Science SARU’s Yurei Deco premiered recently and as is often the case with the studio’s works, it stands out from the rest of the titles that are airing this season both in terms of animation style and the story. The series, loosely based on the characters from Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, follows a girl named Berry and it is not just your typical sci-fi title. It is rather a brilliant take on the wonders of the metaverse–and the dangers associated with it.
Wait, the Metaverse?
Yes. In fact, days before the anime premiered, the franchise posted a video explaining the premise of the series’ setting. The place, called Tom Sawyer Island, is depicted as a ‘data metropolis’ where reality and virtual spaces merge together. All of the citizens on the said island are equipped with so ‘Ultra Reproduction Space’ to allow them to see both real-life surroundings and virtual spaces at the same time.
The premise alone echoes the more recent advancements we have made to bridge the gap between the physical and the digital realm, more specifically under the topic of the metaverse. Technologies such as augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR), among others, are some of the ways that have allowed us to do more things by incorporating digital assets into the physical world. More recently, the metaverse has caught the attention of big companies to make it into a reality, including Meta and Microsoft.
As we learn more about the anime, we find out that all of the citizens earn ‘love’ points, which are loosely based on the social media engagement we receive on social media platforms and are only valuable in the digital realm. Balancing these love points via the system ‘Decoration Customizer’ or ‘Deco’ for short will allow for society to live harmoniously.
Realistic, Yet Haunting Depiction of the Digital Universe
Yurei Deco depicts the metaverse realistically, by cleverly crafting and connecting the points of the story with the world setting. Mirroring is a reflection of the dangers associated with our connection to the virtual realm. The series follows our main character named Berry who is on her way to fix her faulty Deco. On the way to the doctor, she catches a glimpse of a person through her faulty Deco and realizes they might be Zero, a criminal who steals love points. She decides to chase the mysterious person, as a man nearby was just robbed, and soon comes face to face with an entity described as the real Zero.
Robbery within the digital realm is nothing new, but getting robbed of something that only exists digitally is perhaps a newer concept, especially as more and more people are getting into digital assets, such as cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens. The abnormality that causes the imbalance within Tom Sawyer Island also poses a great commentary on our attraction to modern trends that we often fail to see the dangers within. Aside from theft and hacking that happens within this digital space, rising issues continue to plague the metaverse, including concerns of harassment and exploitation of less economically advanced countries.
Yurei Deco offers viewers an almost satirical view of the digital space, and honestly, I’m all for it. It will be interesting to see if Berry and the thief end up going on a quest to solve the class imbalance within Tom Sawyer Island. How will the other citizens react? Will it be freedom or despair if they lose all of their accumulated points? In one way, you could say that this is not only a critique of the metaverse but also all of our societies in general.
In summary, the series’ premiere was such a blast, and the animation is eye-candy with SARU’s unique style that never fails to disappoint. In addition, the theme songs “1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 LOVE” by Clammbon and “Aimuin Love” by Hack’nBerry (composed of voice actors Mira Kawakatsu and Anna Nagase) really blend well with the colorful style and the story of this anime.