“Ignition” provides plenty of world-building to flesh out this latest post-apocalyptic setting, and a likable lead and a bombastic finale suggest there’s some potential in it, despite any familiarity.
This recap of Deca-Dence season 1, episode 1, “Ignition”, contains spoilers.
Post-apocalyptic anime is ten-a-penny these days, and basically always has been, but don’t let that played-out end-of-the-world aesthetic put you off the new Funimation original anime Deca-Dence. After its first episode, “Ignition”, there’s little to complain about here aside from some familiarity; the world-building is interesting, despite cribbing from some pretty obvious influences including most notably Mortal Engines and Attack on Titan, while the plucky protagonist and her relationship with an enigmatic mentor are intriguing. When the gloves come off towards the end of Deca-Dence episode 1, a good dollop of exciting, visually-dynamic action suggests the show has some tricks up its sleeve.
Anyway, it’s the future again, and after being mostly wiped out by a race of insectoid critters known as the Gadoll, humanity has been bundled up into a giant moving fortress known as the Deca-Dence – and yes, I know it’s an awful name, let’s just work with it. The Deca-Dence is rigidly stratified among the Gears, the Power and the Tankers, the latter being the menial workforce who keep things ticking while the other two groups, much more valued within the society for obvious reasons, plan and execute operations against the Gadoll threat.
Our protagonist Natsumi is, of course, a Tanker, though she has aspirations of becoming a Power, which is virtually unheard of since roles within the Deca-Dence seem to a birth-right thing. Nevertheless, she’s properly unsatisfied with her role, and throughout “Ignition” she does a lot of complaining about that role which doubles as helpful world-building flavor. I’m not sure what it is since it’s hardly a fresh character type, but I warmed to Natsumi pretty quickly, and once she hooked up with former Gear Kaburagi, I was rooting for them both. What can I say, I guess I’m just a sucker for the team-building montage.
But Deca-Dence episode 1 keeps Kaburagi a deliberately enigmatic figure – once it all kicks off with the Gadoll towards the end of “Ignition”, he proves himself remarkably capable at the acrobatic trapeze-fighting business that is seemingly the only way of dealing with the roaming Gadoll, who’re divided into different categories of their own – I think by size – and have some fun, colorful designs already.
Deca-Dence season 1, episode 1 also caps itself off with the fortress opening up Megazord-style so that it can personally take out the biggest, baddest Gadoll, and it’s a fun visual transformation. Giant walking cities wrestling ginormous insects is right up my street, I must admit, and here’s a show that looks as though it’ll enthusiastically provide that. With a great sense of scale and energy, a likable lead, and an interesting dystopian setting, there’s a lot to like about Deca-Dence thus far, and I’ll certainly be tuning back in for more.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.