In episode 7, Kaburagi decided that the system must be destroyed. The cyborgs decided that they will destroy the Gadoll factory. If they succeed, the game will fall apart as it requires the Gadoll. The factory is protected by a barrier that kills Tankers and instantly logs out Gears. The only way to get in is to be undetectable by the system. Natsume and Kaburagi are the only two that can accomplish this mission. First, they need to retrieve Kaburagi’s old avatar. Jill, Kaburagi, Donatello, Turkey, and Sarkozy trick Minato into revealing the location of the avatar.
So far Natsume has remained ignorant of the larger world that surrounds her. It thought it would take some convincing but I was certain that Kaburagi would be persuasive. I did not doubt that once Natsume realizes the danger Solid Quake possesses to humanity she will be willing to risk her life to stop them. With his old avatar back, Kaburagi gets Natsume on board. Meanwhile, Turkey tries to get Sarkozy to betray Donatello and Kaburagi.
Deca-Dence asks the question: Is order even necessary to prevent chaos? To some it is. However, others see “order” as oppression. Preventing them from being free. Order must dictate most aspects of their lives. From their perspective, chaos isn’t the likely outcome freedom is. The system is unjust, if it were then rebellion wouldn’t be necessary. The destruction of the system was always the logical conclusion of this series. However, Deca-Dence has already proven that the series isn’t predictable. I don’t expect that Natsume or Kaburagi will get what they’re hoping for.
Deca-Dence Episode 4, Transmission, begins with Kaburagi ordering Natsume to return to Deca-dence. She isn’t ready. However, Natsume is determined to battle and save Pipe. As she enters the fray, she is horrified by the violence. Natsume flees to regain her composure. She takes a deep breath and returns to battle. Natsume springs into battle, flying through the magnetic field, piercing Gadoll with spears. She gets noticed by the Gears in the surrounding area. Kurenai compliments her for the fight, and Natsume is understandably pleased to meet her idol. Kurenai welcomes her to The Power.
The largest battle in Deca-Dence history
The next “event” is the “Freezing Cold Snow Battle,” Kaburagi is told that the event is actually “impossible to clear.” Defeating an alpha Gadoll is considered impossible even for S-class Gears. Massive casualties are expected, particularly from A-Class and under. The plot of the story of the event features chosen heroes of which Kaburagi is chosen to be one. Mindy, Mundy, and Mendy are introduced to Natsume. At first glance, these three feel like red shirts. Later, Kaburagi warns Natsume that the upcoming battle isn’t for a Gear of her level. He tells her that “it’s won’t succeed, and peace will never come.” Natsume refuses to give up and Kaburagi sabotages her equipment. However, her motivation hasn’t disappeared and she joins the crew.
The battle begins
Natsume and her squad head out into the blizzard. Natsume isn’t taking the upcoming fight seriously. The S Rankers dominate the battle, as they notice that a lot of lower ranked gears are dying. As Natsume’s squad arrives at the location of the alpha, they witness the results of a massacre. The Gadoll alpha spots them and they charge. The squad quickly notice that the alpha is attacking the tanks. Enraged, Natsume rushes in and is saved by one of the tankers. She takes on the alpha alone, she manages to stab it with a needle. However, the alpha removes the needle and heals. Before it can hit Natsume with her needle, Kaburagi arrives.
He pierces the alpha with two needles, forcing the Gadoll to use a smokescreen shrouding its position. Kaburagi pulls Natsume out of the zone and tells her to abandon her squadmates. Kaburagi’s negativity is once again in contrast with Natsume’s hope. After the tankers sacrifice on her behalf, she’s motivated to “push herself to the limits.” Kaburagi battles the alpha while Natsume escapes with her squad. Kaburagi begins to break his limit but is warned that if he kills the Gadoll it will “affect the storyline.” In a stunning show of skill, Kaburagi kills the alpha. As the fog lifts, the nest is revealed.
The death of Kaburagi
However, a massive Gadoll appears. Kaburagi had made the situation worse by breaking the rules and now must be punished by the system. Meanwhile, the Gadoll displays its powerful pressure beam. Kaburagi notices that the Gadoll is “unfinished.” He charges in and attacks, distracting the Gadoll in the process. The Deca-dence Cannon lands the finishing blow. Just when we expect a peaceful ending, several massive Gadoll arrives. Natsume collapses at the impossible situation they find themselves in. Natsume and Kaburagi switch worldviews, with the former feeling helpless while the later hopes for the future. Finally, Kaburagi meets with Hugin who demands Kaburagi repeat the words “There is no place for bugs in this world.” Instead, Kaburagi says “Bugs are needed.”
Hugin appears to kill Kaburagi with a laser beam. Deca-dence continues to surprise. Kaburagi’s change of heart was predictable, but his apparent demise wasn’t. However, is it real? His Cyborg body wasn’t destroyed. I predict that he hasn’t officially been killed yet. This episode does highlight the differences between the Gears and Tankers. It would seem reasonable that there would be a sense of comradery among them. However, the Gears seem to look down on them so much so that they don’t even value their lives. This dynamic could become toxic. Finally, Natsume has changed her perspective and has become more negative. I doubt this change will be permanent but what will it cost her short term?
Deca-Dence Episode 3 opens with Kaburagi reviewing the moment Natsume “dies” and her chip malfunctions. Kaburagi throws her into the deep end. They practice on a Gadoll called Spoonwormer’s. Small and pink, the Spoonwormer is fairly weak. Kaburagi gives a tutorial that both educates Natsume and the audience. He explains that it’s important to force the Gadoll to activate their zone. The Gadoll appears to do this instinctively. Within this zone, a magnetic field is generated, making gravity unstable. The round tank lets he wearer see waves. The goggles permit Gears to see Arteries of the Gadoll, which carries oxyone.
Oxyone is the main source of energy that powers Deca-dence. It fuels almost everything, including the attacking and riding of the Gears. The tank automatically fills with oxyone. Killing mid-size Gadoll requires bleeding them out. Natsume doesn’t take to battle the way you might expect the main character. However, she has another limitation, her arm.
It’s not your weakness it’s your strength
Natsume’s arm features only three “fingers” making gripping difficult. This is especially problematic when trying to use the regulator lever, that’s used to adjust oxyone usage. Despite the difficulty, she refuses to give up. Kaburagi takes her to a weapons store. He creates a new artificial arm for her that has five fingers, a hose valve, and a compressor. Natsume will be able to use needles with. While returning home the Gadoll attack, destroying the ground. Natsume and Kaburagi rush after Pipe. Meanwhile, the Gears prepare for battle.
After episode 2, I wondered what Deca-Dence would focus on. I didn’t expect more surprises but was curious about how they would respond. This episode focused on Natsume’s training while explaining the world more. We learn how humanity lost its way, how difficult battling Gadoll is, and Kaburagi’s tendency to save “bugs (Natsume and Pipe).” This behavior is going to become a problem for him in the future. In the meantime, Natsume will get a chance to fight for real.
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.
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.