While it obviously lacks the sheer shock value of last week’s installment, “Steering” was a useful chapter proving that the show can progress with a healthy balance between its two distinct halves.
This recap of Deca-Dence season 1, episode 3, “Steering”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
After last week’s game-changing twist, Deca-Dence episode 3, “Steering”, had a bit of a task on its hands. It had to prove a point that the show could balance its two very distinct halves while also progressing both independently; not an easy task, especially since, at least at this stage, one is much more involving than the other. But the seeds are planted here in a smart way that capitalizes on what we learned in the previous episode and neatly sets up the next one, with both storylines getting some individual development even as they overlap.
The first half of “Steering” is devoted to Kaburagi teaching Natsumi how to fight Gadolls, which is striking in how overtly game-y it is. Pumping through the monsters’ innards is a blood-like substance known as Oxyone that also powers the Gears’ equipment. Oxyone is required to attack but also to float along the glowing trails that spiral through the air, so there’s a balancing act to be achieved, and proximity to Oxyone automatically refills the tank of it strapped to Natsumi’s back. Throughout this sequence, which goes on a while and hits some comedic beats as well, Natsumi’s abilities improve enough that she’ll be able to hold her own in an action scene but won’t become OP – to co-opt more video game language – too early. It also helps to define her bond with Kaburagi.
What follows in Deca-Dence episode 3 is a kind of worldbuilding interstitial, as we re-join robot-alien Kaburagi while he’s getting grilled by Hugin for slacking. Cue a presentation in which we learn about the large-scale extinction of humanity in the year 2400 thanks to – what else? – climate change and general human hubris. Mega-corporations put their collective heads together in order to fashion cyborgs who could exist in the tattered environment while the remaining squishy humans were encased in the huge glass dome that contains Eurasia. The cyborgs are governed by a self-aware entity known as The System, but one assumes that’ll come into its own as the season progresses.
From here, “Steering” returns to in-game Natsumi and Kaburagi for a nice sequence in which the latter provides the former with a new prosthetic hand which can turn Mega-Man-style into a harpoon gun. This is a nice gesture but it also reaffirms the game-y logic that defines this portion of the show, since the thing can be upgraded.
Deca-Dence season 1, episode 3 ends on something of a cliffhanger, with a Gadoll attack that sends cute little Pipe into a hole in the ground and finds Natsumi and Kaburagi in pursuit, the former stumbling on the beginnings of a large-scale battle that should happily kick off next week’s episode. While it obviously lacks the sheer shock value of last week’s installment, “Steering” was a useful chapter proving that the show can progress with a healthy balance between its two distinct halves.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.