Man, a week off from YU-GI-OH VRAINS sure felt like an eternity! I had actually forgotten Ai was in the middle of a duel with Onizuka, but as expected it did wrap up by the half-way point.
However I must confess, I definitely underestimated Onizuka, and to some degree, so did Ai. It was a close fight, where the decision of choosing to destroy Ai’s set card (Ai’s Hymn, which had a lot of symbolism to it considering his friends saved him from Bohman) actually ended up costing him the duel. According to Ai, had he not destroyed it, he would have defeated him since it served as a clutch to keep him alive. It goes to show that while Ai had kicked everyone elses’ ass, Onizuka is at least good enough (whether we like it or not) to put up a decent fight— after-all, he and Aoi were at the top of the leaderboards in Link VRAINS for a time until Yuusaku came around. So while Ai has undoubtedly learned a lot from this duel alone, and will use that to improve himself as a duelist in the future, I am expecting the rest (Pandor, Akira, Aoi, Takeru, Ryoken and Yuusaku) of the players all to put up an even better fight that in turn will challenge Ai even further, and varying on who he goes up against, can potentially make him stronger in a variety of ways.
Also special shoutout for Earth Golem (Earth’s Representative) with Crystal Heart! MY EMOTIONS.
Other than the duel, we also learned a lot about Ai’s current mindset. Amazingly, even though Onizuka had a hand in Earth’s death, and Ai will never forgive him for it, he told him today that doesn’t hate him, and even wished he could be like him. At first, when I heard that, I wasn’t really sure what to think, until I reminded myself to look at it from Ai’s perspective, and sure that’s when things started to make more sense.
The first one that comes to mind was what Onizuka said in the beginning, “I’ll keep standing back up!”. Considering the amount of shit we have seen Onizuka go through, his fall from grace, spiralling deep down into the pits of hell itself, and yet still have strength to get back onto his feet. In other words, the ability to move forward is trait Ai wishes he had in this time of grief. The fact he said he doesn’t hate Onizuka goes to show how strongly he actually feels about everyone else despite going against them. This episode only made it increasingly more clear to me that the biggest battle Ai is currently facing, is against himself. He probably loathes the fact he is the only survivor, the guilt of being unable to save his friends, and being the only surviving Ignis left in the world serves the everlasting reminder of his failure. Ai also pointed out to Onizuka how his friends can’t recover like him because they are gone, which may indicate Ai doesn’t believe they can be recovered, or at least as they once were. Many of us have speculated the possibilities of Ai trying to find a way to revive his fallen kin, but now I am starting to wonder that may not be the case after-all. If so, then that only deepens my concerns I have made back in Episode 106, of how it sort of feels like there’s a part of Ai who wants to be destroyed.
But let’s say if Ai isn’t trying to revive his friends, or isn’t trying to die, then what is he really trying to accomplish? While we have seen him joke around about taking over the world and such waaaaaayyyyy back, I don’t think he actually intends to do that now. Hopefully, his duel with Pandor will provide us some answers to some of our many questions.
Which leads me to the situation at hand with Akira and Aoi, and Ryoken’s so-called “genius” plan.
Seriously Ryoken? You put them in an airplane?
“Somewhere no one can reach” he said.
“There are no SOLtis in the plane” he said… WHILE NEGLECTING TO MENTION THEY ARE USING SOL TECHNOLOGY’S PRIVATE JET!
“Can’t get there unless you go directly” HE SAID, WHILE AI HIJACKS FIND A FIGHTER CRAFT TO CATCH UP TO THE SAID PLANE.
Seriously! Ryoken probably would have had better luck smuggling them out of the city on his boat, taking them to a place that’s truly off the grid, like the middle of the wilderness with no technology. Or maybe even an underground bunker.
BUT NAH, A PLANE. AND IT HAD TO BE A SOL TECHNOLOGY’S PLANE.
But I understand, gotta be a hole somewhere for plot progression purposes. I can’t say I’m a fan of it though.
RIP Ryoken’s Pride.
Seriously, this (seemingly inevitable) failure is going to be a bitter pill for Ryoken to swallow! ESPECIALLY IF PANDOR ACTUALLY ENDS UP SWITCHING SIDES, something I have speculated in the previous entry…though I
kind of imagined framed her more like an antagonist than becoming Ai’s new ally…Haha…
And speaking of which, their meeting in person intrigued me. This is really the first time we get to see Pandor as herself, and witness how she responds to various situations, or in this case Ai, without any surrounding influences (beyond how she’s programmed). And I am pleased to say she fascinates me, and in a positive way. I also liked the way she and Ai interacted, they strike me as the type who would have fun bantering exchanges. Also can we take a moment to appreciate Ai’s, “LET’S TAKE THIS OUTSIDE PUNK!” that was so funny, I knew he always wanted to say that!
Considering I wasn’t expecting Ai to actually extend his hand to Pandor, I was a tad surprised when he did, as as one should expect, she remained committed to her objective. But what surprised me the most was Pandor’s keen ability to recognize emotions. First she described him as extremely hostile, and then the preview comes along and indicates that she is also capable of detecting his grief. That kind of understanding makes me very excited to see how Pandor will respond to Ai’s emotions, especially since (another details the preview dropped) Ryoken seems to have programmed her with “co-existence” in mind. Perhaps, it is because she may be able to sympathize with his feelings that it may motivate her to switch sides for Ai’s sake. Nevertheless, Pandor is definitely the one character at the moment who has the largest variety of paths to choose from, which is something to be excited for. Hopefully next week will indicate which direction they plan to take her.