Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T – 09 – The Thick of It

Mikoto and Misaki take different routes to get to Kihara Gensei, underscoring their very different methods of infiltration. Mikoto can blast her way in with her Railgun, but has to wear a suit and sunglasses as a disguise, but Misaki can stroll right in the front door and simply Mental Out anyone posing a threat, then use them to assist her search.

For all the buildup around the two girls teaming up, we don’t actually see them together as much as I’d expected, and they ultimately don’t have much to do at the facility (more on that later). Instead, the episode checks in on Kuroko and Uiharu’s investigation of Kozaku Mitori, who apparently faked her death at the reform school she was sent after committing acts of terrorism.

And then there’s Ruiko, who makes the mistake of letting Touma of all people borrow her good luck charm for his scavenger hunt! It’s a nice little cameo that is also a way of the show admitting with a shrug that “yeah, the Daihesai Festival doesn’t really matter anymore!” 

Ruiko could’ve used that charm on her impromptu trip to the abandoned liquid metal factory. She had a hunch that it might not be so abandoned after all, and she learns not only are the lights and security doors functioning, but the place is crawling with people probably up to no good.

Soon she’s lost and trapped and bumps into Xochitl (in her latest disguise), who is content to let a foolhardy civilian go unharmed until Kozaku Mitori shows up and demands Ruiko be disposed of after (likely harsh) interrogation.

Instead, Xochitl challenges Kozaku to a fight, condemning her as a traitor working outside the bounds of the Governing Board who basically used MEMBER’s services without the proper paperwork. Mitori decides to retreat rather than risk finding out what weird tricks Xochitl has up her sleeve, and Ruiko is free to go.

Meanwhile, Mikoto and Misaki’s infiltration efforts prove all for naught—Kihara Gensei was ever in the building, he’s not there now. All they find is an underling disguised as Kihara, with memories that address Misaki by name. As powerful as Misaki’s Mental Out is, Kihara managed to troll her with it! That’s bound to stick in the craw of someone as prideful as Misaki.

Mikoto can only follow, shedding her fetching suit (which fit perfectly somehow!) and piling into another Mental Out Lyft with Misaki as she races to where the real Kihara might be. The old man also mentioned something called Exterior, but Misaki deflects Mikoto’s questions about it in the preview.

Just when I was quietly praising how relatively straightforward and character-driven Railgun T has been compared to its Index cousins, here comes the underworld organizations and their shadowy agents muddling everything up. Even so, characters still shined this week, especially the near-pathologically curious Ruiko.


ID: INVADED – 13 (Fin) – The Right Person in the Right Place

ID:INVADED put a lot of ideas and mysteries out there, but it was never that coy about the Big Bad being the perpetually closed-eyed Chief Hayaseura. That the start of the final showdown with John Walker came down to a one-on-one physical fight—with Narihisago literally kicking at him as he blocked with his cane—almost felt like a surrender at first.

Then Hondoumachi arrives on a huge shark and bites off part of Hayaseura’s face. This is going to be two-against-one, at least in the Id Well.

Hondoumachi steals Hayaseura’s hat and she and Narihisago lure him on a chase to retrieve it that leads back to the first Id Well we ever saw: Fukuda’s world-in-pieces. The three meet on a platform, Hayaseura has a seat, and they talk it out, with Hondoumachi analyzing her former chief as having a God complex, hence all the sevens.

Seven serial killers with seven victims each. When Hondoumachi  counters that Narihisago was the eighth, she parries with the fact that Narihisago isn’t a true serial killer, but a serial “suicide inducer” whose only victims were serial killers. If he’s the “Cornerer”, the last person he was meant to corner was Hayaseira himself.

What Hayaseura doesn’t know his adversaries already have him right where they want him. The seat is actually a cockpit placed there courtesy of Fukuda, and Hondoumachi traps and neutralizes him in a well-within-the-well. But that still leaves her and Narihisago trapped in a well.

To get out, they’ll have to put their hope in a “third pillar” they’re not even aware of—Momoki, in the iso suit in the real world. Asukai’s powers have grown in intensity, testing both his body and the limits of his suit. Mitsuoka just manages to bring him back to life after his lungs fill with vomit and his heart stops.

He eventually finds Asukai, who is initially happy someone has come to help her, but then she sees the gun in Momoki’s hand. Asukai laments that when she was first found, she asked to be killed and put out of her misery, and that that remains to her the best and only solution. The thing is, Momoki can’t do it, and when she tries to, the gun doesn’t work in her hand.

Instead, Momoki has her return to the Mizuhanome pool, which will at least contain her expanding powers. He can’t promise they’ll find a solution that would enable her to leave that pool without murdering her, but they’re not going to murder her, nor are they going to stop looking. Before the Kura is released from her powers, Sakaido meets Kaeru in a beautiful well—seeing her alive for the first time, and bidding her farewell.

Everything related to Hayaseura, his John Walker persona, Asukai and her remaining comatose dreamers are buried from the public, as is Kura’s way, and everyone basically gets back to work. Presumably the difference is that Hondoumachi is now a full-time id well diver beside Narihisago (who may or may not still be a prisoner). The two even participate in joint dives, since they worked so well together to bring down the chief.

This was a solid, good if not great finish to a show that borrowed a lot of ideas from sci-fi and psychology and managed to merge them into a mostly cohesive and original story. Compared to the ambition of the earlier issues it raised, the ending falls a bit short, but the show is still to be commended for not completely coming apart at the seems, and for being ambitious, confident, and smart in the first place. It’s a story I’d love to return to, should favorable circumstances align.

Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia – 21 (Fin) – A Small Story About Us

This week is essentially a nice, breezy extended epilogue, full of goodbyes and see-ya-laters. After waking up back in Babylon, Ritsuka and Mash are received by Quetzalcoatl and Jaguar Warrior, who took part in ensuring the two returned safe and sound. They exchange proper goodbyes, and Big Sis Kuku makes sure to give Ritsu a big ol’ hug before vanishing into the either.

From there, Ritsuka and Mash return to the Chaldean Embassy, where Ishtar and Merlin are waiting for them. Ishtar reports that Ereshkigal is resting in the underworld, which will take a half century to repair after the destruction Beast caused. (Sadly, there’s no update on Ushiwakamaru’s fate). After bickering with Romani a bit and giving Ritsuka a flower memento, Merlin returns to his Tower of Avalon.

Gilgamesh and Ishtar are the last two servants to bid the Chaldeans farewell before the Rayshift home. Gil marks the occasion by gifting them a Holy Grail (though since the kids are underage they can’t drink the wheat ale within, so Gil chugs it). Ishtar vows to remain in this land until the end of the first Uruk dynasty, and Ritsuka and Mash are transported away. Thus concludes the Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia.

As we learn after the credits, Babylonia was only the seventh singularity in need of repairing to save humanity, not the final one. That, as Romani announces to a just-returned Ritsuka and Mash, is The Grand Temple of Time – Soloman. It would seem a Master and his Servant’s work is never finished.

And there you have it! It’s been a long journey since Episode 0 aired last August; certainly our own world has changed immensely since then. Grand Order was a fun and often exhilarating escape to a world where the small story of two people traveling between the pages of history, keeping those pages stitched together and ensuring humanity’s survival…with a little help from their friends. This ending made me again wish the previous six singularity arcs had been adapted to anime, but…c’est la vie.

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T – 08 – Oil and Water

“YOU CAN’T HIDE FROM ME.” “Uhh, I’m not hiding?”

First of all, a heartfelt Arigatou gozaimasu to all producers and creatives involved in the continued production of Railgun T (and heck, all anime) even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. I don’t take their efforts for granted, and hope they’re staying safe as they work. If they can’t proceed without putting themselves and/or others at risk, then production must obviously cease.

However, that is not currently the case, and we have finally been blessed with a new episode of Railgun T after two weeks off. It was worth the wait. The previous episode promised a showdown between Mikoto and Misaki, but it ends up being way more of an exchange of info, and thankfully Misaki doesn’t have to be “persuaded” by Mikoto to talk.

“What kind of LUNATIC wears long gloves and thigh-high stockings with a gym uniform?!” “Um…a STYLISH one!

Misaki is revealed not only as a more dimensional antagonist (and she’s undoubtedly hiding something from Mikoto), but someone who, either due to her life experience or ability or both, simply cannot fully trust others to help her out, as Misaka always has. It’s why she never came to Mikoto asking to join forces against Kihara Gensei and Kozaku Mitori.

She can’t read Mikoto’s mind like she can most others, but she does think it was choices by Mikoto, who once trusted everyone blindly, led to the Radio Noise and Level 6 Shift projects. Instead, she kept a chaotic element like Mikoto out of her plans, and made sure her chaotic friends wouldn’t interfere or get into danger.

Nothing like a spot-o-tea to center you…

Of course, even with their minds and memories manipulated, Kuroko, Ruiko and Uiharu are gradually piecing things together. While Mikoto told them to stay put at Judgment, that doesn’t mean Kuroko can’t track down Kozaku Mitori’s file (if any).

Even though Uiharu was unknowingly working at cross purposes, Kuroko and Ruiko are willing to trust her now to use her skills to help out. And even with their memories scrambled, Mikoto in turn trusts all of them. Compare that to Misaki, who bypasses trust altogether in making people into Mental Out minions to do her bidding.

Misaki Shoujo Pose, Meet Misaka Shounen Pose

Incidentally, Mikoto is able to chat with Misaki while the latter is already on her way to Kihara Gensei’s location (and assures Mikoto that neither MISAKA or the other Sisters are in any immediate mortal danger). It’s fun to see how Misaki gets around quietly—by simply Mental Out-ing a random truck driver into an impromptu Lyft.

She even tells Mikoto she can sit this one out if she doesn’t feel right about joining forces now. Of course, there’s absolutely no way Mikoto is turning down a change to “pull the plug” on Kihara. In fact, she rushes ahead so fast, she exposes Misaki’s abject lack of athleticism—something Mikoto hilariously mistakes as being set up. When Misaki chalks her slowness up to having a more mature feminine figure, Mikoto mocks her “shoujo manga” eyes, and the two start bickering like, well, two middle school girls.

The sudden pairing of the two rivals is immediately bursting with charm, comedy, and chemistry. I’m glad that unlike Baba, there’s no cruelty or sadism in her activities. Of course, she could show her ugly side once Kihara is dealt with. But if that’s the case, she’d better be prepared to tango with one pissed-off Railgun.

ID: INVADED – 12 – Just Wait, Cane Bastard

All along, the Kura and Mizuhanome have been made possible by, essentially, the superpowers of a mutant: Asukai Kiki, who ensares anyone around her in her dreams. Once she’s released from her holding tank, there’s nothing keeping everyone in the Kura from falling into a coma and waking up in various dreams—a kind of ID:Invaded Greatest Hits scenario.

Such was the plan of Chief Hayaseura, AKA John Walker, AKA Brilliant Detective Unaido (whew). He has a “want and omelette, break some eggs” logic to this scheme, wherein many serial killers were caught and brought to justice at the cost of creating a few; but in the long run it will be a net plus for society. As for facing justice, the chief shoots himself several times while in a cockpit programmed to inject him into his own Id Well.

Narihisago and Hondoumachi manage to dive in after him in time, and find Hayaseura in a dream world full of masks, each of them an id well. He eludes them by putting on Hondoumachi’s (the drill world), and then tries to neutralize her by revealing her true name, causing a well storm.

As Kura employees are killed (and the Wellside team run from boulders), Brilliant Detectives like Sakaido, Hijirido and Unaido can teleport between the wells. Narihisago keeps up the chase and ends up in his own id well again, where he spots his wife and daughter and gives them a nod goodbye.

Fukuda, despite not being in Brilliant Detective mode, is still able to catch Hondoumachi in mid-air and free her from her well storm. Back in the field of masks, Fukuda is shot by a Inami Nahoshi, as payback for Hondoumachi killing Kazuta. As Hondoumachi gives a somber goodbye (or see-you-later) to Fukuda, Nahoshi travels to her id well, where the half-Kazuta is still there clinging to life, but she’s promptly stabbed to death by Hayaseura.

Narihisago returns to the mask world, reunited with Hondoumachi, and both of them agree to stop Walker and get everyone—including themselves out of this mess safe and sound. It’s good to see both of them with something to live for, not giving in to despair or Hayaseura’s cruel games. And it’s possible dying in the id wells doesn’t automatically mean death, as some of the nurses at Asukai’s hospital eventually woke up from their comas.

Out in the real, Momoki and Mitsuoka have a plan of their own. Momoki will don an isolation suit, walk into the compromised Kura, and neutralize Asukai, preferably by inserting her back in the Mizuhanome tank. If she refuses, Momoki is prepared to kill her, for there are too many other lives at stake to indulge her. The question is, even if he’s willing to kill her, will he be able?

Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia – 20 – Flowers in the Underworld

If you’re going to have a final boss to the final singularity in your narrative universe, go big or go home. F/GO goes monumental, and everyone has a role to play. First in the order of battle against Beast Tiamat is Assassin, who helpfully slashes both its eyes and delivers various other blows. Tiamat responds by unleashing a brood of Divine Spirit-class lahmu.

As Tiamat begins to climb back up to the living world, the quicker and dealier than ever lahmu prove too much for Ritsuka and the Servants, who are riddled with cuts and bruises and are starting to tire. That’s when they’re bailed out by the arrival of Gilgamesh, this time in his Servant form. He doesn’t spare the treasury in unleashing a gold-steel rain upon the lahmu, while Tiamat is forced back down to the ground.

Tiamat’s bonkers response to this setback is to create a Nega-Genesis, an attempt to restart the very universe. A huge bubble forms around the beast, poised to rewrite life itself and negate every Servant in Ritsuka’s stable. Ereshkigal is able to stop this process by using her impressive Noble Phantasm Kur Ki Gal Irkalla, but even this is naught but a time-buying measure.

While Beast is temporarily sealed away, the only person who can enter the Nega-Genesis, Ritsuka, but deliver the killing blow. Gilgamesh provides the blade, while Mash and Merlin will use their Noble Phantasms Lord Camelot and Garden of Avalon simultaneously, creating a path for Ritsuka.

There’s a palpable vulnerability to the prospect of Ritsuka heading to perhaps the most dangerous spot in the universe without his trusty aid—but the two trust in one another to take care of business on their different sides of the battlefield.

Ereshkigal’s gambit turns out to be a sacrifice, as she used up all of her authority to give Ritsuka and the others maximum time to prepare a final assault. She disappears in a distraught Ishtar’s arms, smiling at the sight of so many gorgeous flowers in her underworld (the product of Garden of Avalon).

A victory against Tiamat wasn’t going to be without cost, but it’s surely gutting that Ereshkigal is part of that cost. Ueda Kana does moving work voicing both Servants in the scene, and indeed throughout the two Servants’ interactions. So alike and yet so different.

Her sacrifice isn’t in vain, however; after some effort and a last minute assist by Assassin (who can be in the Nega-Genesis because he’s technically dead…?) keeping the last of the lahmu off his back, Ritsuka is able to reach Tiamat’s head and plunge the dagger in.

The Nega-Genesis begins to collapse, and Gilgamesh breaks out Ea and delivers the coup-de-grace—the good ol’ Enuma Elish, delivered with such unrepentant ferocity I was momentarily worried my speakers would blow out.

In the midst of all the external sturm und drang Ritsuka finds himself in a tranquil oasis where Tiamat’s true form of a horned woman stands alone in a white, soundless void. She quietly laments how her children made a ladder of her and gone far away, and asks if her love for them was mistaken. Ritsuka assures her that all her children love her, which is why she has to get going.

I honestly felt sympathy for Tiamat, so soft and lonesome were her words. A lot of that is down to the stark minimalism of the scene and Yuuki Aoi’s deep yet restrained performance. After she is destroyed by Gilgamesh’s Phantasm, the underworld that was their last battlefield begins to crumble.

Merlin quickly shoots Ritsuka and Mash, hand-in-hand, back up to the surface on a stream of flowers. A stunning victory has been achieved by their hands and those of their friends. Humanity will go on. Hopefully there’s some time to celebrate—and mourn—before the duo heads on home.

Violet Evergarden – 14 (Extra Episode) – Heart Defroster

Since there’s no Railgun this week, I thought I’d write a few words about a Violet Evergarden extra episode I just recently found on Netflix. Enjoy.

Violet has a new client, the diva Irma Felice, who is requesting she write a love letter in someone else’s name, without a concrete address. That’s about all the initial direction she gives Violet, and the resulting first attempt is very curt and military. When Violet tries to draw from literature, it comes off too old-fashioned. When Violet tries to write something modern, it’s just not right.

Irked by a client like never before, Violet reaches out to her colleagues once she learns from the conductor Aldo tells her the love letter will be used as lyrics in the aria of a new opera Irma is producing. She gets a lot of raw, unpolished material from the group, but it’s still not enough to move her stubborn, exacting client.

Desperately needing more insight into Irma, Violet follows her one night. Irma runs, but is no match for Violet’s military conditioning. That’s how the subject of Violet’s loved one comes up, and knowing they share a similar crushing loss, warms up to her and allows her to keep following. Irma visits a shrine at the train station, where she would be if her Hugo ever returned to her.

Her love, Hugo, it turns out, was Aldo’s son who went to war and never returned. It’s a very old story, but that didn’t make it any easier for her or Aldo to move forward…so they didn’t. The letters into which she poured her feelings to Hugo were always sent back for lack of address. Eventually, her and Aldo became frozen in time, and their hearts froze as well, like those of so many who lost lovers and family in the war.

Having finally made a connection through their shared grief, Roland shows Violet a warehouse full of lost letters with neither writer nor sender. Seeing so many talismans of lost, crystallized emotions further inspires Violet, and she gets to typing. In each of her jobs both she and her client have needed to reach some kind of connection that finally gets the words flowing…and it’s almost always tear-jerking, as it it here.

Once Irma reads Violet’s latest and final attempt, she weeps, because Violet was finally able to create what she knew she could: words that warm and stir the frozen hearts of the masses, the “people of today” who couldn’t be moved by the dusty operas of yore, because they were too detached from their own modern experience.

Irma’s resulting performance would indeed be considered almost scandalously modern in the anachronistic era of Violet Evergarden—more Céline Dion than Claudia Muziobut that is precisely why they succeed in moving each and every one of the spectators in the opera house. Art at its finest—and KyoAni has made a fair bit of that—can thaw the coldest hearts and move the most motionless.

ID: INVADED – 11 – Three is a Nice Number

Whether the outline of John Walker in the sandy winds was a literal phenomenon or artistic license, the grit of the well storm makes the facts of the case clearer to Narihisago. Fukuda trapped him in the well hoping Narihisago would kill him in a rage…but Narihisago can tell this is another manipulation by Walker, and asks Fukuda for his help instead.

Fukuda used to be a whiz with numbers, and in this well his hole is gone, bringing back the arithmomania he drilled out in the real world. Narihisago pieces this together from Fukuda’s past three-stage gestures and even his outfit, which is packed with threes. As the storm churns, the Mizuhanome continually updates, and the cockpit from the lightning version of the well is transported to the desert version. The two of them start digging, hoping to find Hondoumachi.

Meanwhile, still in Kiki Asukai’s dream world, Hondoumachi checks the work Narishisago did while he was there for a year, and comes up with another important number: seven. The dates and times when victims’ bodies were found seemed random, but the M.O. of all the killers was to cause gradual, rather than instant death.

When she records the dates of the killing blows, rather than the times of death, everything matches up neatly: each of the seven serial killers have a designated day when they kill. If Walker arranged it this way, it could be an allusion to the seven days it took to create the world—or in his case, his new one.

Hondoumachi pays the Fukuda of that time a visit in order to get the final piece of the puzzle. After proving she knows things about him she normally couldn’t possibly know, as well as revealing her head-hole kinship, thus gaining his trust, she’s able to get the precise dates and times when he dreamed of John Walker.

Whoever Walker is, they visited Fukuda in his dreams during that time. The one time that’s out of place with normal sleeping hours occurred not while Walker was asleep at work, but in off on a business trip, in a different time zone. The member of the department who was on that trip the day of Fukuda’s dream was Chief Hayaseura, whom she calls to confirm it.

Back in the real world, Togo has Mitsuoka check out Momoki’s house again and carefully observe everything. She notices a picture that was not there last time she visited, and has him scan it. He finds cognition particles, but they’re not Momoki’s. They come from a photo of Narihisago with his wife and daughter. In other words, it was a plant and Momoki was framed as a diversion.

In another demonstration of her almost scary luck, Hondoumachi is ejected from the cockpit moments after confirming Walker’s identity. She informs Narihisago and Fukuda of her findings, and the storm clears sufficiently to allow Togo to have all three extracted. For now, the well-in-a-well shenanigans would seem to be over, at least for these three.

The well storm also ended up working in their favor, and even being a crucial to their success. While the storm was raging, no one from outside could observe them, meaning the outside and inside times weren’t synched. Of course, now that they’re back in the world, it will be a mad dash to detain Hayaseura, who may know from the activities at the Wellside that it’s only a matter of time before he’s caught.

Indeed, just as Togo is ordering an arrest warrant, the Wellside goes dark, and Hayaseura heads to a chamber where Asukai Kiki has been asleep since vanishing from the hospital, serving as the totemic “Kaeru” in Narihisago’s cases. Only now it’s apparently time for her to wake up. No doubt he has a use for her that will further his plans.

At the end of the day, even a casual detective such as myself could tell there was no way Momoki was Walker, and that the most likely candidate among the staff was Hayaseura. I just wish we knew his character a little better, to give the revelation more weight. That said, bringing the mastermind behind the death of his family to justice is what Narihisago deserves. No doubt he’d die to gain that outcome, but with Hondoumachi and Fukuda by his side, it may not have to come to that.

Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia – 19 – Just Another God

You can go ahead and call this the “Kitchen Sink” episode: everyone who didn’t fight in the previous few episodes fights this week, and I mean everyone. Gorgon basically covers Mash and Ritsuka’s retreat by butting heads with Tiamat. Still, that only slows her down a bit, so with Uruk about to be stamped out by the roving Tiamat, Gilgamesh goes on the offensive, managing to personally fire 360 cannons even with a huge hole in his chest.

Kingu, who’d been telegraphed as a potential turncoat, realizes that potential in the 11th hour by detaining his mother with the Chain of Heaven, because it’s what he, Kingu, not Enkidu, wants to do. Uruk, once so sunny and grand, now looks more like Mordor, and it’s a hell of a setting for a kinda-sorta-final battle. For Gilgamesh, it is the final battle, full stop.

With Tiamat chained down and Ereshkigal’s preparations complete, all Ishtar needs to do is unleash her stored up magical energy, firing her Noble Phantasm Angalta Kigalse, blasting through the earth that separates Uruk from the Underworld and dropping Tiamat down into a domain where the rules are different: Ereshkigal rules, Tiamat is no longer invincible.

The plan seems to be going well, and Kigal certainly seems confident in her impending success, fueled as it is by warm praise from Ritsuka and Mash. However, things take a turn when Tiamat covers herself in her primordial mud, and her chaotic sea starts to infect the Underworld itself. More than anything, Ereshkigal is grossed out, but also shocked her authority can be overwritten in such a way.

Fortunately, Merlin returns in his real form to turn all that mud into harmless flowers, but Tiamat is still hanging around, is still ridiculously huge and strong and has not only healed, but transformed into an immense dragon that Merlin somewhat unimaginatively calls Beast II, the culmination of evil borne by mankind’s folly throughout its history.

Tiamat is not getting any weaker, and will only remain mortal while in the Underworld, so she’s gotta be killed before she can escape by air (she regained her flying ability). And if you need someone important killed, who do you call? Why, an Assassin, that’s who. Specifically in the Fate world, you call the first Assassin, Hassan-i Sabbah.

FGO took a week off to sharpen up the animation, and it shows: this episode looks fantastic. It’s just…things are getting awfully ridiculous and BIG now, and Tiamat has now morphed into a comically overwrought CGI final boss. With just two episodes left, I’m hoping this Tiamat business can end sooner rather than later so we have some time for a proper epilogue.

ID: INVADED – 10 – Things Fall Apart

Narihisago makes it his mission to excise each and every one of Kiki’s tormentors from her dreams by apprehending and inducing the death of all of the serial killers in the waking world. This is a process that takes over a year, and in that time he forgets this isn’t the waking world. Doing police work, catching criminals, spending time with his family; he starts to feel like the past events when he was Sakaido in the Mizuhanome were all one long elaborate dream.

But no matter how much progress he makes, Kiki doesn’t recover. In fact, she only grows more frail, and in her final meeting with Narihisago, she tells him catching Walker won’t save her; there is no saving her. The killing in her head won’t stop.

Kiki has two options: slowly lose herself, dissolve, and warp the world with the violence and corruption within her dreams…or have Narihisago end her suffering now, while she’s still recognizably human. Even though she frames it as a necessary act to save the world, Narihisago refuses.

A month or so passes, and one day Kiki vanishes, leaving a pile of unconscious nurses in her wake who later recall sharing the same dream. It would appear Kiki’s prediction about “dissolving” came to pass. That means it’s only a matter of time before the world falls apart.

While about to deal with the Perforator, whom he’d “forgotten”, Narihisago encounters Hondoumachi. By her count she’s only been in the well-within-a-well for twenty minutes, which means even though it’s felt like more than a year to Narihisago, in reality he’s been in the well for less than twenty minutes. Talk about time distortion in dreams.

Narihisago doesn’t want to pick up what Hondoumachi is putting down, and considering how long this has been his reality, who can blame him? Still, when the meeting of the two detectives is followed by the world starting to come apart at the seams, he can no longer deny that none of this is real.

He calls his family, first to ask them to get away, but eventually, to say goodbye in his own way. Suddenly, and heartbreakingly, his memories from the real world rush back into his head in sequence, from the day he married Ayako, chronicling the birth and growth of Muku, and ending with Muku’s death at the hands of Challenger and Ayako committing suicide.

These images, the initial ones being the photos on the wall of his cell, all speak for themselves, so the very loud and melodramatic song felt like overkill. Perhaps it was more the fact the lyrics were in English—and very obvious and bad—than the music itself. It was still a moving scene. It could have been better with more restraint.

With the time in this dream world dwindling rapidly, Narihisago suggests he and Hondoumachi do as much investigating as they can, but his time is up, as Anaido extracts him from the well after ten minutes. He then tells Sakaido that he identified the body in the quicksand. It’s…Narihisago Akihito, someone Sakaido doesn’t know due to the protective amnesia of the Mizuhanome…but due to the condition of his brain, the amnesia function doesn’t work on Anaido/Fukuda.

The Wellsiders didn’t know that, which means Fukuda is up to something, likely under the direction of Walker. When Fukuda shows Sakaido the photo of Narihisago and his family (which he took from the corpse), things…take a turn. This desert isn’t Momoki’s id well at all, but the “end stage” of Narihisago’s. Remembering himself in his own well produces a “well storm”, depicted as a literally wind storm, as a fail-safe to protect the conscious from the unconscious…and Walker’s form appears in that wind.

ID:Invaded is starting to get very tricky with its Inception-style premise, but with the Big Bad finally making a decisive move that would seem to have Narihisago in check, it sure seems like more answers are forthcoming. Somehow, this all manages to hold together. Here’s hoping Narihisago can similarly keep it together, or if he can’t, if Hondoumachi can save the day.

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T – 07 – See No Evil, Hear No Evil

Biribiri scored her first big win of the arc against Shokuhou and whatever shadowy organization (*cough*MEMBER*cough*) she’s working for, but could she build on the momentum gained by sending Baba packing? Thankfully, her friends are helping connect the dots, even if in Saten’s case she doesn’t know they’re friends! The psychometric girl gleans a clue from reading MISAKA’s cat’s mind.

Saten is also the first to consider that Shokuhou may have altered her, Uiharu, and Kuroko’s memories, which would explain why she has Misaka’s number on her phone. Uiharu is still in the dark, and yet she knows Misaka’s Mama, and explains to her how everyone with an entrance pass also has a GPS so Judgment and Antiskill can keep tabs on them. Little do the two know they’re being stalked by Baba’s mysterious contact, a girl in purple (I went to the wiki to learn her name is Kouzaku Mitori).

In the middle of arranging to meet with Saten and Kuroko, Misaka’s phone call is interrupted by Kouzaku, who threatens Uiharu and Mama with a knife (in two different spots) unless Misaka tells her the locations of the Sisters clones. Likely still humming from her ownage of Baba, Misaka defiantly clams up, justifiably confident her currents are faster than Kouzaku’s knives.

Misaka saves Uiharu in a novel, very Railgun way: by launching her to safety using the metal supports of the bench, then disarming and neutralizing Kouzaku. This leaves Mama unprotected, but Kuroko teleports to her location and tosses her wheelchair at the second Kouzaku. Misaka has Kuroko teleport Uiharu and Mama to a safer place, but Kouzaku’s liquid metal puppet eventually melts, its operator apparently out of range.

When Kuroko asks Misaka why she chose Uiharu over Mama, Misaka tells her her Mama wouldn’t be happy to hear her daughter saved her before someone else. Misaka also knew Kuroko knew her location would be able to teleport there in under ten seconds, and had faith in Kuroko’s ability to save Mama.

This praise makes Kuroko blush despite herself, and she blushes more when Misaka insists on drawing close to help her walk. It’s immensely fun and hilarious to watch “Tsundere Kuroko” squirm with discomfort in the same situation where she’d normally shudder with bliss. It’s as if she’s falling in love with Onee-sama all over again! Arai Satomi is killing it.

With everyone safe for the time being (except of course for MISAKA), Misaka, Saten and Kuroko continue to try to piece things together at the Judgment office. There, Saten brings up the urban legends website that she and Uiharu were using to try to track the Shadow Metal. They discover that Shokuhou Misaki likely used her power to make Uiharu tamper with the site and alter her memories.

When Misaka reactivates Uiharu’s computer, the data on the site has been reconstructed, revealing a particularly inflammatory urban legend about a “DNA computer” that “generates abilities”, and a prominent photo of Misaki in a garage with men in white coats. Perhaps that’s where MISAKA is being held? If not, at least it’s a new lead, and more evidence with which to implicate Misaki.

ID: INVADED – 09 – You Can Not (Not) Redo

When Sakaido wakes up in what he assumed would be Asukai Kiki’s Id Well, Kaeru’s dead body is nowhere to be found. Instead, he’s flanked by his very much alive wife and daughter. He remembers he isn’t the Brilliant Detective Sakaido at all, but Narihisago Akihito.

He hugs his family, who react as if he’s acting weird. But as far as Akihito is concerned, if being able to go back in time, fix what broke, and protect those who mattered most to him is “losing it”, then he doesn’t want to have it.

Without dwelling too much about what this reality is, Aki starts by paying a visit to the Challenger. Since this is before Muku was murdered, no one in this world has caught on to his depravities, except Aki, who comes in with outside knowledge from this reality’s version of the future.

Instead of rushing into Challenger’s house in a revenging rage, gun blazing, he challenges the Challenger to a “fair and square” fight, for which the killer is obviously more than game. Aki gets the absolute shit kicked out of him, but he manages to get the upper hand just as Momoki, the only backup he requested, arrives.

With the Challenger in custody, Aki directs Momoki to check out the basement, where a still-living victim sat bleeding in the “arena”. The woman turns out to be Asukai Kiki, and when Aki visits her hospital room, he’s perplexed by the fact she looks just like Kaeru. Kiki tells him how her thoughts have a way of broadcasting themselves to people around her.

Turns out Aki is in Kiki’s dream, because not only is there no sign of her injuries in the waking world (or whatever it is), but in this dream world of hers, serial killers like the Challenger come every night to kill her, with each night designated for a certain killer.

Aki soon wakes in his own bed with his worried wife and daughter by his side, while Momoki informs him the incident with the Challenger is being considered self-defense (a welcome change from the premeditated murder charge of his first “go-round”). He meets with Kiki—for real, this time—but can’t get her, an inhabitant of this “reality”, to explain what the reality is.

What she can tell him is that the person who has been letting one killer after another into her unconscious dreams every night matches the description of one John Walker: top hat, tails, and cane. This not-quite-Id Well-within-an-Id Well scenario created as many questions as it answered, and Hondomachi is still AWOL, but I am nevertheless deeply intrigued.

Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia – 18 – No Pity

In the final night of rest everyone will get before the decisive battle with Tiamat, Gilgamesh warns Ritsuka and Mash not to blame themselves for Uruks fall, or dare pity the city or its people, but to stand proud of the amazing works they have achieved. That humanity is still here at all is all down to Ritsuka forming the new goddess alliance.

Quetzelcoatl seeks refuge at the Chaldean Embassy, not wanting to upset the cityfolk who considered her a fearsome enemy. She reveals to Ritsuka that she knew Gorgon and Tiamat were seperate entities ahead of time, but couldn’t tell the truth lest Ritsuka or others come to pity Gorgon.

Ishtar and Mash have a nice one-on-one, looking up at the stars of those who came before them, lived, shined, and died. Mash still fears battle, but because she has so many things she cares about and doesn’t want to lose. Leonidas once told her that heart of hers would be an invincible shield as long as that heart doesn’t break from the strain.

Finally, Gilgamesh meets Kingu atop the ziggurat, and has neither hatred nor pity for the one who stole his best friend’s body, which Gil heals using a grail from his treasury. Gil regards Kingu’s current position as an enviable one: his own free will is there to pick up and take. Kingu seems to take that to heart when he shows up for Gil’s final rally to his warriors of Uruk.

With that, Ritsuka, Mash, Ishtar and Quetzalcoatl head towards the rapidly advancing Tiamat, only hours away from a surely doomed Uruk. While en route they hit a cloud of lahmu and a resurrected Dark Ushiwakamaru, who is determined to stop them in their tracks before they do the same to her “Mother.”

Yet it is ultimately Ushiwaka who is stopped, and by her own former subordinate Benkei, returning to make up for the wrongs of his lord. As with her last appearance, there isn’t the slightest hint that Ushi could ever come back from her dark transformation, but Benkei isn’t looking to save her, but give her an honorable death, ending her suffering and anger for good.

He achieves this by holding Ushiwakamaru and her shadow clones in place as the wake of Kuku’s booming Noble Phantasm, Piedra del Sol, washes over them. Ushiwaka and Benkei’s Spirit Origins disappear, but while Tiamat is briefly stopped, she sheds her legs and starts to float above the sea of flame, despite being an earth goddess.

Since the plan was to drag her down into the underworld, the fact she is now airborne jeopardizes everything. Kuku doesn’t stand still, but takes advantage of Tiamat’s pause to throw everything she’s got left at her. Ritsuka fortifies Kuku’s Magical Energy, allowing her to unleash Ultimo Tope: Patada, in an increasingly awesome avant-garde display of destruction.

Essentially transforming herself into a comet (like the one that struck the Yucatan peninsula and decimated the dinosaurs), Kuku is able to destroy a number of Tiamat’s barriers, but once the dust clears, there’s no sign of Kuku remaining—we saw her very flesh cracking and shedding as the launched her attack—but Tiamat is still intact.

The Chaldeans’ options continue to dwindle as Tiamat keeps throwing wrenches into their carefully-laid plans, but it is not over yet. Kuku’s attack left a wound at which they can still scratch. Ishtar is still on the board. Ereshkigal’s underworld is still below if they can only manage to bring Tiamat back down to earth. Finally, the now-healed free agent Kingu still looms on the sidelines. I can’t imagine he’ll stay there.