And I’m back after being incapacitated for several weeks! Sorry for my disappearance but healing was top priority. It’ll take a few weeks for me to catch up with it, so thank you for your patience! Anyways, back to Deca-Dence. I honestly got super frustrated with the timing of my injury since the show was starting to pick up in interesting ways, especially with that info drop in episode 2. Speaking of which, we actually learned a lot more in this episode as well. I was expecting to leave the mystery of why Natsume was considered dead for a bit but right off the bat they answered it with having it malfunction during resuscitation. Though considering this is a “game world” it does make sense for Kaburagi to be able to tap into that information. But then again, you’d think the system would be gunning for her since she’s not registered.
We then get a little battle introductory with Kaburagi which feels very much like a battle tutorial which is both hilarious and ironic since… this world is essentially a game. And in true protagonist fashion, Natsume fails spectacularly. Which is fine since this is her first intro to combat so of course she’s not going to get it on the first try… in most cases. I am glad that she isn’t well versed in combat or the flying mechanics or else it would feel so contrived and we get to see her improve over a training montage. I wish we got to see some deeper moments between Kaburagi and Natsume though because a part of me wishes to see more daughter and adoptive father dynamics. Since so far, we’ve only been given more teacher student vibes. Which aren’t bad, but they’re missing that familial dynamic I crave.
I honestly felt really sad about what happened between Natsume and her friend. On one hand, I can understand Natsume’s passion for wanting to chase her dream and now that she’s closer to it than she ever has been before, of course she’s going full speed ahead towards it. But then on the other, I understand her friend’s worries as the battles take so many lives and the last thing she’d want is for her friend to go off onto the battlefield and not return. However, when she points out that her faulty mechanical arm would be a hindrance to her, that’s where I felt she went too far. I also think it’s important to point out how her friend is unable to understand the concept of going after something that isn’t your predetermined job because that’s how she and all the other Tankers are programmed in a sense. People aren’t supposed to strive to go after something that doesn’t physically suit them. And that’s rather sad.
With that said, I do find it interesting that there are still Tankers that take part in the battles like Kurenai. I wonder what the deal are with them since it seems like Tankers aren’t supposed to be a “warrior race.”
We all know that Natsume’s mechanical arm is a touchy subject for her considering see how much it hinders her not only in combat, but just daily tasks that garner the annoyance of others around her that causes her to be bullied. I do really like the meaningful glances she gives to others with prosthetics, most likely envying their models while she’s left with a junky one. While it had helped her quite a bit since an arm is better than no arm, even treasuring it, she still acknowledges it as a weakness that she just can’t help. And it does make me mad at her friend and the bully for viewing her as a defect at times because of this. Almost looking at the arm as if it represented her entire being. So I’m glad that Kaburagi stepped in to help her get an upgrade on her arm. Not only does she have a proper hand, but it was also made into a needle launcher that is sure to be a big help to her in battle now.
This was a pretty slow episode compared to what transpired in the previous one, but I feel like it was necessary as it focused on Natsume getting better in her training while also throwing some development in. However, next episode is about to be a doozy considering the giant horde that sprung up from an underground cavern. Guess Natsume is going to have to get first-hand experience using her new arm. While I did like the episode, what I didn’t like was that they gave us information about the world too soon I feel. I couldn’t quite connect to the information, but I guess it was mostly there just to have that information in the back of our minds as to why civilization is the way that it is. But I will give it props to how it is told as an infomercial rather than a character just info dumping this. And I must say that the little backstory with how Kaburagi found Pipe was adorable. He really can’t leave bugs alone lol.
Not gonna lie. The pacing to this episode felt FAST. The second half of the episode felt like something that should be happening in episode 7 or 8. Especially since it feels like the climax. However, I’ll trust Deca-Dence to be gearing up for something bigger since I’m sure they’ll have to take the battle to the system eventually. Though it still doesn’t excuse the fact that it feels too soon, even if this isn’t the final battle. Who knows, maybe it’s just me, but I digress.
Natsume’s training has finally produced fruit and after showing off her skills, was accepted into the power like she had always wanted. And while it did seem a bit fast for her to be doing so well only after almost two weeks, not to mention hadn’t even properly practiced with her new arm, I can forgive it since we actually saw her progressively get better under Kaburagi’s tutelage and took what he said to heart. I wish we got to see her reaction a bit more after her acceptance, but I guess they didn’t want to spend too much on it to keep the momentum going.
Deca-Dence apparently is having a new event and it honestly felt a bit cruel, mostly towards the Tankers. Considering it was hyped up as the final battle against the Gadoll, giving Tankers hope to finally ridding the world of them. However, little did they know it was all just a ploy as there actually wasn’t even a chance of them succeeding the mission but was merely a moment in a game where you can’t actually beat the boss for story purposes. Instead, they planned for “Legendary Heroes” to come and save the day, propelling the story forward but at the cost of many Gears and Tankers’ lives. At this point, it definitely started hitting home that the humans’ lives were being played with. Gears can be reborn as new avatars, but once a Tanker dies, they’re gone. This whole situation feels so meta honestly. Almost like game developers brainstorming scenarios for the game, except the fact that they’re toying with actual lives.
While Kaburagi was invited to be part of the “Legendary Heroes” who would swoop in to save the day, A-class Gears and under would be wiped out. Including the Tanker regime, which meant that Natsume would 100% end up dead on this mission. And considering how fond Kaburagi has become of her, he was scared and became desperate to save her, even at the cost of their relationship. He even resorted to forcing her to stay away from the battle by spilling the knowledge that this world will never find peace and that the mission will end up a failure. Even going as far as to drain her fuel tank so that she wouldn’t be able to use it. Kaburagi almost seems like he’s going back on his development, resorting to his fatalistic viewpoints again. But man, that scene was rough even if it felt like it was too soon for this to be happening. However, it was still emotional.
I also really liked Natsume and Kurenai’s chat. Especially how high Natsume viewed Kurenai, I feel like seeing the more human side of her allowed Natsume to get a reality check on the situation. Not only that, but she got to see just what drove Kurenai to fight in the first place, even though she wanted to quit many times and worried over the outcome of the battles. Hearing Kurenai’s determination despite her fear allowed Natsume to find just what drove her to become part of the Power and continue to fight, despite everyone else’s misgivings. We also get to see another part of why she wanted to become a soldier. While it was pretty obvious her dad was a major factor in this dream, but it was also the things that he showed her that inspired Natsume to want to fight for a new era, a sunnier and more beautiful tomorrow. Though the real reason was to show up the people who excused her efforts because of her arm. She wants to grow as a person and I can’t help but respect her for that. It’s honestly a difficult situation since I do want to root for Natsume, however, we as an audience and Kaburagi all know that no matter what she does, the fighting will never end if she just keeps fighting Gadolls.
I really am starting to dislike Fei. On one hand, I can understand her wanting to distance herself from Natsume since she believes she will most likely die if she continues on this path of being part of the Power. However, that look she gave Natsume’s mechanical arm just left a sour taste in my mouth. So many of Natsume’s classmates view her worth in that arm of hers and it’s sad. And it’s disheartening to see their friendship fall apart because of it, especially since she was Natsume’s only friend at the start. It just makes it seem like she was no different from the people who bullied her. I can see one of two ways this could go: Natsume proving that she can put up a fight without dying and being able to rekindle her friendship with Fei or the two have been naturally drawing a part due to working in different areas and Natsume would find new friends within the Power that can be more supportive and accept her. Though judging from how Natsume’s bully called Fei’s name over hers and calling her over felt like she was taking Fei away from Natsume in a sense. So they may be headed in two different directions in their lives, away from one another.
Which makes Natsume and Kaburagi’s fight hit even harder because she most likely felt he was the last person she had in terms of bonds and then he betrayed her. She probably felt she had lost all her meaningful bonds, leaving her completely alone. Not to mention that Kaburagi was the first one to see potential in her and the one to raise her up to be where she is. And for him to backpedal and say she’s not ready must have hurt her A LOT. You could just tell from her reaction and the shakiness in her voice that she was clinging so hard onto Kaburagi emotionally because of how much he supported her and it was crushing for him of all people that she would end up getting killed on the mission since everyone else also said the same thing. So yeah… that hurt.
I really love the nuances in show as it allows me to understand things without explicitly telling me. Like how Kurenai is extremely stressed and worried over the upcoming mission with the amount of cigarettes she smoked. But man, the action choreography, cinematography and animation in this anime is just top notch. Everything in this anime looks so well polished, I’m honestly amazed how they can continue with this level considering a lot of other anime will put their best foot forward only in the beginning and end. So I got to give Studio Nut kudos to that. Stuff like that gives me more out of the viewing experience. Definitely one of the most underrated shows so far this season.