There’s a pair of concepts that I’ve always been particularly fond of. The concept of having a weapon that takes shape based on your inner desires or your true purpose. The other is the concept of a duo, a pair that both compliments and challenges each other to become the the best. Well this season I found a show that combines the two quite well into a well-executed show. Absolute Duo is a show based on the light novel series by Takumi Hiiragiboshi. I found this show to a fun take on your typical “go to this advanced academy because you’re special” genre.
Absolute Duo’s male protagonist has one of the most unique names in anime. His name is Tor (Thor) Kokonoe. Tor’s goal is made immediately obvious to us….revenge. Tor has gained a power that is unique to his world, the power of Blaze. Blaze are a manifestation of power that stems from the persons soul and a catalyst known as Lukifers. They take form based on your personality and your desires. In Tor’s case, much to his despair, his is a shield. Others include things like spears, chained weapons, swords and many others. We begin with Tor going to Koryu Academy’s opening ceremony, where he is forced to fight the person he’s next to for entry. After a very brief but very cool series of fights we see the final group and meet the primary cast of characters. Tor gets partnered with Julie, who is a good parallel to Tor. The two are the VERY opposite of one another. Opposites attracting is a common theme in this show and it makes for both good comedy and action. Julie and Tor being forced to be dorm mates leads to some awkward but cute moments together. They’re a bit stereotypical, but at least they carry on with gusto. Despite the archetyping, the characters themselves have their own nuances and I grew to like them quite a bit by the end.
While the characters and premise of the show of are all quite good, the story is rather typical, which is sad considering the rest works so well. The story only has one or two minor twists that have been done before. It’s not really a detriment so much as minor disappointment. It’s really not more than getting us from fight scene to fight scene. The tail end of the series gives us a bit of plot to work with but it feels like they didn’t want to really put too much effort outside of establishing characters and the basic rules. When something does happen however, it is worthy of your attention. The moments of character growth are generally very sweet and make those involved feel more legitimate. I wasn’t really surprised that there were plenty of large breasted characters and that fan service was quickly woven in, but at least they use some restraint. On the other hand, I rather liked the fights as they brought the intensity and satisfaction that was lacking in other parts. I just wish that certain characters got a bit more screen time when they weren’t kicked around like a super powered can. It’s one thing to have them be the weaker part in a stronger group, but they are often acknowledged as equals and yet they get wrecked. Also, the finale finished strong, but I really hope they have more stops to pull.
Absolute Duo doesn’t do anything especially new in its animation. It is, however, very colorful, smooth, and it’s very apparent how they attempted to stick close to the original styling of the light novel. 8-Bit Studios (Infinite Stratos, Tokyo Ravens) blazed their way through the production of this and is a commendable piece of work. The opening is a high grade mark for how to make a dynamic opening for a series that has an emphasis on action. The ending sequences are also a very nice blend of different animation style and really shows the wide range they can pull off. My only complaint that I can really make is a very minor gripe in the grand scheme of things….the characters’ eyes are too big. Several characters in the show have eyes that consume a large percentage of their face. Some of the older characters don’t really suffer from this issue so it could be a matter of them “growing into it” but I still have to wonder what was going on there.
Lastly, although Absolute Duo’s sound setup is not revolutionary, it’s nothing to sneeze at either. I did really like the voice over work that was done. I never found any particular character to be grating or annoying. I did laugh when one of the characters only responds with manly grunts and muscle flexes, though. Composer Atsushi Hirasawa brought his A-game and made a great sound track. I really enjoyed hearing the battle themes especially as they pump things up. Absolute Duo did something that caught me really off guard. The show has one opening….but three different ending song. The opening song is “Absolute soul” by Konomi Suzuki and it is a great song that sets the tone with the awesome animation. The three endings are as follows: “Beleive X Believe” by Konomi Suzuki. “Apple Tea no Aji” by Nozomi Yamamoto. And finally we have “2/2” sung as a duet by Ayaka Imamura and Ayaka Suwa.