Yellow Radio and his legion scurry away, leaving Hime, Niko and Haru to deal with Cherry Rook/Chrome Disaster. Haru is too scared to move at first, but Hime encourages him. Hime is struck down by the armor, then shot in the back by a frustrated Niko, who loses an arm. The Armor then bounds away, but Haru goes after it, using its own tethers against it and driving it into the ground in pieces. Niko delivers the judgment blow. Everyone checks their equipment for remnants of the armor, and find none, though Haru still hears its voice, as a part of the armor has infected his avatar.
And so the Cherry Rook/Disaster story is more complex than a simple matter of a subordinate going off the reservation. Turns out, Cherry and Niko were good friends at a facility for abandoned children, and he introduced her to Brain Burst, not the other way round. He was her guardian, and she was his protege – but she caught up to and surpassed him. In the real world, he was about to move away, and wanted desperately to keep in touch with her through the VR game, so he sought out the Armor of Catastrophe to become stronger. Turns out that was a bad move; since the armor doesn’t just make your stronger, but turns you into a mindless, avatar-devouring animal.
For all the build-up, he’s done in pretty easily, but we chalk that up to Haru getting better at dismissing his inherent fear of being worthless and losing – potentially self-fulfilling prophecies – and tapping into his ample potential. We also liked how Niko hesitated when she had the chance to take Rook out; she’s still a kid after all, and was hoping he could be redeemed. The transition from the dark city to the Castle in the Sky-style lush green paradise dotted with ancient ruins was a nice touch, as was the post-battle scene between Haru and Niko, who have indeed beccome friends, regardless of Niko’s tsundere insistences to the contrary. Of course, with the armor not-quite-gone and apparently lurking within Silver Crow, the second half won’t be all fun and games.
Rating: 6 (Good)