While Kuniko is preoccupied with her thoughts about the open spaces of ATLAS in episode 4 of Shangri-la, “Super Akihabara”, Karin and Klaris are panicking about the unexplained drop of carbon emissions from Saudi Arabia. And in ATLAS, Miko turns out to have passed the test from the previous episode with flying colors. In fact, Miko is now Mikuni’s favorite attendant, and Miko thinks this might be what it feels like to be a mother. But on the topic of mothers, Mikuni knows nothing about her own mother and only has a single earring left behind from her mother. Miko finds the earring oddly familiar.
This should be no surprise as Momoko wears the other pair, although I doubt Momoko gave birth to anyone. With a new hairstyle after their adventures in ATLAS, Momoko joins Takehiko for lunch, and it turns out that Kuniko wasn’t the only one bothered by what they saw in ATLAS. Of course, Takehiko and Momoko didn’t lose sight of the here and now while they were in ATLAS as they were being shot at, unlike Kuniko. Takehiko has the opposite reaction to ATLAS, however: he thinks ATLAS should be destroyed for being an oppressive symbol. For Kuniko herself, she is still not sure of what to think about ATLAS as she talks with her friends Tomoka and Yuri.
Meanwhile, Karin is trying to raise the market carbon emission figures from Saudi Arabia back to normal levels while Medusa is acting very agitated in the background. The relevant transaction is soon discovered and Karin manages to hack the figures back to normal levels, but it’s implied that the adjustment causes pain for Medusa. As before, I wonder what exactly Medusa is: it seems to be more than just a hacking supercomputer. When Karin finally turns her attention to finding out what caused the fluctuation in the first place, she gets a surprise.
Back in Duomo, Kuniko is taking a rest from using her brain when it occurs to her to check on her grandmother. Nagiko has a substantial amount of computer equipment under the basement, so she’s not the old-fashioned sort that thinks new technology is to be shunned, despite the impression that could result from her sermon from the first episode about the value of books. Nagiko uses it to keep an eye on the carbon market, and she had noticed abnormal movements in the market, including the latest fluctuation from Saudi Arabia. As for Kuniko’s dilemma, Nagiko only suggests that Kuniko follows her heart.
Later, while Takehiko is passionately arguing that ATLAS should be destroyed during a Metal Age meeting, Kuniko barges in and strongly suggests that their supply of graphite blocks should be sold. Graphite blocks had become quite valuable as the carbon market was created, although I’m not quite sure how this works out. Perhaps obtaining graphite blocks counts as absorbing large quantities of carbon from the atmosphere? (Dry ice must be really valuable …) Kuniko thinks that the odd movements in the carbon market foreshadows something important happening in the near future, so she wants to sell the graphite blocks to build up the operational funds for Metal Age in preparation, which would also be useful for whatever they end up doing about ATLAS.
Selling all of their graphite at once is not an option, since it would attract too much attention, so Kuniko suggests selling of 3% of their stock to start with. Nagiko gives the green light to sell the graphite blocks, so the next issue is to decide on who should go to Akiba to sell them. However, when Kuniko volunteers herself for the job, Nagiko is oddly reluctant to let Kuniko go to Akiba. I’m not sure if Nagiko is worrying about Kuniko unable to handle the otakuness in Akiba or if Kuniko might end up an otaku herself. Or maybe Nagiko is worrying about Kuniko encountering an embarrassing acquaintance of Nagiko’s …
At ATLAS, Ryouko has sent Shion on the life-threatening task of querying Mikuni on how she was doing, all for the sake of tormenting Shion. Most of the attendants wonder how many minutes Shion would survive, although it’s not clear Miko knows about how dangerous Mikuni is. Sayoko just had to mention that Ryouko was as mean as usual, which prompts Mikuni to ask Shion if Ryouko was mean. Shion knows that his answer would be passed on to Ryouko, but he also knows that Mikuni would kill him if he lied, and he answers that Ryouko was indeed mean. When Mikuni asks if Ryouko would punish him, he again answers in the affirmative, and the next question is if Shion was afraid of what Ryouko would do to him.
Shion’s answer is that he is not afraid, and in fact he is looking forward to it. This confirms it: Shion is a masochist that enjoys the torment that Ryouko puts him through, not an unfortunate victim. This answers whether Shion adored Ryouko despite her abuse or because of it. I wonder if Shion’s brother Leon knows about it: it would be funny if he were to be jealous because Ryouko is an obstacle to a potential incestuous relationship. However, Sayoko and most of Mikuni’s attendants think it is over for Shion, thinking that he must be lying, as Shion awaits the response from the unerring lie detector that is Mikuni.
In Duomo, Kuniko decides to go to Akiba anyways despite Nagiko’s orders. Or rather, Nagiko’s stubborn insistence that Kuniko not go to Akiba just made her want to go more. Accompanied by Momoko, Kuniko heads to Akiba to sell graphite blocks. Meanwhile at Ishida Finance, Karin had determined that someone had managed to create an exact copy of Medusa down to the details such as how tax havens are used, which is how the carbon market was manipulated by someone else, so her next move is to investigate Akiba. I’m not sure how she excluded Medusa itself as being the culprit, though.
In ATLAS, Mikuni accepts Shion’s answer and finds him to be an interesting person, which amuses most of the attendants as they realize that Shion was telling the truth all along. Mikuni wants Shion to talk about something interesting, which eventually ends up with Shion talking about the recent battle at Duomo. He mentions a mysterious sound emanating from a lieutenant’s knife, which seems to get the attention of Sayoko, while Mikuni is intrigued and wants to know more. Shion doesn’t know anything else about it, so Mikuni wants Shion to bring along the lieutenant in question, and Shion is extremely relieved about surviving his encounter with Mikuni.
When Kuniko and Momoko arrive at Akiba, we see that Akiba is as much a haven for otaku as Akihabara is today, even if no one seems to call Akihabara by its proper name anymore. It’s a bit of culture shock for Kuniko, and it’s an even bigger shock to the system when she sees the old men Kuniko and Momoko had come looking for, even if Momoko unfairly complains about their fake identification not being up to par. Meanwhile, Karin is searching for information on who had bought a certain component necessary for building Medusa. Since it can only be obtained from the underground market in Akiba, Karin tries to search the databases for Akiba, but for some reason the presence of Kuniko seems to cut off any attempt at a search. As an aside, I find it really cute how Karin pretends to have a conversation with her teddy bear as she’s working (unless it’s the unlikely case that there’s something more sinister about the teddy bear and there’s actually a separate mind within Karin).
The three old men in Akiba are truly hardcore otaku, even becoming underground brokers so that they can fund their obsessions. They don’t even want to live in ATLAS for no other reason that there is no Akihabara in the structure. One interesting thing they mention is a great disaster with earthquakes and tsunamis, soon after which ATLAS began construction. I’m not sure how extensive this disaster was, whether it was confined to just Tokyo, or also affected Japan as a whole or even the entire world, but I find it interesting what it might imply about the reasons for ATLAS’ existence. Maybe ATLAS was designed to calm down or kill an emerging consciousness within the ecosystem, which may have caused the disasters in the first place. In any case, it sounds like the forestation of Tokyo was planned because of the calamity that devastated the city, and not something that was forced upon a thriving city.
After Momoko manages to get a refund from the three old men for the supposedly defective fake identification, Kuniko and Momoko heads off to sell their graphite blocks for cash and weapons. Although for some reason the local merchants use continental European equipment, given how 99.998 parts per million is supposed to mean close to pure. This is when we hear a familiar voice: by coincidence Kunihito Kusanagi is also in Akiba (at least I’m pretty sure it’s Lieutenant Kusanagi even with the different way of dressing), whom Kuniko manages to recognize. I wouldn’t have pegged Kunihito as being an otaku …
It looks like the characters are being drawn together, with Mikuni seeking Kunihito, Karin seeking Kuniko (although probably out of curiosity, as there isn’t anything indicating that Kuniko has anything to do with a supposed duplicate of Medusa), and the surreptitious encounter between Kuniko and Kunihito.