Episode 83 was another hybrid recap, but I have to say I am glad they were able to make it entertaining to watch, so I appreciate the effort they put into it to make it so. The highlight of course, was seeing them acknowledged the fact everyone nobody can stand Naoki’s character. Maybe this means they will cut down his air time in the future, because good lord, the guy is annoying and creepy.
But like their past hybrid episodes, a little bit of new details were trickled through. We got to see how Yuusaku was still upset about what has happened to Onizuka. He is upset about what SOL has done, and is angry how corporation treats both Humans and Ignis like tools. This is why he told Ai once the battle against Lightning is over, they must part ways so Ai and the others can hide away and live their lives in peace. He even went as far as promising he and Kusanagi would do something to help them build a new home, somewhere where they be safe and sound. Although the day they must part ways is still a long way ahead of us, just the thought of it actually made me tear up. I absolutely love the bond that was developed between Ai and Yuusaku, and it’s going to be heart-wrenching to see them go their separate ways.
Then there is the new alliance agreement with Ryoken. Having met him in person, and received the program to be protected from Lightning’s attacks, Ai and Yuusaku are pretty much the only ones of the gang who are giving him the benefit of the doubt. The girls were skeptical, including Aqua who is wary of his intentions, but Takeru of all people, is the one who absolutely won’t have it. When I think about it, until now, Takeru and Ryoken haven’t really had time to have a proper confrontation. But now that it’s happening, we’re seeing the bottled up anger and grudge Takeru has towards the Hanoi Knights, especially Ryoken as their leader for having ruined his life, and blames the death of his parents on him. It just goes to show, even though Takeru appears bubbly on the surface, internally, he is still broken and left to pick up the pieces. He hasn’t had the opportunity to get the kind of closure Yuusaku had, and maybe he can get a bit of it through his duel against Ryoken. It’s hard to say who should win in this position, personally I think it should be Ryoken should be given the edge.
That being said, while it makes sense for the two of them to duel before they are to establish their temporary alliance, it does disappoint me a bit we have to wait another episode or so before the big fight finally begins.
On the side note, it doesn’t look like Ryoken intends to make any formal announcements to Link VRAINS at this time, and perhaps, it’s for the best.
Wow, I am so pleasantly surprised to see the duel between Takeru and Ryoken didn’t actually play out, especially with Takeru was in a fit of rage and was not thinking rationally whatsoever. He recklessly put Flame’s life on the line, but luckily for him, even though Ryoken agreed to the conditions, in the end he had no intention to duel. Instead, he was willing to be a punching bag for Takeru to vent his anger on. But that only frustrated Takeru further because that’s not how he wants to win, so he quickly called it off. This whole outburst just goes to show even though he appears to be pretty stable on the outside, on the inside, he still broken and has a lot of healing to do. It was a heavy moment, especially when we see Yuusaku watching him spill out his emotions. He understands how much pain Takeru is in.
Since Takeru was so upset, Ryoken made the decision to reveal his identity. Yuusaku stepped in to explain how he’s the same age as them, and was the whistle-blower that saved them. It’s going to take a lot of time for Takeru to get used to Ryoken, but perhaps rather than a duel between them, what may grant Takeru the closure he so desperately needs is simply Ryoken being there for him in time of need. In fact, I think it would be great for the two of them to work together, a tag-duel would be fun to see.
And so with that a temporary alliance is formed between them, he takes them to the original Link VRAINS server. There Ryoken reveals the reason why he was searching for talented programmers like Kengo. It turns out, he intends to make use of the Tower of Hanoi by modding it so they can create a powerful scan to pin-point Lightning’s location. To ensure he doesn’t betray them, he gives them the security of being able to have control over the tower. Through their efforts, they discovered Lightning is hidden in a mirror world of LINK VRAINS, which takes us to the next stage of the battle.
Those who are traveling to the mirror world are Yuusaku, Aoi and Takeru, alongside Ryoken and Spectre, and surprisingly, the Pigeon and the Frog (which I can see them making use of for anymore recap episodes in the future). Meanwhile, Emma will be monitoring the status of LINK VRAINS’s active server. The scan process is so powerful that it does have side-effects in the network, which means players who are in the server can actually see the distortion. It seems Akira didn’t get the memo this was going to happen, because even though he is overriding orders by doing his own thing (hell, I’m surprised he’s even still there! How the hell is he not fired yet? Much less, why are they letting him do whatever he wants?).
In all, not a lot happened this episode, but it did what it had to do to apply the final touches to kicking off the next stage. Besides the duel being called off, another thing I really enjoyed was seeing Flame act as Takeru’s guardian of a sorts. In fact he kind of reminded me of a parent. He understood Takeru was struggling with his emotions, and didn’t get upset at him for his rash behaviour. Instead, he pulled him aside and the two of them had a conversation where Flame helped calm him down by explaining how Ryoken didn’t have to approach him, but he did. He didn’t tell him to forgive him, but at least the very least Flame’s assurance will help him have a bit more of a peace of mind when it comes to their temporary alliance.
As for the Mirror World, I am curious to see how long they will be there for. Obviously they will have to log out at some point because they can’t just leave their bodies in the real world for too long. There is also the major hint dropped in this episode, of how Ai was able to give Robopoppi an upgrade to make her smarter. I am curious to see if this will actually be something that will protect her in the long run from Lightning’s interference when he and Windy will surely look to hijack the A.I. in the real world. Regardless Ai’s instinct that something terrible is going to happen certainly isn’t far off, and perhaps enhancing Robopoppi was actually him subconsciously applying precautionary measures.
Anyhow, I am really excited for next week’s duel, especially since Haru is finally stepping into the spotlight. All this time, he has been one of the most mysterious characters. The conversation held between him and Bohman today was quite fascinating in the way we’re seeing how Bohman feels so strongly for Haru, despite knowing Haru’s role, he still considers and cherishes him as his little brother. What’s more interesting is that we learned the two of them are due to merge together in the future, a piece of detail that hasn’t been mentioned until now. So it goes to show Haru does have larger role than just being Bohman’s retainer, and is perhaps serves as the key to unlock his complete form.