Anime: Absolute Duo
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Retail Price: $64.98
In the Funimation licensed anime title Absolute Duo (initially based on a light novel series), the anime takes place in the distinguished school of sorts known as Koryo Academy. At this unique academy, the entire student body consists of students who are determined and prepared to undergo intense battles that deviate from a traditional fight. The weapons are soul-based manifestations that take shape depending on each wielder’s personality and essence attributes to make each weapon different from most others. The goal would be to harness their individual abilities, but in the process of getting there - they must partner with another to ultimately go through each obstacle together in what is meant to be an extreme team-building exercise.
The first character of importance we encounter in Absolute Duo is Tor Kokonoe. Tor is the protagonist of the anime, mainly motivated by avenging the death of his sister in the beginning of the series. Tor differs from other soul-armed weapon wielders for the fact that his actual enhancement comes in the form of a shield, whereas everyone is typically armed with something similar to a sword, axe, or offensive artillery. Opposite of Tor Kokonoe is the “mystery” known as Julie. Julie and Tor soon become partners as are the others, but Tor didn’t manage to predict just how much they would actually be forced to jointly do. From the early moments of their partnership, Absolute Duo shows that it will largely take focus on the relationship between Tor and Julie - but with quite a few tropes along the way.
Tor is predictably likable for the protagonist role of Absolute Duo. Having his weapon be something defensive (a shield as mentioned above) is reflective of who Tor really is. His motives start from an admirable place by wanting to seek justice for someone taken too soon and at the hands of another. It proves that he could best be described as a protector - one with noble (sometimes) reasons behind his actions. These qualities aren’t lost on others, because Tor is pursued relentlessly to become a “duo” with other girls in the series (taking a harem direction.) His character type can be common in other series of the same genres, but many positive takeaways come from him as opposed to his counterpart.
Julie fits many female character cliches of a harem/ecchi (how utterly disappointing.) When she is introduced, she finds great appeal towards Tor - being that female role who seems harmless or in need of saving, with so much naivety they act like they are new to the world. Julie needs reassurance that he’s dedicated to her too, which makes a surprising turn of events when he then switches his goals from avenging his sister to keeping Julie safe from harm. She isn’t completely defenseless thankfully, getting in on more than a few battles to make at least one positive change. Julie is the main character (in a sea of others) used to make that uncomfortable male fan appeal but nearly every female is added to have one scene that has nothing to do with anything other than fanservice.
Absolute Duo has some unexpected yet appropriate fighting sequences that add extra dimension to the 12 episode anime series. The battle from the first episode made me think it could be a mislead to take a backseat from action in the future, but it actually continued to have importance during the length of the animes run. When multiple characters joined in on the action, the series had enticing rounds of fighting to keep you on edge (in a slight way however.) Had Absolute duo ditched the ecchi and harem impulses they originally had, it could have been regarded as a decent action series with some emotional moments at play. The voice cast for the English dub were chosen well, only somewhat following the depiction of a vulnerable girl from the level headed male lead. Absolute Duo is a series that includes some fairly enjoyable action on occasion, unusual fanservice and a plethora of women involved to make the anime what it is.
Overall Score: 6/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
The suspenseful action scenes surprised me given the genre, a perk of Absolute Duo.
Numerous episodes seemed dedicated to focussing only on those fanservice aspects regardless of if it’s with food or a beach trip - nothing is safe.
The anime trope of several women fighting over a man’s attention has returned to show it’s still very much alive in Absolute Duo.