Review: Absolute Duo Ep. 1-4

New anime season is in full effect, but whereas the fall season offered a lot of new shows that I was dying to check out, the winter season has been a collection of shows that are really average or a shining star. Unfortunately Absolute Duo is very average. The premise is actually the most interesting part, but only because a lot of it has been left a mystery. Since this is my only exposure to the title and have no plans on reading the manga or light novels and will not be reading a wiki to understand the story better. Let the show tell me what I need to know.

The show as I understand it is about special students that are able to pull out a “Blaze” after being given an injection. They’re attending a special school for training and education for a battle we know nothing about yet. We’re just told over and over that there will be death around every corner someday soon and try to achieve absolute duo.

This is basically only touched upon during the first episode which in typical first day of school fashion begins with two students (a male and a female) meeting and sitting together. The school principal introduces most of what I did in the previous paragraph and then informs them that they’ll have their first battle right now… against the person they’re sitting next to.

Hell of a swerve let me tell you.

Absolute Duo Anime 1-31-15The battles that are shown are pretty fast and not very interesting. Our main character Tooru Kokonoe refuses to pull forth his Blaze at first until his new friend and some extra danger, force him to. The Blaze is a weapon that represents one’s soul, but low and behold Tooru’s is a shield. This make him an irregular and of course more special than everyone else. The scene and episode closes with Tooru winning and his new friend being forced to leave the school. Though we know that they spent way too much time introducing this character so I’m sure she’ll find a way back into the story somehow… oh wait… there she is on the promo art.

After this the students learn about “Duos” which is partnerships that are for life with another student. I’m sure there will be more to the Duos, but for now it’s a life partner for battles. Tooru ends up with a white haired German student that of course speaks Japanese (because her mother was a translator) named Julie. This is unusual because Duos have to live with each other and everyone else is paired off with the same sex. Yet our adorable teacher dressed like a Playboy bunny has forced them to duo.

This introduces us to the harem comedy aspect of the show because of course Julie is foreign and says things out of context that sound dirty and of course the other girls and class want to make sure they’re not getting busy in their dorm. But who cares right? In fact everyone and their mother could have broken this up and worked it out, but really the only other solution would be for two students to be solo or god forbid the guy who doesn’t talk ends up with her.

Eventually the arrival of our next suitor for our irregular Tooru arrives in the form of Lilith Bristol who is an exception. This means her blaze is a gun apparently and she’s really fucking rich or something because she has a butler that is a girl about the same age as her. This is also when it started to feel a bit like several other animes because her character is from England and is rich and spoiled. Not sure why every character from England is viewed as being mega rich, but I guess you’d have to be rich to know fluent Japanese, have a butler the same age as you and move across the world to go to school for a boy you don’t know.

Really the good part of the story comes from Tooru and Juile’s motivations for being at the school. Tooru grew up in an orphanage and there’s a flashback of a person killing all the students at his dojo. One girl sacrifices herself in order to save him and that’s about all we know. Julie on the other hand reveals that she’s an “avenger” as well and shows Tooru her scar… and naked body. It’s also pretty clear that she too is without her parents.

This show is pretty average. It reminds me of a half dozen shows I’ve watched in the last two years. The characters are to archetype. The art is pretty. The future is bleak. The school pays for everything and there’s plenty of misunderstandings between Tooru and the opposite sex. I mean it’s pretty telling when the promo images don’t even have the main character in them…

But I can’t get over the opening and the fact that we don’t know what danger is coming. Now that could mean that we should expect that to play out pretty typically as well or it could be what makes this show stand out from the typical future school, special powers, my parents are dead and I’m special… harem-esc comedy. Could being the key word there.

Hopefully it reveals more of the threat soon because otherwise I don’t see myself bothering to finish the season, especially when World Break is doing nearly the exact same thing, but making it far more interesting.

Score: 3/5 (Just barely, thank the 1st episode)

Studio: 8-Bit Distributor: Funimation