This recap contains spoilers for the Deca-Dence episode “Transmission.”

A new week, a new thrilling chapter in Deca-Dence. “Transmission” picks up immediately where we left off last week. The episode’s entire first third is dedicated to Natsume putting her newfound skills to the test in an effort to rescue Pipe. She’s able to do this only with some difficulty, and what a treat it is for us. This is probably the most dynamic Deca-Dence has yet been. There’s lots of great character animation and thrilling, flipping camera angles. If this were all Deca-Dence was, it’d still be a pretty good show.

But it isn’t! And we’re here introduced to four new characters as Natsume and Kaburagi rescue Pipe. One is Kurenai, first seen back in episode one. She’s the Power’s leader. And while we don’t get to see her flex her stuff too much here, what we do see is pretty astounding. She takes out a particularly nasty Gadoll in a single shot toward the end of the scene.

Kurenai (Deca-Dence, season 1 episode 4)

Less notable, but still fun, are who I’ve taken to calling the “‘Ndy Triplets.” Three siblings: Mandy, Mindy and Mundy, who operate as a unit and form the Power squad that Natsume ends up joining. And yes, her dream of becoming a member of the Power is finally realized here. Kurenai takes notice of her skills and almost immediately accepts her into the group.

The triplets (Deca-Dence, season 1 episode 4)

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Deca-Dence has developed a habit of showing something in the “inner” story of the Deca-Dence fortress. Then in the following segment, contextualizing it in the “outer” story of the Solid Quake ship. This draws an immediate and pointed contrast between the two. In the former, we have the story of a fight for survival. In the latter, the Solid Quake Corp’s creation of that story. 

The next planned event for Deca-Dence-the-game turns out to be an assault on the former Mt. Everest. The goal for the Gears and their allies in The Power is to kill a creature called The Alpha Gadoll and eradicate a Gadoll nest. In actuality, the event has been rigged by Deca-Dence‘s corporate overlords. The creature is invincible. Killing it is impossible. The expect result? The decimation of the Gears and their Tanker allies, and the Deca-Dence fortress driven to despair. For the sake, of course, of a good storyline.

Worse still, Kaburagi is expected to be complicit in this. He, as a former top Ranker, is one of several “legendary heroes” the suits have decreed should return. It’s grim stuff: engineered second apocalypse by way of MMO expansion.

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On the ground, Natsume’s elation at being accepted to the Power is short-lived. In short order she makes a bad first impression on the ‘Ndy triplets and is shunned by her (now former?) friend, Fei. Then, the worst of it comes from a sudden falling-out with Kaburagi. He first begs, then demands that she not go on the mission. When she still won’t listen, he breaks her Gadoll-hunting equipment. It’s heartbreaking. Our heroine’s already been through a lot, and if “Transmission” is any indication, she’s only going to go through more.

Kurenai, interestingly, is who snaps her out of it, not even intentionally. As Natsume is preparing to fold, the Power commander offhandedly asks what her reason for fighting is. She doesn’t initially answer, and we instead see the answer via flashback. A conversation with her father about what humanity used to have and what the world used to be like. She cries over a photograph as she relives all of the times that people told her that she could not be a soldier. A parade of “no” stretching back to the start of her adolescence. She hits upon an important revelation: she doesn’t want to change the world, she wants to change herself. And that is her answer to Kurenai.

The final shot of “Transmission” is Natsume and the rest of her squad preparing to head out, the odds pointedly disregarded. Characters who are as compelling to root for as Natsume is are rare, and we should cherish them when they come around.

Natsume and her squadron (Deca-Dence, season 1 episode 4)

Until next time, Deca-Dence fans. The mountain awaits.

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Jane Auman
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