Ooof, my poor heart. This episode was filled with tension, and heartache. I am sure, when Ai brought out Judgement Arrows, we all thought “SHIT. HE ACTUALLY WENT THERE!”. The card the symbolizes the conflict and war between Humans and the Ignis, so its an understatement why everyone, including us, the audience would be flipping out about it. Seriously, I got the chills.
Coping with grief and decks’ sentimental value was a big theme this episode, and both Ai and Aoi had many parallels to each other, which further explains why Aoi made the effort to reach out to him. Both of them are using a deck that holds a lot of sentiments, and can be perceived as the windows to their hearts. Ai’s deck consists monsters that represents his fallen kin and himself, and was likely created through the power they had granted to him in order to defeat Bohman. As for Aoi, she could have gone back to her former Trickstar deck, but because of the bond she had formed with Aqua, and sentiment the Marincess’ deck now holds, it now serves as her new main— and to some extent, it gave Ai a bit of comfort knowing that Aqua’s deck is being cherished properly.
But this episode made it a lot more clear what Bohman’s words meant. When Bohman referred to ‘closing the future to the Ignis’, it was referring to their inevitable tragedy of their demise. Since Ai was unable to save his friends, he is now drowning in loneliness and despair. He also finds it incredibly unfair that he is the only one who has to reap the losses, when his Human comrades were successful in saving the ones they cared about. I think it would be fair to say by picking a fight with Humans again, while there are certainly other intentions, one of them is undoubtedly a form of lashing out.
Aoi however brought up a very important point: “Why do they have to fight each other when they are both suffering from the same sadness?”
It was clear when Aoi said that, it got under Ai’s skin. She exposed his guilt of failing to save his friends, and the pain and loneliness is he going through right now, and he lashed out at her for that. I also feel the reason why he suddenly pointed to Pandor being in ‘Aqua’s Spot’ was to try and create a diversion. So had it not been for Pandor’s strong follow up, I don’t know if Ai would have opened up about how time has stopped for him, and the only way for him to move forward is to defeat everyone.
But it doesn’t just doesn’t just apply to her and Ai, but Takeru, and now Yuusaku as well. All four of them are suffering from the loss and failure of being unable to save their Ignis friends. And rather than grieving together, they are dealing with it on their own. One would think they would get together in attempt to console each other, but the truth of the matter is, beyond their online connection, with the exception of Ai and Yuusaku (having been partners and all), they don’t really have any relationship with each other in the real world. One example is Aoi, who didn’t know their offline identities until recently, and then Takeru who had planned to return home due to either believing there was no other reason to stick around, and/or it was a means of an escape to cope his own grief— until Ai made himself into a threat they had to deal with. And since Kusanagi is spending time with Jin, had Aoi and Akira had not figured out his offline identity, Yuusaku was about to be left all alone again. That’s how frail their relationship with each other actually is.
This is also what makes the situation quite ironic. Ai has become a purpose for them to come altogether again, and this time, they have the opportunity to strengthen their relationship and bond in the real world. It is definitely something I would like to see considering much of the series has taken place in the world of the online network. And on top of that, his time, rather it being about the fight for co-existence and to avoid a war between Humans and A.I./Ignis, the mission this time will (hopefully) be more about saving Ai, the last Ignis.
Akira had me wondering for a split second if he were actually going to turn the key in to Ai, as a ‘form of apology’. Of course he didn’t, he bears the responsibility as an executive of SOL Technology to protect the company from whoever threatens them. And while Akira acknowledged where Ai’s pain stems from, and the wrongdoings of Humans and apologize to him, it didn’t appear that Ai appreciated his gesture by the slightest. That being said, boy, has it been a LONG TIME since we last seen Akira duel!
Next week, looks like things are bound to go back and forth. I’m still anxious about what is going to become Aoi’s fate from this duel. I really don’t know how she will be spared unless Ai makes her an exception despite this being on a tag-team, or they actually somehow come out victorious.