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Pioneer Entertainment presents

Dual #1: Visions (1999)

"It's too late. We're already involved in this war, and in this world."- Mitzuki Sanada (Rie Tanaka)

Stars: Takayuki Yamaguchi, Rie Tanaka, Chie Nakamura, Ai Uchikawa
Other Stars: Rynosuke Obayashi, Koichi Nagano, Koichi Sakaguchi, Kenichi Ogata, Masaka Nozawa, Yuko Kabayashi
Director: Katsutoshi Akiyama

Manufacturer: CADDS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (13+ for mature content, violence)
Run Time: 01h:41m:52s
Release Date: 2000-09-26
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-A-A- C


DVD Review

When I first heard about Dual on the net, every indication was that it was a clone of Neon Genesis Evangelion, with the unwilling young boy manning robots to fight an evil foe, coupled with some pretty girls vying for his attention. As the show was created by AIC with some of the creative force behind the Tenchi Muyo series, the likeness of some of its characters to those in other series is not unexpected. While some of the character designs and personalities are similar to those in Eva or Tenchi, Dual has its own concept, which while sharing elements from elsewhere, are taken in their own direction, and the result is a very enjoyable little series, 13 episodes in total, which are available from Pioneer on four DVDs.

Twenty-two years ago, an artifact was found during the excavation on a construction site. In order to keep the archaeologists away, it was ordered disposed of. Here the parallel begins.

Kazuki Yotsuga is not your average schoolboy. What sets him apart is that he keeps witnessing robot battles occuring around him, on the streets or outside the window of the classroom, which nobody else is aware of. Aside from looking odd while staring into nothingness or dodging projectiles that only he can see during these occurences, his school chums also make fun of him because he posts the tales of these conflicts, including the giant white robot he has named Hartzenen, on his website. One day, a cute girl approaches him, asking about the robots, and as usual he thinks he's being strung along, until she invites him home with her. Here, he meets Ken Sanada, the girl's father, a scientist specializing in dimensional physics who, as well as being far too touchy-feely for most people's liking, believes that Kazuki is the one chosen to fulfil a task in a parallel dimension. Of course, his machine isn't fully functional yet, but should be tried on for size anyway. Unfortunately, Mitzuki accidentally presses the activator button. Oops...

When he comes to, Kazuki doesn't clue into what happened. After wandering around the city for a bit, which is completely quiet and devoid of citizens, he comes across another robot battle in mid-action between Hartzenen and a huge black foe, but this time it's for real. Hartzenen comes crashing to the ground after one lethal volley, and its pilot pod opens revealing the robot's injured female pilot. As he attempts to rescue her, Kazuki finds himself activating the robot and being accepted as its pilot, and somehow ekes out a marginal victory over the opposition. After leaving the girl to look for medical supplies, Kazuki is astonished when he comes back to find the robot has vanished, yet the chaos that had ensued is evidenced by the rubble left in its wake. He returns to wandering through the city, as streams of people begin to fill its streets, though they don't seem to recognize him. He goes home to find his parents don't recognize him either, and the sign on the family door no longer bears his name. Meanwhile, in a secret location analysts pour over data from the last robot battle, wondering how an outsider was able to gain control over the machine, and now wondering how to find him.

The quality of animation is pretty good, though some of the CGI employed does look out of place, especially in the robot launch sequences. As expected, the humor level is infused throughout, in fairly typical style, with lots of embarrassing sexual tension and situations between the characters. Those familiar with Evangelion will recognize some, pardon the pun, parallels with that series, but just enough to make it feel familiar, yet with its own twists. I quite enjoyed the four episodes on this disc, and would definitely recommend the series for those who enjoy this type of humorous mecha, especially with only four discs to buy to complete the series. I'm looking forward to more.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Dual is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Some interlacing is present due to its made-for-TV source. Colors are fairly solid and well-presented, with only minimal signs of compression, most noticible in the border regions of some red objects. Overall this looks very good.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Original Japanese and an English dub are presented in stereo. Sound design is quite good with decent use of the stereo image. No artifacts were noted in the soundtrack.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Textless credit sequence
  2. Character profiles
  3. Line art
Extras Review: Nicely animated menus contain a decent amount of supplemental content, including textless opening credits.

Six pages of character data are presented, with an unusual styling to them, as short essays by Kazuki Yotsuga. These are spoiler-free, and cover the vital statistics for Mitzuki, Core Robot number 1 (named Hartzenen by Kazuki) and Core Robot 3, whose pilot, D, is also profiled. A line drawings section is also included containing 37 screens of artwork, conveniently numbered.

There is a single-sided chapter listing card, which also includes a recipe for spaghetti and lean meatballs. Pioneer also enclosed a limited number of supplemental cling stickers in the cases of the earlest pressing, though these are hard to aquire now, which is the only really disappointing thing about buying Pioneer discs once the series has been out for a while - in fact, even those of us who have preordered discs get shafted on some releases, like the limited finger puppets in the Tenchi Universe series. I do wish they would be a bit more liberal in the distribution of these limited items.

Extras Grade: C

Final Comments

For those looking for a more modest investment in an Evangelion-like series, Dual offers a good story, decent animation and lots of humor and action in a four-disc set. While not as original as some other Pioneer series (Lain for example), Dual should keep you well entertained, and I actually find the similarities add to the enjoyment of the show, especially as I watch more anime and discover the likenesses and differences that it offers.

Jeff Ulmer 2001-04-19