Ruiko and the others befriend Febri, but she’s apprehensive of Mikoto. They can’t find a record of her anywhere, so they list her as a child error and arrange for her to stay at the Cypress Children’s Home. It isn’t ready to take her in yet, so for the next five days Ruiko and the others will have to take care of her. At the grounds of the Academic Assembly, Ruiko leaves Febri with Mikoto, but they get separated. When they find her, Aritomi has sent robots after her, but Mikoto dispatches them, surprising Aritomi, who along with his science team votes to experiment on the third-strongest esper, the Railgun.
This was another one of those “interacting with little kids” episodes that Railgun/Index does sometimes (in fact, probably every episode with Index can count as one of those). It’s not that we don’t like kids (nor is it like Mikoto, where they don’t like her), it’s just that these episodes tend to be quite slow and plodding, in a series that is always best when the pace is, forgive the expression, more electric. As for Febri (or Febli), she’s cute as a button, but otherwise was basically your run-of-the-mill lost kid: shy and weary, but eventually opening up to everyone but Mikoto, whose name she inexplicably knows (Ruiko and Uiharu also make a good ‘mom-and-dad’ pair).
Still, we learn next to nothing about her, except that Aritomi and his colleagues are aware of her existence. We assumed she was an escaped scientific subject on the order of the MISAKAs or Last Order, or possibly even some kind of android built by Aritomi’s team. But the truth of her origin has yet to reveal itself, so for now she seems to be the piece that led Aritomi to Mikoto, starting another story of espers vs. the knowledge- and power-greedy scientists, only on a smaller scale, and with students (not adults) as the antagonists.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Mugino and ITEM report to a job, but all they encounter are attack-bots, unaware they’re being observed by the researcher Aritomi. Later, Kongo Mitsuko stops a purse snatcher with her esper powers, but is reprimaned by Aritomi. Edasaki Banri is discharged from the hospital. She’ll be living with Haruue Erii, who will be moving out of Uiharu’s flat. Uiharu arranges a party for Banri, but she and Kuroko must attend to Judgement duties. When they return, Uiharu brings Haruue taiyaki and they share a tearful hug. While Misaka, Kuroko, Saten and Uiharu are headed home, they find a tiny girl lying in the flowers, who tells them her name is Febli, and that she knows Misaka Mikoto.
While last week was a wholly transitory episode focusing on slice-of-life, this week manages to place a couple of new game pieces on the board in preparation for the concluding arc of the season. The Acadmic Assembly is coming, which seems to be a venue where those with high academic aptitude but minimal esper powers (or none) can shine. (Rather amusingly, the Level 0 Saten knows nothing of this). It also seems like a breeding ground for collective resentment by those without esper powers towards those who do. The episode seemed to set Aritomi as the next villain: someone who doesn’t like it when arrogant espers like Kongo flaunt their powers carelessly.
But both Aritomi and lil’ Febli are very much still on the margins of this episode, most of which centers on the triangle of adorableness that is Uiharu, Haruue, and Edasaki. Uiharu is sad about Haruue moving out, but Haruue wants to be for Edasaki what Uiharu was to her, and Uiharu can appreciate both Haruue and Edasaki’s desire to be – to borrow a term from Potte – More Aggressive. Uiharu may think she’s just doing her job as a friend and Judgment officer, but her selflessness and dedication to those she cares about make her an extraordinary person, worthy of praise.
Rating:7 (Very Good)