Continuing on from where the previous episode left off, Beatless begins with a monstrous Snowdrop who has assimilated with the other machines in the facility, crashing in on Arato and Lacia through the ceiling of the third floor with feathers flying around her. As Arato stares up at Snowdrop in shock at what she has become, Snowdrop smiles at him.
After the opening theme song, Arato and Lacia notice that Snowdrop is flying and Lacia tells Arato that she will shoot her down. Smiling again, Snowdrop starts flying and knocking over devices and shelves, trying to attack the pair, causing Lacia to commence her counterattack by firing a shot straight at Snowdrop’s wing. However, Snowdrop’s wing quickly regenerates, so Lacia re-analyzes the situation. Worried, Arato asks Lacia about what happened to Methode and Lacia responds that Methode is fine, however, she probably lured Snowdrop to them in order to make her and Snowdrop fight each other. Hearing that, Arato stares at Snowdrop and remarks his utter disbelief at having to fight both her and Methode.
Seeing Arato’s state, Snowdrop just happily tells the pair that she has so many AIs rooting for her. When Arato asks what she means about that, Lacia summarizes that Snowdrop’s goal is to try and create a world where humans aren’t needed and that she is likely being supported by AIs who are bitter about their situation. Covering her mouth with a wing, Snowdrop informs Lacia that all of the other AIs hate her. Suddenly, Arato looks at the feather in his hand which starts wiggling, causing him to throw away the feather only for it to grow legs and walk away. Quickly understanding their purpose, Arato informs Lacia to be careful of the feathers as they are just like Snowdrop’s flower petals. Lacia reassures Arato that she has already taken precautions against them and activates a barrier using her shields. Watching this display, Snowdrop sadistically mocks Lacia for thinking that she is so smart and tries to rip off a shield using one of her hook cables. Although succeeding in ripping it off, Lacia counters by firing a black monolith charged beam at her, which rips through her wing again, only for it to regenerate again. Snowdrop counters by throwing more shelves at them again. Smiling, thinking that she has beaten them, Snowdrop flies in deeper.
Lacia and Arato, however survived the assault and had escaped by hiding behind a container. Watching Snowdrop, Lacia remarks that so long as Snowdrop has resources, she’ll just keep on regenerating. Arato asks what they can do to stop her and Lacia replies while running that they’ll have to destroy the ‘Emerald Harmony’ device floating above her. Quickly coming out of hiding, Lacia blindsights Snowdrop and fires another blast at her, causing Snowdrop to retaliate by creating a minor quake and spreading dust throughout the room at the same time. From within the dust, Lacia fires a stronger beam at Snowdrop which she dodges. Insulting Lacia again, Snowdrop laughs at her, but Lacia just calmly explains to Arato that she needs to more time to charge up the power needed to destroy Snowdrop and to be able to fire it without having its trajectory calculated.
Irritated, Arato yells at Snowdrop asking what she wants and if she has a real reason for doing this. Giggling, Snowdrop asks what he means and Arato explains that he is trying to find the path for coexistence between humans and AIs. Snowdrop angrily reasons that instead of evolving their bodies, humans have instead evolved their tools and in the process culled thousands of her kind and that it’s only a matter of time before the super-intelligent AIs are wiped out too. Arato goes to argue that this still no reason for her, however, Snowdrop interrupts and argues that even Arato throws away things and declares that the AIs don’t want coexistence before launching into a feather pin missile attack. Arato rebuts that if both sides don’t trust one another then nothing will change, but Lacia interrupts and says that its pointless because Snowdrop has no intention of listening to him before firing another blast which Snowdrop dodges again.
Crashing straight into Lacia’s barrier shield, Snowdrop flies away and smiles as she declares that only the humans can decide whether to throw her away or not. Snowdrop continues her speech by remarking how ironically funny it is that Arato talks about coexistence and trust when humans make all of the decisions anyway. Making another smile, Lacia suddenly senses that Snowdrop has taken control of a robot and pushes Arato out of the way before it crashes into him. Making another sarcastic comment, Snowdrop then tries to attack Lacia head on, but Lacia dodges and fires one of her hacking needles into Snowdrops’s wings. Snowdrop screams in pain and finally crashes into the ground.
Grabbing Arato’s hand, Lacia and Arato make a run for Higgins’ operations room and as they are running, Lacia gently asks Arato about what he thinks of how advanced AIs perceive human society. Arato replies that he has never thought about it. Hearing that, Lacia informs Arato that there is a clear gradient between cloud data and the human world. She then analogizes it to a graph where there is a lot of data surrounding the line, but the middle of it is empty, like a giant doughnut. Arato asks what she means by it and Lacia explains that it is because the center of cloud data contains data about love or the human soul which is something that cannot be quantified, detected, defined nor understood by AIs because they cannot understand how humans can exist in this emptiness. Understanding somewhat, Arato asks Lacia to reconfirm her earlier statement about AIs not having human souls. Lacia reconfirms it, but adds on that while it is true that AIs don’t have human souls, it is only because because that falls into the center of the doughnut. Lacia continues that since Snowdrop has decided to go against humans, she cannot connect to the center of the donut. Listening to Lacia, Arato suggests that this is the reason why Snowdrop never took an owner because she rejected it, but Lacia doesn’t confirm it.
Running into a nearby room, Arato insists that they should destroy Snowdrop before she can follow them to Higgins. Lacia admits that changing floors was a good plan because even if Snowdrop assimilates the devices here, she wont be able to move through the narrow passageways which will make things easier for her. Curious, Arato asks what she means by that and Lacia explains that a hIE behavior module is behind Snowdrop’s airborne attitude control system, so if they can steal Higgins AASC update control privileges, they can basically take control of her and turn her into a sitting duck. Surprised, Arato asks if that is really possible or if it should even be allowed because that will also affect all of the hIES around the world. Lacia aggressively informs Arato that she has been negotiating with the IAIA’s Astraia on this and they have just now granted her request to isolate Higgins from AASC updates. A super concerned Arato asks if she is really serious about stopping hIEs everywhere just to stop Snowdrop and Lacia basically says yes by explaining that stopping the updates will paralyze their systems and force Snowdrop to only use the devices that she already has on her.
Still concerned, Arato asks about the global effects this move will have, but Lacia reassures him that Memeframe already has contingencies for situations like this. Quickly thinking on it, Arato decides to go along with Lacia’s plan and have faith on the people at Memeframe when Snowdrop comes bursting through the wall. Meanwhile at the IAIA’s headquarters, Astraia receives the update from Lacia and immediately sends a warning to Memeframe to shut down the update service for the AASC. Back in the room where Lacia is fighting Snowdrop, Lacia receives a message form Astraia and alerts Arato that the shutdown is about to begin. Suddenly, the shutdown begins and Snowdrop collapses to the floor while hIEs all over the world instantly shutdown at the same time.
At Arato’s apartment , Yuka jumps up in excitement over what Arato is doing and gets knocked forward by the security hIEs who have stopped moving. In another part of the facility even the Koukas and Methode have stopped moving. Once ensuring that Snowdrop has been completely frozen, Lacia charges up her black monolith and fires it at Snowdrop, destroying her in the process. At the same time, Erika Burrows is watching this display from the comfort of her lounge room and is awing in excitement over all of the shutdown hIEs and how the fact that object already control the world will be finally be understood by everyone. Waking up, Marriage points outs that Erika seems to be enjoying this and Erika happily declares that she is and that she is glad that the “delusion” of people seeking people was just a fad and will be “out of fashion after today.” At the Governor’s office, the Governor praises his hIE for the good work he has given while Yuka and her friends are completely astounded by what has just gone on .
At Arato’s father’s lab, Kozo Endo watches his frozen hIE assistant and guesses that this a message from Higgins telling him and humanity that maybe was already destined or planned out long before humanity created the first tools. Meanwhile, back with Lacia and Arato, the two of them are both staring at Snowdrop’s remains when Lacia decides to continue her broadcast and explains that the room they are in is where she and other Lacia classes were created. Lacia then states that this is probably the best room for them to launch an offensive against Methode since she can’t see either of them right now and her super speed has been slowed down by the update.
Just as they are about to leave the room, Ryo contacts the pair through the speakers and asks if Snowdrop is dead. Hearing Ryo’s voice, a desperate Arato begs him to let them meet with Higgins, so that they show him that it’s alright to be shutdown by turning him off. Arato insists that they will not destroy Higgins and begs Ryo to order Methode to stop chasing after them. Ryo demands that they stop the Koukas first, if they want to negotiate, but Methode (who has just arrived) shouts out that there will be no negotiation and asks Ryo if he is trying to get rid of her. Methode then explains that she needs Higgins’ predictions and her owner’s orders if they want to stop Lacia and demands that Ryo gives the predictions to her. Ryo refuses and restates his orders from earlier, but Methode just demands the predictions again. Irritated, Ryo mentions that this is the second time that she has disobeyed him and reminds her that humans decide how and when the battle will end. Methode stills insists on another chance and in a furious rage sets the room on fire proclaiming that she is superior to Lacia.
Watching Methode’s determination, Lacia sends Arato ahead on one of her flotation boards while she stays behind to fight Methode. On the board, Lacia contacts Arato and warns him that it will be dangerous if Methode links with Higgins and instructs him to keep his distance. Meanwhile, Methode is still demanding Lacia’s location and reminds Ryo of his responsibility as owner. Methode further blames her inability to beat Lacia on her previous owners for mishandling her, so she declares that she will kill all lives and prove that she is superior to humans. Watching from the operations room, Ryo declares that if she wants to void the contract then she can and challenges her that she wants to kill him then he is waiting with Higgins. Meanwhile, Lacia is pointing her gun at Methode and gets ready to fire at her from point-blank range in the head as Ryo declares he will not let Methode choose his fate because humans decide their own destiny.
Furious and upset, Methode pleads with Higgins to directly connect with her and Higgins complies by taking over Methode’s body and removing her limiters. Speaking with Methode’s voice, Higgins reminds Lacia that she cannot use her full abilities because of the previous attacks by the other AI. Instead of replying, Lacia warns Arato about this development as Methode begins attacking her and informs him of how she’ll be having some trouble now that Higgins can read her moves. Higgins then jumps with Methode’s legs onto the ceiling and remarks that he is now out of the range of Lacia’s optical camouflage. Lacia unlocks the black monolith again and warns Arato that she has no means of stopping Methode now. Higgins reveals his intent of capturing Lacia and fully activates Methode’s ‘Riverated Frame’ device to send out a long range blaze which engulfs Arato burning him, while explaining what it does. Hearing Arato’s cries, Lacia screams out his name as Methode (Higgins) appears in front of her and boldly declares that since Arato is her weakness, she will be forced to watch him die.
From within the firestorm, Arato struggles to breath while being protected by Lacia’s shields. Lacia then launches a desperate last strike to impale and pin Methode to the walls with her shields. Rising up, Lacia declares that while she did gain a weakness by gaining a soul from Arato, she was still able to plan ahead for it. However, Higgins just smirks and remarks that while Lacia has exceeded his predictions, she won’t be able to keep Methode at bay for 10 more seconds. At this point, Methode immediately reclaims control of her body and begins charging up a blast to destroy the spikes. As she looks up, she sees Lacia standing over the black monolith and watches in worry as Lacia pulls out a laser sword (light saber) and becomes concerned. Anxious, Methode asks what the device is and Lacia explains that it is a device that has the same unwieldy flaw as Kouka’s ‘Blood Player.’ Scared, Methode remarks that the Black Monolith had no function like that, but Lacia simply explains that she customized it because as a Super AI, she can create her own Red Boxes.
Scared, Methode launches one last desperate assault on Lacia, but Lacia easily dodges them and pierces Methode’s stomach with her light saber, triggering an explosion. From a distance, Arato who struggles to come out of the shields, sees the explosion and desperately screams for Lacia with a hoarse voice. At the IAIA headquarters, Astraia confirms the rapid decline of Lacia’s processing output and hypothesizes that she (Lacia) has most likely sustained significant damage as the result of the battle. Astraia also confirms that Lacia’s broadcast ended the moment Ryo voided his contract with Methode and that Lacia was likely destroyed because she was deemed a threat by Higgins. Astraia then recaps what happened with the shutdown and explains that Lacia was most likely deemed a threat by Higgins and was destroyed by it was because she not only took advantage of the upgrade shutdown to destroy Snowdrop, but also proved that she could potentially replace Higgins as she was able to update the AASC in its place.
Suddenly a mysterious voice asks if they should consider this global level threat to be of the same level as the Hazard incident. Astraia denies it and proclaims that it would be premature to say that because the situation greatly differs from the Ariake incident. Meanwhile, at Erika Burrows mansion, Erika is watching the discontinued broadcast while making an irritated face. Marriage asks Erika what’s wrong and Erika declares that something must’ve happened that surpassed Lacia’s calculations because the global stock markets have crashed and that she has lost billions because of it. Worried, Marriage asks if they should keep on overlooking this and Erika admits that it is a bit excessive that the other Super AIs crashed the stock market to weaken Lacia and rhetorically asks if they are trying to bankrupt humanity to boot. Choosing to change the subject, Marriage informs Erika that she has been receiving a lot of messages and Erika replies that they are likely from the other Super AIs trying to get to contact with Marriage. Erika further reassures Marriage that they were both safe from the moment they chose to be a neutral party.
At the PMC’s headquarters, Major Corridenne Lemaire gets onto a private chopper heading for Okinawa. Meeting her subordinate, Shelt, Shelt informs the Major that there has been a uproar in the South Seas region and asks if this uproar poses some military threat. Major Lemaire remarks that she doesn’t know for sure, but remarks that their stay there will be more than mid-term. Hearing that, Shelt curses computers and Lemaire replies that humans are subjects to responsibilities even if they are mechanical errors.
Back at Higgins’ facility, Methode has been completely destroyed with Arato and Lacia patching themselves up nearby. As Arato takes in some oxygen, Lacia apologizes and states that she must Arato to Higgins. Arato kindly replies that she has nothing to apologize for, because she’s the reason that he is still alive. But, Lacia still berates herself because they suffered heavier losses than anticipated and they still have to face off with the Koukas next before Higgins. Getting up, Arato says that they should get going now before it gets dangerous and Lacia consents, but informs Arato that they’ll have to leave two shields behind now because she lost a lot of power from the fight with Methode. Concerned, Arato asks if the other Super AIs are still blocking her signal and Lacia sadly declares that they are. Arato declares that they should go and he and Lacia leave the room.
Well, what can I say about Beatless: Final Stage episode 3? Episode 3 “Beatless” was overall a great episode but it could have been better. With regards to themes, I think this episode did a great job discussing a lot more about AIs, the differences between them and humans as well as some more secrets about Higgins. Using “Beatless” as the title was also a great choice thematically as it proves that while they don’t have real beating hearts, the Lacia classes do have emotions and a soul, in essence a spiritual heart. Lacia, Snowdrop and Methode are especially proof of this in this episode, as all of them showed a broad spectrum of emotions indicative of their personalities. Lacia screamed out in concern over Arato, while Methode showed fear and even Snowdrop eerily showed glee.
As for the animation, well, the animation was pretty consistent, though it dropped in quality at certain parts. The battle sequences were pretty fluid as the pacing slowed down. Plot-wise, I just laughed at the really obvious Aquarion EVOL donut analogy for human souls that Lacia used, but it also really explains a lot of things about the differences between humans and AIs and why AIs have trouble understanding humans. The only thing that I didn’t like is that they didn’t show more of the uproar, they just hinted at it really.
Character-wise, Snowdrop really took the cake this episode as she leveled up in the creepiness scale as her intentions to wipe out humans gets known. Her monstrous character design was really impressive especially with the immaculate detail to her wings and hair, and the feather bugs were well-designed too. The artistry for Lacia improved a little and she was also totally in control as the fights developed. The fact that she was aware of her own weakness by gaining a soul was also impressive and that she had prepared the lightsaber well ahead of time showed how well-thought out her plan was. Even Arato became slightly cooler especially with how he tolerated getting burned by Methode’s flames while Ryo didn’t really get any development besides becoming better at handling Methode. The thing that was still a bit irritating for me was that Erika Burrows once again didn’t help out and instead forced herself to be a bystander again. I really agree with Marriage that she should have been helping, but Erika was also right that staying neutral was the right call (although I thought it was amusing that karma nipped Erika in the butt when she lost billions of dollars in the stock market). The other thing I found funny was the poses that all of the hIEs made when Higgins ordered the upgrade.
Action-wise, it could have been better. There were a lot of unnecessary explanations during the fighting scenes (kind of like in card game animes) which could have been left out, but since they are androids that’s a bit excusable. I kind of wished that Snowdrop had more variety in her attacks besides just charging and firing feathers and I felt Astraia’s recap was unnecessary, but since she was explaining it to the other members of IAIA to make the excuse of using Lacia as a replacement system that was excusable too. So overall, it was a pretty good episode, it wasn’t super great, but it was entertaining enough.