“Let’s see who’s stronger: One who has something to protect, or the one who has nothing to lose” – Ai
Oooh this was such a good episode. I was quite nervous while I was watching this, mostly because I was worried about what was going to become of Aoi. It wasn’t until Ai made that statement about who is stronger, it gave me the reassurance that she was probably going to be okay. What I also enjoyed a lot about this duel was how Ai was genuinely interested in whether or not Aoi would be able to uphold her vow, and continuously challenging her to prove that her bond with her brother would prevail.
In the end, even though it was a close one, Aoi lost. She was expecting to disappear alongside with he brother, but to her surprise, Ai didn’t take her. The only reason she is still here is because Ai wants her to experience the pain of living with regret that he is currently drowning in, and I absolutely LOVE THIS!
What makes this outcome so exciting to me is how Aoi now has to make a choice. She can either let the regret consume her like it did for Ai, or she proves to him that even those she had lost her loved one, she can still get back on her feet and move forward. I am also happy because it gives me hope that Aoi is finally going to have a more prominent role in this arc and we can finally have everyone interacting together, both in the real world and online, I am here for it!
Another choice Aoi is going to have to make, is whether or not she will let this incident affect how she feels about Ai. Will she perceive him as an enemy, or will she prove him wrong and be actively involved in the efforts to save him? Since Aoi is a tough cookie, I believe she will find the strength to do just that…unlike Ryoken, who just reaffirmed he his decision to eliminate Ai. Now the only ones left to declare how they plan to proceed are Yuusaku (who I hope will try and save Ai) and Takeru (who appears to be torn between the two choices, since he is so emotionally driven. In fact we saw more of Ryoken and Takeru butting heads today, so I imagine we will see them properly duke it out sooner or later).
Although the spotlight has been on Aoi, Pandora had a brief intriguing moment of her own. When she sympathized with Ai’ sadness, and she compared it to how she felt when she lost her friends. Honestly, this left me a bit confused because I am trying to figure out what friends she was referring to. Was it her copies (even though she is supposed to be one and the same), or something else that we don’t know about? I can’t imagine it actually being the others who had fallen earlier in battle… Maybe I’m over-reading this, or maybe it will be elaborated further next week.
The last point I have to make this week is how this episode truly highlighted what VRAINS’ is all about: Finding the strength to move forward. From the very start, we have seen characters go through traumatic experiences, tragedies and losses. All of them which shackled them down (be it: revenge, fear, regret, etc…) in this abyss of despair, where time has seemingly stopped, preventing them from moving forward and living their lives as they should. Yuusaku and Takeru are examples of people who are able to overcome their pasts, where as Ryoken is still dead set on fulfilling his father’s wish of eliminating the Ignis, and whatever path Ai has set himself upon.
Next week, Ai has gotten ahold of SOL Technology’s keys, he has officially taken over the company. The Human workers have be fired and replaced with the SOLtis Androids. I am very curious about what he will do with the rest of the androids that are living within Human Households, or involved in other businesses. How much is going to change in the real world now that Ai has control over SOL Technology infrastructure? I am excited to find out!