<I hope you guys won't begrudge me this little write up. I like to do this with all the games that give me a gut checking emotional roller coaster, and Nier: Automata surely does that. I just finished this game through many tears and sleepless nights.
In addition to all the themes and tropes of Automata, its as much a love story as any other theme that game is trying to convey. Its not a conventional love story by any sense, but the common tropes and stereotypes are there. Specifically, love stories are complicated.
From the first moment our heros 2B and 9S meet each other, it seems that the relationship is one sided. 9S is infinitely curious, infinitely cheery and unfortunately, infinitely chatty. Throughout the first playthrough, we see him try to get closer to 2B, but 2B is distant and cold. But, for some reason, she wasn't really a bitch. (21O was more a bitch, more of that to come). But despite all the coldness, she does get closer to 9S. They chat, and talk, they have little discussions of their mission and side quests.
Now, unlike many other android girl tropes, something about her coldness from the start seems off. During the demo version of the game, when 9S was beaten up on top of the Engels Goliath, 2B was uncharacteristically concerned over someone she just met, and someone she had to remind "Emotions are Forbidden." And then back at the bunker there was that shot of her clenched fist at the realization that 9S wasn't uploaded with the memories of this encounter. The payoff was the end of playthrough . 2B is given the unenviable task of offing 9S when he's corrupted. And then in her moment, she lets out her emotions and sheds tears, saying, cryptically for us, "It always ends like this." Obviously, this isn't the first time she's done this, but it may very well be the first time she's done this to 9S, but it may very well be the first time she's cried over him.
"The final screams they summon at the edge of death … echoes within me." More on this quote later.
I don't know about everyone else, but I fell in love with 2B. I picked up the game because the character afterall. Of course this is Nier, they're gonna rip your guts out. "Oh …. Nines…"
So 9S starts a very cruel decent to madness. I don't intend to gloss over the second part of the game, but the final complication is the big reveal that 2B is meant to kill 9S whenever he learned the truth about humanity. And in A2's words in the climax, 9S probably knew this all along. The madness at the end of the meatbox, his insane call to kill the many 2B models in the tower, maybe even seeing A2 and that's the reason he wants to kill A2, because wasn't able to kill 2B himself? No, absolutely not. While I'm sure the ambiguity is there for us to come up with our own conclusions. I choose to believe that 9S loves 2B. Perhaps his decent into madness is because … he's not reset? Now this one I don't want to believe, but it does make sense.
To sum it up. Like any love story, its complicated. 2B has to meet 9S again, and again, and again. And what she had to do again and again, as A2 says, pained her. 9S's death at her hands over and over echoes in her. And on the contrast, 9S loves the one that's meant to end his life again and again. As dark and depressing and gut wrenching as their relationship is. I choose to believe that they this cycle in .
9S wakes up to find 2B laying next to him in the rubble. With a few blinks of his eyes, he slowly remembers all that's happened. A2, the tower, the machines. Was the war over? All that doesn't matter as he looks at 2B and tears stream from his eyes. The War was over, but she was still gone, and whoever it be still mocks him by forcing him to see what he knew was already gone.
But in an instant, a soft touch to his tear stained cheek breaks him from his meloncholy. What was once a suffered gaze turned to shock as 2B sits up and smiles.
"Nines…" she whispers. And in an instant, 9B clutches his eyes and embraces the android, his beloved android, and weeps into her shoulder. Words could not say what only his tears could. She brings his hand up to his neck, as she had so many times before. But now, gently gives a reassuring stroke.>(/spoiler)
Thanks for reading. Now maybe I can get some fucking sleep!