The story slows down to set the stage for the upcoming conflict, so there isn’t really anything interesting for me to say. If I tried, it’d just be a checklist of plot events, e.g. the villagers haven’t returned from Sanctuary, a former maid is back, Petra is now training to become a maid, Beatrice tells Subaru where he can find answers to many questions, beware of Garfiel
d, meet the new witch, so on and so forth. To be fair, Roswaal is obviously up to something, and he’s always been kinda shady. I guess it’s time for him to show his true intentions. Not only that, Emilia claims that she doesn’t want to hide anything from Subaru, but she’s still holding back by saying that she just can’t find the right words. On both of these fronts, all I can really do is speculate as to what these characters are really thinking. Maybe if I followed season one more closely, I could take a stab in the dark at Emilia’s feelings, but I’m not confident in doing so right now. And with that, I’m just gonna move right onto the next show that aired today…
This episode drops a pretty huge bombshell on us: all this pain and suffering is nothing more than a game to the machines. But who or what are the machines? Well, remember those oddly-colored people who confused me just with their presence in last week’s episodes? I initially thought that maybe humans had evolved to have purple skin or whatever. Well, as it turns out they’re Gears, and Gears are not real people; they’re just avatars for these cutesy-looking machines. Apparently, even robots need some form of recreation (why?), but if you really think about it, the idea of virtual reality for machines is kinda silly, isn’t it? So instead, they use real life bodies in order to participate in a real life conflict. The machines actually wanna pretend to be us. Isn’t that cute? Anyways, they simply drop themselves into the middle of the conflict to have some fun and climb the rankings. High scorers are rewarded with oxyone, which apparently doubles as both a feelgood drug and a way to extend these machines’ lifespans.
So now what? What does all of this mean? Well, this week’s episode is all about Kaburagi’s past, and how his life went to shit when he led Mikey, one of his younger teammates, astray. Like in our video games, Gears don’t get hurt when their human-like avatars are damaged. Nevertheless, you can cheat by removing the limiter on said avatars. In doing so, you’ll unlock greater power, but the trade-off is that you’ll now feel pain. Why would machines be programmed to feel pain? Eh, don’t worry about it. The point is that (again) removing your limiter is a cheat, so the system (the Solid Quake corporation?) frowns upon this. And when the kid gets caught, he is summarily fried and scrapped. The rest of the team is then forced to choose between being sent to a correctional facility or carrying out a bug-hunting mission. After seeing what Kaburagi was up to in last week’s episode, we obviously know what he chose. Nevertheless, he was content to let his lifespan eventually expire… until Natsume inadvertently convinces him otherwise.
A lot is still left unexplained. Naturally, we don’t know how the world got like this, and why the machines started enslaving humans for their amusement. We also don’t know what the company or the system is, and why they treat their own kind like disposable objects. The biggest mystery of all, however, is why Natsume is supposed to be dead. She catches Kaburagi doing his shady thing, but she thinks he’s just robbing them. Kaburagi thought the system would process her, but that ends up not happening. Upon a cursory investigation, he discovers that she’s a bug in the system. Maybe that thing that was dropped in last week episode might explain why Natsume is supposed to be dead? Either way, rather than taking care of her like the system would want him to, Kaburagi decides to extend his lifespan in order to train her. In doing so, perhaps he hopes that this little bug can eventually bring down the system and avenge his buddy Mikey.
All I can do right now is shrug. Obviously, as a human, I’m on their side. I hope Natsume can free her own people from Deca-Dence… assuming that this is even the best overall outcome. If bringing down the system doesn’t bring a stop to the Gadolls, then maybe not, y’know? From the limited information that we’ve been given, it doesn’t appear as though humans can survive on their own. On the other hand, however, I need some time to process these twists. I’m not sure if I think they’re stupid or not.