With red rain falling from green clouds, the server is getting ready to reset. The event will occur at midnight and everyone will return to 149 days ago. Shima explains to Kyo that the quantum computer is not a magic box. Data cannot be preserved if it doesn’t operate and Celebrants cannot be come about. But since people grow up, data is infinitely expanding, and eventually the server fails and collapses. And so, the same loop will repeat over and over, and the morning of September 1st will never come. Kyo asks if they live in a world without advancement or growth in exchange for eternal life. Shima tells him that there’s no eternity either: the server is a machine and it will eventually break. Until the day of resurrection, it does nothing but preserve them. Concerning that day of resurrection, Shima only tells him that the Gards-orm already know the method, though the Oceanus’ side does not. Before he leaves, Shima also mentions that Ryoko will be inserted in the server when it resets. On the Oceanus, Shizuno meets with Chris in the simulation room. She makes it clear that he’s her partner now, which causes Chris to comment that she’s strong. Shizuno actually thinks that she’s weak.
Back in the server world, Kyo thinks to himself how the world is about to reset. It’s not death or disappearing, just a return to a former time. He feels that he’s the only one who knows that this is a looping world, an Avici Hell (Buddhist hell of uninterrupted suffering). Unable to stand it, Kyo transports to the Oceanus where Lu Sheng comforts him. Lu Sheng says that this event will continue for as long as they live, so they need to grow used to it. Minato meanwhile has control of the ship while Shima is conferring with Tarbo and Lemures. The AIs report that the installation of weapons into the Altair is almost done, though the repairs to the Garuda and Hraesvelg will take a bit longer. The meeting ends with Tarbo asking about the final strategy being enacted and Shima answering that it’ll be within three months. Kyo returns to Maihama and his apartment building. He finds a package addressed to him and inside is a notebook – his old diary. Kyo flips to an entry for August 31st, the same date as today. In it, the previous Kyo talks about how this day has come again, and how he is tired of it. This past Kyo didn’t want to be a Celebrant any longer and left the warnings to his future self. The current Kyo isn’t too happy with his former self, calling him an idiot.
Suddenly, the doorbell rings because Tomigai and Hayase are here. Since they’re not full Celebrants, they know that their memories probably won’t survive the server reset, so they wanted to spend this last night with Kyo. The entire group shows up at the school swimming pool and reminisces about old times. Kawaguchi has plans for them to win the championship and excitedly says that they’ll be going into special training starting from tomorrow. Kyo of course knows that there won’t be a tomorrow. Kawaguchi and Mizuki then start talking about Ryoko and comment that they’ll see her tomorrow, when the second semester starts. Kyo again gets caught up by the “tomorrow,” and Hayase talks about (to everyone else’s confusion) how everything will be forgotten tomorrow and how the fight between Kyo and Kawaguchi will repeat. Tomigai is happy that he and Kyo will still be friends even then. Though he doesn’t know what those two are talking about, Kawaguchi does tell Kyo that he needs to rely on everyone instead of just himself. Mizuki then says that the way to happiness includes pain. Without pain, they can’t obtain genuine happiness. This is actually something she read from a manga, and everyone has a good laugh about it. Kyo then suggests that they take a swim, and they all jump at the idea.
By 11:55PM, the boys have gotten into their swimsuits and are ready to start. Hayase goes first in the medley with a backstroke. At almost exactly 11:57PM, Hayase returns and Ushio takes off with the breaststroke. Kawaguchi is third with the butterfly style at 11:58PM. Looking at the stopwatch, Tomigai realizes that they’re on pace for a new high school record. Finally, at just past 11:59PM, Kyo enters the final leg of the medley. The cheers of his friends are drowned out as Kyo makes his swim. But right before he arrives back to finish, the clock strikes midnight and everyone except for him disappears. The server has reset. The next morning, is the first day of the first semester. Sitting with his classmates during the entrance ceremony, Kyo vows to protect everyone until the day of resurrection. However, Kyo can’t find Ryoko around anywhere. It’s not until he asks Tomigai that he discovers Ryoko is in the hospital. When Kyo talks to his teacher about it, Kurashige reveals that Ryoko was in a traffic accident before spring break. Much to Kyo’s anger and dismay, Ryoko’s room at the hospital is not open to visitors. Shima appears beside him and tells him that it’s futile. Although the data salvage was successful, they were not able to reach the restoration level for a normal apparition.
At the same time, everyone else on the Oceanus is finding out about this too. Shizuno is the only one there who knows what happened: with a forcible activation, an error was amplified and Ryoko’s self collapsed. Lu Sheng wants to know why they even revived her at all then. Shizuno can only say that it was for Kyo’s sake, making Lu Sheng wonders if Kyo is really happy. Shizuno protests because she found Ryoko’s data and so she couldn’t just discard it. She calms down, and with a sad look on her face, says that she’s not as strong as Shima because she couldn’t be there to tell Kyo. Back at the hospital where Shima has let Kyo into Ryoko’s room, Kyo is in disbelief. He wants to know when Ryoko can wake up, and Shima replies with a smile on his face that if Kyo wants it… Just then, the AIs alert the Oceanus that the Anti-Zega is coming. Kyo’s Celebra-Icon activates, but so does Ryoko’s and her body transports out of the server world. Shima tells him to get on the Zegapain; if he gets on, he’ll understand everything. Shima then returns to the bridge where he orders out the refitted Altair. Lu Sheng and May-Yu volunteer to go out, but Shima says that there’s no need.
Kyo arrives in the cockpit of the Altair and hears a familiar voice call out his name. Sitting behind him is Ryoko in her combat suit, just like she used to be. She’s wanted to see him again for a long time. But with the Oceanus under heavy attack by the Coatlicue, there’s little time to talk as Kyo and Ryoko have to entangle. With its new weapons, the Altair is actually able to damage the Anti-Zega. In addition, the enemy’s light armor canceller won’t work anymore because the Altair is now equipped with light armor that phase changes. The Altair is able to fight the Anti-Zega on even ground with Kyo and Ryoko working together as quite a powerful pair. To everyone’s surprise though, Shizuno explains that the old Ryoko will come back only when she’s fighting with the ZEGAPAIN. Back in the battle, the Altair is running out of QL. Ryoko sends a large amount of data over to Kyo, allowing him to instantly understand the situation. He lands the Altair on the snowy ground below and the two prepare for one final attack on the Coatlicue. The enemy also gathers up energy for a finishing blow and fires first. The blast sends Ryoko flying out of her chair and her body fluxes briefly. One side of the Altair has been destroyed, but Kyo is still able to fire their left arm’s drill weapon, which succeeds in blowing away part of the Anti-Zega. As Kyo attends to Ryoko, the Altair receives a message from the enemy. Although garbled at first, Abyss’ voice quickly clears up and asks where the end of their fighting is. With that, the Anti-Zega transports out.
Shizuno explains to crew that they weren’t able to completely integrate Ryoko and her quantum data remains inside the Altair’s apparition buffer. The damage to the hardware and the data damage from the transfer were just too much. Chris comments that the two are lovers who can only meet on the battlefield. He wonders how Ryoko will live from now on. Lu Sheng gets angry that they went that far to revive her just because they needed her to fight. He turns around to Shima, but the command chair is already empty. Back on the Altair, Kyo holds Ryoko as she cries because she’s become like this. Kyo remembers what Mizuki said about how the way to happiness had pain. If you suffer a lot, can you become happy?
First things first: I’ll be using the spellings May-Yu and May-Yen from now on.
As for this episode, Ryoko is revived!
Well, kind of… The twist here is not that she forgot her memories, which she clearly didn’t. Instead, she’s only able to exist in her old form whenever she’s inside the Altair. I think Chris’ comment about lovers who can only meet on the battlefield summarizes it nicely in that tragic romance sort of way. I’m not going to try to figure out why they can’t find a way to allow her to return to the server world though. Maybe they will sometime in the future, but for now this is how the story’s written.
I do hope that they don’t waste Shizuno’s character. She’s still carrying all her burdens by herself, even taking the brunt of everyone’s reactions to Ryoko’s condition. I keep wanting them to do something big with her character, but I get the feeling that the ending of ZEGAPAIN won’t be very happy for her.
Actually, one of the most interesting parts of the episode for me was the Abyss finally said something that the humans could understand. And his words almost felt like he knew the futility of their continual fighting, especially now that the Altair can go head-to-head with the Anti-Zega. Although Lu Sheng previously explained Naaga, the Gards-orm are largely still a mystery. From the preview, maybe next episode might clear things up a bit.