I don’t think I’ve ever had the experience of having an anime switch it up the story so abruptly before. I watched the first half of this episode in a daze. Deca-Dence episode 2, “Sprocket,” reveals that the world in episode 1 is a simulation. Run by the Solid Quake corporation, Deca-dence is a “colossal entertainment facility,” it’s not a virtual world, but one that takes place on the continent of Eurasia. Players become “gears” becoming customizable avatars. Then players join together to hunt Gadoll. I took a second viewing to be certain whether the “humans” were the “Gear” or the cute little robots, it’s the humans. Regardless, at the General Corporation Chimney Town, players gather to play.
Each player can gain experience and reach the top rank. Kaburagi was a top ranker 7 years ago. While traveling to battle Gadoll, Kaburagi’s hunting party discusses removing the natural limits placed on players in-game. This prevents the damage received for effecting the players in the real world. However, if you cheat and modify yourself, you can gain strength. Doing this is obviously against the rules and could result in “being scrapped.” In the first episode, one of the pressing questions was why did Kaburagi hate “war”? It turns out he aided his friend Mickey in cheating the game. Before this, however, Mickey reveals that he’s questioned the system. The robots are property of the corporation and as such is subjected to being replaced.
Kaburagi’s a tool for the system
Unwilling to return to a replaceable robot again, Mickey begs Kaburagi to help him. Kaburagi does so with the condition that Mickey will only use up to 20%. Elsewhere, we are introduced to Hugin and Munin. Together they are task with riding the system of “bugs.” One such bug is Mickey. Exposed as a cheater he’s scrapped and Kuburagi is arrested. In exchange for his life, Kuburagi is forced to work for the system. He will be an armor repairer during the day and a “recovery agent,” at night. Some humans are considered dangerous to the corporation. Somehow humans have been “chipped” and Kaburagi is told that he should recover the chips and report bugs. Deca-Dence focuses on the system and the power of the corporation.
Defeated, Kaburagi resigns himself to be a tool of the system. He’s given 175 years until he will be scrapped. We return to the Deca-dence world were Kaburagi learns that Natsume is a “bug.” The system considers Natsume to be dead. Therefore, she exists outside the system. He decides to teach her to fight to “see how a bug would survive in the world.” The first episode of Deca-Dence gave the impression that it was a series similar to Attack on Titan. This series made a fool out of me. The willingness to drop this bombshell in the second episode is impressive. Attack on Titan waited for the third season to reveal the secrets of its world.
I thought the first episode was pretty good, but now this series has been elevated. However, this early reveal robs it of any emotional heft. We barely know these characters so it’s difficult to care about them. Deca-Dence takes some risks but I think that it will all be worth it.