Deca-Dence Director on the Origins Behind His Sci-Fi Anime Epic | IGN

Deca-Dence has been, without a doubt, one of the biggest surprises in anime this summer. When we wrote about the first episode of the series way back in July, we favorably described it as a fun mash-up of Attack on Titan and Mortal Engines; a beautifully animated, albeit conventional take on the post-apocalyptic sci-fi genre.

Yeah, no. We were dead wrong and couldn’t be happier for it. Directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa (Mob Psycho 100, Death Parade) and written by Hiroshi Seko (Mob Psycho 100, Dorohedoro), Deca-Dence is less a riff off Attack on Titan and more like if HBO’s Westworld, Pixar’s Wall-E, Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, and Monster Hunter were subatomically pureed together inside a particle accelerator. The result is a high-concept, post-human sci-fi action-thriller that ranks unquestionably as not only one of the best anime to come out this summer, but one of the year’s best anime, period.

On the eve of the series’ climactic finale, IGN caught up with Yuzuru Tachikawa to talk about Deca-Dence’s origins, the designs of the monstrous Gadoll, and what kind of games he’s been playing with his kid lately.

[poilib element=”accentDivider”]

IGN: Are you pleased with how the series has been received so far by fans? Are you following any of the reactions online?

Yuzuru Tachikawa: In part, because it’s an original work, I keep an eye on the reactions as much as possible. The show’s setting is a cruel one where humans are treated as a commodity, but the audience appears to be enjoying the show, which I am glad to see. But with an original work, the balance between exposition and plot is always difficult, and there are parts that have caused misunderstanding among the viewers, so I also have some things to reflect on. Although we made the setting somewhat complicated, the plot is more straightforward. Please do watch all the way to the end!

IGN: By far the most memorable twist of the series so far has been the intro scene of the second episode. When in Deca-Dence’s production did you come up with the concept of the world being a post-human MMO theme park run by a bunch of cyborgs in outer space?

Tachikawa: I decided to go with a theme park at a fairly early stage. In Japan, there are many works involving fighting in a virtual world, and works with monsters are standard. A fresh setting was needed, from a differentiation standpoint as well. But even more than that, in this work, I wanted to portray two protagonists whose backgrounds, positions, and even worldviews differed dramatically. That was a large factor.

[ignvideo width=610 height=374 url=https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/08/06/deca-dence-exclusive-official-trailer-2]

IGN: One of the show’s biggest surprises, aside from the fourth-wall-breaking premise, are the designs of the characters, particularly the cyborgs responsible for maintaining the world of Deca-Dence. How did you work with Shinichi Kurita and Kiyotaka Oshiyama (Deca-Dence’s character designers) to come up with the look of the “humans” and cyborgs? What were some of the inspirations for the cyborgs’ appearance?

Tachikawa: The cyborgs started from a blank slate, so I put forward some imaginings, to a certain extent. In terms of other works, Minions and WALL·E were among the names I threw out. As it relates to the show, I envisioned Solid Quake as a global company, so I was considering overseas tastes. Some characters started as cyborgs and their appearance was applied to their Gear form, and some were the opposite. This is because it can be confusing to the viewer if the real body and the avatar are too different from each other (which you might expect them to be). It was a process specific to this show, but it was fun.

IGN: Tell us more about the design of Deca-Dence’s monsters, the Gadoll. They almost look insectoid-like and project anti-gravity “bubble” fields to shield themselves from attack. What inspired the design decisions behind their appearance and behavior?

Tachikawa: The base of the Gadoll design process was the question of what organisms would survive to the end over the course of a long period where humanity continues to die off and be replaced with cyborgs. Our answer to that was deep-sea creatures. The cyborgs are the ones who would actually design the Gadoll, so I showed the designers what the cyborgs look like and made the perplexing request that they make creatures that those characters would probably design. The Gadoll belongs to the Echinoderm phylum. The field they produce called a zone makes gravity unstable, but I feel that works in water as well.

IGN: Since the world of Deca-Dence takes place inside a giant MMO-style game similar to Final Fantasy XIV Online or Monster Hunter, I have to ask: Do you play videogames? What have you been playing and enjoying lately?

Tachikawa: I do. I regularly play games when I can fit it in. Recently I played Final Fantasy VII Remake and The Last of Us Part II. I don’t play online games because I suck at them. I play Nintendo games with my kid, but fundamentally I like high-end games. A game I’m looking forward to right now is Horizon Zero Dawn 2.

IGN: Of the episodes that have aired so far, what sequences have been your favorite to animate? Were there any scenes that were particularly hard or challenging to direct? If so, what were they?

Tachikawa: I’d have to mention the scene in episode 1, from when Kaburagi enters the battlefield to when Deca-dence punches. It took a lot of time and was tough, so it left an impression. A scene I really liked was the one on the catwalk in episode 7. Natsume and Kaburagi’s expressions were good.

IGN: Deca-Dence is your third time collaborating with Deca-Dence’s Screenwriter Hiroshi Seko after your work together on the first two seasons of Mob Psycho 100. What do you appreciate about your creative relationship with Seko? How do you feel his sensibilities complement your own?

Tachikawa: For this show, Seko became involved after the base material was finished. And so, it wasn’t so much that I was seeking originality as I wanted someone to bring it all together. When you’ve revised a script many, many times, you tend to lose your objectivity, but Seko is extremely good at consolidating with balance. If I’m the type that charges ahead, then you could say Seko is the type that creates a plan.

IGN: One of the most noteworthy aspects of Deca-Dence is the series’ depiction of Natsume, and how she perseveres her dream of becoming a Gear despite her friends and peers underestimating her due to her prosthetic arm. What motivated your decision to create a show with a female protagonist with such a prominent physical disability?

Tachikawa: Natsume is forthright and acts on what she thinks immediately, so I wanted to have her shoulder an impediment. Despite the impediment, she has a strong will and refuses to give up. That’s what I wanted to emphasize. In episode 3, there’s a scene where you see that something that the humans consider an impediment isn’t one at all to the cyborgs. That was also one of the things I wanted to portray.

[widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=deca-dence-images&captions=true”]

IGN: Deca-Dence is your first original anime production since 2015’s Death Parade. In fact, many of the staff who worked on Death Parade and the short film Death Billiards are now staff on Deca-Dence. What has it been like to work with animators like Eiko Mishima (FLCL Alternative) and Boya Liang (Haikyuu) again? How do you feel you’ve grown since you last worked together?

Tachikawa: First, I’m happy that they’ve remained in this industry and are active in it, since there’s a high turnover rate. I’m familiar with their work, even for projects I was not involved in, so there were no particular surprises. If I had to say, I think now is just about when you start running into a wall, so I want them to overcome it and achieve even greater development of their skills!

IGN: What would you say the show’s message is, with regard to what it means to be “human” in a post-human world?

Tachikawa: Even in the present day, there are examples of people’s jobs being replaced by AI or robots. I’m sure there will be jobs that actually decrease, but I feel that will is what’s important. Having the will to move forward, even if it requires sacrifice. Natsume is a representation of that.

IGN: What can fans of the series expect in this series finale?

Tachikawa: As the show moves into the finale, the pace of the story accelerates, and there’s a greater amount of seriousness. What conclusion awaits the characters as they push forward? I hope the fans join in watching it.

[poilib element=”accentDivider”]

Watch the series finale of Deca-Dence, “Engine,” on Funimation on Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 9:30 CT!

Read More

Leave a Reply