OP Sequence

OP: 「Theatre of Life」 by (Konomi Suzuki (鈴木このみ))


To quote… someone:

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.

Well, there ya go.

We certainly saw a major reset button hit with Deca-Dence, no denying that (and kudos to the staff for doing an admirable job keeping the secret). There was indeed a hope, based on the masthead – and the final moments of the premiere – that all that cliche was a bait-and-switch. And I have to say a pretty ballsy one too, to intentionally make your first episode as derivative and generic as possible to execute a plot point. Given how short the attention span of many anime viewers is these days, there’s real risk in that. But Tachikawa Yuzuru – and Seko Hiroshi too, for that matter – actually have a track record of atypical premieres followed by resets. Just not to this extreme.

For me, then, a major hurdle has been cleared. If that first episode had been offered at face value I likely would have bailed on Deca-Dence pretty quickly, because it wasn’t very interesting. My faith in Tachikawa-sensei wavered there, but he restored a good chunk of it. That said, though, it’s really only the first hurdle that’s been cleared – there’s still the matter of the actual show being a good one. And with as many unanswered questions as this series has already put out there, it’s far too early to make a call on that one.

So just what the heck is going on here, then? To be honest I’m not totally sure. Taken at face value, we seem to be inside a simulation, where Minions-like aliens are playing what amounts to an immersive MMORPG. As for the actual humans who interact with them inside the game, they’re part of an “endangered” human race – perhaps unknowingly filling the role of NPCs. But to the aliens, this seems like a job as much as a game – and if they screw up or break the rules they’re “scrapped”. They also have to fill up on “Oxyone” or they die (or whatever would be their equivalent).

That’s exactly what Kaburagi-alien seems to have decided to do. By flashback (7 years), we see him as part of a crack team of ranked gears (given that two of his teammates are Donatello and Mikey, we clearly have a TMNT fan in the writer’s room). The catch here is that this Deca-Dence simulation the aliens are involved in is apparently physically real, possible even on Earth (Eurasia). If they take off their limiters, they can enhance their abilities into the game while also subjecting themselves to physical harm. Pain junkies are into it, it seems, but Mikey wants to do it so he can move up in rank – and it’s Kaburagi who shows him how. When the boss finds out, Mikey is scrapped and the team is broken up, and Kaburagi is forced to work for the boss, eliminating “bugs”.

Kaburagi is supposed to be around for 175 more years, apparently, but he’s had enough. The annoying little human Natsume sparks enough curiosity in him, however, to get him to shoot up on Oxyone and keep plugging along. She’s supposed to dead – “processed” – but the system probably thinks so because her ID chip was in her lost arm. She’s an anomaly and that interests Kaburagi, who decides not only not to die but to accede to Natsume’s request and train her up, just to see what happens.

Whatever the heck this is, it’s certainly more interesting that what Deca-Dence looked like it was after 21 minutes of the premiere. From an extremely predictable narrative we’ve gone to one that’s more or less a cipher (though it does borrow from The Matrix and, especially, the criminally-underrated Dark City). It’s not exactly what I would call compelling, yet, nor are any of the characters – who are, ironically, the one element that remains pretty generic even after the plot reboot. But Deca-Dence is at least fraught with possibility now, and that certainly constitutes a massive improvement.


ED Sequence

ED: 「Kioku no Hakobune」 (記憶の箱舟) by (Kashitarou Itou (伊東歌詞太郎))


  1. I thought I got a bad batch of “stuff” 🤩. I re-watched the first 5 minutes (or so) a few
    times ’cause I couldn’t figure out the bait & switch.

    Anyway, could turn out to be a real hidden gem — still don’t fully get what’s
    going on yet but it’s just bizarre enough to keep my interest.

    Maybe a little like Kaiba?

  2. This ep made me drop the show (ep1 was barely strong enough to make me watch ep2 though). It’s an interesting concept, but I feel even less attached to the characters now.

  3. It’s not a simulation though. It’s like telepresence, but instead of humans remotely controlling robots, robots are remotely controlling customized humanoid bodies.

    They establish it explicitely in opening exposition dump, and the way it was done (as advert) suggests it’s not being kept a secret in-universe (except from human NPC’s of course).

    And the game is rather gamified resource extraction operation. Think of coal mining of old. Workers are essentially slaves, paid in company’s own currency which they can use in the company store to buy food and clothes. Only with ranks and shiny presentation

  4. It is not an MMO it is just a corporate dystopia calling itself a game. Also it is not like they did not strongly hint at the whole corporation robots behind it all given the bookends in ep1 with the dead robots + logo at the start and live robots + logo at the end, bug hunting bit, robot HUD in his mind. People who are surprised are just not paying attention, there is even a suprising amount of people who think it is just a video game which it is not. Sure, we do not know if it will be good to the end, but I think in two episodes the showed their work off well to this point.

  5. Well, you were already negative about this anime to begin with, so there is really nothing that it can do to change your mood which is not a new thing. You seems to be either very positive from the start (which was amusing in the case of Yesterday no Utatte because everyone who read the manga could see that you were going to hit a brick wall in the end) or very negative because you don’t like someone in the staff, the general theme …the list goes on. In other words it’s very obvious when you are badly disposed before you even seen the anime. Maybe you should adopt a more cautious “wait and see approach”. Frankly i am not going to read your coverage of this anime and i am sorry that nobody else is covering it for Randomc.

  6. TGe interesting fact is that all is real and not a vr simulation. My opinion is that those mechanical beings are evolved mascotte robots that were the only intelligent thing left after a massive extinction event that killed all the life on Earth. This explains their shape, the human names and the fact that everything in their society is propriety of a corporation, which is probably the the brand that produced them. Also the father of Natsume found in the first episode a mechanical thing which is probably an ancestor of those mechanoids. Every life form is either a recreation (probably the humans as well) or a construct conveniently created for game mechanics purpose and, judging from the state of Earth, there is no biological life in the rest of the planet. Those mechanoids also live in a distopian “perfect” society but need constant stimulus and entertainment (hence why the game and certain addictive variants of their fuel is needed ) to evade and are also able to commit suicide which i suspect is not a rare occurrence…just like a certain real life extremely work focused society…

  7. As most people have noticed, it’s not an MMO. It’s a real life society that goes: Robots -> Gears -> The Power -> Rest of Humanity

    From what I’ve seen, I think only the Gears have been clued in to the reality, ant the rest of humanity is blissfully unaware of their current expoitation.

    It will be interesting to see how the lore developes, but could it be that Humanity doomed itself, and the Robots are all that’s left (and the Tankers, being what those robots were able to save)

  8. My biggest disappointing is with the public.
    The first episode (without paying attention and suspecting) was “generic”. Looked like it would be more of the same, based on trends and styles from other studios. Then this second episode came to show that this will be it’s own thing, that this will be after all something interesting to watch… and many are dropping like liking the good surprise.
    “Otakus” are dump.

    Anyway, I don’t know what to expect exactly but I’m really curious to find out.

    Panino Manino
    1. Yeah it is pretty disappointing viewers even the reviewer here is not exactly enthused with the show.

      Deca-dence is properly using a show not tell pattern even the tell parts are not quite as they seem but at the same time it isn’t like it is impossible to figure things out if you just think about it for a moment. The truely disappointing thing is that it seems like many dissapointed people don’t seem to even pick up on what is clearly stated/demonstrated that it is a real world not a video game. They just see scores and ranks and instantly go oh its just a SAO clone.

      They forget that in wearhouses (not even just amazon) across the world delivering their cheap goods are scores of people where they are constantly scored, ranked, fired, promoted all based on performance as if it were a game. (Some wearhouses even put game UIs over top the existing performance systems to make it more appealing to the masses of workers) Gamefication of work is effective so it is realistic.

    2. Those same people criticize the same isekai or harem for not with anything original, but when they get something original they end up despising it. Instead this was unexpected and cool

  9. the concept is very cool, could have animated better the robot AIs, not blaming them for saving animation costs, but the anime is very cool, the humans have become organic NPCs from an advanced alien race that uses them as support characters for their game and one of the admin AIs of this game has rebelled against the program, just how cool is that

  10. You may call the first episode generic and boring. But the real insult is in the second episode with those alien/robots designs, they are so cartoonish that makes you believe you are wasting your time. No effort, cost or art invested on those designs. (not even good for a Saturday morning kiddie show)..
    How can you seriously will want to watch a main character designed so poorly that it looks bad compared with a robot from a Hanna-Barbera kiddie show from the sixties.


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