Gosh these two episodes were brutal for my heart. I literally cannot handle the perfection combination of Ai being so darn cute and playful and charismatic while being sad at the same time! YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO US! IT’S NOT FAIR!
Last week (Episode 118), Ai confirmed our suspicions and fears: he is set on dying. No matter the outcome of the duel, Ai made it so he will cease to exist. If Yuusaku defeats him, he will be destroyed, if Ai emerges victorious, then he will divide up and distribute his free-will among them.
But then this week (Episode 119), right at the end of the episode, Ai threw us yet another curveball. He suddenly extends an offer to Yuusaku to become one with him, by changing his consciousness into data and fuse together with him. It is hard to say whether or not Ai had just thought of this on the spot, or intends it to be a joke (as he has been humorously teasing us) or was waiting for the right moment to put it on the table. Anyhow, he said if Yuusaku were to be “with him”, they should be able to create a different future, and live together (as one) in the network for the eternity.
Okay so two things about this that is making my head spin: The first point directly contradicts with what Ai had said earlier, about if he were to emerge victorious he will divide up his free-will among the SOLtis copies. So I am kind of left to assume this is possibly an alternative solution if Yuusaku were to emerge victorious? Hard to say since either he is confident Yuusaku will be able to deflect the upcoming attack that will end the duel, or despite everything he had said until now, he actually has the ability to change the conditional outcomes of the duel (unless there is in fact nothing at all, and Yuusaku has to personally use a device of a sort to erase him).
REGARDLESS: Yuusaku is not the same young man he was from way back in Season 1. Maybe if Yuusaku didn’t have relationships or any ties to the real world, the offer would be more enticing, but he does. And on top of that, he also understands that path is equally as tragic as the one they are on right now. Even if they were to ‘fuse’, how would it work, would they still be able to communicate to each other? If not, the path of becoming “immortal” of a sort (within the network) will not prevent the loneliness and despair that will eventually follow.
Aside from that moment of confusion, what was important in this week’s episode followed up why Ai wants to be destroyed.
The reasoning is actually even more heart-wrenching than I thought it would be: As the last surviving Ignis, Ai’s existence will lead to Human Extinction.
And the culprit behind the pain that has been inflicted onto all of us from that revelation, is none other than that punchable-smug-face bastard Lightning! Even after his demise, Lightning continued to have haunt and influence Ai when he told him about an unspoken truth of the Ignis’ fate. Had Ai not into his temptations to investigate, maybe just maybe we would have been spared all of this pain and misery. But alas, he did, and the “truth” that Lightning had spoken of was in-fact, not just his own fate, but also Ai’s. Sure enough it seems to have gone all according to plan, because Lightning being the dick he is, had left a so-called gift (trap) to expose Ai the tragedy that would unfold so as long as he continues to exist.
Naturally Ai didn’t want to believe it either, but unable to ignore it, he ended up running a bunch of simulations of his own, and the outcome remained the same. (These bloody simulations man! It’s messing everyone up! Dr. Kogami, Ryoken, Lightning, Ai— you’d think SOMEBODY WOULD LEARN BY NOW!)
However what Lightning most likely failed to take into account, was Ai’s resolve. While Ai fell into despair when he learned about his tragic fate, his fear of becoming like Lightning or Bohman is much greater.
Even though Ai is supposed to be a special case, having experienced he terrible things Lightning and Bohman had done to his dear comrades, and witnessed what happened to Robopoppi when he gained free-will, Ai has learned how easy it is for A.I. to become ignorant, which can/will make them a threat to Humanity. (This also really offered a whole new perspective of his reaction to Robopoppi’s horrific evolution.) Ai had also confessed something similar has happened to him as well, such questioning why is it necessary for him to have to adapt to Humans?
And so because he is so aware of how quickly he is changing, he came to the conclusion for everyone’s sake, he must be destroyed.
However while is it selfish of him to arrange all of this without consulting with Yuusaku first, in his mind, his simple wish it to be put to rest by the one he has grown to trust and love the most probably seems as though a small price to pay (breaking Yuusaku’s heart) for his noble sacrifice.
As terribly sad it is to watch Ai share all of this with us, I really enjoy seeing this incredibly mature and earnest side of him. It shows us just how much he has grown as a character from the first season, and rather than fighting for his own preservation, he would rather sacrifice himself for not only the peace of mind, but securing the future of his remaining Human comrades.
Overall, between the two episodes, I would say this week’s episode (119) was probably the better one (though it hit me right in the feels when Ai brought out the monsters representing his fallen friends Q___Q). I think it’s also fair to say this one had a lot more going on, since we were finally given the explanation how and why Ai ended up on this path, along with the emotional heart to heart conversation between Yuusaku and Ai. I also really liked that the card Ryoken had given him was none other than his Borreload Dragon. It was exactly the edge Yuusaku needed since Ai knows his deck, and a great way to spice things up.
With the way things are going, I don’t know if we are in for a wholesome tragic end, or a bittersweet one, but if there’s one thing for certain: Regardless of what the outcome may be, at least I won’t be crying over frustration of a terrible end to a good series, but the fate of a beloved character.
See you for the finale next week!
PS: The Arrival Cyberse design is super cool!