To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 12

Misaka Mikoto

Mikoto’s plan is to hack the terminal speaking to Tree Diagram in orbit, in order to shut down the Level 6 Shift program, or at least create confusion while she destroys the remainder of the project. Meanwhile, MISAKA 10032 makes Touma adopt a stray kitten. Mikoto infiltrates the Tree Diagram facility all too easily, finds it dusty and long abandoned, and finds reports of the Tree Diagram’s destruction. While waiting for Touma outside a bookstore, Accelerator and MISAKA 10031 arrive, and 10032 goes with them to commence the next experiment.

Mikoto hates it when humans live their lives according to the data and plans laid out for them by machines. It’s a point Gargantia made throughout its run: humans need to be able to think for themselves and make their own choices, even if those choices aren’t always perfect. As we hit the halfway point, Mikoto seemingly finds herself back at square one, with no Tree Diagram to hack and a new plan needed to end the Shift Project. Meanwhile Touma has an encounter with a MISAKA clone similar to Mikoto’s first encounter with the clone who would eventually be viciously murdered before her eyes by the despicable Accelerator (though we love that soulful theme that plays whenever he’s tangling with the sisters, which we also heard in episode five).

From Touma’s perspective MISAKA is neither a clone nor cannon fodder living on borrowed time. She gets sad and mad and annoyed; feels sympathy for a helpless kitten, knows how to guilt-trip him into taking it in. She’s a person; no less worthy of life than the original. We have no doubt that if Touma follows her to her meeting with Accelerator, he too will know the horrors and awfulness that Academy City condones. Only unlike Mikoto, Touma can negate Accelerator’s esper powers with Imagine Breaker. Biribiri has tried doing things on her own, but she’s never been able to last long against the ‘rator. Touma could even the odds, were he inclined to involve himself. And as we all know, he’s never been lucky enough to avoid such situations.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

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Aku no Hana – 13 (Fin)

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While snooping around Nakamura’s otherwise normal room Kasuga finds a notebook in which she has recorded all of her encounters with Kasuga, up until after they vandilized the classroom. The rest is blank until the last page, where she laments not being able to go over the hill. Nakamura barges in, tells Kasuga to get out, then runs again. Kasuga chases her and they both trip and fall onto each other. Kasuga’s life flashes before his eyes in reverse, followed by all his interactions with Nakamura. He then starts to see flashes of a possible future with him, Nakamura, and Saeki in which his deviancy expands. He tells her to make a new contract with him, and “leave the den of shit.”

As Nakamura said to Kasuga before they trashed the classroom (loosely translated), “Life isn’t a bowl of cherries.” Remembering that, we were confident that Aku no Hana was not going to end on a happy note. This is a series that loves to torture its male lead and make him squirm, to the point where whenever he feels joy or bliss, or things start to look up, a big alarm goes off: “BOWL OF CHERRIES.” As in life isn’t; not for him. He’s a miserable angsty teen grasping wildly at some kind of justification for his pathetic existence. Just because he thinks he was put on this earth to make sure Nakamura wouldn’t be alone, doesn’t make it so. But still, his obsession with staying by her side is a kind of love, a itch he must scratch.

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How to end a highly controversial anime, not just for its dark source material, but for the way it was translated to animation? With a highly controversial ending, of course! After the initial reveal of Nakamura’s room (we should have known the door wrote checks the room couldn’t clear!) and the following chase that ends with them on the ground, time starts gettin’ all whimsical and shit, full of callbacks to previous episodes, but then goes beyond the first episode and to flashes of his childhood, and then…the classroom arrangement returns and things start to get really weird. The episode ended abruptly with the message “END OF PART ONE.” So were those flash-forwards a montage previewing Part Two?

We hope so, because it looks like things get a lot bleaker. Just because you’re devoted to fulfilling the role your admirer laid out for you, doesn’t mean things are going to get any easier for anyone. While we would have liked to see more of what happened after Kasuga asks Nakamura to form a new contract, we can hopefully look forward to all that being addressed in detail in the second season. Until then, it was a very weird, very powerful, very dark ride. Aku no Hana reminded us why we love anime: you can watch months and months of the same old stuff, and then boom, something totally different comes along, fiercely marching to the beat of its own drummer, never apologizing for anything.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Another possibility: rather than a teaser, everything that happened in that future montage happened, and won’t happen again. What we saw was a highly condensed result of Nakamura entering that contract with Kasuga.
  • Among the disturbing images we see in this montage: burning books; hanging panties around the walls; Saeki cutting her hair Nakamura-short and continuing to obsess over Kasuga; Kasuga holding her down; someone bleeding down their legs; Nakamura passed out; a policeman flashing his badge; Nakamura scratching the shit out of Kasuga’s chest, and other assorted mayhem.
  • Was the present Nakamura embarassed that Kasuga was in his room, learning of her secret notebook? She seemed pretty damn mad he was in there, so we don’t think she ever intended anyone to see it. That being said, she didn’t exactly take great pains to hide it.
  • In her notebook we see pretty much the same cheerfully deviant Nakamura that we saw when she was doing the things she wrote about. There’s a naked earnestness to her; what seemed like a mocking or patronizing manner with Kasuga was actually genuine excitement, concern, and anticipation.

Suisei no Gargantia – 13 (Fin)

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Ledo and Chamber learn that Striker is operating autonomously, and has decided that she is a god to be worshiped and served by the human race to keep them peaceful and prosperous. Chamber disagrees, saying depriving people of the ability to think or make decisions is robbing them of their humanity. They engage in battle. Gargantia fires the Heaven’s Ladder at Kugel’s fleet as Pinion and Lukkage evacuate the relic island.

Ledo merges with Chamber using the “Neuroplus” system, but cannot defeat Striker without killing himself. Kugel’s fleet is defeated, and the island is destroyed. When Ledo tells Chamber he wants to be with Amy, Chamber relieves him of duty, ejects him, and destroys Striker in a suicide attack. Ledo rejoins Amy and commences his new life as an underwater researcher on Gargantia.

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Striker may have learned how to operate on her own, but it’s ultimately Chamber who becomes the most human-like of the two. In the time spent with Ensign Ledo and the people of Gargantia, he morphed from the same cold, analytical stick-in-the-mud Striker was to a robot that was willing to stick with his pilot’s will until the end and give up his existence so that his pilot can continue to live, even if he’ll no longer be a soldier. In fact, he feels his entire reason for existence – to support Ledo – is fulfilled by his actions.

This episode carried on the excellence of the previous episode when the huge multi-vectored battle began, and came to an awesome and very fulfilling conclusion. Ledo realized there was more to life than completing one’s overarching mission, or rather, came to a new understanding of that mission, as Chamber did. The mission isn’t to fight and defeat the Hideauze, forevermore. The mission is to survive and live. And he does, with Amy and Gargantia. Hell, he even starts wearing sandals!

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Chamber’s whole “Bitch is you crazy?” dialogue to the Mad Striker is fantastic, culminating in “Go to Hell, Tin Can!”
  • Relieving Ledo of duty for being “psychological unfit” was also an awesome pretense for Chamber to be a badass and save Ledo – and frankly, all other humans – from Striker’s wrath.
  • The Heaven’s Ladder, with its water shock suppression system, was pretty cool. 
  • Bevel’s closing history lecture is a little bit shoehorned in, but we can see why they wanted that in the “so, here’s what’s up now” montage.
  • Pinion and Lukkage seem to end up becoming friends
  • Ledo now has a squirrel friend just like Amy. How sickeningly cute.
  • Haunting parting shot: a huge gathering of Hideauze swimming around the ocean floor.

Oreimo 2 – 13 (Fin)

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Kirino used to adore her big brother, but as he grew older they grew apart, and as she strived to surpass him, he stopped seeming as amazing as she once deemed him. She suspects Manami’s influence, but Manami tells her the amazing Kyousuke Kirino loved never really existed. Kirino made a friend in Ayase through modeling, and also discovered siscon eroge, which she had to keep a secret, until it grew out of control, and she finally had to ask her average, unremarkable brother for advice, and he performed his brotherly duty admirably, if not as cool and confidently as he once did.

The last episode of Oreimo for some time serves as a prequel to everything we’ve seen thus far, and documents the evolution of Kirino’s feelings for her brother, leading up to their current, cordial relationship. Basically, the younger she and Kyousuke were, the more amazing she thought he was, and the more he was willing to spend time with her. But he eventually outgrew that arrangement before she did, leading her to aim to surpass him. So we can imagine her disappointment when Kyousuke devolved from the driven, talented, cool brother she once knew into a lazy, unmotivated layabout. The person who drove her to become better than she was had gotten worse. Since the very beginning, it’s been clear that Kirino is a big, hopeless otaku, but this episode finally confirms why: she was seeking the ideal brother Kyousuke no longer was.

She shunned her real brother in exchange for the brothers in the games she played, who would always do what she said and be with her no matter what and be just as amazing as she wanted them to be. But they were no more real than that youthful ideal of her real brother. Kyousuke is and always has been Kyousuke, and regardless of how much he disappointed her, he was always going to protect her, as he does when he passionately defends her hobby to their fatheer. Now Kirino is mature enough to realize that Kyousuke may not be perfect or even particularly cool, but he’s her brother; her only brother. He’s all she’s got, and he’s really not all bad, as big brothers go!

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Rating:7 (Very Good)