I skipped right to the ending to see whether or not our gang had resolved the Nozomi nonsense. They have not. Ugh. Alright, let’s go back to the beginning.
— First things first, it’s not about being hung up on a crush. Sure, feelings are sometimes irrational, and we can’t control how we feel. But when you start freaking out over a crush that you haven’t seen nor talked to in years (possibly six years), you should’ve gotten some help a long time ago.
— Or maybe this is bad writing. Yeah, it’s just bad writing. Everything has to be hyperdramatic. As a result, Nozomi has to feel as though she’s been betrayed. Satsuki goes to meet Nozomi in real life and acts like everything’s A-OK. She even tells the latter to log into Re’Union. When Nozomi finally does so, all she finds is her man being stolen by someone she thought she could trust! That’s all fine and dandy… assuming they last met maybe a couple months ago. But considering how she formed a crush on him back in elementary school, she’s now a high schooler who is also an up-and-coming model, she’s this messed up about a single dance? Girl, you need some goddamn meds.
— Anyways, the episode starts of in the real world. Even though Haruto rejected Satsuki, he seems to be the one in a bad mood. Meanwhile, the girl is perfectly cheerful.
— Well, it turns out she had a good cry over him, so now she’s over it. In fact, she adds that he can always come to her if Asahi ever rejects him. Ugh, don’t you have any pride, girl? Move on. There are plenty of fish in the sea… fish that aren’t presumably in love with a girl who hasn’t aged in six years.
— Anyways, they’re on their way to Nozomi’s house. Takanori is even here. Unfortunately, we have bad news: Nozomi has been missing for the past two days. Satsuki instantly thinks of the dance party, but she doesn’t say anything. The reason we’re in this mess is because we don’t communicate properly.
— The gang then turns to Clyde to track Nozomi’s movements from the moment she logged in. Geez, talk about a lack of privacy. Sure, they’re doing it for her sake, but it’s kinda scary that they can just trace her exact steps for the past two days. In any case, this confirms Satsuki’s greatest fears: her friend had logged in, dropped by the dance party, then left… for the sky?
— Apparently, there’s a dungeon way up in the sky. It’s even known as the Dragons’ Fortress. But we’ll get to it in a bit.
— Back in Re’Union, Asahi is in a good mood. After all, she won the shit contest for the greatest shitlord. I mean, she won Haruto. Woo. She’s decorating the guild base because she wants it to feel like home for her friends. She wants Subaru to feel comfortable hanging around the same dank hole after all this time. Yeah, well, maybe you guys should stop falling in love with each other.
— Asahi even gets all lovey-dovey with Haruto, but he’s acting as if their relationship didn’t take a big step forward or anything. Maybe he truly feels this way. He rejected Satsuki, insisted to Takanori that he won’t give Asahi up, danced all night with the girl of his dreams, then now acts like they’re still just friends. What a dolt.
— Anyways, the group meets up at the Dragons’ Fortress, but of course, this looks like no place that a dragon would want to live. The gang thus comes to the conclusion that this place had been created by the Dreamworld Sense. So… what was with the whole Dragons’ Fortress bullcrap?
— All of a sudden, we get a flashback about how Asahi and Haruto had gotten into a huge fight one time. Because Asahi can see the future, she knows the best course of action. But y’know, it can be kinda boring just following orders, so Haruto tried to freelance during a dangerous quest. Blah blah blah, two friends fight and say mean things to each other. Whatever.
— Eventually, the group finds itself inside a giant arena where they are attacked by giant versions of Nozomi’s familiars. After a short fight, the girl herself shows up… I guess being evil means you gotta dress all sexy.
— What kind of pose is that?
— She’s also joined by the ever-so-annoying Cerinthus and his partner-in-crime Marcion. After some pointless chatter, there’s even more pointless action that doesn’t really lead anywhere. We’re just killing time until the gang finally decides to ask Nozomi why she’s being so weird. So she basically goes and tells them that her heart has been broken, that she’s been let down, and now she wants revenge. She’s acting crazy, but y’know, I actually can’t hold this craziness against her too much. After all, Nozomi’s mind has probably been messed with by Gnosis. To what extent, I don’t know, but it’s a likely possibility. My main beef with the girl has always been how she acted before Gnosis ever got to her.
— Language, young lady!
— Anyways, one of Nozomi’s strands of hair turns into a magical snake and bites Asahi’s neck. The latter then screams out in huge pain and starts yelling at Haruto. Whatever the snake bite did, it seems to have unearthed her memories of that fight with Haruto from six years ago. Oh boy.
— And with that, the bad guys just leave. Um, okay.
— Conveniently enough, the whole dungeon also falls apart. So I guess the bad guys created this place just for this one encounter. Let’s now discard it. Shrug.
— Back at their base, Asahi is suddenly acting normal again. I feel like we may have skipped a step or two.
— In any case, Haruto wants to watch over Asahi, but he still has a life to live in the real world (presumably). Clive volunteers to protect the girl in the meantime because he’s apparently already in college.
— Asahi reflects on recent events and oddly says that “no one would worry” if something happens to her. What?
— But in the middle of his protection duty, Clive suddenly gets the urge to catch a fish for Asahi to eat. Do you even get hungry in this MMO? I guess you must if he’s going to bother catching a fish. As soon as he leaves, the bite marks on Asahi’s neck start to ooze purple miasma. Oooh, I hope she dies… again.
— In the real world, Takanori insists on meeting up with Haruto and Satsuki, because he wants to understand why Nozomi is acting the way that she is. Haruto doesn’t know why either. Satsuki obviously knows, but she starts off by calling the boys idiots. Okay, sure, they’re dense, but since you know so much, why don’t you use your words? Communicate. Talk.
— Finally, she clues Takanori in on the fact that Nozomi must have seen them dancing. Gnosis then preyed upon Nozomi’s jealousy as dumb as that sounds. After realizing that he must take responsibility for what transpired that night, Takanori swears that he’ll stop Nozomi.
— But all of a sudden, something happens to all three kids. Remember, they’re still in the real world. Oh boy, here comes the bullshit about using Sense magic outside of the game!
— When the kids look at their table, all the food has been eaten and the drinks drunk. More importantly, a lot of time has passed. This guy also shows up and says gibberish about time and destiny. Oh no, didn’t the bad guys say that Asahi would die soon?! Man, I can’t wait!
— Yeah, yeah, I know the good guys will win in the end. Yawn. This is only one-cour, right? So we’re probably going to end with the gang rescuing Nozomi? And the mystery with Asahi probably won’t be resolved, huh?
There is no out-of-someone’s-a-hole’s plot twist here, but the stupid is extremely strong in this episode. My friends and I were laughing like a lunatic when watching this episode. This episode is like a distillation of a lot of stuff that are wrong with anime and anime-related media’s storytelling.
How on Earth did these people ever function as a guild in the past? We all have heard stories about one romantic entanglement bringing down a gaming group. Let’s crank that up to eleven and have at least five people out of a six- (or seven-) man guild in a web of unrequited love, deceit, and poor communication skills. They scooted by due to the virtue of being powerful enough to destroy thousands of times their numbers in other players, but then crumbled apart like a cookie once they encountered actual adversity.
This would actually be fine as a storytelling vehicle if they acknowledged how dysfunctional such a group would be, but they’re trying to tell us that despite everything, they were so strong because of their closely knit bonds of friendship? Bullshit.