「フェイクフレンド」 (Feiku Furendo)
In this episode of D_Cide Traumerei: The Animation, we saw the switch into the monster of the week formula. Except instead of being monsters, they were actual people. The Traumerei seems to be only activated by people’s emotions, and the more someone believes something, it becomes even more real in the side of the Traumerei, at it seems it not only heightens emotions but provides a sort of feedback loop for the fallacies the dreamer believes to be true. Rena who was bitten by Tris last episode got her awakening into a full Knocker Up this episode.
The underlying thread following this episode is that of Tomomi and Mouri. Rena is the 3,000th thousand Qwester (what even is this name) user, a social media network, much like Twitter or Instagram. This is enough to entice people to faun over her, and want to be her friend. But all of that is quickly taken away. Because another popular online streamer is jealous of Rena. Tomomi is a user who aspires to be like Rena but puts up a facade. Probably to entice her audience. Rena however, is able to be herself online. That’s what makes Rena interesting as a character, she’s sweet and genuine, and caring. She was bullied before she met Ryuuhei, who is such a simpleton that he didn’t care about any of the rumors or bullying, probably because he just doesn’t use social media.
This episode also touched upon the topics of deep fakes, and how virality can quickly turn you on your head. Just as the rumors were spreading, the Traumerei posted a video of Rena saying bulgar stuff, which everyone takes with a sincere ugly face, looking down upon Rena for being so trash. It’s sort of uncanny because anyone in the occidental part of the world would think she’s being upfront and taking those rumors, crushing them to the ground, and running with them. People would think she’s strong, a queen, and a bad bi#ch for talking about them upfront. How many times have we not seen celebrities do this, and when they do address hate online, with a sincere face, and matter of facts, they speak their truth. People love it.
Apparently, that doesn’t translate to the eastward part of the world, especially because the view of how women should be (I personally don’t agree with it) is very different. Maybe when Rena addressed the rumors in the deep fake people looked down on her because that meant she was trying to out lie the liars. As if addressing them, made them true. Eri was nice enough to believe Rena before believing the rumors because Eri knows Rena is genuinely a sweet girl, and when she sees others in trouble, like being bullied or getting picked on, and are unable to pick a fight for themselves. She sweeps in to rescue them, because of how she was once treated and now Rena believes no one deserves the same treatment she got. She breaks the cycle and I like that a lot about her.
Tomomi on the other side is not like that, she wants to make friends with Rena for the clout, not because she wants to be actual friends with her. So when Rena extends her hand, she bites it back because she’s unable to place her trust in people. Something that is touched upon at the end of the episode. With Rena being the bigger person and telling Tomomi that she can trust them, and she can be herself around them. However, I don’t think Tomomi will be joining the Knocker Up team. Simply because D_Cide did its best to make us hate her. How are you going to throw her in the fires up against Rena, the sweet girl of the show, and then try and make us liker her? It seems like an impossible feat at this point.
A simple kiss on the hand, and all is forgiven might be enough for the characters to get along with Tomomi, but for us as the viewers, I reckon it’s gonna take much more than that. However shallow this episode might have been, it tried its best to incorporate deeper threads in this episode, like the deep fakes, but overall, compared to the hard-hitting family drama of the last episode, this one just felt shallow with its execution. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it served its main purpose of awakening Rena as one of the team. Next episode it seems we will be learning more about Aruto, so I’m looking forward to that. D_Cide works best when it hits the nail on more personal stories. But tales like these are also fun to see once in a while.