-Post may contain spoilers-
Okay but seriously, what’s with Akira’s nose in the featured image?Look at that thing.
You know what? I’m just going to stop trying to predict what’ll happen each episode. Sure, I could read the episode summaries and find out, but that’s no fun. I was so certain this was going to be an episode detailing the chain of command within The Knights of Hanoi. Nope.
The episode picks up immediately after Playmaker defeats Blue Angel. Yusaku rushes to find her in the school and contacts Akira to let him know the situation and to get medical assistance for Aoi, who remains in a coma. It’s nice to see Yusaku care about someone for once, even if it is only out of a sense of responsibility. At this point I’ll take anything that’s not him just staring ahead blankly and not giving a crap.
The fallout from the duel includes Akira’s superiors suspecting Akira himself and Aoi of working with Hanoi. Since Aoi possessed a Hanoi card (which I have no idea how anyone figured that out), both are under suspicion of betraying SOL Technologies. In order to resolve this issue as well as find out the truth about Aoi’s condition, Akira doubles up on his efforts to find Playmaker. At the same time, Revolver uses Aoi as a hostage, waiting to challenge Playmaker with both Ignis and Aoi’s recovery on the line. Hanoi’s plan is still fragile, as it seems everything they are doing is done in a roundabout way, in true Yu-Gi-Oh! fashion. They could easily have disguised themselves, like Go or Ema, to challenge him, but Revolver instead waits for Akira to confront Playmaker. It all works in the end, but it can’t help but feel convoluted.
While the first half of the episode contains some good plot movement scenes, the second half feels a little slow. A major event occurs, but the whole scene feels like it’s padded out in order to reach the episode duration mark. Almost half the episode is spent on Akira’s gambit. Don’t get me wrong – a lot happened this episode, but not enough to the point where the contents really warrant the full runtime. Next week is Revolver vs Playmaker (I’m not predicting this time, I swear), a duel which could have easily started in this episode if things had been sped up a bit. It’s a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, but this episode just feels full of scenes that take longer than they should.
The other gripe from this episode is that Revolver’s duel feels forced for the sake of the show’s premise. I really can’t fault VRAINS for this, since this is a recurring problem since the dawn of the franchise. Akira shows us that problems can in fact be tackled without dueling, and yet when Revolver appears while holding the upper hand against all parties, he challenges Playmaker to a duel instead of just outright forcing him to comply. Just once in VRAINS I’d like to see someone get beat up instead of settling things with a duel.
Honestly this was one of the series’ better episodes thus far, even if it does come with its own share of issues. (Akira and Ema’s plan kind of goes over the top.) Seeing Playmaker, Hanoi, and SOL all together in one place finally is an exciting pay-off that hopefully won’t just evaporate once the Revolver duel commences. Some of the last pieces of exposition will probably bubble up during the duel, and then we can finally see what direction VRAINS is going to take regarding its plot in the long run. I know Medraut is simply excited to see Ema duel, but looks like he’ll be waiting a while yet. Poor guy.