In the year 2072, the entire world is powered by one energy source: Coils, “cross-dimensional electromagnetic inductors” inspired by the theories of Nikolai Tesla, which deliver infinite energy transmitted from the mysterious “Dimension W.” In the shadows of this bright future lives Kyouma, a tough, curmudgeonly eccentric who still owns a gas-powered car and who works as a bounty hunter collecting illegally modified Coils for the black market.
One day in Shadow Town, Kyouma meets Mira, a robot girl of unusually humanlike intelligence created by Dr. Shidou Yurizaki, the genius creator of the Coils. But Mira is on the run from New Tesla Energy, the shadowy corporation that now controls Dr. Yurizaki’s miracle power source! Kyouma saves Mira almost by accident, and soon the grumpy bounty hunter and the idealistic Mira become unwilling partners in crime. (“Now that’s just priceless! Coil-hater Kyouma, stuck with an android!”) But even as they fight crooks, cyborgs, and flamboyant art thieves, their real enemies might be the police and corporations who own the power that runs the world…
Yuji Iwahara is a unique mangaka: his distinctive inking style and energetic art make his manga a delight to read, and he seems to try new genres in every story (supernatural school drama in Cat Paradise, survival horror in King of Thorn, a Lilo and Stitch-like setup in Chikyuu Misaki, etc.). Dimension W is a not-so-hard-boiled crime tale in a world of androids, cyborgs, and giant energy towers, starring a low-tech hero who fights by flinging yakitori skewers; Kyouma is just one of many great character designs, including Kyouma’s curvy boss Mary, Cricket the gadgeteer, and Claire Skyhart, the sinister boss of New Tesla Energy.
Iwahara’s art and figure drawing are excellent, the stark black-and-white look fits this Pulp Noir story, and there are a lot of strong, distinctive-looking female characters. Sadly, the first volume lacks a great story hook or much character motivation, leaving lots of mysteries (is Mira really a robot? What are the Double Coils? Who’s the main bad guy?) but little sense of urgency to pick up Volume 2.
Iwahara spends a lot of time building his world, a retro-future sci-fi setting a bit like Giant Robo or The Big O without the giant robots… but when you end a sentence with “without the giant robots,” isn’t that a sign that something’s wrong? Still, in Iwahara’s capable hands, even this less than stellar story is great fun. Recommended.
publisher: Yen Press
story and art: Yuji Iwahara