Welcome to Anime Asterisk! Today, I will be reviewing Deca-Dence Episode 7: Driveshaft.
So from where we left off last time, Kaburagi was logging into Deca-Dence using a new account. After getting through the introduction stuff (e.g video, terms of service etc), Kaburagi finally arrives at the gear level. Entering, Kaburagi receives a notification about a new battle and asks Jill what is going on. Jill explains that the company likely wants to get the battles restarted. As Kaburagi runs towards the battlefield, a mission notification then pops up and he notices that it is an incursion.
The scene then switches to a battle outside Deca-Dence where a hole has been blown in the outer armor leading to the Tanker area. As Kaburagi reaches the area, he spots Kurenai and the other members of Power trying to fend them off. Despite their best efforts, one of the Gadoll uses itself as a distraction to let five others through the hole. The five Gadoll then proceed to attack and kill the townspeople. As the townspeople try to flee, Kaburagi leaps into action and takes down one of the Gadoll.
However, Kaburagi’s new avatar is too slow and he accidentally lets an octopus-like Gadoll get by him. Before the octopus-type Gadoll can attack a little girl and her father, however, Natsume appears and slays the Gadoll. Relieved, Natsume asks the girl if she is alright and the girl replies that she is fine with a smile. Thanking her, the father and daughter leave with the rest of the townspeople. Meanwhile, Kaburagi watches the scene from a distance.
Noticing Kaburagi’s new avatar, Natsume turns and looks at him. But before Kaburagi can call out to her, Natsume gets called away by Mindy and her siblings. Later after the battle, everybody sets about doing the clean-up and treating the wounded. Watching the devastation caused by the Gadoll, Kaburagi is stunned. Regaining control of himself, he tries to call Minato. However, discovers he is unable to because of his illegal account. Trying a different method, Kaburagi leaves the area.
Meanwhile in the Deca-Dence’s control center, Minato leaves his men to take a smoke. Heading to a hidden part of Deca-Dence, Minato takes out an e-cigarette and turns it on. All of a sudden, Minato hears a familiar voice calling out to him. Cautious, Minato asks the man for his name and is surprised to see Kaburagi in his new avatar appearing from the fog. Thanking Minato for preventing his scrapping, Kaburagi notices the stunned look on Minato’s face.
Surprised, Minato asks what Kaburagi is doing here. When Kaburagi doesn’t give an answer, Minato changes to his next question and asks how Kaburagi is doing in the correctional facility. Kaburagi doesn’t answer again and instead asks about the hole in the Deca-Dence. Minato explains that it is stagecraft to create the perfect basis for a quest. But Kaburagi states that he doesn’t like it, because the Tankers/Humans will go extinct at this rate. Minato retorts that the Tankers have grown too numerous lately and will likely reach stagnation soon, so the administration came up with this plan to cull their numbers tactfully.
Irritated, Minato asks why Kaburagi is so concerned about the Tankers. When Kaburagi doesn’t reply again, Minato tells Kaburagi that its been fun working with him, but he should keep his position in mind because he is already on shaky ground with the higher ups. Kaburagi tells Minato that he doesn’t want to cause him further trouble and leaves. Staring out into the fog, Minato vows to do whatever it takes to help Kaburagi.
Back in the tanker area, Kaburagi heads to his apartment unit. Stepping in, Kaburagi receives a call from an upset Jill. Answering it, Jill warns Kaburagi not to do any conspicuous actions like contacting Minato ever again. Kaburagi replies that he won’t. Understanding, Jill further warns Kaburagi that she wants to avoid a prolonged login to prevent the game police from catching onto them and tells him to be back by sundown. Ending the call, an angry Kaburagi kicks his bin in frustration and wonders what he should do now.
A little while later, Kaburagi is still sulking in the darkness, when he notices a letter on his table. Picking it up, Kaburagi opens it and discovers that it is from Natsume. Reading it, Kaburagi becomes enraged and scratches part of the letter out with a pen, before rushing out. Although the letter is rather sweet and its just Natsume telling Kaburagi that she will take care of Pipe for him until he gets back.
Meanwhile, Natsume and the remaining Tankers in Power have their own problems trying to plug up the hole in the wall. The contractor tells Kurenai that the main issue is acquiring the manpower to fix the hole. As no one is willing to risk their lives fixing it, when the Gadoll could attack at any moment. The contractor further informs Kurenai that they need more outer wall repair kits. Sighing, the team tries to pull their heads together to come up with a solution. Nervous, Natsume hesitantly puts her hand up and suggests that they gather up the house repair kits. The contractor agrees, but argues that they will need a lot of them. Natsume suggests getting the kits from everyone in Tank town, freaking everyone out. Hesitant, the contractor agrees with the idea, but argues that they may have trouble convincing everyone to help out. The rest of the team are equally doubtful that they can convince the townspeople, considering their reputation.
Undeterred, Natsume declares that she will convince them and runs off. Her first stop is the butchery where Fei works. Grabbing the boss’ attention, Natsume implores him to help out. However, this is met in failure and the boss tells her to leave. Natsume refuses and tries to implore to his sense of community. However, the boss refuses again and tells Natsume that they are doing their best to survive and asks her to please understand, before slamming the door on her.
Depressed, Natsume thinks for a bit, when an upset Fei comes up to her. Spotting Fei, Natsume asks for her help. But Fei refuses too. Looking down, Fei explains that everyone is scared. Natsume rebuts and tells Fei that she doesn’t want to give up without trying. Natsume further explains that she knows she is powerless, but that is why she needs everyone’s help to help protect their home and begs Fei to help out. Upset, Fei tells Natsume that not everyone is strong or as positive as her. Fei then admits that she is scared too. She then goes to head inside, insisting that they cannot do what they cannot do.
However, as Fei is about to enter the butchery, Natsume tells Fei that she was able to change and that she can too. Fei confesses that she hates Natsume for being like that, because it makes her feel that her selfish desires of wanting to live a peaceful life with Natsume and have fun are wrong. Fei declares that is why she ran away from Natsume. Fei then slams the door on her. Apologizing to Fei, Natsume tells Fei to bring any extra repair kits to the dining area and leaves.
For the rest of the day, Natsume spends the day running around convincing people to help out. After repeated rejections with only modicum successes, Natsume returns to the dining area with a few house repair kits in her arms. Dejected, Natsume apologizes to a worried Fennel for returning with just a few supplies. Suddenly, Natsume notices a whole heap of repair kits on the table and asks everyone what is going on. Kurenai joyfully explains that they ran around scrounging up repair kits too.
Suddenly, the butchery workers arrive with Fei and in tow. Coughing into his hand, the butchery boss apologizes and admits that he was wrong. He then explains that he has decided to help them out and has brought some repair kits too. The weapon shop owner from Episode 3 then joins in and explains that Fei and Linmei
(CV: Yoshino Aoyama)
convinced him to help out too. Happy, Natsume hugs Fei.
Everyone then gets to work repairing the hole in the outer armor, while Kaburagi watches on from a distance. In the central command center, Minato receives a report about the repairs from his co-worker. The co-worker asks what they should do about it and Minato tells her to just leave them alone. Minato then mumbles under his breathe that their actions are pointless.
That evening, Natsume is having dinner with Pipe when Kaburagi comes along. Not recognizing Kaburagi, Natsume proceeds to hide Pipe in her bag and threatens to scream when he tries to come up to her. Kaburagi awkwardly tells Natsume that she is wrong and offers her some milk. Freaking out, Kaburagi awkwardly tells Natsume that Kaburagi told him that she liked milk. At the mention of Kaburagi’s name, Natsume worriedly asks him if he knows where Kaburagi is. Kaburagi (as Reedus) tells Natsume that Kaburagi can’t see her right now for certain reasons and reassures her that he is fine.
Suddenly, Pipe comes out of the bag. Recognizing his owner, Pipe leaps at Kaburagi/Reedus and starts licking him. Seeing Kaburagi’s image over Reedus, Natsume starts getting emotional. Handing Pipe back to Natsume, Kaburagi/Reedus promises not to tell anyone about him. The two then head to an outside balcony where Natsume drinks some of the milk. Refreshed, Natsume offers some to Reedus/Kaburagi. After initially refusing, Kaburagi/Reedus drinks it and admits that it tastes good.
Happy to hear it, Natsume tells Kaburagi/Reedus to convince Kaburagi to drink some too. Natsume then complains that Kaburagi is a bore because he never has fun. Kaburagi/Reedus asks if fun is really necessary in life and Natsume declares that it is. Natsume explains that all the little things like hanging out with your friends and eating together are part of what makes life fun and without a person cannot say that they are truly alive.
Turning to the wall, Natsume confesses that talking to Reedus/Kaburagi feels familiar somehow. Kaburagi tries to tell Natsume that he (Kaburagi) won’t be coming back any time soon. Dropping her head, Natsume replies that she knows that because Kaburagi is an incredible person. Turning away, Kaburagi/Reedus asks if Natsume has always been so positive and determined. Natsume replies that she is not, but Kaburagi/Reedus further asks if thinks that part of her is what saved Kaburagi.
Reedus/Kaburagi then tells Natsume that he thinks she will be fine even without Kaburagi. Shocked, Natsume drops her head. Noticing, Kaburagi listens as Natsume confesses that she is weak and she is doing everything she can to not lose hope, otherwise she will not be able to move forward. Natsume then adds that she still thinks that will be okay if Kaburagi comes back. Sobbing, Natsume reveals that she is forcing herself to push herself harder, so as to not let her doubts about peace pull herself down and make her useless.
Watching Natsume sob, Kaburagi/Reedus becomes furious and clenches his fist in anger. Standing up, Kaburagi declares that he will tear this entire world down. Later, Kaburagi logs out and announces to everyone that he is going to destroy the Gadoll factory.
This episode was a very powerful episode. Both on an emotional level and a thematic level. If I have to label the theme for this episode, it is ‘Self-Discovery.’ Self Discovery is a key theme for this episode as many of the characters question themselves, their beliefs and their morals. This is particularly true for Natsume, Fei and Kaburagi.
This episode did a great job in overall exploring the darker side of Natsume’s character. Natsume is by no definition strong. While she acts positive and cheerful, its not as if she easily brushes away the things that upset her. Rather she bottles all those negative emotions inside her and forces herself to move forward because that is all that she can do. She wants to be strong and independent, but knows that she can’t and needs help from time to time. And, I like the way that she acknowledges it because its makes her a strong character.
Conversely, Fei is rather weak in comparison. She acknowledges that she is weak and perhaps is afraid to admit that she may hate herself and want to change too. This is demonstrated in her conversation with Natsume as she admits that she hates Natsume because Natsume is everything that she wants to be, but is too afraid to pursue. She acknowledges that she is scared for her life. But she constantly beats herself down and convinces herself that it is impossible to do what she really wants to do.
Fei also comes across as selfish and self-centered too. She doesn’t want change and instead wants to live a peaceful life with her best friend. However, their different perspectives makes it hard for Natsume and Fei to stay friends. She is afraid of the changes within Natsume and is worried that their friendship might change, which is why she runs away from her friend. However, I am glad that she made up with Natsume. I feel that Fei may understand Minato’s position better than others because they are quite similar in regards to their concerns for their friends.
But, perhaps, the character who undergoes the most growth in this episode is Kaburagi himself. For the first time, Kaburagi is finally opening his eyes to the world, its sufferings and to himself for the first time. This comes in a series of realizations that opens his mind to his own limitations. His first realization comes when he tries to fight with his new avatar body and almost ends up letting someone be killed. This makes him realize his own physical limitations and how weak he is inside his new body.
The second realization comes when he sees the suffering of the injured Tankers and realizes that this is the reality that Tankers face. Watching the injured Tankers, Kaburagi starts understanding that these people can feel pain, hurt, sorrow and even fear at the possibility of dying at some point. When Kaburagi confronts Minato about the culling, he becomes further frustrated because Minato reminds him of much little societal power he holds. He is a bug. He is on the verge of being scrapped, if he acts out any further. He doesn’t have the administrative power that Minato holds and doesn’t want to trouble his friend by causing him more problems. He is also a cog in a greater system, so he feels like its impossible to break the system of violence, lest he be killed.Natsume’s letter also serves to further agitate him.
However, Kaburagi then gains an understanding of how strong Tankers are when he sees them work together to fix the wall. He realizes that he wants to be a part of their world, even though he cannot. He sees Natsume and feels like he can do anything. But he doesn’t know how to achieve what he wants, so he spends most of the day wondering what he can do to help them. With each realization, Kaburagi grows further frustrated with himself. The powerless feeling of wanting to do something, anything to help, but being unable to.
However, it is during that final emotional conversation with Natsume that Kaburagi finally discovers what he wants to do and how to do it. Watching Natsume cry her eyes out, Kaburagi’s anger erupts. He decides to hell with his weakness and powerlessness. If the system is causing someone he cares about to suffer, then he will destroy that system by destroying the source of the Gadoll itself. His bond with Natsume is truly touching and one can tell that he truly loves her and holds her dear. Whether its platonic or not is a different matter. But the point is he loves her enough to want to change the world for her, even at the cost of his life.
I admit I almost cried when I saw Natsume crying her eyes out. Scenes like this really make me cry, especially when little anime kids are the ones crying (e.g Tsumugi from Sweetness and Lightning). Natsume is just trying her hardest to stay strong, even though she is filled with doubts. But watching Kaburagi’s growth is also an incredible sight to see. This really hit the right emotional points and I hope the other episodes follow suit.