“In which Vivy preforms the fastball special.”
For all the amazingly animated action, this episode really is a character piece for our long-running villain, Yugo, more than anything else.
With the flashback at the end of the last episode and what we learn during this one, we finally get a clear picture of Yugo and what drives him. Yugo is creeped out by the whole uncanny valley surrounding AI: Are AIs tools or people? At times they are treated as one or the other—or both at the same time. The funeral for Yugo’s piano teacher is the ultimate example of this: his burnt remains are left for all to see while his final moments alive are being played on a big-screen TV. Imagine doing that for a human who died in the same way and it’s not hard to see why Yugo would become so viscerally disgusted.
As a kid and later young adult, he was convinced that the only way to solve his complicated feelings about how society treats AIs was to destroy them all—to simply dodge the need to search for an answer by obliterating the problem.
On a deeper level, Yugo couldn’t accept the way that AIs evolve. Why would a piano teacher robot run into danger to save human lives? Why would a singer AI fight to stop the robot apocalypse? A tool should just do what it is designed for.
But really, at its core, Yugo’s problem is that evolved AIs seem to always view their lives to be worth less than humans’—especially the ones they personally care about. Even when saving lives would result in their own destruction—and thus the failure of their individual missions—AIs still choose to save human lives. Yugo’s past and his encounters with Vivy have driven him to seek out why this is—to the point where he’s become an almost fully robotic cyborg in order to find the answer.
All this comes together in his final question for Vivy: “Did my teacher… did he suffer the way a human would have?” If he didn’t, then he was nothing more than a tool. But if he was filled with mental anguish—at the failure of his mission, at leaving his student behind—then wasn’t he, for the lack of a better word, “human” as well? The sad truth is that neither Diva nor Vivy can answer this question for him. After all, neither are human.
On the other side of the story, we get the lowdown on what happened between Antonio and Ophelia: Antonio disregarded the spirit of his mission in order to follow the letter of it. Antonio decided that if he could become Ophelia, then he could better fulfill her mission—and in doing so succeed in his own mission.
However, as we learn in his final moments, there was a second, underlying reason why he did this: he wanted Ophelia to sing for no one but him. This desire, so antithetical to his mission, twisted his way of thinking. After all, if he became Ophelia, she would never sing for anyone else ever again.
Yet, while he has gained success far beyond what Ophelia had as her proxy, he feels that her singing was superior. It’s like he lacks something he can never find no matter how much he sings or what advice he receives—thus he decides it’s just better to end it all since he has failed his mission. And what’s doubly tragic is that he is actually on the verge of finding it. In rehearsals, when he sings to an empty auditorium, he is singing only for Ophelia, allowing his songs to reach new heights. But when facing a live crowd, he sings to them, and the magic is lost. And as we see in Ophelia’s final sections, that was her secret: she was always singing for Antonio.
Finally, woven through the stories of Yugo and Antonio (and, again, the amazing actions scenes) is a major plot revelation: Vivy and Matsumoto are now facing opposition from the future. While they don’t seem to have the ability to come back in time like Matsumoto, they are able to send some information back, like the logic bullet to erase Diva or the electronic warfare program that Antonio has. It’s also implied that Antonio’s ability to overwrite Ophelia was given to him by Yugo—and is thus from the future as well.
And with only 40 years and 4 episodes to go, something tells me we’ll get a lot more future interference as we head into the series’ climax.
• That fight scene! That fight scene! That fight scene!
• It’s important to note that Vivy/Diva is always on the verge of losing when going one-on-one against other AIs—she’s built for nothing but singing after all. The reason she consistently comes out on top in the end is because she’s not alone—Matsumoto is always there to get a sneak attack for the win.
• I love that Diva, after having her hair used against her earlier in the fight, ties it as far back and out of the way as possible.
• There’s a good callback to episode one where Matsumoto declared his mission is to prevent the robot apocalypse alongside Diva.
• As I mentioned way back in my episode one review, the closer we get to the 100 year mark, the weaker Matsumoto becomes.
• Ophelia’s “love confession” to Antonio in the final moments really rubbed me the wrong way. It felt like an abuser was getting his greatest wish granted after literally killing the object of his desire twice.
• So, the way I’m interpreting Diva as a “personality construct” is that during the Metal Float fight, Vivy did succeed in splitting herself into two identities: Vivy, the AI who destroys AIs to prevent the robot apocalypse, and Diva, the AI who wants to bring joy to everyone through singing. However, the core personality is the one she evolved into—i.e., Vivy. Thus when the two missions came into conflict, Vivy sealed herself away with all the memories that made her Vivy and let Diva, the non-core personality, take control.
• I’ve seen some confusion in the comments about Matsumoto’s plan for completing his mission. Basically, he is trying to walk a knife’s edge. As knowing the future is a huge boon, he is trying to stop the robot apocalypse while changing as little as possible when compared to his original timeline. To keep his interference to a minimum, he has identified several key events that directly lead to the robot apocalypse. He hopes that by changing only these events (and going into hibernation between them), he can prevent the robot apocalypse while keeping the timelines similar. Of course, as we have seen, the plan isn’t foolproof. Even changing just one of these events can divert the timeline in major and unexpected ways.