Did you go into this week thinking we’d see what became of Shintaro, Konoha, Hibiya and Ayano? I did, but I forgot that this show has exhibited a penchant for non-linear storytelling, and further reinforces that this week with an intriguing flashback.
A big part of its intrigue is the fact that it centers on two close friends (and potentially something more), Enomoto Takane and Kokonose Haruka. We’ve seen these two before, but in this flashback, Takane isn’t a digital avatar and Haruka isn’t a futuristic-looking fellow with superpowers. They’re just normal high schoolers, the only two members of the club they’re in.
They decide to hold a shoot-em-up video game challenge for the school festival, and Takane dominates everyone who steps up to challenge her, eventually revealing that she is the celebrity gaming sensation “Ene” on the web. Already, we see her building what may become her future digital self.
She’s been something of a one-note character since the beginning of the show, but this episode fleshes her out more, showing her as just as shy, insecure, and vulnerable as many of the other folks we’ve come across. The events this week shed some light on how she came to become a constant “companion” of Shintaro, as she promises to serve him and call him “master” if she loses to him.
She does lose to him, decisively, which shakes her confidence, but falling from the pedestal the masses of people she beat is also liberating in its own way. There’s also a bittersweet quality to seeing Takane, Haruka, Shintaro and Ayano (who we know is now gone) hanging out as friends at school, considering what’s become of them in the present.