by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Yurei Deco ?
Community score: 3.1
As an older man, Mark Twain apparently developed a predilection for ”collecting young girls”. It is unclear whether he harbored any truly predatory or harmful intent with them—Twain himself claimed that he simply was lonely in his old age and wanted the company of surrogate grandchildren, though some of the comments he makes about the girls in his letters would seem to imply a least some level of desire that went beyond the paternal. Either way, he certainly embraced a dishearteningly chauvinistic attitude towards objectifying these girls, as he himself came up for the literal pet name of “angel fishes” for them; he even went so far as to refer to the home where they would come to visit him as his “aquarium”, which is pretty gross no matter which way you slice it, and it puts a hell of a damper on the esteem I've held for the old goat right up until the very minute I went about doing some research for this review.
Now, you might find yourself asking a very reasonable question, given everything we've just learned: “What in the Sam Hill does any of Mark Twain's creepy-old-man schtick have to do with Yurei Deco, or the Angel Fish Club that Huck finds herself trapped in at the start of the episode?” The answer, so far as I can tell, is not a goddamned thing, unless you take the incredibly broad approach of equating Grandpa Twain's “Stay Away From Those Underaged Girls, For Christ's Sake!” routine to Injunction Jo's kidnapping of two very particular girls for the sake of her nebulous algorithm schemes. I'm not sure why you would ever want to do that, so the whole “Angel Fish Club” thing just ends up feeling like another piece of uselessly specific Mark Twain trivia to throw on the pile, and that's the last thing this finale needed.
I have to be blunt, y'all: This last episode of Yurei Deco sucked. It wasn't an unmitigated trash fire of a disaster or anything, so don't go thinking that we have yet another Babylon situation on our hands. But so far as tying up the series' loose threads and concluding its story goes, man, I feel like Yurei Deco could have done a heck of a lot better than "Home of the Greatest Secret". It's the kind of weak-sauce ending that kills a lot of the good will I had built up for Yurei Deco over the course of the season, because it makes you realize that the show never really had anything to say in the first place.
Maybe that's unfair, though, since Injunction Jo spends the majority of the episode delivering a massive infodump that does seem to indicate that Yurei Deco really did have something to say; it's just that the “something” on its mind wasn't particularly interesting, or meaningful, or insightful. I'm not even sure if it makes sense on a fundamental level of logic and worldbuilding. So, yeah, it isn't a good spot to be in, whichever way you look at things.
The long and short of it is that Phantom Zero and Injunction Jo are actually one and the same, and Jo's purpose in messing about as PZ was apparently to hunt Tom Sawyer Island in search for an heir to her throne. She's tired of being the God of Algorithms, you see, but since Tom Sawyer Island is apparently proof positive that human existence can (and should) be defined entirely by an endless chain of indecipherable algorithmic calculations, Jo needed someone to take her place and make sure that the well-oiled machine of civilization on the island doesn't collapse into chaos. That heir is Hack, because she…well…she's not in favor of content moderation, I guess?
Look, I know that skepticism over content moderation is not a new idea for this show, but I kind of figured that was just one conversation to be had under the whole umbrella of stories and ideas that all serve to investigate the implications of a society that is, for lack of a better phrase, “terminally online”. Nope! If you go by what "Home of the Greatest Secret" has to say, apparently the vicious dystopia of mandatory body modifications and authoritarian “Customer Center” goons would all be perfectly fine and good if only some weird feral alley child had the bravery to say, “What if we just never moderated any content, ever, and trusted people to just know what is and isn't true in the vast sea of distorted perspectives and ulterior motives that we call everyday human interaction on the internet?” Because that has obviously worked out so well out here in the real world.
I don't even want to spend the many paragraphs that I could easily use to ask “What the hell!?” and “No, seriously, that was the point this whole time?”, because Yurei Deco isn't interested in doing that, either. As soon as Hack just decides to take over Injunction Jo's job and rule Tom Sawyer Island as an omnipotent (but, y'know, not too omnipotent) computer god, the story's over. We get a half-hearted “Where Are They Now” catch-up with the gang after a year of Hack's tenure has passed, Berry's parents wax philosophical about how content moderation was the real villain, all along, and everyone just forgets about the multiple artificial intelligences and possibly real people that straight up got killed in the name of Injunction Jo's absurdly self-indulgent Willy Wonka role-play.
I think that Science SARU had some good ideas to work with, in Yurei Deco; the show always had potential, if nothing else. Sadly, whatever vision that director Tomohisa Shimoyama and writer Dai Sato had for this project got lost in the shuffle. Either that, or their vision was just kind of dumb, to begin with. The one thing I know for sure is that Yurei Deco ended up being one of the biggest anime letdowns of 2022.
Yurei Deco is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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