“Ignition “

The bar with Deca-Dence is, oddly, both very high and very low – it depends on how you look at it. We have a truncated season that was weak even before the pandemic decimated it, and this is an original series from Tachikawa Yuzuru – it would be shocking if it weren’t at or very near the top of the pile. But then, because it is a Tachikawa Yuzuru original expectations can’t help but be high. Tachikawa-sensei is the most accomplished young director in TV anime, and everything he’s helmed has been great (at the very least).

To be honest, if I didn’t know who the staff was, I’m not sure Deca-Dence would have been a show I was really targeting. The premise sounded pretty generic. But the staff list is a dazzler – in addition to Tachikawa it sports an all-star team of animators and designers (many of whom worked on Death Parade). It’s interesting that Tachikawa developed this project at little studio NUT after stellar success as giants Madhouse and Bones, but it’s clear from the premiere that budget wasn’t an obstacle.

My take after one episode was – frankly, to my disappointment – just about what it looked like it was going to be. Deca-Dence mostly does look great, but the story and characters feel extremely generic. Tachikawa was involved in the development but the main writer here is Seko Hiroshi, who has a very goos track record with adaptations (including Mob Psycho 100) but not much history with originals. Maybe he’s capable of writing a great original (we know Tachikawa is), and maybe Deca-Dence will be it, but there’s no evidence of that after one ep.

Based on interviews Tachikawa seems to have developed this show mostly because he really just wanted to do a mecha anime, and that’s perfectly fine in and of itself. But it plays like not much more thought than that went into it. Hell, there’s even a lazy exposition-by-explanation scene at the beginning, which I’ve never seen this director stoop to. The plucky girl heroine Natsume (Kusonoki Tomori) is generic. The grumpy boss/foil Kaburagi (Konishi Katsuyuki) is generic. The post-apocalyptic premise is generic. In fact Deca-Dence more than anything starts off like an amalgam of earlier mecha shows which were themselves mostly generic, which makes it generic squared.

There are hints there may be more going on here. I want to know more about this secret life Kaburagi leads, where he searches for “bugs” for some sort of secret organization. And the last few moments of the episode are very weird indeed – are those creatures robots or aliens? It’s not unrealistic to hope that with Tachikawa on the bridge all this predictability is s feint, and Deca-Dence is going to chart a much more unpredictable course than it appears. But that’s no more than a hope at this point.

If nothing else there’s the eye candy, which is probably why a lot of people are here. And the premiere certainly offers plenty of that, though there’s a not inconsiderable amount of CGI to go along with the sakuga. The giant mechanical fortress of the title is certainly a fun creation, though its method of attack is more campy than practical. And the battles have plenty of gorgeous animation, though the way they’re choreographed is rather impersonal in that it’s hard to follow what Kaburagi and the others are actually doing. I want more than all that though, and badly. Deca-Dence doesn’t have to be Tachikawa at his best to stand out this season, but no season ever needed him at his best more than this one does.


  1. “there’s even a lazy exposition-by-explanation scene at the beginning,”

    Literally barely half a step up from just having a narrator reading off the exposition, but even then this type of exposition is like “Why the fuck are these teenagers/young adults explaining how their world works on a fundamental level to each other?”

  2. Don’t see why you are so disappointed. Not every show has to be genre breakouts. Sometimes it’s good enough to have an interesting world and hit the right beats, and I think this does just that. Plenty of set up in the first episode to go places. Plenty of room for characters to show growth in one direction or another, but I have a feeling this will be more of a crowd/hive/group setup so we won’t have as much individual growth. Still, does it really matter? I feel like the main is likeable enough and we’ll see about the rest.

    1. This is pretty much where I’m at. I didn’t have any expectations at all and didn’t plan to watch it based on its description, poster, or preview — I had to re-read the description as I’d forgotten the premise — but I felt like watching something new and this was what was available. So far, so good.

      As for it being generic… I wouldn’t call it that. While the two main characters have qualities shared by many characters, they feel unique enough to me. I would attribute this to good writing and thoughtful execution, which I find encouraging. I am hopeful that the two-tiered society they live in will prove to be interesting as well. If there’s a generic element to the show so far, it would be the whole alien threat thing but we’ll see how that shapes up.

  3. A fun show with some heart. Bad things happened to Natsume and tragic as they are
    (e.g., losing her hand and family) they’re managed quite well by our main character.
    There’s that feeling of hope in this series (by contrast, Japan Sinks is all too
    realistic and is a great example of Western vs. Japanese storytelling IMHO) and
    that hope is going to drive the story and I’m fine with that.

    I’m looking forward to see how this goes.

  4. Honestly, if you are at the point of “everything is generic” for a perfectly well told story, maybe it’s time to do something else with your time, because you’re not reviewing, you’re complaining about the ennui in your life.

    1. Yeah I don’t actually care if something is “original” or not nothing is actually original. For what it is the characters are not annoying and the direction, animation, sound, plot are all there with a pretty high level of effort put in. A lot of times I’d take a well executed “generic” story than a original trainwreck that jumps into a black hole of non-believablity.

      Take Japan Sinks the premise already is impossible but is set in what is nominally the real world (pretty demanding premise to exist in and not strain suspension of disbelief) and that is without aliens, magical goo, robots that are probably behind it all in deca-dence.

      It is also a little ironic that they Deca Dence is considered generic when Tokyo Sinks is considered original but is very similar to Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 minus a stronger attempt there for realism even though both are nominally set in the near real world. Can’t have it both ways.

        1. Yeah the age of the source material doesn’t make the current anime adaptation 40 years old. Not to mention this 2020 show takes giant liberities with the source material and happens to be 10 years after Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 anime was made.

    2. The genericness (yes, I know it’s not a word) of the premiere isn’t really the problem – the mediocrity is the problem (though being generic doesn’t help in that department). But it’s only one week – things could certainly improve.

      1. I dunno the 2020 adpatation of Japan Sinks is solidly in the non-realistic disaster genre (Not exactly novel) with a heavy dose of tropes done poorly. Which kinda makes the genericness argument fall apart as it appears to be inconsistently applied between series. We don’t know if deca-dence will be good or not we don’t have all the episodes released already and it is anime original.


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