Deca-Dence

Deca-Dence

Deca-Dence anime series cover art
Deca-Dence

Series Overview

Deca-Dence (デカダンス) is an original anime series by studio Nut. If you haven’t heard of that studio, it’s probably because the only other anime they’ve made is The Saga of Tanya the Evil (and FLCL Alternative). They’re not a new studio, but they don’t do all that much.

But don’t let Nut’s limited portfolio fool you; they’re a good studio. And since Deca-Dence is an original series, it’s a fairly good example of what they’re capable of. The series has some great animation and choreography, and the art style reminded me of a somewhat watered-down version of Trigger’s style.

Basically, the anime looks nice, even if its art style isn’t going to be for everyone. And speaking of the art style, there are actually certain parts of the series that look much like a Western cartoon than Japanese anime. That’s something I could see turning off a lot of people, but I recommend sticking with it.

The unique art style is used to illustrate the differences between various things I’ll touch on later. I think once you’re able to recognize that fact, it becomes a lot less jarring.

But enough about the studio and style of the series. The basic premise of Deca-Dence isn’t that different from Darling in the FranXX. The Earth is a giant wasteland inhabited by monstrous creatures (Gadoll), the remnants of humanity lives in a giant structure known as Deca-Dence, and certain people known as Gears fight the Gadoll.

While Gears are the warrior class of society, Tankers are the average citizens of Deca-Dence. The series follows one such Tanker, Natsume, who dreams of one day joining the military faction The Power and fighting to eradicate the Gadoll.

The First Twist

To really discuss Deca-Dence, I’m going to need to spoil the first twist that occurs at the end of the second episode. So with that, you’ve officially been warned.

At the end of the second episode, it’s revealed that the entire existence of Deca-Dence is actually part of a game — sort of. It might seem like the series suddenly became an isekai at first, but that’s not really what happened here. It’s still very much the real world, and there’s only one world.

Basically, the Earth really is a giant wasteland and the remnants of humanity (the Tankers) really do live aboard Deca-Dence. Additionally, the Gadoll are a “real” threat. However, they’re a manufactured threat and part of the “game” of Deca-Dence.

Natsume from the anime series Deca-Dence
Natsume

This game is specifically designed for the Gears. In reality, the Gears are a race of cyborgs who live on a spaceship docked in Earth’s orbit. These cyborgs use avatars (the Gears) to fight Gadoll on the surface.

Now, this all might sound stupid, and it definitely felt that way when it was immediately revealed. However, what I really like about this series is how it uses this twist going forward.

We get to see the world through two very different lenses, and this is where the differing art styles I mentioned earlier come into play. On one side, we have the humans who view their world as it actually is: reality. And on the other, we have the cyborgs, with their cartoonish designs, who view the world as a manufactured fiction.

As the series goes forward, we’re also shown how the walls dividing these two views of the world are broken down. It almost goes down an anti-isekai path. In this case, it’s the real-world humans who are initially viewed as simple NPCs.

Characters and Plot

The characters and plot progression were probably the best and worst parts of this series to me. And when I say plot progression, I don’t mean the various twists and turns the series took; I liked those. What I mean, is the pace at which the plot progressed and how it seemed to skim over things in order to get to the next twist constantly.

Starting with the characters, the main two are Natsume and Kaburagi. There are some good side characters as well, such as my favorite, Sarkozy. But generally speaking, Natsume and Kaburagi carry the show.

I don’t think that Natsume and Kaburagi are even anything special. Natsume reminds me a lot of Akko from Little Witch Academia, and Kaburagi is just her older, male mentor. But there’s something about their dynamic that hits just right. I could have watched twice as many episodes following these two.

Kaburagi from the anime series Deca-Dence
Kaburagi

Carrying on with the idea that I could have watched twice as many episodes following these characters, that’s how long the anime should have been. A single cour was way too short to tell the story that this series was attempting to tell — and it showed.

Not only was the plot moving at a breakneck pace, but it skimmed over multiple points at which I, and other viewers, would have liked it to dive in deeper. The world of Deca-Dence is an interesting one full of mystery. But we only got a surface-level look at it because, as I mentioned, the series prioritized plot twists over world building.

Also, I thought that the very end of the series set up another world that I would like to explore. Some of the final scenes gave me serious Breath of the Wild vibes, and I would love to watch an anime like that. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be getting a Deca-Dence 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Conclusion

Did you watch Deca-Dence? If so, what did you think of the series? I thought it had a lot of potential, but it didn’t quite live up to that potential. Still, in the end, it’s a 7/10 from me, which is good. I do recommend this series, but I also recognize that it’s not for everyone.

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3 Replies to “Deca-Dence”

  1. I gave Deca-Dence a 6/10 as I believe the plot twist about the network attempting to revert the entire world back to a previously determined reference point was a huge plot hole as that means that not even the humans in Deca-dence’s world were truly alive, but I’m convinced that the writers intended for the humans to be alive indeed, or else Kaburagi wouldn’t have referred to the humans as an endangered species. If the humans really were data just like the rest of the world, that really means that the human race had actually become extinct in Deca-dence’s world.

    1. I could be wrong but I think you’re fundamentally misunderstanding something about the world of Deca-Dence.

      You said “If the humans really were data just like the rest of the world”. Nowhere in this series as far as I could tell were we led to believe that the entire world was data.

      Almost everything in the world of Deca-Dence that we saw was physical not virtual. The cyborgs had physical bodies up on the spaceship orbiting Earth. The bodies that the cyborgs used to play the Deca-Dence game were artificially created physical avatars not virtual ones.

      My takeway was that from the cyborgs and the System’s point of view human life was cheap. Humans were kept around for decoration purposes and were treated with no more significance than NPCs in a video game.

      Once the mutant monster Gadoll showed up at the end the System decided to wipe out the whole area and reset everything. This would have resulted in the humans being wiped out as well but the System didn’t care.

      All that being said it’s possible the System had genetic material stored somewhere so it could grow a new bunch of humans in a lab at a later point. That’s just speculation though.

      1. I agree with this take. The humans and the world itself definitely exist physically. However, the system doesn’t care about the humans — so wiping them out is a non-issue as long as it means killing the giant Gadoll. Once that’s accomplished, the system can just start fresh and create a new “game.”

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