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Tear Jerker / Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS

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Season 1: Knights of Hanoi Arc

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I wanted to believe my father was doing genuine research. But the children's scream tore at my chest. Crushed by feelings of guilt, I reported the incident.
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  • Episode 6: "Idol! Blue Angel": When Yusaku goes to talk to Aoi, Aoi assumes that he only wants to talk to her because of Akira. It shows how she's used to people only using her to get to her brother and she even thinks that he doesn't trust her.
  • Episode 7: "Hanoi's Angel":
    • Aoi falling into a coma after her duel with Playmaker.
    • Akira's reaction makes it worse. He clearly wanted to save Aoi when it was clear that something was wrong, but couldn't do anything.
  • Episode 10: "Impact! Cyberse Vanishes": Revolver seemingly killing Ai. He gets better, obviously, but it is still a bit of a shock to see a main character getting apparently killed off within the first 10 episodes.
  • Episode 16: "Infiltrate SOL's Cyber Fortress": Akira is making Aoi stay home and not letting her go to school anymore, showing that despite all that happened he still doesn't get that his behavior and neglect led to her behavior in the first place.
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  • Episode 18: "Wound Etched Into His Heart": Akira and Aoi's past: they lost their parents when Akira was 16 and Aoi was 6, losing everything else afterward, forcing Akira to use his skills for shady businesses to live.
  • Episode 19: "The Incident Buried in the Darkness": We learn about Yusaku's past that Akira learned as well. Known as the Lost Incident, ten years ago from the start of the series, Yusaku was among one of six children that had been kidnapped forced to duel against an AI via VR headset. Everytime they lost, it would deliver an electric shock to them and they would even be denied food if they continued to lose. The only thing that kept him going was a voice telling him to think of three things to help keep him going. This continued for half a year until they were saved. While the children received treatment and therapy for this incident, Yusaku still had memories of the incident that haunted him, even to this day. Ever wonder why Yusaku has no passion for dueling unlike the other protagonists? Dueling represents everything he lost, his past, his present and his future.
    • During this there's a scene showing someone huddled in a corner, clearly still traumatized from the Lost Incident. This is likely Shoichi's younger brother who was also kidnapped.
  • Episode 29: "Kusanagi Report": Doubling as a Heartwarming Moment, Kusanagi holds up a photo of him and his little brother in their younger days after he finishes writing the Kusanagi Report, musing over how he always thinks about him.
  • Episode 34: "Sacred tree": Spectre viciously mocking Blue Angel's failure, also tearing apart and burning a copy of the book who inspired her after he defeats her is extremely petty and harsh.
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  • Episode 35: "The Other Lost Incident": The Reveal that Spectre was one of the children that was apart of the Lost Incident, but his tragedy started before the incident as he was abandoned as a baby, he was protected by a tree he was placed under near an orphanage. Once he got to the orphanage proper, his inability to communicate with others left him lonely. Then the Lost Incident itself happened and he was not only unfazed by it, he loved it. When it was over he went back to the tree that protected him, only to find it cut down. He became detached from society and ran back to the location the Lost Incident took place in, only to find that locked away. As if to respond to him, a young Revolver found him and took him in to become his right hand man. A Start of Darkness indeed.
  • Episode 37: "The Motherly Tree":
    • No longer wanting to burden Playmaker, Akira deliberately infects himself with the virus installed within the thorny prison containing him. Kusanagi does not take Akira's sacrifice well at all, and Playmaker is vehemently pissed at Spectre.
    • This episode also managed to make some feel bad for Spectre of all people, despite all of his atrocities. When Playmaker chopped the Sunavalon tree down, Spectre stared in shock at his Parental Substitute crumble, filling with rage. After losing, he laughs like a lunatic while apologizing to a non-present Revolver for failing him. But the sight of his Sunavalon tree set ablaze quickly wipes away any fake joy from his face. He sheds genuine tears of sorrow as he slowly walks towards it, unable to say a thing and reminiscing over his childhood memories with his tree. His last actions before getting crushed by the flaming debris were to extend his hand at it and mumble "Mother". This is even sadder if Spectre actually CHOSE this fate.
  • Episode 40: "The thirst for Victory": After live footage of GO and Revolver's Duel is cut off thanks to the impact of Giant Ogre and Borrelsword's clashing blades sending Frog and Pigeon flying off into the distance, the orphanage children and staff can only ponder what will happen to GO. Ultimately, he loses, and is subsequently absorbed by the Tower of Hanoi.
  • Episode 42: "Stardust Road's Guidance": Dr. Kogami dying for real. Despite being the one to instigate the Hanoi Project, he really did have everyone's best interests in mind—at least originally. Seeing your father pass away would be a tearjerker to most people.
  • Episode 43: "Birth of the Ignis": Revolver did the right thing by reporting the Hanoi Project and in turn saving the six kidnapped children who had been tortured and starved for six relentless months. He quickly regretted it not because he was evil, but because his father was imprisoned by SOL Technologies for three years in an attempt to cover up the incident. Revolver didn't get to see him during this time and when Dr. Kogami finally returned home, he was comatose with a computer virus keeping him that way. Even after removing the virus, Revolver couldn't restore his father's consciousness in the real world. Revolver must blame himself for this. Who knows how long the Hanoi Project would have lasted if it had never been reported.
  • Episode 45: "Duel in the Extreme Domain": Ai praying. This is the same guy who said AI don't pray. He may be lazy and arrogant, but he genuinely cares about his fellow Ignises. He cast his pride aside, desperately wanting Yusaku to draw good cards.
    Ai: "I pray that we draw good cards!"
    Playmaker: *smiles* "I thought AI don't pray."
    Ai: "I'll pray this time!" *Playmaker reaches for cards in his deck while Ai clasps his hands together* "C'mon! C'mon! C'mon!"
  • Episode 46: "The Circuit That Draws the Future": A small one, but when Ai leaves, Yusaku looks at the duel disk and says "he's gone". This implies that he will miss Ai.

Season 2: Ignis Warfare Arc

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"My memories are vanishing... Your name... Your face... I can't... remember..."
  • Episode 47: "Playmaker Returns":
    • Ai finally returns to the Cyberse World, but instead of the paradise he described in #45, there is only a wasteland remaining, the other Ignis are nowhere to be found and the only survivor shown is Linkuriboh. By the time Ai found him all it could do was hide in the remains of Cyberse and they both cried when they saw each other again.
    • Jin still can't catch a break even after the incident ended. When Shoichi visits him to after telling him the truth of the incident. Jin was making a small recovery and got enough courage to go outside again. Shoichi also asks him if Jin could live with him in his hotdog stand and that he just wants to be with him, but before Jin could answer he gets attacked by an avatar in the real world and pretty much got his soul stolen from him. All Shoichi could do was helplessly watch how his brother gets attacked and traumatized again.
    • During the opening of Season 2, it's shown that GO had left the Charisma Duelist life behind. In addition, he is shown as one of the members of Akira's new bounty hunter squad. What exactly happened between those three months that he would have to resort to bounty hunting?
  • Episode 51: "Man Who Gave Up Charisma": The reason why GO quit being a Charisma Duelist is shown. Despite being one of the three heroes of VRAINS, he felt overshadowed by Playmaker. Thus when the opportunity arose to duel Playmaker as a bounty hunter, he took that chance instantly. He cared not for the money of it nor the fact that he abandoned his Charisma Duelist life, all he cares about now is beating Playmaker.
  • Episode 52: "Hero In Name Only": It's revealed that Takeru's parents died in a accident trying to find him after he was kidnapped for the Hanoi Project. Imagine the emotional punch the poor guy has for not only having to deal with the emotional and mental trauma because of the project but the fact that both of his parents are dead because they were trying to find him is going to make it worse.
  • Episode 54: "Terrifying Battledrone": It's revealed why Blood Shepherd is so edgy and doesn't trust AIs. After taking his mother to dinner on her birthday, they rode an AI-driven Taxi that he assured her was safe. It glitches when it notices an accident, and crashes right into an overturned truck. The result is that his mother suffers a critical spinal injury and his arm is left beyond repair, forcing him to use a prosthetic. Since then he hasn't trusted any AI that wasn't under human control.
  • Episode 58: "Soul Replica":
  • Episode 60: "Brave Max The Loser":
    • Soulburner getting caught by Blood Shepherd's trap by saving Playmaker already is bad enough, but getting captured triggers his memories from the Lost Incident/Hanoi Project. In his head he sees himself as a young boy screaming and being scared of an A.I. that he sees as a big black scary monster. It's clear that while Soulburner may seem fun loving and a skilled duelist, he is still a teenager who had to experience the horror of the incident and it took him many years to start recovering from it.
    • Playmaker's reaction to the above is clear guilt and distress since Soulburner got caught, because Soulburner saved him. He probably thinks it's his fault for getting him there.
  • Episode 64: Turning Point": We're shown a bit of Kusanagi's past. After six months, Jin returned home. Kusanagi was thrilled to see his brother again, but as he peered over to see why he was so still, he becomes shocked to see his brother completely change. Kusanagi even stated that Jin used to be gentle and cheerful, but the incident caused him to be completely traumatized to the point that he became mute and distant. Seeing how Jin currently is the only victim with parents and a sibling, seeing him in such a state would cause sadness in Kusanagi.
  • Episode 68: "Secret Meeting": Ai gets to meet two of his fellow Ignis again. Windy and the Light Ignis who he named Lightning. Too bad Windy and Lightning became so jaded by humanity that they not only want to rule over them, but terminate them. They try to get Ai to their side, but when he refuses out of his friendship with humans such as Yusaku and Shoichi. They capture him and Playmaker and try to rewrite his data to force him to join their side. Just think about it you finally get to see your friends after a really long time, but when they do they have changed in the worst way possible and pretty much try to kill you to ensure you would stay with them.
  • Episode 69: "Mission That Must Be Accomplished": Revolver is back and he's still out for vengeance against the Ignis. Playmaker and Ai are still trapped and all they can do is watch the duel between Revolver and Windy who both barely have the moral high ground over each other. It's clear it doesn't matter which side wins since they are still trapped and they probably need to fight against either the Ignis or the Knights of Hanoi when they're freed. All they can do now is wait for Soulburner and Flame to come and save them. It's also clear that because of the Knights of Hanoi that a peaceful solution for everyone is losing possibility and causes Ignis's opinion of mankind to even worsen. This situation is quite depressing for Playmaker, Ai and the audience.
  • Episode 70: "Tuning Bullet": While Windy did deserve it. It still a bit sad to see him desperately calling out to Lightning to save him when he gets impaled, but he just keeps standing there and watches what happens and only helps at the last moment.
  • Episode 72: "Clear Perfection": Ai pretty much tears up at seeing Windy's shoddily made Cyberse World on fire, because while it's not his real home. It still looks a lot like it and reminds him of the fact it's destroyed.
  • Episode 75: "The Demon Possessing His Heart":
    • In his duel against Go, Earth did everything he could to protect Crystal Heart since it's a card he got from Aqua. However not only did he fail in the end to protect it in the end, he also lost and got captured. Just think about in his last moments not only was Earth brutally killed while losing his memories, but he also had to die with the fact he couldn't protect something important to him. The only solace he has is that he succeeded in saving Aqua.
    • It's also sad to see how much Go has fallen. He went from a proud prideful Charisma Duelist to the lapdog of SOL Technologies, because of his inability to move on from his rivalry against Playmaker. And with the Ai implant inside of him, he literally became a shell of his former self. Worse is that when he captures Earth. The first thing that Playmaker does is plead to him to let Earth go since he isn't an enemy and that Go and him fought together as allies. Go replies that he doesn't care about that causing Playmaker to realize how much he has fallen.
      Playmaker after Go left with Earth: "Go Onizuka, you..."
    • Everything about Earth's death (which also serves as the image above).
      • After he is captured by GO on behalf of SOL Technologies, they waste no time dissecting Earth bit by bit until he is completely terminated. Earth, who is normally calm, cool, and collected, started panicking and begging for them to stop because he has free will and is alive, but his pleas are coldly disregarded. Aqua, Flame, and Ai all sense Earth's death, while Spectre also sheds a single tear, uncertain of what it is he felt.
      • From Earth's perspective, he just lost a duel against a human out for him and Aqua and was captured as a result. Earth ends up Strapped to an Operating Table as SOL Technologies scientists take him apart for his data, causing him to slowly lose his memories of Aqua. Realizing what is happening to him, Earth desperately begs for them to stop while Queen and Akira look on with Queen looking at him with a triumphant smile on her face while Akira has a clear look of horror and guilt on his face.
        Earth, after his right wrist was cut off: panicking “Stop! I have free will! I’m alive!”
      • While Akira knows that Earth has free will and can only look away in guilt, Queen is indifferent about Earth's protests because he is an AI and SOL Technologies's main source of profit; why should she care? Even worse is that Aoi and Emma witness the entire thing and are horrified at Earth's treatment and suffering.
        Emma: "Horrible..."
        Aoi: "Emma-san... I don't understand. What is an Ignis?"
      • Akira's reaction may not only come from how cruel Earth's death was and that he was indirectly responsible for it, but it could also come from the fact this could have happened to Ai if he won his duel against Playmaker back in #18-20. He only tried to get Ai from him so that he could live a normal life without the need for vengeance, but now he realizes this would end the life of another living sentient being.
      • Notice how SOL referred to the dismantling of Earth as a dissection. Dissection is a term that is only used for things that are 1) dead or 2) non-living; technically, since Earth is an Ignis—a living being with free will—the correct term would be vivisection. That means SOL does not consider the Ignis to be alive even if they have free will and can think for themselves.
      • To really amp how sad this is, Specter is shown shedding a tear at his Ignis being cruelly killed off in such a way. Let us repeat, Specter was crying over what happened to Earth (even though he doesn't understand why).
  • Episode 76: "Memories Brought Back":
    • It's revealed that Earth truly is dead according to Ryoken and that he can't be restored from his leftover data just like Ai since his entire source code was rewritten into something SOL Technologies could understand. Ai doesn't take this news very well and was in denial about it until he realizes what the weird feeling he and Flame had actually was. Ai falls down and cries about his friends demise unable to believe humans would do something so horrible and heartless to his friend and even says he's starting to hate humans too.
    • Aqua also knows of Earth's death and is very sad about it, especially how brutal it was. She also creates a memorial from him out of wood which tip is in the shape of a heart. Too bad it got immediately destroyed a few seconds after its creation by Blood Shepherd who wants to kill her for being an Ignis.
    • It's also revealed that Aqua's Origin is a girl named Miyu whom Aoi befriended as a kid after her and Akira's parents died. The reason we haven't seen her is, because their friendship was forced to end after Aoi took the blame for the loss of the ring of Miyu's mother so that Miyu wouldn't get into trouble. This caused Miyu's mother to forbid Miyu from interacting with Aoi again.
    • Miyu is currently in a coma thanks to a virus Lightning put in her and Aqua can't heal her from it. Even worse is that she was likely a normal girl who had to experience the Lost Incident/Hanoi Project and after getting past that, she's still haunted by her past just like the other victims of the incident.
    • Miyu is a Lost Incident victim, meaning she was kidnapped a while after her parting ways with Aoi. Since her memories of Aoi are very strong, she most likely clung onto her friendship and memories of Aoi as she experienced six months of torture and starvation. Not to mention, she most likely felt very guilty for what had happened with the ring, so she most likely coped with trauma and guilt for the next ten years of her life.
    • It is unknown how many years have passed since Kengo (Blood Shepherd's real name) and his mother had gotten into a car accident, but the first scene after the opening shows Kengo by his mother's bedside, showing that after many years, his mother is still in a coma and paralyzed.
  • Episode 77: "Siblings in Conflict":
    • Kengo's father left him and his mother, choosing work over family. Next time Kengo saw his father, he was working part-time at a delivery service and saw him by coincidence; his father never returned to his old family and remarried another woman and had a daughter with her.
    • Miyu's time in captivity is shown and it isn't any better than Yusaku's or Takeru's time in captivity.
  • Episode 80: "Bounty Hunter's Duty":
  • Episode 81: "Arrived at the Summit":
    • Emma is at her father's grave, staring at the flowers Kengo left behind. The flowers Kengo placed on the grave are red spider lilies, which symbolizes the afterlife and often reincarnation. It fits both their father and Kengo's deaths.
    • Earth’s fate. The beginning of the episode had Ai believing that Earth had somehow escaped and that Takeru and Yusaku needed to go to VRAINS to save Earth before he was recaptured. Was Earth free? Nope. Turns out his decompiled data was placed into GO’s AI chip. In other words, not only was Earth NOT saved, his desecrated remains are now a part of the man who lead him to his death in the first place.
    • The fact that Earth's data is inside GO Onizuka and is currently using Crystal Heart to his own advantage against Playmaker and Ai is sad in itself especially seeing Aqua is spectating the duel for she was the original owner of the card.
  • Episode 82: "What's Beyond Instinct": When Go loses to Playmaker again, he sees his life before the AI chip implant. This actually causes Go to cry after seeing the proud duelist he used to be.
  • Episode 85: "True Tears":
    • Haru's death. Just as he loses to Aoi, he remembers the times that he and Bohman had and realizes that those were his most precious moments. He laments that he wouldn't be able to see him again as he fades away.
    • Bohman's reaction to his little brother's death is also heartbreaking since he sheds True Tears over his death and swears that he will never forget him and that they always will be together.
  • Episode 88: "Revenger Windy": We see a shot of Windy's origin before the car accident. From what's seen on the pictures it seems he was able to move on from the incident and has friends to socialize with only for it to suddenly end with a car accident that could have taken his life or injured him severely, all because his Ignis, Windy, didn't have any use for him.
  • Episode 91: "Proud Maiden": Despite putting up good fight, Blue Maiden still loses against Bohman and gets terminated along with Aqua. Not helping the matters is Akira's reaction to this and while he did get the solace of holding her in his arms one last time while she gets turned into data, it's still heartbreaking to see him cry about his sister once again.
  • Episode 93: "Promise With Each Other":
    • Kusanagi's termination. Even knowing that Kusanagi predicted this would happen and made him promise that he would keep fighting, Playmaker is utterly heartbroken as Kusanagi fragments into data.
    • The flashback scene with Kusanagi and Yusaku talking in private without Ai, Takeru and Flame. Kusanagi seems very distraught over his inability to protect his brother twice. The way he covered his mouth with his hand showed a guilt-ridden side to him.
  • Episode 95: "Radiance of the Phoenix":
    • Flame sacrificing himself to save Soulburner from Windy. Soulburner's reaction is a scream of pure anguish over the death of his partner and best friend.
    • Soulburner losing to Bohman and getting absorbed by him is heartbreaking, because he failed at keeping his promise with Flame who sacrificed himself so that he could continue his duel against Bohman.
  • Episode 96: "Lightning's Crime": Playmaker's expression after Soulburner's defeat.
  • Episode 98: "The AI Crosses The Line": Lightning, in a last-ditch effort, avoids outright defeat by taking himself as well as Revolver out at the same time. Revolver spends his final moments lying on a flowerbed, reminiscing his moments at an age when he didn't have to worry about responsibility. As he disintegrates into flower petals and leaves it to Playmaker to finish the battle against the rogue Ignis faction in his stead, Revolver addresses Ai by his name for the first time (as opposed to simply "Dark Ignis"), to Ai's surprise. Meanwhile, Baira sheds a tear over Revolver's termination, and Faust and Genome are left shocked and speechless after the fact.
  • Episode 101: "Unwavering Instinct":
    • Akira and Ghost Girl getting sacrificed for Bohman's Neuron Link. It was already hard to see Ghost Girl sacrifice herself to save Zaizen so that he can complete their virus bomb, only for Akira to get hit shortly afterwards. While Akira was successful in saving the people stuck in LINK VRAINS, it's still hard to see Akira sacrificing himself again while thinking about his sister.
    • Ai's sacrifice to stop Bohman's Neuron Link after he rebuilt it, but what makes this truly more heartbreaking than his previous "deaths" are the reactions to this. Roboppy cries about their master's demise, while the 3 lieutenants are speechless that an AI sacrificed himself for them and then there is Playmaker's reaction, his earlier reactions to this were a silent worry about him, but this time he just screams Ai's name in anguish.
  • Episode 102: "Entrusted Wishes":
    • Ai returns though his backup and attempts to save his fellow Ignis, but finds out that's impossible since they've been completely fused into Bohman. With hesitance Ai is forced to return while crying on his way to Playmaker.
    • After Bohman's defeat everyone who's absorbed by his Neuron Link doesn't wake up, if it wasn't for the next episode preview, this season would have been a very Bittersweet Ending.

Season 3: Ai's Rebellion Arc

  • Episode 103: "Journey to the End":
    • Everyone absorbed by Bohman returns, except for the Ignis he absorbed. All Ai could do was apologize to Soulburner and Blue Maiden for failing to save their partners.
    • At the end of the episode Ai is seen in his human form mourning the Ignis by creating graves for them in the ruins of the Cyberse World.
  • Episode 104: "Declaring a Crime": A minor one, but when we see Ai with Roboppy, we don't see Linkuriboh with him. It really gives the idea he truly changed since he abandoned a friend he had since the Cyberse still existed and rather recently reunited with. To make it worse it seems he just replaced him with a similar monster called "Linguriboh".
  • Episode 105: "Intercept": Ai reveals himself to everyone as the villain who hospitalized Queen. However Playmaker's reaction is rather silent yet heartbreaking since he saw his partner smiling at hurting people, yet at the same time wants to trust him.
  • Episode 111: "Wanting to Fight Each Other": Blue Maiden and Akira share one last moment together after Ai trumps both of them, before Blue Maiden witnesses the erasure of her brother in front of her eyes. Not helping Blue Maiden's case is when Ai reveals he spared her in the form of a Cruel Mercy, in order to force her to live with the fact that she, like Ai, failed to protect a loved one.
  • Episode 114: "Dreaming Roboppi"
    • In a sad case of Reality Ensues, it turns out Roboppy can't handle being upgraded with Ai's program, to Soulburner, Ai, and Playmaker's shock. Roboppy starts horribly malfunctioning, switching between their human and robotic voices while completely losing touch with reality, eventually reverting back into their cleaning bot form and musing on doing a good job cleaning Playmaker's room. Playmaker sadly gives Soulburner permission to Mercy Kill them just to make it stop.
      Roboppy: [while Soulburner's attack is heading towards them] That's a beautiful light. I'm happy to be able to see this.
    • Ai's reaction to the whole duel goes from excited from seeing Roboppy duel, to horrified as he sees what's happening. When Roboppy is finished off, he simply says that he was sorry for bringing them into this while shedding a Single Tear.
  • Episode 117: "Parallel Paths": Playmaker's entire situation at this point. He started the series as a loner, gradually opening up and accepting new friends and allies, but now most of them have been defeated and taken out, Aoi is shaken by the loss of Akira, both Revolver and Soulburner are parting ways for different reasons, and Ai, the cheerful Ignis that was among the first to try and establish a connection with him is his final enemy. The next episode makes things even worse as it's revealed that Ai is actually suicidal and pulled off a Xanatos Gambit to ensure that, no matter how the duel will go, he will cease to exist. Playmaker wasn't called to stop him, but to choose how he dies.

Other

  • When VRAINS' first OST album was released, one of the tracks is called "Smiling Champion", a theme related to Go Onizuka. However, instead of sounding upbeat or cheerful from what you expect from such a title, it sounds rather sad and somber which foreshadows what will happen to Go in Season 2.

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