Shoto arrives on Falco dressed in black mourning robes. He and Wade sit together, and Shoto explains that the Sixers killed Daito—not in the OASIS, but in real life. They broke into Daito’s apartment and threw him off his balcony, framing it as a suicide. Shoto then tells Wade that he wants Wade to know his real name, Akihide. Wade in turn introduces himself using his own real name. Shoto then explains that he and Daito were only brothers in the OASIS; in real life, they’d never met. He seems afraid that Wade will judge him, but Wade assures him that for gunters, the OASIS “is the only reality that has any meaning.”
Even at this very dark moment in the text, there is hope to be found in the sympathy and solidarity Wade extends to Shoto. Shoto is embarrassed about admitting that someone he only knew inside a simulation was like a brother to him. But as Wade explains, he understands the feeling that relationships inside the OASIS are the only ones that are truly meaningful. This adds a sense of hope to the terrible tragedy of Daito’s death.
Daito and Shoto met in an OASIS support group for hikikomori, young people who shut themselves in a room and do not engage with the real world. Shoto explains how Daito was killed in the middle of the Battle of Frobozz. Daito had deployed the Beta Capsule against the Sixers, giving Shoto a chance to seize the Jade Key. As Shoto emerged from the white house, he heard Daito shouting that he could hear someone inside his apartment—however, at that point his voice cut off. Daito’s avatar disappeared, while Shoto’s avatar was able to escape in his spacecraft just in time.
Daito’s mention of hikikomori links the novel’s exploration of reality vs. illusion to real-world issues. Hikikomori exist in our present day reality, and their existence raises the same questions about loneliness, the lure of virtual existence, and the meaning of life as Wade’s obsession with the OASIS. Is confining oneself to a virtual realm a sign of fundamental disturbance, or is it sometimes a reasonable response to the horrors of reality?
Shoto gives Wade the Beta Capsule, telling him that Daito wanted him to have it. Wade tries to refuse, but eventually accepts it with gratitude. Shoto admits that he has a “new quest”: getting revenge. They consider how long it will take for the Sixers to clear the Third Gate. Wade assures Shoto that “it’s not over until it’s over. And it’s not over yet.”
Daito’s death creates a new kind of rock bottom from which Wade and Shoto must now emerge. Like Art3mis’ discovery of the Jade Key, this dismal turn of events provides Wade with a new burst of determination and commitment to the contest.