Just when you thought anime couldn't surprise you any longer...
I reckon this show will mostly receive meme and troll reviews but I'll try to do this seriously. I've seen a lot of anime over the years, but nothing quite like Dimension High School. This is so far the only show I've ever seen which is basically 50% (CGI) anime and 50% live action. While I have seen live action segments occasionally in anime before, it's never been to the extent which it is here, and never done as a major plot point by itself.
Most likely DHS was intended to be some sort of meta take
on the ever so popular isekai genre. Instead of having an anime character being transported from the "real" world to a fantasy one, we here have a group of high schoolers in our three-dimensional world being transported into the second dimension every so often. However, in terms of story it is nothing like your typical isekai anime.
Basically we have a group of students in a Japanese high school and their teacher who every so often get visited by a floating, talking rock with the ability to send them into the second dimension where they get trapped inside a classroom and forced to solve puzzles by giant sphinxes. I've no idea how someone managed to come up with such an absurd premise but I digress. The sphinxes' games are upheld by their absolute rule, which says that if the main characters are unable to solve a puzzle before the allotted time runs out, the sphinx will eat one of their souls in order to collect three-dimensional energy as the sphinxes seek to one day be able to enter the third dimension themselves. If the remaining players manage to solve a puzzle however then they will be sent back to their world, and anyone who had been devoured will be handed back, however in the process they will also lose the one thing they treasure the most in life.
It's a bit convoluted but you get used to the rules relatively quickly. In any case the puzzles themselves are definitely the primary content of the anime and its main selling point. Now there was actually another anime that aired two years ago called Nana Maru San Batsu which was also about quizzes, and I learned there that they can offer a quite unique way for the viewer to interact with the show as you can effectively participate yourself by trying to figure out the answer to the questions before anyone in the show does. However, with DHS there is a bit of a problem if you try to do the same thing. In Nana Maru San Batsu the questions were mostly about trivia which anyone has a chance at knowing, but in DHS they are much more complicated puzzles which are not only difficult and far-fetched by themselves, but they are also pretty much impossible to solve if you are not fluent in Japanese. The intricate word plays and kanji usage which are essential to solving these puzzles are thus impossible for a western viewer to figure out if they don't have possess advanced knowledge of the language themselves. I think it's a bit unfair to actually criticize the show for this fact though, after all it's aimed at a Japanese audience from the start and it's not the writers' fault that most westerners lack the necessary knowledge to fully engage in the show.
Nevertheless, even if you can't figure out the puzzles on your own or properly understand the characters' thought processes as they try to do it themselves, I still think they were decently entertaining to watch. And while the anime is certainly very dumb and silly by design, it actually managed to deliver a surprisingly satisfying and well thought-out ending.
Dimension High School feels largely like an experiment. I don't think we'll see a whole lot of anime/live action hybrids in the future as I don't really see the point of it for the most part, but it was an interesting idea at least and you can't say that it wasn't innovative, as weird as it may have been. It is still a very simplistic anime in the end but it doesn't really need to be any more than that. I was struggling trying to think of what I even wanted to rate the show as a whole though, but I do think it deserves a bit more than what MAL is currently giving it at least. The mere fact that half of it is live action doesn't automatically mean everyone has to mass downvote it you know.
PS: Just for the record, this is a full-length show. The fact that MAL has it labeled as only 10 minutes per episode is quite ridiculous; they're basically only counting the parts of it that is animated and discounting all the live action timespan. Mildly triggers me.
A lot of people would probably be put off before they’ve even started watching this, after all, half of it is live action. My first impression of this show from the first episode was honestly really good. Such is the privilege of a really quirky (and frankly ridiculous) premise and all the unique jokes you can come up with in said setting. I came away from that first episode thinking that that was the high point and there could be nothing more the show could provide. I’m glad to say that I was proven wrong, in fact multiple times.
So in case the synopsis is still
the shoddy one ripped from MAL news:
On the way to remedial classes, Shiroyama Junpei finds and picks up a strange rock. Thinking nothing of it, he carries on with his day. Imagine his surprise when the rock begins talking to him in the middle of class! Introducing itself as Spudio the 22nd, he, his 3 classmates and homeroom teacher are whisked away to a 2D classroom. Join them in their mind bending battles to save the world from the Sphinx, a 2D being bent on taking over the 3D world and overwriting the world as they know it forever. What are the stakes involved in saving the world? And will they be able to return to their normal lives?
So, I’ll come clean with the fact that this is not a series for everyone. From over the top acting in live action portions and “anime” sections which are actually just… VR chat. Just don’t come here for art because: 1) You won’t find it here, 2) Excuse me but where were you looking to think you might find it here? However, please don’t take this on face value because under the surface, there is a compelling tale of… 5 dudes trying to save the world by solving puzzles? Okay, just hear me out for a sec.
The show eases you into its plot as smoothly as it can (by uproarious entertainment), establishing the characters: who have very distinctive personalities and the premise: which is ridiculous but simple. The story is structured on a solid template, every episode always consists of some sort of real life conflict or mystery, a Sphinx showdown accompanied by notorious puzzles and then either a conflict resolution or an introduction to a new issue. So you generally know what to expect, or do you…?
Each episode does a good job of either building on our understanding of the characters or results in some sort of character development. The way it’s done is endearing and really cheesy and you just can’t help but root for before you even realised you started caring for them. I usually don’t elicit much of an physical reaction to what I’m watching on my own… but I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve made weird sounds and shouted in the living room while my parents were watching the news or something. Not a good look xD
They capitalised on the fact that people wouldn’t take this seriously and jam packed this show full of gimmicks, surprisingly most of them are well executed, I’ll just let you be the judge of that and experience it for yourself. I suppose the show’s weakest point is its puzzles which are… not suitable for the western audience and that’s putting it lightly. Solely dependent on Japanese puns, other wordplay of which there are kanji involved and far reaching leaps of logic, perhaps the only puzzle which can be managed is the very first one in the entire show (Hint: it’s the only one in English).
I’m not gonna lie, there are lows, you’re not always going to be looking forward to the next episode with bated breath. But, I assure you that you will be doing so more often than you thought you would and perhaps you might, like me, be sad to see this end...
Upon finishing the series I have an irrational dislike for the narrator, if only for the fact that his script destroys my headcanon.
Anime community: We need something new!
Anime industry: *Gives something new*
Anime Community: Ugh! What the fuck is that. Kill it with fire.
Imagine the worst anime you have ever seen. Now imagine the worst live action you have ever seen. What would happen if you combined those two "worst evers" together? Dimension High School.
Let's start with a back story.
There seems to be some type of movements started in April 2018 in Shibuya when the very first "4D anime" was introduced. What "4D anime" is according to Japan, is the act of mixing 2D characters together with real humans. 2D + 3D = 4D! Nerds hate them!
Anyhow, this might provoke some thoughts like "Didn't Space Jam and Who Framed Roger Rabbit do this same thing like 30 years ago and no one called it 4D, right?" This is true, but they were missing something crucial: Japan.
The single best part of this new "4D anime" is how far the idea is pushed. For example, even the theme song-performing band is called '4 Dimensions' and the studio that made this clusterfuckery was solely created for this series and named 'Polygon Magic'.... Let me just repeat what the studio is called in case someone missed it. Polygon. Magic. ..... I hereby declare I will never call this travesty "4D anime" without quotation marks.
Anyhow , this series is a test by the anime industry. Touching the ice with stick. While the new VAIO technology is being tested with VR anime shorts, big streamers such as Netflix are taking market share with 100% CGI animation and some 360 degree series are being brought to consumers, of course someone had to come up with even shittier of an idea: this idea, and now we are doomed to call a series filled with with Japanese live action actors 'an anime'.
The worst part of this idea is not really that it exist, but how it was made in this case. The production makes no sense. Even the live action segments have been dubbed over by anime seiyuus. It looks beyond ridiculous. And that's not nearly all. The story is advanced shittiness which not just anyone can achieve. Dude walks to his school and find an alien rock who seems to be able to fly and speak and control over different dimensions after which he turns our live action dudes into anime characters and makes them answer questions that are so incredibly stupid it's making the series 'Numb3rs' seem like a masterpiece.
The OST is equally laughable with everything else. Some type of spaceship UFO sounds you can hear kindergartener mimic when playing some sort of imaginary alien play. Expect here it's a song.
This show is so bad it's annoying. Truth to be told, there is no oceanic trench deep enough to properly bury it.