ZEGAPAIN – 17
Kyo has been visiting Ryoko in the hospital and talking to her even though she’s unconscious in the server world. On one such occasion, he spots Shizuno outside and thanks her for finding Ryoko. He also mentions going together with her to the summer festival. In the real world, Minato finishes baking some cookies and brings them to Shima, but the commander isn’t in his room. Over at the Gards-orm base, Abyss is contemplating why the “people without light” fight even if they have no future and no way to regain the light. Shin doesn’t know the answer, but thinks that “that person” would definitely know. She runs off happily and leaves with a small force of ships. Back on the Oceanus, Kyo learns that Shima has disappeared off to somewhere with Shizuno. The AIs recall that those two sometimes disappear together, and furthermore, the intervals of those disappearances have been gradually getting shorter. Kyo had wanted to ask Shima something, but Minato already knows that his question was if Ryoko could be transferred out of the Altair. She tells him that it’s impossible and Lu Sheng explains that the process of downloading her would destroy Ryoko.
At this time, Shima and Shizuno are moving through an urban area aboard the Charadrius. Shima apologizes to Shizuno for always taking her out, but Shizuno says that it can’t be helped because he can’t ask anyone else. Meanwhile, Kyo and Ryoko are out on another mission. Ryoko is really happy that the activity time for the Altair has been increased to 90 minutes, meaning that the time she’s with Kyo has also gone up. She thanks Kyo for the flowers in her hospital room and him coming to always talk to her. While those two are out, Minato is in a conference with Lemures and Tarbo. The two AIs report that there are currently 11 quantum servers, about 3000 preserved apparitions, 8 mother-ships, 42 Holonic Loaders, and 68 Celebrants. Minato comments on how there are now just those 11 servers compared to the previous 300. Tarbo says that in the past two months, they’ve lost 3 servers, 650 apparitions, and 18 Celebrants. It’s clear to Minato that they are numerically inferior to the Gards-orm. Just then, the alarms on the ship start to go off because the Altair has encountered enemy forces.
At first Minato scrambles the Hraesvelg and the Garuda. Chris is itching to go, but then Minato stops him because something is strange. She’s suspicious because the enemy is using a Cobral that’s usually used for patrolling and scouting. Since she also has the defense of the Oceanus to worry about, Minato decides to put the Hraesvelg on standby. This means the Altair is going to be fighting the four enemies alone. Fortunately, Kyo and Ryoko are able to handle their opponents, including Shin. The Cobral appears to run away after they land a hit on it. Since they’re out of QL, the Altair has to return to the Oceanus. Minato breathes a sigh of relief, but then the warning alarms start going off again. It seems that Shin transferred together with the Altair onto the Oceanus. She drops into the Altair’s cockpit and comes face to face with the pilots. Kyo tries to throw a punch, but his fist goes right through her. Shin jumps around the hanger, looking at all the people without light, and then disappears further into the ship. Kyo tells Ryoko to go back to Maihama and then transfers over to the bridge. Ryoko doesn’t leave just yet and starts a QL charge for the Altair.
Across the ship, blast doors are closing as the ship starts to seal itself off. Minato tries to make sense of why the Gards-orm was able to transfer with the Altair. Irie says that although normal life forms can’t withstand that process, the Gards-orm (whom they all refer to as a person who has been restored) have evolved. Shin meanwhile is wandering around, noticing how the insides of this ship are identical to her own side’s ships. When she gets fired upon, she uses her abilities to turn the security system against itself and then moves on. Minato then tries to gas and suffocate Shin, but that also doesn’t work because Shin enters the computer system and forces the trap off. Kyo realizes that it’s as if Shin is a Celebrant. They see that Shin is headed for the bridge so Minato orders a lockdown. The AIs are confident in Shin won’t be able to enter the bridge, but she finds a way by making an apparition of herself and sending it in. Shin looks around the bridge and realizes that the person she’s looking for isn’t here. She jumps up to Minato and starts choking her, demanding to know where Ieru (aka. Shizuno) is.
Minato says that Shizuno isn’t here, so Shin decides to ask Minato why they fight. When Minato doesn’t immediately answer, Shin’s body starts glowing red and she does something that distorts Minato’s body and causes her a lot of pain. Minato finally says that it’s for their survival. Shin accepts this answer and then leaps for Lu Sheng. She knocks him down and asks the same question. Lu Sheng doesn’t answer, instead shooting the question back at her. Shin then poses the question to Kyo, who she had kicked away earlier. During this, Minato has Fosetta activate the defense weaponry on the hallway outside the bridge and fired them on Shin’s real body. Shin’s apparition fades in and out, so she angrily attacks and destroys Fosetta. After Shin disappears from the bridge, the AIs start to reinstall Fosetta. Shin returns to the hanger where the Altair’s QL charge has been completed, and she asks Ryoko why they fight. Ryoko answers that it’s because she doesn’t want to lose, because she wants to protect the things irreplaceable to her. Shin happily relates to Ryoko because she realizes that she also has something irreplaceable. She takes a liking to Ryoko and sees that Ryoko’s figure has holes in it. Shin puts her hand into Ryoko and Ryoko starts screaming.
Kyo and Lu Sheng arrive in the hanger right as Shin is telling Ryoko that she won’t be broken anymore. Chris in the Hraesvelg suddenly appears and smashes Shin through a wall and off the Oceanus. A Cobral catches Shin’s body and makes its escape. It brings her back to the Gards-orm base where she reports to Abyss what she learned about irreplaceable things. After Shin falls unconscious, Abyss says that they have evolved. In gaining the light, they cast things aside, so they don’t have anything to lose anymore – not even life. Back in the Oceanus hanger, Ryoko disappears back into the server world. Eventually, Shima and Shizuno return to the ship and Minato reports that a crisis was averted. With all eyes on her, Shizuno grows uncomfortable. Minato simply tells Shizuno that her friend came to play. In Maihama server, Ryoko’s bed is empty. She is actually sitting outside on a bench, petting a cat and staring at the setting sun.
So Shin actually fixed Ryoko! Well, fixed in the sense that Ryoko seems to be able to move around in Maihama now. But all is not well still. You can see Ryoko looking rather distant in the last shot of the episode, and then the preview says that her feelings have been left behind in the Altair. That makes it sound like Ryoko will be an emotionless robot in the server world, giving Kyo something new to have to cope with next week. I can’t help but wonder where they’re going with this story in the grand scheme of things.
And as usual, this episode asks more questions than it answers. We learn that the Gards-orm see themselves as having achieved the light, though they don’t really explain what the light is. It seems to be implied that the Gards-orm are actually mankind’s next step in evolution, a process which Naaga must have hastened. The concept of being restored or resurrected still isn’t that clear though. There’s also the question of why Shin (and presumably Abyss) know Shizuno by the same Ieru name that Shima uses. And on that subject, where exactly were Shizuno and Shima going? There’s plenty we don’t know about those two.
On a side note, I noticed that the official site (which I haven’t visited in ages until today), spells the name of the enemy as “Gards-orm” not “Galzolm.” All entries have been updated to reflect that.