To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 24 (Fin)

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The four small groups holding back Study’s AIMs are supplemented by the entirety of Judgment, stepping in after Anti-Skill’s hands were tied. With Febri’s help, Mikoto reaches Janie’s general position, but Aritomi sends hundreds of AIMs to surround her in an arena. When the first waves of AIMs are taken out, his colleagues sortie in heavier-duty robots armed with a facsimile of the Meltdowner’s beam weapon. On the front lines, they’re taken care of by a robot built by Kongou Airlines and piloted by Saten and Uiharu. In the arena, a furious Mugino and the rest of ITEM mop up the robots.

Fearing defeat is eminent, Aritomi enables Janie’s “Final Stage”, which will launch a missile from orbit that will turn Academy City to Ash. He tries to commit suicide, but Mikoto stops him, vehemently voices her commitment to protecting Febri and the city. As Shinobu and Saten coax Febri into forming a connection with Janie, Mikoto and Kuroko pilot the Kongou-bot up into orbit – with the Sister network assisting with calculations. Mikoto launches the robot at the missile before it fractures into warheads, averting disaster. Later, after Mikoto & Co. bid farewell to Shinobu, Febri, and Janie boarding an overseas flight, they agree to grab lunch before heading to their classes.

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We’re not going to sit here and tell you this episode didn’t have its share of plausibility issues. If you watched, you saw what we saw: a bunch of frail high schoolers holding back giant sophisticated robots with glorified shields and spears and low-level esper powers. We saw live ammunition being fired into large crowds of unprotected people and no one was shot. We saw Study Corp’s mission quickly evolving wanting to be recognized to wanting to turn the entire city to ash. And yes, we saw the a hastily-built off-screen mecha being used to even the odds on the ground, then used to launch into orbit, where Mikoto and Kuroko hold their breath while destroying a missile.

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None of this makes any damn sense, but Raildex has never been about plausibility or hard science. It’s been about cute slice-of-life interrupted by elaborate spectacle. And we’ll admit, watching everyone fighting together in one huge climactic battle was fun and exciting enough for us to forgive the many implausible jumps the episode takes as the stakes are raised. Of course, we were also a bit spoiled by watching the Index film, in which pretty much the same thing happens, only even more parties are involved. But as ridiculous as things got, the point is, many people together can do great things, things no one could ever do alone.

This season started with Sisters who thought they were expendable puppets. Mikoto and Touma helped them understand they were more. And those sisters were the first expression of that idea that there’s strength in numbers, a lesson Mikoto finally learned which led to all the great deeds that took place in this finale. Study was a group working together too, but they were megalomaniacal thugs threatening the city and the innocent. Once a larger group was mobilized against them, Aritomi never had a chance. In the last montage, we see that no one is alone and all’s right in the world…until the next baddie comes along.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

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To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 23

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After telling Mikoto he and his colleagues will start a “revolution” tomorrow, Aritomi locks her up with Nunotaba. Mikoto recognizes Nunotaba acting as she once did, and tells her she’ll be able to do more by depending on others and letting them depend on her. Mikoto uses her esper ability to move her body just as Kuroko arrives to rescue them. Nunotaba stays behind to learn the location of Study Corp.’s base and Janie.

Mikoto returns to Judgment, where both Uiharu and Kongou learn Study has deployed 20,000 AIM units around tomorrow’s Assembly, which they’ll control remotely using Janie. Everyone agrees to help Mikoto save Febri and her sister. At sunrise, Study Corp. activates Janie, at which point Febri can detect her location. Mikoto heads that way, while her friends form a perimeter around around the Assembly gates, ready to defend it from the swarming AIMs.

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“By depending on others, and letting them depend on you, people can exced what they can do as individuals.”

Damn straight. If it weren’t for leaning on her eager-to-assist friends, Mikoto would still be at square one, and Study Corp.’s revolution would have taken place by surprise. Instead, Mikoto infiltrates a lab and gets captured by Aritomi, who, annoyingly predictable antagonist as he is, helpfully provides hints as to his plan. And again Mikoto relies on her friends to fill in the blanks, and to know where to be and what to do when Study makes their move.

Now armed with the wisdom of relying on others, Mikoto sees Nunotaba struggle as she did with the feeling she had to go it alone, and getting frustrated and feeling “useless” when going it alone came up short. But she’s not useless; she’s just ineffective when she insists on going it alone, as Mikoto was. So she too asks for help, and agrees to help out in return. Therestina mocked Princess Railgun for having so many friends, believing them to be fake. They aren’t, and those many friends (including the Sisters) will prove crucial in stopping Aritomi’s revolution and saving Febri and Janie.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • It is sad to see Aritomi in the cold open speaking to a mostly empty assembly hall; it makes us understand the frustration that much come from working so hard and getting no recognition for it. 
  • And he has a point: the flashier espers get all the attention in Academy City. But there are better ways of changing that status quo. Swallowing his pride, reaching out to espers like Mikoto, and starting a public dialogue would be one way. Launching a large-scale terrorist attack will only get him and Study recognized as terrorists.
  • The moment Mikoto uses electricity to get up off the bed was pretty damned badass.
  • “Let’s guard the Level 5 esper, the extent of whose powers we don’t fully understand, with weak little security bots we can find!” Study Corp: cutting corners where it counts.
  • Febri changes into the white dress Kongou got her. Turns out it was Nunotaba who got her the black dress, which will almost certainly be worn by Janie if/when they rescue her.
  • Also cool: seeing everyone taking their positions against the coming onslaugh…though we’re a little worried about Saten and Uiharu. Isn’t the former a Level 0 and the latter’s only power maintaining temperatures?

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?

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 21

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Heaven Canceler tells Mikoto Febri’s body creates a poison that must be neutralized with her lollipops. Finding her creators is the key to helping her, but they’re likely in the underground. Mikoto plans to look for them herself, but after Kongou tells her about her similar situation, she decides to tell Kuroko, Saten, and Uiharu, who immediately begin an investigation. After analyzing the candy, Canceler determines Febri has only 72 hours to live without more lollipops. When Mikoto tells him she’s resolved to save her, he arranges a meeting between her and the incarcerated Therestina.

Early in the episode, things were starting to feel all too familiar: Mikoto learns a dark truth about her charge; Mikoto decides to keep it all to herself and not get her friends involved; Mikoto conducts a sloppy, inefficient investigation, gets caught, and gets her ass kicked. Fortunately, she too realizes she’s on well-trodden ground. Last week Kongou saved her and the others; this week Kongou saves us by unwittingly convincing Mikoto that this time, she should tell her friends, since true friends share joys and dangers. Her encounter with an oblivious Kuroko before setting out is the catalyst that induces her to tell everyone about Febri’s nature, her suspicions, her past dealings with dangerous people.

After saying all this and voicing her uncertainty she’ll be able to protect them from the coming “darkness”, as Canceler puts it, the three girls react exactly how we thought: they don’t give it a second thought and thrust immediately into Investigation Mode. You can see it on Mikoto’s face as she beholds this: she may be good at kicking ass and making powerful enemies, but these girls may well be better than she is at this kind of stuff. It probably also occurs to her that things may have gone more smoothly had she also called upon them to help her in the Sisters arc. But the important thing is, she’s no longer doing things herself, which means those who must answer for their misdeeds will have more than just her to deal with.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Nice assist by MISAKA 10032, whose observations makes Mikoto suspect Nunotaba Shinobu is involved in some fashion (as the audience, we know this to be true, though we don’t know why).
  • We really wouldn’t mind a Railgun spinoff starring Kongou, Awatsuki and Wannai.
  • Febri is actually pretty good at drawing Gekota. Her drawing of Mii is less impressive.
  • We also love how the girls are all discussing the investigation as a restless Febri simply goofs off like a real kid does in such situations. Very accurate depiction there.
  • We’ve always seen Anti-Skill’s Yomikawa Aiho as a stickler for the rules, but when HQ nicks her evidence, she’s pissed enough to hand a crucial component they missed to Mikoto, which is definitely against the rules.
  • We were concerned about the lollipop supply before Canceler instituted the 72-hour ticking clock, but you mean to tell us this medical genius can’t make a serviceable facsimile in the interim? C’mon!
  • Ah yes, Therestina, the villain from the first series, and definitely knowledgeable about the underground scientific world. We see and intriguing if uneasy partnership ahead.

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 20

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The robots that attacked Febli had no batteries, leaving Antiskill scratching their heads. Mikoto, Saten, UIhau and Shirai take Febri out to eat and to a bathhouse. While on their way home, they keep running into detour signs, corralling them into a dead end where they’re attacked by a giant robot deployed by Aritomi and his fellow researchers. Mikoto’s electricity has no effect on it, but Kongou swoops in to save them. Febri develops a fever and is hospitalized. Mikoto & Co. spend the night there, and in the morning Heaven Canceler tells Mikoto Febri is man-made.

“Those who rely on their powers are powerless,” says one of the researchers now targeting Mikoto. They’re bold words, infused with a degree of bitterness and jealousy, spoken by someone who is tired of the espers getting all the attention. But they also ring a bit hollow in light of what’s happened so far. It may be more accurate to say “those who rely on their powers will be bailed out by their friends’ powers.” Kongou is proving to be the X-factor of this arc, foiling the brainiacs’ plans at every turn in her usual arrogant-but-elegant style.

It’s also hard to take these guys seriously though, considering how slowly this episode went. There’s absolutely no hurry to reveal who they are or how they plan to defeat the espers. We hang out with the girls as they entertain Febri, and the battle is almost an afterthought, thanks to Kongou just happening to be in the right place at the right time. Still, Febri being present for both instances of machines working without internal power and the revelation she’s an android got us a little more invested. If she’s the source of the machines’ power, then Kongou’s attack harmed her too.


Rating: 6 (Good)

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 19

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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)