Kyousuke, Kiriko and Ruri visit Saori’s house for a surprise birthday party, and she arrives home from school out of her otaku disguise. We flash back to when her sister Kaori first introduces her to her otaku friend circle, “Pretty Garden.” The desperately shy Saori makes friends there and has fun, but when Kaori suddenly ups and leaves, the other circle members drift apart until Saori is alone. She promises she’ll show her sister up, doing so by starting a new circle. Back in the present Kaori and her friends have reunited, and give the older, taller, more sociable Saori their regards.
Ayase was the focus last week, but this week she’s absent as the focus is entirely on Saori Bajeena, AKA Mikishima Saori, a very rich, high-class, beautiful young lady who presents herself to her otaku friends as a lurchy otaku dork with oversized novely glasses. They don’t even recognize Saori when they see her. Now that we can see her eyes, face, and hair properly, it’s like we’re meeting the character all over again, only now she’s on more of an equal footing with Kirino and Kuroneko. And hey, it turns out she’s an imouto too!
Her backstory is one of her older sister practicing tough love: introducing her into a sink-or-swim situation where she must show her face to people and talk to them, and once she’s comfortable there, indirectly breaking up the circle, removing the proverbial training wheels from Saori’s social development. It’s sad, but people grow up and move on; it doesn’t mean they’re not still friends. And Saori’s experiences gave her the strength and wherewithal to find her own circle of friends, and the cycle continues. We liked learning more about this non-bespectacled Saori, and hope to see more of her.
Rating: 8 (Great)
While on her way to some shopping, Shirai shows Misaka a shortcut to the mall that turns out to be busier than she’d expected. They find an unmarked envelope with a cash card and turn it into Judgment, where Uiharu says its one of dozens found so far. After searching for more with Saten, Misaka overhears four Skill-outs who plan to ambush a girl they think is the source of the cards. When they arrive, the girl proceeds to “kill” them all one by one with her “esper ability” (a paper gun with anesthetic and a black light) Misaka arrives, and the girl calls her “the original.”
Now that we’ve been reintroduced, Misaka and the gang get drawn into a fresh mystery that ultimately leads Misaka to someone involved in the scientific experimentation she agreed to as a child, involving cloning her. Having watched Index II we’re already aware of Misaka’s clones, including the little one, but we’re guessing this series takes before that? We’re not entirely sure, so we’ll just treat this as an isolated timeline for now. The important point is that Misaka was a little kid being shown someone with muscular distropy. Would any sweet little kid refuse to help after seeing that?
Likely not, but we maintain she was too young to be given that choice. She wasn’t old enough to fully grasp the consequences, and even if the shifty-ish scientist told her exactly what he was going to do with her DNA mapping, she’d probably only understand a fraction of it. So not only has Misaka grown into someone who insists on going her own way to help and protect others, she made a choice at a very young age to allow herself to be cloned for medical and esper research. Quite a contrast in circumstances to Shirai, Uiharu and Saten.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Kasuga tries in vein to dispose of the Saeki’s incriminating gym uniform. After school at the library, when he fails to produce an essay for Nakamura, she strips him down and dresses him in the uniform, telling him she’s a deviant like him. She tells them they’ll be hanging out after school, and they do. His friends and parents start to notice is strange behavior, culminating in him standing up to defend Nakamura when a classmate accuses her of stealing lunch money.
The Devil pulls the strings by which we’re worked:
By all revolting objects lured, we slink
Hellwards; each day down one more step we’re jerked
Feeling no horror, through the shades that stink.
How much weird shit can you get up to before you become a “deviant?” Is there a specific line that must be crossed, which Kasuga assures himself he hasn’t? He still clings to the notion that as long as his feelings for Saeki remain pure, he’s good. Nakamura, on the other hand, thinks about how great it would be if all the gloom within her spread across the world. She manipulates and sexually assaults Kasuga, who is too weak and shocked and cowed to resist.
In Kasuga, she sees what she wants to see: a kindred spirit. He still feels horror in what’s happening but she seems at peace with herself. She’s accepted what she is and is excited at the prospect of Kasuga being just like her deep down. Kasuga tells her The Flowers of Evil is like him – something that will never be understood by the un-literary people of his town. But count Nakamura among those townspeople in that she doesn’t give a shit about Baudelaire. All she wants is Evil Kasuga: Unplugged.
Rating: 8 (Great)
- The undressing in the libarary is the most disturbing scene in the series so far, but we doubt it will be the last. It really underscores how little power Kasuga has.
- That said, Kasuga appeals to his good side by standing up for Nakamura in spite of what she’s doing, since the truth is Nakamura was with him at the time of the money theft.
- Rotoscoped animation really is a perfect fit for the tone of this series. Anime like Gargantia soars, but this series slinks and slithers.
- Yamada’s sudden kung-fu greeting was pretty funny.