Waifu Wednesday: Aiba (AI: The Somnium Files)

Waifu Wednesday

I’ve covered AI: The Somnium Files briefly before here on Rice Digital; it’s an experience I hold in high regard, and one that is close to my heart as a video game highlight of 2019.

So what better way to put it back in the spotlight than to dedicate my first Waifu Wednesday piece to the best girl in it? Say hello to the perfection that is Aiba.

Aiba from AI: The Somnium Files

Aiba is best girl

Aiba is a waifu who not only exists in a video game, where she is already out of our filthy reaches, but to make matters worse, she’s also an artificial intelligence who exists in the eye socket of our leading man, Kaname Date.

This makes our love for Aiba even more distant and tragic, and we have yet to get into the details of the game she stars in! It’s easy to dismiss Aiba since she’s in direct competition with the alluring star quality of Iris as AI: The Somnium Files’ best girl, but the true sensation and actual hero of the title goes to Aiba. I will accept no level of debate on this!

While we can’t have her, she’s in the loving and capable eye socket hands of Date himself, who throughout their shared journey, shows a genuine, sweet and hilarious sense of friendship towards her. Their quirky, humorous and surprisingly heartfelt bond is one of the main selling points of the game, for sure.

And it’s not all for the jokes and teasing, as Aiba provides a respectable safety blanket for Date considering his bizarre situation as an amnesiac, and she’s also the reason we have the investigative abilities we use through Date to explore a person’s psyche (Somnium), and extract testimonies through their memories. She makes Date’s job, and moreover our time playing, all the less difficult and much more entertaining just by having her around.

Aiba from AI: The Somnium Files

A bundle of joy and a barrel of laughs

And this nicely brings me to my next point. Absolutely no one can deny how cute she is no matter what form she takes – be it the hamster-like, small ball of endearing energy in the real world, or as her very pretty, young female appearance in the Somnium world. Aiba provides the banter, the capabilities, and the look as Date’s ideal partner, delivering justice and solving crime scenes together.

With the ball dropping in the last route due to her selfless actions saving Date and those around him, it’s no surprise she steps up the plate when the time calls for it, but it does not make it any easier to see pan out. We’ll get to more on the brief tragedy on the next section, but for now, to reinforce what I mean by her playful and fun side, here’s just over three minutes of proof for your eyes to enjoy and maybe question what you just witnessed:

Aiba stands for love more than anything

So I’ve established the endearing quirkiness of Aiba and her relationship with Date — but what makes Aiba truly worth raving about is seeing how she blossoms and enjoys herself when alone with Date. How she communicates with anyone else never fails to show us her artificial side and true nature, where her speech becomes short, cold and distant.

But as we are Date, it is all too easy to forget what she truly is — and the fact we will always be far detached from this idealised, non-living entity too good to truly exist. This is hammered home all too well in the game’s shocking, sombre ending. But thankfully this moment packs a twist in itself. Phew!

Date and Aiba’s relationship also encompasses one of the game’s central themes, this, of course, being love. Their back and forths and consistent jabbing at one another’s quirks and interests becomes quickly familiar and endearing, showcasing their overall level of trust and affection for one another exclusively between the pair. Be it pointing out Date’s frequent lewd comments, flirting with other women so much that she forces a Game Over, or helping him escape a violent confrontation by distracting him with one of his favourite dirty magazines, Aiba is the perfect, inseparable partner for Date.

Aiba from AI: The Somnium Files

There are so many other worthwhile moments that reinforce this partnership, be it platonic or romantic. Since Aiba is in competition for this partnership with two other lovely ladies — Shizue and Hitomi — both pose their own challenges as potential lovers. Shizue is Date’s boss and appears to be a romantic interest left far too late to be explored, while Hitomi’s relationship with him would have been put far behind her now.

Date and Aiba’s connection is definitive and undeniable if I have any say on the matter. Date’s final command to Aiba is triggered when he says a blatant lie to her, which could be “I hate you”. That’s an unusual way to profess your love, but unorthodox is at home here in AI: The Somnium Files!

Meanwhile, in Aiba’s perspective, this possible affection is shown much more obviously. Considering Date’s amnesia, the pair have been together in everything since the very beginning. Both enjoy re-enacting pop culture moments, which happen to sometimes be romantic in the original context, such as breaking out into a scene from Rocky.

Then there are little gestures unique for the pair’s personalities, such as Aiba offering herself as a lap pillow for Date, and asking him to dance with her. And if this does not sound convincing enough, then get this – Date welcomes Aiba home with a “welcome back” as she enters with a “I’m home”‘ (concrete evidence as always), alongside one final revelation that her favourite number is 41205, which when ciphered spells out what? You guessed it, “Date”.

Closing comment

If I could close off this entry with one sentence, it would go something like “AI: The Somnium Files would not have been as exceptional or memorable as it was without Aiba”. Aiba brings the entertainment value of the game and magnifies it thanks to her solid, endearing personality traits, and necessary connection that builds upon Date’s character.

Aiba is fantastic, and I thank Kotaro Uchikoshi for not only making an experience as unique as AI: The Somnium Files, but for truly bringing Aiba to life — even if she’ll always be out of reach.

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Lilia Hellal
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