How would you rate episode 4 of
Yurei Deco ? Community score: 3.9
“The Yurei Detective Club” doesn’t just represent a fresh start for our eager young heroine, Berry – it feels like a fresh start for all of Yurei Deco, too. The first three episodes did a solid job introducing the cast and establishing the basic mystery of the Zero Phenomenon, but this week’s chapter feels like the true beginning to the main story of the show. After last week’s climactic train explosion, we catch up with Berry, Hack, Finn, and the rest of the gang a full four months later, and there’s a whole lot to catch up on. Berry and Hack are both presumed dead, and they’ve been blamed for the Zero Incident that Hack was being tried for on top of that. Now that they’ve relocated to the Yurei haven on the outskirts of Tom Sawyer Island and officially set up shop as the titular detective agency, Berry and the others must work outside the bounds of the Hyperverse to discover what the Zero Phenomenon really is, and how the Phantom relates to all of it, so they can clear their names and claim the truth for themselves. In the meantime, though Finn will never admit it, the group is going to have to take on whatever odd jobs they can find to keep the lights on, and maybe even discover some new leads while they’re at it.
It’s a lot to take in, and I’d be lying if I said that the series of flashbacks and info-dumps that open the episode were the smoothest way to communicate how Berry and Co. got from Point A at the end of “A Sham Trial” to this Point B. That said, this new status quo is one I can absolutely get behind. Berry’s new life (and corresponding wardrobe update) is exciting and fun, and it gives the show the opportunity to explore some of the less mission-critical aspects of social media satire that he is interested in while still advancing the main plot little by little. This week’s caper is the perfect example of that: while the Case of the Missing Idol Avatar is ultimately an excuse for the show to poke fun at the kind of socially awkward middle-aged man who would pose as a cutie-pie anime idol online, Berry’s solo mission back into the city gives her an opportunity to catch up on what’s going on with her parents while also discovering a vital resource in the hunt for Phantom Zero.
You could certainly make the argument that such a superfluous case isn’t the most exciting adventure for this new phase of Yurei Deco to start off on, but it’s a valuable and fairly efficient way to give Berry some meaningful character development as she reckons with her new life as a fugitive and “dead” girl. When she first gets all grumpy about Logi and Harper barely noticing that she’s gone, it reminds you that Berry is still a kid, and probably views this whole experience as an interesting lark more than anything else. It isn’t until she sees her mother and father break down crying in the censorship labs that Berry seems to realize that this isn’t all fun and games; Though she didn’t seek out Hack intending to fake her death and traumatize her family, that’s the position Berry is in, and just this one scene of growth gives the mission to clear her name some much-needed emotional stakes. We also learn that it’s possible to access a complete backup of the entire city’s timeline, which will doubtless come in handy for future investigations.
Now that the show is settling into its new groove, what I really want to see are more interactions between Berry and the rest of the Yurei Detective Club. We get a nice scene between Berry and Hank, where Berry explains that she wants to give other people the opportunity to at least have a choice in experiencing this real version of the world like she has, but the rest of the crew doesn’t get much to do at all. Hack spends most of the episode asleep, and Finn has been relegated to the role of Team Buzzkill, and we don’t yet know enough about the characters to understand their behavior or become invested in it on any deeper level. The world of Yurei Deco Continues to be a vibrant and interesting one, but its cast will need to step up its game if the story is going to continue focusing on the adventures of an entire team of would-be detectives.
Odds and Ends
• It’s interesting how the show is consistently making use of parallels to works across the whole of the Tom Sawyer canon. In addition to being the best scene of the episode, Berry’s encounter with her parents is a fun callback to the portion of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer where Tom and Huck also end up accidentally faking their own deaths, though the boys milk their temporary status as local icons in a much more self-serving way than Berry is.
• In addition to the death-faking from the original book, the whole conceit of Tom acting as a sleuth has precedent in the aptly titled Tom Sawyer, Detective. If my brief Google is to be believed, Tom Sawyer Abroad even features a rigged trial as a main plot point in its story. I’m still not sure why the literature of Mark Twin is serving as the foundation for Yurei Deco‘s major beats, but I have to give credit to the series for committing to the bit.
• Speaking of parallels, it’s odd how Yurei Deco has not so much kept up the Twain parallels when it comes to the characters. You have Logi and Harper serving as clear references to Tom’s pals Ben Rogers and Joe Harper, but as for the rest? Berry is clearly our Tom, while Hack is obviously Huck, but I don’t know how Finn plays into the dynamic (maybe he serves as the gang’s Aunt Polly?) I don’t want to assume that Hank is supposed to be some analogue to Jim just because he’s black, and the jury’s completely out when it comes to Smiley the Gas Mask Girl and Madam 44. Could it be that I’m thinking way too hard about what are probably just surface-level references?
• An interesting world-building note is that the Decos don’t just affect what you see in the Hyperverse world; Most people apparently only eat food that is modified to not only look better, but also taste better too.
Yurei Deco is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitterhis blog, and his podcast.