It seems as though the spirited and cheerful Airi, the shining, sunny personality we knew and loved, is no longer with us in Robotics;Notes. And though it seems like a cruel and heartless event to occur in the series, essentially the death of a character with her artificial intelligence being lost to digital nothingness, it does serve an ultimate purpose in the series from this point going forward. That is to say, her character has fulfilled her duties and her intended purpose and now, is no longer necessary.
Exactly what duty and what purpose Airi served is still rather unclear but her bright, smiling personally allowed her to connect with and integrate socially with Kai and his friends of the Robotics Club, allowed them access to Sister Centipede which had been an central role in the story, and had her own touching backstory of being the projection of a young, feeble girl surviving only through stasis. With those pieces having been completed and with no other obligations remaining for her character to fulfill, the end of Airi’s story became an electronic tragedy with her amusing personality now lost after the Iru-O system reboot.
Although it does seem a bit unnecessary for her character to be gone now, it does serve a way to reinforce her character and helps make her story somewhat more significant or expressive. Had she reappeared following the Iru-O reboot and was seen laughing and playing around, her final moments on Christmas Eve with the snow and the kiss would seem less… meaningful. Not only that but had her character continued to exist in the series, it’s questionable what role she would play or what capacity she would fill. While one of the most pleasant and enjoyable characters of the series, I have trouble finding additional screentime for Airi from this point onward considering that the story has been escalating lately and that there is a limited time for which to cover the remainder of the story and finish its ongoing storylines. And for fans of Airi, such as myself, there is hope remaining that we may indeed see her return since it seems as though her storyline is still incomplete.
As you may recall, the story of digital Airi may indeed be a pass-off to the original Airi, the young girl resting peacefully in a stasis tube, waiting until society can develop a cure for her painful chronic illness. It does seem likely that we will see Airi return to Robotics;Notes but in the form of flesh and blood. It may not be until the finale or the epilogue do we see the return of this silver-haired lass, but it does seem increasingly likely that Airi will make a return to Robotics;Notes before the final frame has aired. So while it may indeed be a sad turn-of-events to realize that Airi is gone, it is somewhat reassuring that her story, her final purpose in this anime, was able to introduce to Kai and to us the human Airi, in hopes that the original version of her can be saved and live her life in happiness and sunshine as our digital Airi did.
One dire question I have that will probably never be answered is regarding the electricity in Kimijima’s abandoned home that ran the stasis tube for Airi. With the building abandoned for roughly four years since the time of his death, Airi has been in a deep sleep in his basement this whole time, consuming what I’d expect to be quite a chunk of electricity with seemingly no one to foot the bill. It seems rather odd that the electricity, a substantial amount of it too, would continue to this abandoned house without anyone paying for it. I suppose there could be some other possible explanation for this, such as another payer is funding the survival of Airi (and thus, knows about her in the basement) or that the Kimijima foresaw his demise and paid the electrical company some large sum of money before his death to ensure Airi could continue to live until whenever. Either way, it seems strange that this abandoned building would be given so much electricity without any flags being raised or any questions being asked. Oh well, guess it’s not really important or anything.