Well then… that was certainly unexpected. Can’t say I saw that one coming because who would have expected this freaking world to be virtual???? The first few minutes of this episode just left me in shock. At first I was wondering why they were talking about Deca-Dence like some sort of tourist spot and then I got further confused when it turned out that this world is actually a virtual game-like platform for these robot creatures??? The world building was so good and I was honestly ready for a post-apocalyptic adventure… only for the whole premise to be flipped onto its head. I feel like I was lied to! HOWEVER, I can’t say that it was a bad twist. I was just struck speechless for a moment but by the end of it felt kind of impressed. That was a pretty gutsy move on the creators’ part to add something so unexpected in like that. But it honestly made it more interesting to me.
So upon further investigation, it seems like the “human world” is basically over sought by these alien
children’s anime robot-like life forms that work for this “system” and play as human-like avatars. It’s honestly such an interesting concept to me and it definitely explains why the Gears were different colored compared to the Tankers. It also explains why they were so wild when heading into battle as if it were just some game… which essentially it is to them. Almost like Sword Art Online in a way but these tiny robot creatures are the players. All of them adhere to a mysterious so far “system” and if they don’t follow the rules, they’ll be taken apart and “scrapped.” I do have a lot of questions like is this world made this way by the aliens or are they just taking part in the post-apocalyptic setting?
I also love the dissonance between the robot creatures and the humans of the concept of “death.” When someone dies in battle, the humans mourn for them and naturally see it as terrible. It’s treated as actual war and it breaks people to see them die. Shown even further of why Fei didn’t want Natsume to become a Gear because she’s afraid of losing her friend. While to the robots it’s just a mild inconvenience since when their avatars die, they lose that physical body and would have to start over with a new one. Their views clash since they fight the battles as if its a game and when their avatars end up getting killed it’s looked down as “throwing away their lives” by the people of that world.
I didn’t expect to get Kaburagi backstory so soon… much less him actually being a smol robot creature. However, I admit, it made him 2000% more interesting. He’s a being who lives separate from the other “human npcs” but pretends to be part of the society. His knowledge fully extends past what Natsume knows and is aware of and it just makes things exciting and leaves me wondering just what will he do. Before I get ahead of myself, lets focus on his backstory. Kaburagi was considered one of the highest ranked players but was having trouble with popularity since the viewers considered him boring. And of course, just like all seasoned veterans, there’s always that bright, upcoming rookie just flying up the ranks. I was worried that Kaburagi was going to get jealous of his achievements and popularity, pushing him to sabotage. Since he seemed really concerned with how fast Mikey was catching up to him in such a short amount of time. It’s obvious that he was loving the life that being a top ranked player gave him with all the comforts and special privileges.
And he probably was jealous of how well Mikey was doing, I wouldn’t blame him since it’s a very normal feeling to see someone with less experience somehow fly up to where you are. I’m not sure if Kaburagi was actually using the limit-releaser, which exchanged you actually feeling pain for greater power within Deca-Dence or if he was looking into using it himself so that he wouldn’t get left behind by Mikey. Either way, it got him into an awkward situation with Mikey since the little guy really wanted to climb higher despite already having flown through the rankings. And after seeing how desperate Mikey was to go further beyond, my immediate thought was: This dude is gonna die. But seeing just how desperate and driven Mikey was, Kaburagi ended up sharing the information. By that point, I do think that Kaburagi didn’t tell him to sabotage or get him into any trouble. He legit wanted to help him since he most likely saw a bit of himself in him and figured, who was he to try and limit him. However, I don’t think Kaburagi realized just how greed could be mistaken as drive and just how severe the consequences are.
I don’t think Mikey was ever a bad guy, but he was a bit too ambitious for his own good. Leading to his inevitable downfall. Now, I can’t tell if he ended up getting hurt from the game or was tortured because he was somehow found out. Though from what I can garner, he went beyond the promised 20% of the limit-release and ended up getting himself severely wounded, which alerted the authorities on his cheating. In any case, Kaburagi was ultimately at fault for sharing such dangerous information with someone who had an endless craving for more and more success. However, the entire team seemed to share fault due to also indulging on Mikey’s curiosity about it. But because of this, the entire team was disbanded. Some were sent to be re-educated, some were forced to work for the system, such as Kaburagi while others, Mikey, were scrapped. I knew something bad must have happened to Kaburagi in the past to have him seem so jaded and had a fatalistic attitude towards life and this episode answered it.
And then there’s Natsume the anomaly. Initially, she seemed like the typical protagonist who wanted to go against the grain and be who she wants to be, not what any sort of system tells her to be. And in a sense, yes, she is still that character, but she’s a bit more considering the system considers her to be dead for several years. Humans seem to be managed through chips that were injected into them by this alien force but she may be missing hers, showing why she has such a different mindset compared to everyone else. All of the other people we’ve seen are completely content with whatever work they are given until the day they die but Natsume actually has dreams and aspirations, wanting to choose for herself what she wants to be. I feel like it has to do something with that fragment that her dad dropped in the beginning of the first episode. Whatever the reason is, it made her to be far more interesting. Especially since she isn’t recognized by the system and may be able to get away with certain things. Not only that, but her dynamic with Kaburagi has become even more interesting as well since they are two different species, living two very different lives and circumstances. It makes me all the more excited to see how they’ll connect and bond.
And if I’m reading into it correctly, she may have just saved his life. Kaburagi may have been looking to end his lifespan by not taking in that Oxyone in an attempt to for once choose something in his life that was not determined by the system. However, seeing how Natsume is not bound by the system, he has become interested in seeing just how far Natsume can go and push the system. He found a reason to continue living and I admit, it made me emotional over this smol robot alien thing. And from this point on, he’ll be teaching her how to fight as a soldier and I’m excited.
Many questions were answered… but now I have a tone more questions. Like what exactly are “bugs?” What causes them? Do the removal of chips end a person’s life? Are the aliens controlling the human world to use it like some spectator game? Are there “nps” soldiers as well? Who is truly in charge of the system? SO MANY QUESTIONS. BUT I’M SO INTRIGUED. Honestly, I wasn’t so sure about continuing the series based on episode one. The world-building was really good, but I wasn’t completely hooked. But with this freaking twist, I’m as sure as heck invested now. Because just like Kaburagi, I too want to see how far Natsume can push the “status-quo” so to speak. I took a peek at some forums and it seems like a lot of people were turned off to the series when the twist happened. Which makes sense since we were promised one thing but then got completely blind-sided. But thinking back to the first episode, they did drop some hints at to what was happening. Hints that would never have lead you to this sort of conclusion, but was still amazingly and engagingly executed. Sure it could be seen as an unnecessary add-on that could possibly make the premise too convoluted for its own good. But with this twist, Deca-Dence has undoubtedly captured my full attention and I can’t wait to see what it brings to the table.