Iwahara Yuji, known for his work on Cat Paradise (Gakuen Sousei Nekotan!) and Darker than Black – Jet Black Flower (Daakuu zan Burakku – Shikkoku no Hana), returns to the page with his latest new series: Dimension W (Dimenshon W). Published in Square-Enix’s monthly seinen magazine, Big Gangan, Dimension W is is Iwahara’s ninth series to date and currently stands as his longest one yet. Yen Press’s English release, a loving adaptation with an embossed cover and a selection of colored pages, is translated by Amanda Haley who has also done work for Yen Press in the adaptation of The Heroic Legend of Arslan (Arusuraan Senki), among others.
In the not-so distant future, the face of technology as we know it is changed by a groundbreaking discovery: Dimension W. Possessing a seemingly infinite source of energy, scientists discover a way to tap into this dimension’s power to create a wireless network of easily available energy. The only catch is that this energy must be captured by small, highly regulated devices called coils. Yet in any age there’s always those trying to duck the regulations for their own gain. Mabuchi Kyouma, a man out of time with a deep set distrust for coils and the power they harness, is just one of many collectors who seek to reap the bounties that the New Tesla Energy company will pay for turning in illegal coils wherever they crop up. Yet when a seemingly normal collection goes south, Kyouma finds himself in possession of the last surviving member of the missing founder of NTE Yurizaki Shidou’s family: the original model for the modern android made by Shidou’s wife Seira, a robot girl named Mira. The questions quickly pile up when Mira reveals that the reason for her father’s disappearance is because it was NTE that murdered her mother and sister many years ago. Determined to find her father and unravel the mystery of NTE’s betrayal, Mira begs Kyouma to allow her to join him in their pursuit of the world’s illegal coils.
In writing a near future sci-fi manga rife with intrigue and the promise of more to come, Iwahara certainly impresses with the depth of world building that we can see in Dimension W. The premise of coil technology–as well as the nod to the work of Nikola Tesla–is sure to appeal to fans of the genre, while Iwahara’s strength in drawing unique character silhouettes and settings make it easy to believe that the Japan that Kyouma and Mira live in is a world only half a century away. The side characters in particular provide a wonderful sense of depth and dimension to the story, from the queen pin design of Kyouma’s collector contact Mary to the straight laced Albert Schuman who works for NTE’s Dimensional Administration Bureau. Perhaps the only place where the Iwahara’s designs seem inconsistent with the character they’re given to is the choice to give Mira a “tail” that’s an almost debilitating weak point and her original costume that results in a completely unnecessary two page upskirt spread when she and Kyouma first meet. However, by the end of the volume Mira’s given a new wardrobe and the bizarre innuendo of her tail’s weak point is isolated to one incident so far.
In terms of story, Iwahara presents a very clean introduction in his first volume. We’re given just enough foreshadowing and hints at more to come with Kyouma’s flashbacks and the open-ended interactions between Shidou, Albert, and the new leadership of NTE. From there, the story seems to easily transition into what seems like a setup for a “monster of the week” style pacing, with the phantom thief Loser presenting himself as what will likely be the first of many illegal coil users that Kyouma and Mira encounter on their search for the truth. Although this simple format makes the story feel somewhat predictable, Iwahara’s strength lies in the honesty of his characters on the page. The choices they make–whether it’s Kyouma’s decision to take the unconscious Mira with him or Mira’s choice in revealing her past to Kyouma and Mary–never feel forced to suit the needs of the story.
Haley does a commendable job of bringing these characters to life on the page with her translation. Her notes cover only the necessary details without being over the top. The natural cadence of each character’s voice also shines through in her word choice. It’s easy to read Kyouma’s lazy drawl or Koorogi’s playful snark in the way Haley puts their words on the page.
Dimension W may not break the mold of sci-fi manga in the story it chooses to tell, but with a diverse cast of cleanly written, compelling characters in the hands of a talented artist like Iwahara, it promises to be an enjoyable story for any fans of the genre.