First Look: YUREI DECO


Anime Original by Science Saru
Streaming on Crunchyroll


In the virtual world of Tom Sawyer Island, a young girl teams up with an elusive hacker to find Phantom Zero – the thief stealing everyone’s love!

Jel’s verdict: Didn’t Love It

I respect the creative setting of Yurei Deco. Tom Sawyer Island is a natural evolution of the fictional virtual world. Details like Berry constantly changing the world’s appearance or the specific way in which everything is monetized feel like they could only be created in 2022, after decades of experience with life on the internet and the first baby steps into virtual/augmented reality spaces. It’s fertile ground for exploring ideas about technology’s place in our lives that we’ve never really seen before.


Having paid my respects, I can now say I hated this first episode. It starts with the dialogue, which is somehow both childish and incomprehensible at the same time. Between Berry saying “love” several times per sentence and Hack talking in Dr. Seuss rhymes, I wanted to turn my subtitles off. It’s not like the plot itself was hard to follow, they just made a stylistic choice I found extremely annoying.

Then we have the visuals, which are surprisingly uninteresting, even ugly at times, despite being so bright and colorful. If you pause any given scene and really look at what’s going on, it’s just a bunch of random shapes and colors splattered all over dull backgrounds. Is this intentional? Maybe, but I personally think that’s giving them too much credit. I was also hoping there would be some kind of Keep Your Hands Off Eizuoken-style flash of brilliant animation during the episode climax, but that never really pans out either. They just get attacked by… killer rectangles???

All of this amounted to me not enjoying the episode and feeling annoyed with the characters, even if I am interested in the larger concepts they are introducing. That said, I can acknowledge this is more of a personal preference thing and I wouldn’t necessarily discourage anyone from watching. It might be worth checking out and judging for yourself.


Iro’s verdict: Don’t Screw This Up, Dai Sato

Even after last year’s barnburner The Heike Story, I’m still not used to seeing Science Saru without Yuasa or Choi helming the production, but I’m glad to see them branching out. Yurei Deco still showcase’s the studio’s style of bright colors and goofy characters, contrasting them against a visibly dull, lifeless underlayer for dramatic effect. The whole social media dystopia angle is immediately recognizable and cutting to anyone who’s ever thought “whoa, this doin’ numbers”, and serves as a convenient justification for wild aesthetic shifts on a whim. In theory there’s a lot of stuff to dissect here, but ol’ Dai Sato (Eureka Seven, Listeners) in the scriptwriter’s seat, and I could just as easily see Yurei Deco sliding into a hoary “quit lookin’ at yer phones, kids” finger-wagging moral. Here’s hoping that even if we get the latter, we at least get a good-looking and fun to watch show, I guess.


Artemis’ verdict: Literally My Worst Nightmare (But In A Good Way)

I wasn’t immediately sold on this, even though the episode did quickly start to grow on me. Don’t get me wrong, I like anime that do things a bit differently sometimes and I can greatly appreciate bold choices, whether that’s to do with the narrative or the production side of things, but I just wasn’t convinced that Yurei Deco would personally be my cup of tea. Nonetheless, the more I continued to watch, the more I enjoyed it, in large part thanks to the setting. The prospect of having to actually live in such a world frankly terrifies me – I would be hard put to think of anything worse than having to get likes (sorry, loves) and using them as my main form of currency – but as a backdrop to a work of fiction, I love it. It’s essentially just an extension of how many people live today, and horrific as that sounds, it’s pretty cool to see it play out in anime format. I wouldn’t say I love any of the characters so far, but I’m eager to see what else Yurei Deco has to offer, especially if its emphasis remains on this saccharine-colored dystopia without turning things into one big morality tale.

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