This Summer’s highly anticipated original anime feels like a Frankenstein’s monster of influence from some of anime’s biggest hits.
What They Say:
With the sudden advent of creatures known as Gadoll, 90% of the human population was wiped from the planet. The final vestige of humanity navigates the desolate wastelands in the mobile fortress Deca-Dence.
An original anime from Studio NUT and director Yuzuru Tachikawa, Deca-Dence episode one is a promising proof of concept.
Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
It’s unusual for an original anime to garner much hype, especially when stacked against several fan-favorite anime. But despite the return of juggernauts like Re:Zero, SAO, and Oregairu, lots of people have their eyes peeled for Deca-Dence. A lot of that excitement comes down to Yuzuru Tachikawa, whose directorial work on Death Parade and Mob Psycho has made him a hot commodity as of late. Tachikawa’s concept for Death Billiards/Parade was further realized by Shinichi Kurita’s brilliant work as Animation Director, and now the two are attempting to strike gold once more with Deca-Dence.
Episode one lays out the stakes of its plot rather quickly. Humanity is on the brink of extinction. Long ago, creatures known as the Gadoll appeared, wiping out most life on the planet. For hundreds of years, the last remaining humans have battled the Gadoll using the mobile fortress known as Deca-Dence. The fortress is fueled by oxyone, an energy source stored within the Gadoll. There are two main factions at work within Deca-Dence: Gears and Tankers. Gears are soldiers of the anti-Gadoll force known as The Power, who originally built the fortress. The remaining people are known as Tankers. Tankers offer support to the Gears and provide maintenance to the different facets of Deca-Dence. Aside from this basic world-building, not much else is known about the world of Deca-Dence. The rest of the pilot focuses on our main character Natsume and her mysterious boss Kaburagi.
Natsume is introduced with a tragic backstory. During an expedition to the surface, Natsume sneaks aboard with her father and the other Tankers. But after an unexpected attack from the Gadoll, Natsume loses an arm and her father is killed. Years later, Natsume attempts to join the ranks of the Gears and protect the people of Deca-Dence… except for the fact that she isn’t qualified to be a soldier. Instead, she’s assigned to cleaning duty as a Tanker. Her boss is Kaburagi, a stone-faced man with little tolerance for our hyperactive protagonist. Despite her rough backstory, Natsume is bubbly and expressive. I think she contradicts the tone of the show, but she makes for an interesting character and her exaggerated personality is entertaining at the very least.
So overall, how does the Deca-Dence premier hold up? I think there are plenty of strong elements that can make it a top contender for the season, but there’s a lot of unknown variables too. Above all, Deca-Dence came out of the gate swinging with its animation and art direction. Tachikawa, Kurita, and Studio NUT flexed in the last leg of episode one, with a beautiful battle sequence spectacle. The equipment used by the Gears provides a lot of room for imaginative animation cuts, combined with the varied monster/character designs make for a visual feast. Many will notice the contrast of 2D and 3D animation, but the 3D models didn’t hinder the visual experience. The design and structure of Deca-Dence also make me curious to see exactly how the mobile fortress functions as a bastion for humanity. As long as Deca-Dence maintains its diverse designs and strong art direction, it has great potential.
The main thing I’m wary about at the moment is the show’s plot. While Deca-Dence is visually striking, the plot itself is treading on common ground. That’s not to say the anime is lacking in original ideas, but a lot of the concepts it integrates will surely be compared to other critically acclaimed IP’s. The setting and mechanical design reminded me of a more grounded take on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, while the Gears and their oxyone-powered equipment were very reminiscent of Attack on Titan’s Scout regime and their 3D maneuver gear. It’s unfair to think Deca-Dence won’t distinguish itself from these influences, but these clear-cut comparisons will surely give it some big boots to fill. In that regard, I think the numerous mysteries that lie within Deca-Dence works to its advantage. What exactly are the Gadoll and why did they appear? Who is Kaburagi? Who are The Power and how did they build Deca-Dence? There’s plenty to speculate right now, and that curiosity is a driving force behind the appeal of Deca-Dence.
Deca-Dence has a lot going for it, and episode one delivered on most fronts. There’s much to be discovered about its world and I’m excited to uncover those mysteries week by week!
Streamed By: Funimation