My first impressions of Absolute Duo hasn’t been a good one. I’m not even sure if I want to give it the three episode test now even. I might just check out the novel instead to see if the novel did it better than the anime, just to compare if it did as well as other adaptations like Madan Ou Vanadis. In the case of Vanadis, the novel series is so much better than the anime so I blame it on the incompetence of the anime team in adapting the story from the books.
Now for Absolute Duo –
In a nutshell it’s just too rushed, the characters are laughably corny and fight scenes are pure crap.
First off, viewers don’t even get a chance to grasp the world inside the anime, the introduction is way too rushed and before you can take a breath they’re headed right into a fight scene without much rhyme or reason. Of course, the whole thing starts with a new female student who appears to be your typical nice person but you’re only given a tiny glimpse of her character and personality before she’s literally given the shaft in less than 10 minutes of the first episode.
She gave me the impression that she plays a crucial role in the story and was supposed to act as a foil to the main protagonist and subsequently allow them to get a taste of the world through them. But the anime seems to have completely chucked this out the window in favour of simply shoving her into the viewer’s face without any regard to buildup.
If a storyteller wants the viewer to give a hoot about the story, buildup is very essential. This is where the personality, quirks and motivations of the character can take shape so the viewer can relate. Absolute Duo didn’t even bother with that. So when the characters are spouting lines that are supposed to be meaningful, I could barely be bothered because it devolves into something so dull and predictable you’ll probably just stick around for the eyecandy.
Now, this anime might still be able to save itself if they spend more time and detail in the fight scenes. Sadly, this is still not the case. Fast cuts and sloppy editing, no real framing to show what character(s) are doing in their fights and general laziness (or cost cutting) is very obvious and painful to watch. If ufotable can pull it off with Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (2014) with superlative and dynamic fight scenes, I don’t see why they can’t here. To put it bluntly, the fighting animation is very sparse and economical.
Also, the music is mediocre, generic and forgettable. Music is very crucial in setting the mood for scenes but this is quite absent in the show.
They are banking heavily on the moe* factor of the main female leads to hook the audience; a tactic which is riding on very thin ice. The heroine is given a little bit more attention but in the end, she ends like another typical female in anime trope. She reminds me somewhat of Rei Ayanami (NGE) but updated with current sensibilities and moe factor so fans can dote on her instead.
However, it does get tiring really fast because there is only so much you can pull with this factor alone. In the end, story and the cast of characters is what will ultimately glue the narrative together and get viewers to stay for the next episode.
Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time which not helped by the fact the anime is full of list of predictable girls fitting in a harem setting- big boobs but shy, hotheaded lolita, the refined girl next door and so on. Unsurprisingly the hero is a complete bore despite attempts to give depth to him by the anime due to a lack of buildup and development which is crucial for first episode.
Once this series is over, it would likely be replaced by another generic anime in next season. No one will remember this show by middle of this year.