Toaru Majutsu no Index: Endymion no Kiseki

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On the streets of Academy City, Touma and Index meet Meigo Arisa, a street singer/songwriter with mysterious miracle-like powers. She wins an audition to become the “spokes-idol” for Endymion, a space elevator nearing completion. Touma protects Arisa as she’s pursued by both the church – who believe her to be a saint, and Ladylee Tangleroad, the CEO of the company that built the elevator who has been cursed with eternal life. She sends her employee, the militaristic music-deaf Shutaura Sequenzia to retirev Arisa seeking to use Arisa and the elevator to create a magical device that will end her life – destroying half the world in the process.

When Shutaura learns of Ladylee’s true plans she turns against her. With the help of his many friends, acquaintances, and one-time enemies, Touma and Index launch into orbit to reach the top of the elevator, where Arisa performs before a massive crowd. As the parties on the ground disable Endymion, Index disrupts Ladylee’s spell, while Touma convinces Shutaura not to kill Arisa, punching her in the process. It turns out Arisa was the manifestation of Shutaura’s own wish when she was aboard the doomed space plane piloted by her father. Arisa merges with Shutaura, who regains as Ladylee’s spell is destroyed, ending the crisis. Life returns to normal.

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First things first: woe betide ye who attempt to watch this film as a newbie to the Index/Railgun franchise. Aside from having no idea why a normal guy like Touma keeps shrugging off multiple blows and severe burns to his body, and has a tiny bitey nun for a roommate, all of the dozens of cameos in the film will go right over their heads. We ourselves have a certain soft spot for the franchise, and so were eager to see what they could do with a feature-length film. The results were very ambitious, and we came away from the viewing feeling it succeeded insofar as it adapted the spirit of the show – magic vs. science – and was a most entertaining romp, complete with robot fights, mecha/car chases, and space battles, all taking place in gorgeous settings.

We also dug the idea of dual heroines in Arisa and Shutaura. Looking back there were plenty of clues that they were pretty much the same person split in two: music was Arisa’s life, but Shutaura’s ears couldn’t even discern it; Arisa remembers nothing prior to three years ago; they both possess halves of the same blue bracelet. Arisa’s meteoric rise to fame reminded us of Ranka Lee’s similar arc in Macross Frontier, a series we kept thinking of due to the similar space opera-y milieu the film adopts in the second half. The film looked and sounded great, we had a lot of fun watching it. Had it run in a theater near us, we would have definitely felt we got our money’s worth.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

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Love Lab – 11

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The Love Lab gets a request regarding “Hairstyles boys like”, so Riko asks Nagi at cram school, who tells her about a girl whom his classmates idolize, who is probably Maki. Meanwhile Maki’s sister reads her love research and alerts her dad, who decides to let Maki attend a co-ed cram school. It happens to be the same one Riko, Nagi, and Yan attend, and she makes a scene when Yan calls her “Natsuo”. Nagi suspects that Riko’s been putting on airs to fool her friends. When the school reverses its policy forbidding contact with boys, Momo and Nana offer space in their newspaper for “Love Lab Correspondence.”

– “Are you a master of love?”
– “W-Well, yeah! I’ve had a few boyfriends, of course.”

That little conversation when Riko and Maki first met began the now long-standing fiction that can only end badly unless Riko sets the story straight. Whenever Maki, Eno, and/or Suzu gush over Riko’s non-existent romantic prowess, she always squirms with guilt that only Sayo has detected thus far. Now that Maki attends cram school with Riko and her two childhood friends, there’s no way the lie can survive. The question is, will she come clean of her own accord, or wait for it to all blow up in her face, wounding all her friendships new and old?

Whatever happens, there should be some decent character drama in store to go along with the comedy, which was particularly abundant this week. Maki’s whacked-out courtship fantasies are always entertaining (as is the commentary by whomever is enduring them), and this week she made Yan her straight man, overreacting to a simple misunderstanding about her name. She’s pretty useless around guys, but Riko doesn’t do much better, and Nagi doesn’t help. You get the feeling the two actually like each other, but are simply never able do or say the right thing at the right time, causing mutual frustration leading to discord.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Eno complaining about hair fluttering while actually doing it, followed by the others doing it in unison, was pretty funny.
  • It’s Riko’s fault she’s in this dilemma for lying, but Maki’s sister didn’t help matter by pleading with their father to let Maki attend cram school with boys.
  • Maki’s dad is pretty protective, and sings songs about lingerie, but at least he doesn’t force her to pose for nude photo shoots every year, unlike some rich dads…
  • Maki rides in a spankin’ new Mercedes CLS. What do those go for in Japan? Oh, a cool ¥9,450,000, or US$95,185.

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 22

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After some wrangling, Therestina Kihara Lifeline gives Mikoto a lead: whomever created Febri, a “chemicaloid”, want the world to know they exist, perhaps during the upcoming assembly. Uiharu searches through past participants and Kongou recognizes Aritomi Haruki on a file, and ties him to Study Corporation, which owns a suspicious old factory. Mikoto goes there to find ITEM destroying its security robots. When they leave she breaks in and finds Nunotaba Shinobu, who hands her the recipe for Febri’s candy. Airtomi arrives, saying it’s a fake, and offers the real stuff in exchange for Mikoto accepting a paralyzing shot. She does, but he destroys the vial anyway, calling Febri an expendable spare for their greatest invention: “Janie.”

Tokiwadai’s Level 5 Railgun has gotten a harsh education in the realities of Academy City. She may claim to “love” it , but not all of it loves her. As she lives her happy top-flight esper high school life with her regal title, it’s not surprising that she’d lose sight of the very real unsavory elements in the city, including a group of non-espers toiling in obscurity, seething in envy and resentment as the espers of the city get all the attention, utterly unable to do anything about it. In this episode Therestina and Aritomi both pay her sarcastic deference to her title, as if to pat her on the head and say “oh, you silly!”

Of course Therestina is safely behind bars, and can only gloat about having put Mikoto in a bad mood (which subsides when Kuroko assures her that – Level 5 or not – she loves her onee-sama). Aritomi wants to experiment on Railgun, and by episode’s end, he has her right where he wants her: isolated and defenseless, with the clock on Febri running out. Nunotaba is caught in the middle; her compassion for Febri mirrors her compassion for the MISAKA clones. But Aritomi doesn’t care about any of that. Very soon, that tank labeled “JANIE” will open, and if his plans succeed, the world will know he and STUDY Corporation exist.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Therestina’s cell is pretty…sparse. Where’s the bed? The toilet? Why isn’t that heavy metal chair bolted to the ground? 
  • But hey, at least they let her have M&M’s (or the Japanese equivalent). We liked how she offered one to Mikoto believing she’d assume it was poison, only to eat it without fuss, which led to Therestina giving her info.
  • Mikoto puts her trust in Aritomi as well, holding her arm out to receive that injection…but that didn’t work out so well.
  • If there was any doubt that the show seems unsure what else to do with ITEM, this week they get a brief pool scene and are then used to distract security for Nunotaba. But work is work, right?
  • Loved how Mikoto and Kuroko’s lovely little moment was cut short when Mikoto realized her roommate was trying to cop a feel.
  • While on the train, Mikoto spots that bridge remembers one of our favorite scenes of the franchise. Of course, Imagine Breaker is kinda useless against non-espers…
  • Can’t someone buy normal, modern clothes for Febri? What’s with the wedding cakes?