Where other people see the streets and buildings of a normal Tokyo life, Kazuki sees something more- he has visions of giant robots fighting each other in the very neighbourhood where he lives. As it turns out, however, this is more than mere vision, for a brush with an eccentric scientist sees Kazuki end up in a parallel universe where the giant robots are real and two factions are fighting for control of Japan. Before he knows what’s going on, Kazuki is out on the front lines in his own robot, but will he ever get to go home again?
If, in your darkest hours, you have pondered what might if the creators of Tenchi were to put their spin on Evangelion, then you may be interested that it has already been done- and that the result is, unsurprisingly, Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure. A mix of harem comedy and mecha action, Dual seemed to have everything that was expected of a 90s anime series, but would that make it decent light entertainment or just a tired reworking of an overused formula?
It may just be the nostalgia speaking, but in all honesty, Dual is quite enjoyable at the outset, combining all the things I liked about Tenchi with what Eva would have been if it hadn’t been taking itself seriously. The result may not be anything special, but it is both amusing and entertaining without ever being too demanding on the brain- perfect rainy afternoon fare.
Unfortunately, at just thirteen episodes in length, Dual suffered the fate of so many shorter series- it just didn’t have long enough in which to expand its ideas. Instead, the plot had to suddenly pick up the pace in the second half, throwing in confusing plot twists that were never really explained and culminating in a disappointing ending that doesn’t make any sense under close examination. Had the series been given 26 episodes in which to develop, it could have been as thoroughly enjoyable as sister series Tenchi Universe (my first and favourite Tenchi experience), but at only thirteen it is dominated by its poor pacing.
In case you hadn’t guessed it by now, Dual has a very standard character set, offering a lighter, more harem-oriented take on the Eva leads. We have the not-so-angsty but still inexplicably talented male lead, complete with older woman, tsundere, gentle girl and emotionless alien harem members, alongside obligatory characters like the base commander and the mad scientist. Development is not the name of the game here; instead it’s played strictly for those comedic cliché moments- certainly nothing here will surprise anyone.
Since Tenchi’s character designer also worked on Dual, the look of the series is very familiar, comprising of average looking males and attractive females (albeit more at a low, Tenchi GXP, detail level). Overall the visuals are typical AIC 90s fare, being serviceable but not particularly impressive. Background music is equally run-of-the-mill.
Despite a promising start, Dual wasn’t even able to maintain its status as an enjoyable piece of light entertainment, instead deteriorating into a rushed and poorly paced affair. This attempt to combine Tenchi and Evangelion should at least be acknowledged for effort, but in the end thirteen episodes just wasn’t enough to bring all the requisite elements together and present them properly. If this series was a high school student, then its report would read “could try harder”.