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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To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 11

railgun11

Mikoto crosses paths with Kamijou Touma while he’s wrestling with a money-stealing vending machine. Kuroko rushes to the two of them in horror, but leaves when she realizes they’re not a couple and Mikoto is happy. A MISAKA clone then shows up, ruining Mikoto’s mood when she tells her the Level 6 Shift project is proceeding on schedule. She does some digging and learns 183 facilities have been contracted for the project, and realizes all of Academy City may be in on it, so she decides to take the whole city on, even if she has to oppose Kuroko and Judgment.

No rest for the weary…well, hardly any, as Mikoto doesn’t have much time with Kamijou Touma putting her at ease. This episode started with an ordinary guy (who can negate any esper power) and an ordinary girl (who can summon lightning on a whim) having a few precious normal moments. But by the end, Mikoto is almost certain she’ll have to shed any hope of living a normal life if she wants to deliver justice to those who wronged her and her clones, the dead of which now number 10,021.

But while Mikoto is going to take on this massive burden, she can’t abide the clones getting all up in her face; that just makes things worse. Sure enough, by episode’s end Accelerator is chewing on the ear (we think) of the clone who meets with Mikoto. We learn how he became involved with the Level 6 Project, and well, it doesn’t really do much to humanize him; he basically joined up because he liked how fucked up the human experiments were. So yeah, still a heel. And while Mikoto is determined to keep Kuroko out of the impending action, she’s also conscious of the fact they may not be on the same side when the shit hits the fan.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

 

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 10

Misaka Mikoto

During a lull in the fighting, Mikoto notices that Frenda didn’t clean up all of her bombs before leaving, so when she confronts Mugino, she has an army of dolls she can control with magnetism. Mugino destroys most of them by her refracting beam with silicon chips, and reveals that she’s the Meltdowner, fourth-strongest esper. One doll smacks her in the head, and while she’s out, Mikoto heads to the command center and destroys the remaining equipment, completing her mission. Mugino wakes up and their fight continues, until Mikoto lures her onto a catwalk above a large pit and uses Frenda’s explosive tape to send her falling. Mikoto escapes and spends the night in a hotel. The news says the company she was attacking has declared bankruptcy. Then she bumps into Kamijou Touma.

Once we learn that Mugino is the fourth-strongest esper in Academy City, we knew Mikoto was going to have a hard time staying alive, let alone defeating her far less-winded opponent. If what Mugino says is true, the rankings are somewhat arbitrary anyway, so for all Mikoto knows, she’s actually less powerful or evenly-matched. That means a direct attack won’t work; she has to think outside the box. Her saving grace is Frenda’s carelessness in leaving behind so much material Mikoto can use against Mugino. This diminishes (if not outright cancels out) all of the cunning and ingenuity she demonstrated whilst softening Mikoto up for her boss. But while it was a case of Villains Acting Stupidly, in her defense she didn’t expect to be so quickly dismissed by said boss.

As we predicted last week, going it alone against even a wounded Mikoto was a bad choice on Mugino’s part. She allowed her pride and desire to be seen as someone who defeated the Railgun in a fair fight drive her judgment, and while up to this point ITEM was is complete control of the situation, her selfish decision combined with Frenda’s goof-up led to Railgun escaping their clutches and living to fight another day (we like how Mikoto extended a lifeline to Mugino at the last minute, only to have it swiped away.) The next morning after visiting the last facility, which is abandoned and inoperative, she reads that headline and thinks for a second that it might be over. But nothing’s over. There’s still darkness in the city that must be rooted out. The odds may never be in Mikoto’s favor, but she won’t stop moving forward.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Wow, Frenda left a shitload of bombs at that facility! And Mikoto was able to modify them to be manipulated in no time at all…
  • Mugino clearly resents the fact that a uppity, puny little girl is ranked higher than her. Mikoto uses her vanity against her by calling her an old hag in turn.
  • While Frenda told Mikoto she couldn’t care less about the morals of her client, Mugino decides to learn more about the project they’re working on, and learns something even we might not know.
  • Hi Touma! Seeing as how he’s in the OP, it was only a matter of time before he showed up. With his help Mikoto probably could have easily defeated Mugino, but he was probably asleep in bed during that battle, so…

Kotoura-san – 01

Kotoura Haruka was born with ESP, allowing her to read minds. But as she always blurted out what others were thinking, she became and object of loathing and inadvertently pushed away both her parents and everyone who ever met her. In the present she lives alone and transferred to a new school, but doesn’t escape the backlash of her powers. However, the boy seated next to her in class, Manabe Yoshihisa, reaches out to her, impressed that she can read minds. Haruka warns him to stay away or be hurt, but he rejects her notions and declares them friends.

We really liked this. The premise of this show is exceedingly easy to lay out: Girl who has struggled with her telepathy all her life finally meets someone who wants to be her friend anyway. And yet, we were surprised how deeply this show delved into her past turmoil, and how affecting it was. Like Muv-Luv did with Yui, this series wastes no time establishing just how fucked-up and horrible of a life Kotoura has had to endure thus far. The prologue gradually gets darker and darker (visually and dramatically) as Kotoura grows up and starts destroying everything around her, simply by being honest with people. It’s hard to watch, and we don’t mean that it a bad way – despite her utter lack of tact (she’s a kid, what do you want?), you can’t help but sympathize with her. Her telepathy is a curse, while everyone around her thinks she’s a monster.

Would her parents really so callously abandon her? Would absolutely everyone she meets up to high school (with the exception of her kindly grandfather) really find her so repellent  For the purposes of this series, yes and yes. The end of this episode marks the first bright spot in her life, like, ever, when someone, Manabe, finally reaches outto her. When she reads his mind, sometimes it’s dirty, but it’s never mean like everyone else. Her insistence that she stay away is well-grounded in what we’ve seen; she may not mean to do it, but she has ruined lives. At this point, she’s given up ever connecting with anyone, because she’s afraid she’ll just push them away and hurt them. But even before she uses her power to save Manabe’s life, he doesn’t consider her a monster or a curse. He considers her a new friend. We may have just found our dark horse of the Winter!


Rating: 8 (Great)

Baby, Please Kill Me! – 03

Yasuna attempts to get a rise out of Sonya and by dabbling in a variety of different disciplines, from spoon-bending to voodoo curses to card pyramids, fortune-telling, palm-reading, playing in the rain, and sumo. She also lends Sonya her favorite stuffed animal Pyonsuke, but she manhandles it. All the while a mysterious vermillion-haired character attempts to make her presence known to them, but is constanly missing them.

At it’s heart, this is series is a double act. Yasuna is the silly, bubbly, erratic comic, while Sonya is the stoic, serious straight man (girl). Humor is derived by throwing them into all manner of situations in which their personalities clash. The twist is, Sonya doesn’t just stand around and take abuse; she isn’t above smacking, slapping, kicking, scratching, biting, and choking Yasuna for her insolence, but while she possesses superior strength and agility, Yasuna gets small victories every now and then, which keeps things balanced.

We’re talking comedy that goes back to the nineteenth century, with the British music halls and American vaudeville scene. It’s tried and true. All you need is a good duo to perform it, and I have to say I like this pair. They’ve got good voices, and it’s fun to listen to their back-and-forth about whatever the subjects of the episode are. Occasionally Agiri pops her head in, but this is mostly the Yasuna and Sonya Show. Which is why it’s funny that the red-haired kid can’t catch a break and insert herself in said show. It’s almost as if the series is acknowledging another character isn’t even that necessary.


Rating: 3

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko 12 (Fin; Until the Blu-ray)

Can the wrong in a lifetime’s worth of indifference and passivity be righted in one glorious moment? It kinda is this week, the final episode of Denpa to air on TV. Makoto has been dreading the day of the big game, but Yashiro’s words moved him; he takes a stand and makes his big entrance as the hero for once. And he does a fairly nice job.

I like baseball settings, so I’m not annoyed in the slightest that this episode was all about baseball on the surface. But baseball can be a metaphor for countless things. Baseball is a sport with roles. There are background roles, temp roles, and lead roles. It’s all about specialization. But sometimes, one player has it all on their shoulders. The stress of this leads the ace pitcher of the market district, Maekawa’s dad, to go AWOL.

Sent by his aunt to look for him, Makoto finds him and finds a kindred spirit in terms of how he sees himself, the world, and his role in it. After he convinces him to come back with him, there’s a priceless and extremely hilarious scene where Mr. Maekawa, who has to sit behind Makoto on his bike, sternly interrogates him on his intentions with his daughter. Makoto just has to carrry everyone on his bike…

So yeah, Makoto gets out of his funk and steps out of the shadow of his doubt and fear and just goes for it. He manages to hit Hanazawa’s pitch, but it’s a pop fly until Yashiro apparently changes the wind to carry the ball all the way into the drink for a home run. Unfortunately for him, the only kiss he gets is from his aunt. It would seem that while he may have learned to be more assertive, Makoto still needs a lot of adolescence points before attaining his ultimate goal. The true conclusion will come in a few months. Rating: 3.5

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko 10

Makoto meets his second “alien” since arriving in town. Her name is Yashiro, and he has a sneaking suspicion she’s a local runaway girl he’s heard about. And naturally, Meme invites her in. When her astronaut’s helmet finally comes off, she’s revealed to possess the same otherworldly beauty as cousin Erio, only with glowing white hair rather than blue. Erio’s beauty, btw, is what engenders so much envy and resentment among other girls in the town, according to Hanazawa-san.

Yashiro is more forward with Makoto, and readily insults him, due to the “half-assed” way he and Erio live their life. I’d beg to differ, especially since Makoto pops his phone-call-with-Ryuushi cherry this week as well. He even learns that Nakajima, the guy he played ball with last week, is a guy she turned down, and she heavily hints that if it was Makoto who confessed, her response would have been very different. She also invites him to join her at the town festival. Despite the fact they didn’t meet in person this week, things are moving along very nicely in the girlfriend arena.

But this Yashiro kid has the same bewitching power that Erio has; perhaps more concentrated. And even I can’t explain how she made so much water fall on Makoto when he was fifteen feet away behind a fence, except to concede that perhaps she is in fact an esper as well as an alien. It was certainly the most “supernatural” phenomenon to occur so far, if you don’t count the fact the rather plain Makoto is attracting so many ladies. Finally, was it just me, or did this episode contain an unusual amount of cutsiness? Rating: 3.5