Like, Comment, Subvert: Yurei Deco

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Yurei Deco is a science fiction anime that takes the idea of social media influence to the extreme. It depicts a world where obsession with “likes” (or rather, “loves”) is so strong that society is built around their importance. This is a series that speaks directly to me, as I’ve long been bothered by the dominance of “likes” as a vital part of social media interaction.

Twitter is currently going through its largest debacle ever as Elon Musk arrogantly makes every wrong decision imaginable. For me, however, there was a different turning point that permanently soured my experience with the platform: the day that Twitter decided to change their stars into hearts. Suddenly, it didn’t mean you were marking something as interesting and worth looking at, but instead that you tacitly approved of it. What little nuance was there has gotten pulverized, and things have never been the same. Yurei Deco takes this problem and portrays a society that is basically a dystopia of social media where socioeconomic status and opportunity are tied to the number of “loves” one accrues. 

One of the things I like about Yurei Deco is how it utilizes its main character, a girl named Berry. At the start of the series, she’s generally accepting of the conventions around her: Berry’s favorite word is “love-y,” which she uses as a positive adjective—it basically means “this is great because it would get a lot of loves.” However, she’s also fairly curious, and her hobby is learning about Phantom Zero, a mysterious figure/phenomenon who appears to steal people’s “loves.” In this way, Berry is indeed a product of her society but also in a position to start subtly defying it. This combination (along with a broken eye implant) inadvertently allows Berry to begin seeing past the augmented reality that is the norm, and into the cracks that have formed as a result of this tacit acceptance. She’s drawn into a world of hackers and other eccentrics who play at the fringes, resulting in a story that’s equal parts mystery and commentary.

In other words, while Berry is eventually surrounded by outsiders, she herself has one foot in each door. Even as she learns more and more truths, she still uses “love-y,” giving her a realistic sense of growth and change. She makes major strides, but she’s not about to change her vocabulary overnight. In this way, Yurei Deco gives me vibes reminiscent of both Dennou Coil (for the integrated cyberspace elements in everyday life) and Deca-Dence (for the measured solutions that arise from the realities of the world and system portrayed. 

The bright and colorful visuals are courtesy of Yuasa Maaaki’s Science Saru studio, and Yurei Deco does a great job of making it feel both inviting and eerily creepy. The idea of a society built around likes on social media is bone-chilling in its own way, and the neon/pastel facade that everything possesses hammers that point home. But while critical of social media, Yurei Deco does not try to argue that it should just be excised from its world, as if to say “this stuff isn’t going anywhere, so we need to figure out a solution that results in outcomes good for society instead of ones that prioritize personal fame.”

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