Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T – 14 – Here There Be Dragons (and Dancing)

With all other conflicts resolved, all that’s left is for Touma to capitalize on all of the breaks his allies have given him, charge in, and break that nasty shell around Mikoto once and for all. When he does so, his arm flies off from the impact, but a veritable novelty nuts can full of multicolored frikkin’ dragons erupts and attacks the shell from every angle until it finally shatters. Even Sogiita is impressed by such a grand display of Guts.

Since her Level 6 pupa destroyed her clothes, Mikoto ends up naked once the remnants of the shell crumble from her body, but Touma is ready to cover her up with his big jacket. He could sense she was mulling some kind of suicide tactic that would purge all the sinister elite forces of Academy City all by her lonesome.

But if there’s anything he learned from this arc, and which she can impart from her eventual rescue, is that nothing can be done about that all at once, or by just one person. Little by little, they’ll change things and shine light on the dark corners together. Before leaving the site of their battle, Sogiita notices the strange metal residue that wasn’t there before, and is likely similar to the material Saten was investigating before everything went nuts.

With that, Mikoto makes her rounds, starting with MISAKA, who is on the mend thanks to Heaven Canceller’s ministrations and the elimination of the virus affecting the Sisters as a whole. But the real treat is when she visits a recovering Mitsuko in the hospital. She offers her heartfelt apologies, but Mitsuko offers her own for not following through on her big words. Mikoto is someone she and others will always naturally gravitate toward.

By watching so many be inspired to action on Mikoto’s behalf, Mitsuko herself has become more compassionate towards others, especially when she learns what Wannai and Akatsuki did on her behalf. Mikoto thinks she’s “not that great” a person, but that’s for others to decide—and they’ve long since decided she is great, and worth putting their lives on the line to aid.

In the aftermath of their epic sub-boss battle, a depleted Kuroko simply left a handcuffed Mitori in the sewers for others to pick up later. As Mitori resigns herself to becoming rat food after realizing the mission has failed if she’s still breathing, she’s visited not by a member of Judgment, but by Misaki. Will she free Mitori as a fellow friend of the dearly departed Dolly? Is there something else afoot for the scheming-yet-slow sparkly-eyed beauty?

Only time will tell, but having learned of all Misaki did to protect the city, Mikoto is committed to seeking common ground with Misaki in future endeavors, citing “her own brand of justice and convictions.” Of course, once Mikoto learns that the memories Misaki implanted in her friends involved her gastrointestinal distress the whole damn school knows about, Mikoto immediately reconsiders simply killing Misaki the next chance she gets.

Misaki also restored the memories of Kuroko, Saten and Uiharu, which almost felt like a bittersweet, almost cruel move, since it meant the off-camera demise of the more nuanced Amnesia!Kuroko, truly one of this arc’s MVPs. I for one would have liked to see her give Mikoto a proper goodbye, even though that would have been tricky as a practical matter.

Aside from Sogiita’s mention of the metal at the battle site and Misaki locating Mitori, this episode doesn’t provide a lot of hints about what future threats are to come, and that’s a good thing; especially after all the episode delays, I was looking for closure on the arc and an opportunity for everyone to kick back, relax, and celebrate their victory, even if none of the city will ever know what transpired.

That means fireworks, festival stall foods…and a positively adorkable folk dance between Mikoto and Touma, set up beautifully by Saten and Uiharu. Kuroko may have her objections to sharing her onee-sama, but the other two acknowledge what Touma did for Mikoto, not to mention how Mikoto acts all flustered whenever he’s around. Of course, Mikoto manages to make herself turn beet red when she also acknowledges she treasures Touma by dint of saying she treasured everyone who helped her this time.

Of course, Saten and Uiharu can only keep Kuroko at bay so long, as she eventually teleport-kicks Touma to the side in order to claim Mikoto for herself, citing “time’s up!” Similarly, while this was a much needed episode to wrap up the arc and provide closure and a period of relief, the preview for the next episode indicates we’ll be getting right back down to business (Edit: it will be an epilogue episode after all…but I don’t mind). All I know is, this was one of if not the best arcs of the entire Index/Railgun franchise, and it will be hard to top.

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2 – 07 – Wandering Stars

Nishikata has big plans for teasing Takagi on the camping trip, no doubt hoping a change of scenery will restore some of his mojo. During the class photo, he plans to make a half-peace sign that will look like a creepy hand behind her back. Alas, no matter where the two are, Takagi is always a step ahead, flashing a face funny enough that not only does Nishikata miss his chance, but he’s in the midst of laugher camera shutter clicks.

The show pulls out of the photo, presumably into the future, to a grown-up, smiling Takagi. Something tells me that isn’t the smile of someone who didn’t end up getting her man when all was said and done and the teasing and games turned to straight-up love.

Takagi and Nishikata end up paired up again when Mano needs a rest and they both make sure Nakai stays with her. It starts to rain suddenly (they’re in the mountains, where weather actually is that fickle) and end up alone in a small shelter together, watching that rain (not, as Nishikata points out, for the first time).

He decides to challenge Takagi to another game, involving blind tasting of the snacks they’ve brought. Clearly he didn’t think this through, because Takagi all-too-easily exploits his opening to make him feed her, his hand to her mouth. Even when the rain stops, Takagi wants one more game…so she can feed him.

After that, it’s time for the old Japanese school camping trip standby of homemade curry. Yukari cuts her finger, so Mina and Sanae have to do all the cooking among them. Nishikata, meanwhile, is too preoccupied with how he can stem what is so far a complete rout of him by Takagi in the teasing department.

When she approaches him, correctly observing he’s thinking of a way to get back at her, she presents him with game that all too easy to win: all he has to do is hold her hand. Nishikata bristles at such a potentially embarrassing gesture, but then remembers that hand-holding between sexes is all too normal during the folk dance ’round the bonfire that night.

To make things a little more difficult for Nishikata, Takagi is arranged in such a way that it takes a good long time for them to come around to each other. As Nishikata sees Takagi holding hands with other boys and smiling, I couldn’t help but notice a tinge of jealousy in his face, along with the thought that Takagi actually wants to hold hands with him.

Both are shocked when the music stops just when they’re about to pair up; their hands remaining an inch apart as the other kids disperse. “That’s too bad, Nishikata” she says to him before joining the other girls for a bath. “Just a bit more and we would have fallen in love,” referring to the school legend.

The thing is, Takagi and Nishikata don’t need any help from bonfires or folk dances to enjoy spending time together. Fate seems to already paired them up; all Nishikata needs to do is grow up a bit more. After lights out, when Nishikata can’t sleep, he encounters her making a wishing on the stars. When the patrolling teacher approaches, they have to hide in a very small cave, huddled closely together.

When the teacher finally leaves, they stay put for a little while, ostensibly in case he comes back, but also because it’s just frikkin’ nice. As they gaze up at the stars together, Nishikata asks what she was wishing for earlier. She tells him she wished for exactly what she ended up getting: to go stargazing with him.

While he may consider that more teasing, one look at Takagi’s face makes it clear she was being completely honest. My wish is that Nishikata will realize that one day.