon the intent was to capitalize on the mecha+harem+threat to world as we know it theme, but avoid the horrible mistakes Evangelion made. RahXephon tried to be deep and emotional and introduced some serious issues doing so. I understand a lot of people despise it, though I still like it myself, if you only watch the 'perfect' stuff you wont watch anything. But definitely not Steven's cup of tea.
Dual doesn't even try to be serious, sometimes its a mecha show with a harem, and sometimes its a harem show with mecha. I've probably watched it as many times as I have RahXephon, and both of them are easily in my top ten for rewatch count.
Both the fact that Kazuki is able to pilot the mecha and the fact that he took a long time to transit between dimensions are in fact plot points that get developed later.
I would say that the middle of the series is the strongest part, it has the best stories to tell. At the end they kind of rush to explain things and bring things to a resolution, while at the same time it's pulling the "things are 10 times more dangerous than you thought, but that's OK because the hero is 20 times stronger!" shtick.

Posted by: David at December 06, 2010 11:11 PM (xcVNq)

6 You guys are just going to get the tread locked again with RahXephon. I don't know about Steven, but for some reason commenters always get second-guessing of my tastes horribly wrong. And god forbid this is taken as a suggestion.

But I understand the attraction, I think. The RahXephon category at Ani-nouto is at 11 posts and Dual's is at 3. RahX is more meaningful and so on, there was just more to discuss in it. Funnily though, Dual was the fist or second category historically. I fondly remember it as a fun show (minus the ending as I mentioned, but then ending sucked in both, just in different ways).

I silently cried for Mitsuki II. She is also the place where the parallels with EVA break down.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at December 07, 2010 12:09 AM (9KseV)

7 Dual is a fun little show, but it has a lot of faults.  The biggest one was that I was never certain when it was about to turn serious, as opposed to silly.  End of ep. 6 is one of those.

I disagree about the clearly superior haremette. Maybe by the end, but not at the beginning.  There are some clearly inferior ones though.  And it does get into Tenchi levels of silly, when it comes to making up excuses to put girls under the same roof.

I really don't buy the Evangelion parallels.  I think it was some stylistic and art influence there, but that's the extent of it.  If you're only to episode 3, it's hard to tell.

Oh, and about the UN inspector... heheheheheheheheh, I hope your copy includes the extra episode...

Posted by: ubu at December 07, 2010 12:32 AM (GfCSm)


Pete, that looks like a spoiler, but I'd already pretty much guessed it.

Ubu, it's 14 episodes. ??

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at December 07, 2010 01:34 AM (+rSRq)

9 Yep, you got it then.  Actually, now that I think about it, what is making me laugh is actually included at the end of 13, but there's a conversation about it in 14 between the principals.  Huge spoiler though, so I'm not including it here..  

It's not so much the very ending that's messed up as it is the lead up to it, and then the 14th episode (the extra) is an obvious bid for a continuation -- of something that doesn't really need to be continued.

Posted by: ubu at December 07, 2010 01:42 AM (GfCSm)

10 This show sounds like a lot of fun.
I saw it back when I was in HS, but I only remember it because it had one of the strangest DVD names of all time: "Dual: Student Housing."

Really makes you want to buy the show, doesn't it?

Posted by: tellu541 at December 07, 2010 05:02 AM (pJ1uW)

11 Hahaha! I can remember exactly what prompted that title, too.  Haven't seen that many harmettes under one roof since Tenchi.  Well, technically, one of those roofs was next door, but not so's you'd know it after someone's little construction project finished.  Building codes in alt-Japan must be a lot more lenient!

Posted by: ubu at December 07, 2010 12:12 PM (i7ZAU)

12 Best part of Dual: shark fin soup.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at December 07, 2010 03:32 PM (9KseV)

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