Turns out Pipe stumbling into the next battle is just an excuse to get Natsume involved in it and get promoted to the Power as a result. Considering that battles just happen as per the nature of Deca-Dence, this extra step seems, well, extra. In other words, unnecessary. Another nitpick is how quickly Natsume gets promoted. I suppose hitting stuff in one battle is all it really takes but it does feel easier than the past couple of episodes would have you to believe. Someone press the Easy button for this girl.
I will wholeheartedly admit that this episode is the first time Natsume seems remotely interesting to me. One development that arises is that with Natsume’s promotion comes an adjustment period that she did not anticipate. She has to get acquainted with a new circle of people and her friendship with Fei is deteriorating after constantly shrugging off her friend’s concerns. There’s also an arc within the episode where Natsume is asked by Kurenai why she wants to fight as a Gear. At first, she says it’s change to the world but upon a moment of self-reflection, she realizes she wants to change herself and settle on being the person people tell her to be. It doesn’t really make her less generic but it’s character development so I’ll take it.
Now that she’s actually getting more involved in the story, Kurenai is growing on me a little. She’s a different kind of influence on Natsume, a friendlier and less cynical presence who envisions a freer world and helps our protagonist figure something out about herself. I was afraid a good chunk of time would have Natsume being a fangirl around Kurenai and Deca-Dence thankfully doesn’t go too far in that respect. There’s also the revelation that Kurenai knows Kaburagi, recognizing him as a seasoned fighter and also bearing unrequited feelings towards him (which frankly, isn’t all that funny). I’m a little curious to know those two’s shared history.
Next episode promises a huge fight against the Gadoll. Earlier, Kaburagi learns it’s an unbeatable event that serves to cull the ranks for the sake of the game and advises Natsume not to participate. At one point, he almost reveals to her the truth about Deca-Dence and part of me wishes he did since it’d obviously would’ve strengthened his argument. Then again, it’s maybe preferable to have Natsume learn that in a more interesting way than simply being told. Either way, I really like how torn Kaburagi is during this scene. He wants Natsume to be safe but very quickly realizes to do that, he has to tear down both their relationship and Natsume’s ambitions. For a while, you think he succeeds though this is of course where Natsume rebounds and we see her join the fight. I’m curious what Kaburagi will do. Is he just going to watch from the sidelines or will he join to try and save his student?
Thanks for reading!