Oof, this episode was a a bit of a rocky one. What disappointed me the most was the duel between Queen and Ai. I was quite annoyed with the way they went about it. Look, I get the point is to show how powerful Ai is and his cool new monsters, but this was straight-up disrespect to Queen’s character, or at least that’s how it felt. Usually when our favourite character duel these nasty antagonists, I cheer for them, but in this case, the duel was so poorly done I couldn’t find it in me to be excited about it at all.
While I don’t think this will be the last time we will see her, I also don’t see the point of making this such a flimsy duel to begin with. Sure, she was cocky (like an ignorant fool), but the fact they litterally skipped over her first turn, and then turned it into the “Ai Showcase” left a bad taste in my mouth. I am sure I am not the only one who came into this week excited to see the two duke it out, so Ai could get his payback on behalf of Earth, and we can actually get a taste of what Queen is potentially capable of, unless she was never meant to be a good duelist. But in all seriousness, I hope this won’t be the last of her because damn it, this is not the way I want to see her go out.
And then there’s Ai. It goes without saying it’s definitely going to take some time to get used to Ai’s new “identity”. Although it has only been one episode, I am already missing the purple blob body and his cute voice. His new and more mature appearance and tone feels almost foreign to me, which is probably why some of his usual antics didn’t click with me the way they would have had he been in his Ignis form. So it’s going to take some time for me to get to used to it.
But alongside his new identity is also a new purpose. While we will have to wait until next week to learn what his motives are/message he left behind after taking Queen out, I am already quite unsettled with the direction it seems to be going. And I don’t know about you, but Ai was quite frightening. We got to see a bit more of what he is capable of, and the lengths he is willing to go to achieve his goal. The most terrifying part had to be when he had the ability to take Queen’s consciousness and implement it into his digital world. In a sense, this seems to be very similar to the way Bohman had robbed Jin of his consciousness, and it appears that Queen is going to be the victim of the same tactic. And while Ai went after her because he needed to Code Key, in reality, I think he could have figured out on his own, and only used that as an excuse to have his revenge for Earth’s cruel demise.
As many of us suspected, Ai had started digging into the real truth Lightning had alluded to. We don’t know what this truth is, but whatever it is, Ai fully intends to exploit SOL Technology and their newest creation: SOLtis to his advantage. Hijacking their androids was a breeze. (Side note: SOLtis all have their own “avatars” when they are active. This is why AI’s and Robopoppi’s avatars were able to be carried over when they took possession of their units.) It also doesn’t help that when Ai is clearly still grieving for his friends loss. His grief is undoubtedly reflected in his deck. The adorable Linkuriboh is now an angry Linkuriboh and the @Ignisters, all representing himself and fellow Ignis, or better yet actual monsters such as, Dark Templar (Ai), Wind Pegagus (Windy), and Light Dragon (Lightning). Also, can we take a moment to appreciate their fabulous designs? Ugh, I love them so much! Also special shoutout to Pikari’s wicked appearance, but I digress.
Speaking of Bohman, there appears to be some unfinished business, since the Frog and Pigeon reporters were only left with footage of his duel against Playmaker. While it was thought to be his way of being “remembered”, I am under the impression it will serve as a clue to what’s about to transpire, such as the ominous warning of Ai’s decision to side alongside Humans, in attempt to achieve what they had hoped at the time, co-existence.
However in the subject of co-existence, this week brought attention to the developing conflict between Humans and SOL Technology’s SOLtis. Their creation has been a major success, and wealthy corporations from all over want in on it. The cost is of course Human Employees being replaced by Automations. This makes the fight for co-existence even more complicated, as Humans who need to make a living to survive are being put out of work and it is only just a matter of time before they start taking it out against the Androids. It’s just as Yuusaku said: “Sudden changes hurt people”, and this is one example of that. Another concern lies in what Ai’s goal is. What is his hoping to achieve by exploiting SOL’s technology? Is he fighting back because the “truth” Lightning alluded to was in fact the enslavement of A.I. or perhaps the exact conflict I had just mentioned of Humans lashing out against the A.I. for taking their jobs? Or perhaps it’s a bit of both and more.
Then there’s Robopoppi. Due to what appeared to have been the side-effects of Ai’s backup program being rebuilt, Robopoppi has gained free-will and grown more intelligent as well. Through that we learn he now associates himself to be a boy, but otherwise his usual and endearing personality remains. And thank god for Robopoppi, because he was the highlight of the episode. His adorable quips is one of the reasons why I am so happy to see him beside Ai. Keeps the humour rolling, even when he isn’t by Yuusaku’s side.
Now that Queen has fallen, it seems whatever the message Ai had left behind was a warning to SOL Technology’s top executives. With Akira having been promoted to Executive Director for “saving” Link VRAINS, it seems that also puts him on what appears to be Ai’s hit-list, so that means he needs protection. But what’s really interesting now is that since Link VRAINS no longer exists (and I happy to see they actually they shut it down, it would make no sense to keep it running after all the shit that happened!), I really do wonder how they intend to “protect” him. Unless Ai hadn’t messed with the security cameras, there’s no way for them to know that he litterally walked into Queen’s room and they had their confrontation there.
Though I have to laugh, Kusanagi’s avatar is litterally his real world self in a hat and jacket. it’s also the first time we will see him showing up in his “avatar” in front of the others, so I am curious to see whether or not people realize he’s the food-truck owner.
Last but not least: It’s great and all to hear that Jin is doing better, and that he actually lost his memories of the Lost Incident (said to be thanks to Lightning’s last ditch effort to survive against Ryoken), but I surely can’t be the only one just waiting for things to go south for him. Of course I do hope the third time is the charm because the poor guy needs a break. It is definitely a blessing in disguise for him to have lost memories of the trauma he had to go through, especially with the terrible things Lightning had did to him. Fingers crossed that Jin is finally free to live his life again.