Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T – 13 – Wagering to Lose

After a week-long postponement, followed by roughly 8 minutes (or a full third of the episode) of Kuroko recapping events so far, events finally, finally take a turn in the good guys’ favor.

There may not be a full episode of full content here, but what we do get is just so goddamn good—not to mention perfectly set up by the events previous episodes—I can’t hold back my “9” rating rubber stamp, which will simply keep coming out as long as Railgun continues to be this compelling and satisfying.


For one thing, even a recap is a delight if narrated by Arai Satomi, including her flowery fluster when mentioning Mikoto’s intoxicatingly trusting smile. The recap is also plot-appropriate, as Kuroko is “calmly reassessing the facts” in real time prior to taking decisive action against Kozaku Mitori.

When Kuroko finally appears in the sewer just as Mitori is about to celebrate her win, it’s not only a great moment (one forgets how much Kuroko can bring the pain), but the culmination of a logical string of events.

Mitori is ultimately undone not just by Kuroko’s constant countermoves, but by the simple fact that she’s operating all on her own (Kihara is obviously indisposed), while Kuroko has the trusty pair of Ruiko and Uiharu back at the Judgment office.

Uiharu is able to isolate the one festival relay camera Mitori hacked out of the thousands and manipulate it so Mitori loses her tactical advantage…at the height of her confidence in said advantage. A proud Ruiko fanning an exhausted Uiharu is the cherry on top.

Over at Exterior HQ, Kihara uses the code he forcibly extracted from the asphyxiating Misaki…only for the giant brain to self-destruct, rendering Kihara unconscious.

We backtrack to when Misaki first considered how she’d use the gravitron panels against Kihara.  Like Kuroko, she’s calmly assessing her options until the only one that gives her the best chance of winning is…to bet on losing.

In a stunning gamble, she turns her Mental Out remote on herself, switching the limit release code with the self-destruct code then erasing her memory of doing it. Kihara assumed from her body language she was out of options…but only because she herself forgot she had one more option. Just smart, competent writing.

With both Kuroko and Misaki scoring victories, it was inevitable the good guys wouldn’t come out on top in every situation, and so it is with Mikoto, who remains on the way to Level 6.

Even when Kihara goes down and she regains her self-awareness, she remains trapped in the slowly-developing star that is her berserk mode. Sogiita is bloodied and gassed, and all Touma can seem to do is defend from intermittent attacks.

But as he says before the credits roll, this isn’t over. I’m sure Sogiita has a second or third wind in him, and he and Touma no longer have to deal with this alone; Kuroko and Misaki are now free to assist. Even if Misaki is adamant that she doesn’t care what happens to Mikoto, like Mitori she doesn’t like how things ended with Dolly.

Railgun T Episode 13 Delayed Indefinitely (Updating)

Bummer…

Who’s going to step up and stop the out-of-control Mikoto from becoming a supernova (or white dwarf)? Who is going to punch Gensei in his smug cyborg face and foil his plans? Will Kuroko ever get her memories of onee-sama back?

Uh…dunno. We’re seemingly almost at the end of what has so far been the best Toaru arc yet (only five chapters remain to be adapted, apparently), but this week’s episode has been postponed.

UPDATE: Episode 13 will air May 1. We’ll have a review soon after we’ve watched it!

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T – 12 – A Star is (Being) Born

Misaki hoped that Touma would be able to keep Mikoto under some measure of control with his Imagine Breaker, but that possibility went south almost immediately. Touma finds himself staring down an inability to do anything other than slow Mikoto down a little, and even that largely depends on properly utilizing Gunha’s One Punch Man-style strength.

Meanwhile, Misaki shadows Gensei until she can’t conceal herself anymore, and learns he’s using Multiskill to borrow powers from espers he’s “acquired” (i.e. abducted). He needs the code embedded in her brain (and located nowhere else) in order to release the limiter on Exterior, allowing him to control Mikoto better.

Gensei also deduces that around the halfway point of her transformation to Level 6, she’ll attain other-dimensional entity status. She’ll touch godhood for only an instant, then “come apart” as an individual. And like a dying star, she’ll either end up a withering white dwarf or an explosive supernova—in either case it’s probably curtains for Academy City.

Misaki believes the fact she’s on her home turf, a place full of traps she control, gives her an edge, but it’s not long before Gensei pins her shirt to the wall with ice crystals. Luckily he misses her vitals (and incidentally, her body), but his ability to manipulate air means he can remove all the air from her immediate vicinity, and choke the code out of her.

Fortunately for Misaki, Ginsei’s penchant for theatricality and tendency to get carried away works to her advantage, as she sacrifices a bit of her shirt to slip away while he’s lost in momentary megalomaniacal rapture. A recurring gag throughout the ensuing cat-and-mouse chase is that the un-athletic Misaki is running at, shall we say…a leisurely pace? More moseying than running, really. Just a momentous little nugget of continuity, that.

Meanwhile, Kuroko continues her search for puppetmaster Kozaku Mitori, as she systematically deprives the puppet of sight (destroying the auxiliary camera) and sound (using anti-eavesdropping devices to nullify its echolocation). Her secret agent gadgets and ability to teleport keep Kuroko safe, right up until Ruiko and Uiharu find the building where Mitori is holed up.

Once in that building’s lobby, Kuroko screws up by not assuming Mitori could have a Mk.1 Eyeball on her. She gets grazed in the side and a deep cut to the arm, but she’s still standing, while Uiharu has trained all surveillance cameras on the building, so there’s no escape for Mitori. That’s when Kuroko starts to feel that something is off…is this just an elaborate exercise to keep her busy and out of the way? Is there still something else going on?

Back at Exterior HQ Misaki does her very best to stay one step ahead of Gensei, but while she’s an extremely shrewd and capable (if physically slow) chess player, she’s hamstrung by a much weaker poker game. With his superior years and experience, Gensei can sense when the tables are about to be turned against him through Misaki’s body language, and thus formulate a quick counter.

Misaki’s trump card is the “gravitron panels” that appear to use nanotechnology to build structures and supports. Developed both for scaffolding and making shortcuts for Misaki, she employs them to restrain Gensei by the wrist…only for him to painlessly pop his hand off and cackle in response. Not only does he possess a wide range of esper abilities he can use at will, but his body is more machine than man, a result of a long life of near-death incidents.

There’s seemingly nothing left in Misaki’s bag of tricks, and Gensei can sense that too, so he again sucks the very air from her lungs, and uses the resulting mental weakness to steal the limiter codes from her mind. Things look very dire for Misaki—and Kuroko, if she gets injured any worse. More troubling is that unlike Touma with Gunha, neither Misaki nor Kuroko have any backup (other than the latter’s open comm link to Uiharu and Ruiko).

This episode was a great collection of isolated standoffs and chases, but Mikoto doesn’t have a chance of ever returning to her normal adorable self—nor does Academy City have a chance of remaining standing—if there isn’t some kind of consolidation of good guys, and soon. It makes me wonder if there aren’t more players destined to join the fight.

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T – 11 – Team Lightning Round

Berserk Mikoto is no longer in control of her body, while her mind is being invaded and manipulated by Kozaku Mitori, using the Exterior ability Kihara Gensei is sharing with her in exchange for protection. Mitori convinces a very confused Mikoto to attack the Windowless Building, but a lightning blast dozens of times stronger than her normal Railgun doesn’t even scratch it. Gensei estimates Mikoto is only about 2% on her way to Level 6.

Mikoto is thus well and truly not in control of her fate. After an entire season of running around trying to fix things, it’s up to external parties to save her—and, incidentally, Academy City itself. Misaki serves as coordinator. She may have lost Exterior but she still has Mental Out, and uses it to convince Antiskill to evacuate the festival civilians and not interfere, lest needless casualties mount.

Thanks to overhearing Xochitl and Ruiko, Touma is now involved as well, and Misaki helpfully uploads all of the information he needs to be brought up to speed. Even so, all she can tell him is that his Imagine Breaker might cancel Mikoto’s Berserk Mode. The problem is, there’s so much electricity and debris surrounding Mikoto, Touma can’t get close enough to touch her and test that theory.

That’s when Sogiita Gunha, our third Level 5 of the episode, makes his reappearance, saving Touma from being pummeled by a giant ball of amassed stone and metal debris by giving it the ol’ Amazing Punch. Since Misaki never gave him a headdump Gunha’s a little slow on the uptake, but Touma’s Imagine Breaker intrigues him, and he’s clearly excited to punch stuff, especially if it’s for a good cause. His ultimate offense and Touma’s ultimate defense makes for an inspired pairing.

Thanks to support from Uiharu and Ruiko, Kuroko manages to pinpoint Kozaku Mitori’s location. Since Mitori is at least Level 4 it’s an even match on paper, but I wouldn’t bet against Kuroko any day. I actually like how Misaki gave her a headdump but didn’t restore all of her memories, perhaps assuming they’d be a distraction. Nevertheless, Kuroko is energized by the fact Mikoto trusted her with Mama’s safety. She’s practically shining in this episode.

Once Gunha learns that Touma needs to get close…too close to Mikoto in order to attempt to dispel her Berserk, he uses his Punches to clear a path and then tosses Touma like a baseball straight at Mikoto. Touma finds and opening and touches her shoulder, but it only exposes a few square inches of her normal skin, and only for a second before the electrified skin closes up. Gunha then catches Touma in a Princess Hold, which is frikking adorable, but it’s clear they’ll have to keep this up quite a bit to put a dent in Mikoto’s stout defense.

We end with Misaki, who networked with all of the allies we saw this week to get them on the same page, stealthily stalking Gensei. Since Kuroko is taking Mitori on, Gensei would seem to be all on his own, but I don’t believe for a second he doesn’t know he’s being followed, and has more traps in place for when Misaki eventually confronts him.

Hopefully by then others will have made progress with their jobs and can back her up. However things unfold, this is one hell of a start to the final skirmish that will takes us to Railgun T’s halfway point. I’m thoroughly invested in every one of the little mini-battles going on at once. How often can you say that about a show?

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T – 10 – Goodbye, Dolly

When Misaki and Mikoto hit a major traffic jam, Misaki summons the power of the “Exterior” to brainwash every driver in their path to pull aside, thus clearing a path. It’s clearly a significant effort for Misaki, pushing Mental Out to its limits. From there, we learn about how her ability was developed at the same facility as Prototype, perhaps the first Mikoto clone. Her nickname, “Dolly” is a reference to the first successfully cloned sheep.

Dolly ‘s handlers have been unable to make progress with her ever since her friend “Mi-chan” (heavily implied to have been Kozaku Mitori) went away. The white coats (who distressingly see both Dolly and Misaki as merely test samples to be used and disposed of as needed) conscript Misaki to be Dolly’s new lab-issued friend.

Misaki uses Mental Out to brainwash Dolly into believing she’s Mi-chan. Misaki was just as haughty back then, so she’s initialy feels his whole enterprise to be a hassle…until she becomes fast friends with Dolly. Like the girl who was cloned to create her, Dolly is far more athletic than Misaki, as evidenced by her far superior garbage can aim.

At the same time, Misaki tries to impress upon Dolly the importance of growing into a refined lady—a losing battle she picks up with Mikoto, to a degree. Without even intending to go along with the white coats, Misaki ends up restoring Dolly’s “inner peace”, allowing research on her to continue without emotional anomalies.

More than that, Misaki forms a real emotional bond with Dolly, blushing when Dolly suddenly hugs her—and pointedly smells out the deception. The two are simply playing around until Dolly suddenly collapses, her clone body shutting down.

It’s then, when she reaches her hand out for a distraught Misaki, that Dolly asks her her name. It dawns on Misaki that Dolly knew she wasn’t Mi-chan, but kept the fiction going because she was happy to have a new friend, and grateful to Misaki for being one. Dolly’s death is a gut punch.

The white coats are then frustrated when Misaki is the one in emotional turmoil, as if it never occurred to them she’d have these things called feelings. Call it professional detachment from one’s scientific subjects…but Misaki is human, for chrissakes! Showing no deference to them, Misaki uses her Mental Out on all of them and learns the truth: once they’re done tinkering with her, she’ll meet the same fate as Dolly.

The Exterior project continues, with part of Misaki’s brain removed and cultivated into a huge brain, which serves as a booster for her powers—and which is what she used to part traffic back in the present. It’s also the “DNA Computer” the urban legends site mentioned. By the time she and Mikoto arrive at Exterior, Kihara Gensei’s forces have already infiltrated, forcing Misaki’s associate Keitz to flee to the roof with 10032.

But Misaki is too late: Kihara tunes the giant brain to his own brainwaves, bypassing the need for length registration and enabling him to use Mental Out. He uses it to freeze Keitz, takes his phone, and uses it to trash talk Misaki, revealing that it was he who instructed Kiyama Harumi on how to use Level Upper.

He then removes all of the protection placed on MISAKA 10032, something First Order immediately notices while playing cards with Accelerator in a hospital room. Then Kihara injects a kind of mental virus into 10032, which is instantaneously transmitted to all other Sisters in the network, knocking them all out.

Mikoto arrives on the rooftop just in time for Kihara to trigger her dormant esper powers. She’s revealed to be his main target all along, as he hopes she’ll be the first to achieve a stable Level 6. Several floors below, Misaki no longer has access to Exterior, while Touma manages to track down Saten as she’s exiting the factory with Xochitl.

The main pair of powerful lasses, then, will need some outside help if they’re going to have a chance of escaping Kihara’s clutches. Mikoto looks completely out of control—half-Akira, half-Little Prince—or worse, under Kihara’s control. Will spirited, virtuous youth win out over the greed and contempt of an old man with a Gorbachev birthmark? We shall see…

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.

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 15

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Touma races to the site of the next experiment, but his phone has frozen, so he’s late, and Accelerator is already pummeling MISAKA 10032. He intervenes, catching MISAKA when Accelerator sends her flying, and proceeds to get beaten up dodging Accerlator’s attacks. Touma eventually gets close enough to use his Imagine Breaker, which he then uses to punch Accelerator repeatedly, until Accelerator sets off a dust explosion, disabling Touma. Accelerator then powers up, and is able to manipulate the wind and air, creating a ball of plasma over the city. Misaka uses 10032 to contact the Sisters network, who dissipate the plasma through the city’s wind turbines. Accelerator then turns on Misaka and MISAKA, and is about to kill them when Touma stirs once more…

We didn’t think this episode would be able to match the emotional powerhouse of last week, but it ended up doing just that with an unconventional but grand battle between Touma and Accelerator. Touma plans to prove the scientists wrong and make them give up the project that’s killing the Sisters, which is a laudable goal worth fighting towards, but he only seems to make Accelerator angrier, crazier, and more powerful, until he’s seconds away from burning all of Academy City away just to test his newly-awakened power to control…well space? You have to hand it to Railgun; they don’t mess around with their uber-villains.

Our only concern with last week was that a strapping young lad would save the damsel(s) in distress, but thankfully, that wasn’t what went down here. Sure, Touma is helping Misaka and her “sisters” because he likes them, and beause he has an ingrained duty to use whatever power he has to protect the weak. But when Accelerator explodes a mill’s worth of flour, and Touma seems out for the count, Misaka comes in at a crucial moment. If she doesn’t, he’s dead. We wouldn’t rule out Touma’s stunned state to be an opportunity for Misaka to sacrifice herself, but Accelerator’s little display should be ample proof that doing so would be utterly futile. Accelerator can’t simply be taken down a peg, he needs to be defeated, and not just for the Sisters, but for the sake of all of humanity.

9_superior
Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • A lot of the epic, cinematic quality of this episode is due to the fantastic soundtrack, which doesn’t hold back when it needs to be big and bold.
  • That first punch in the face (complete with familiar “imagine breaker” sound) was so satisfying to watch.
  • Accelerator is very quickly turning into an unreasonably powerful esper. By the end of the episode we’re wondering how in the hell anybody or anything is going to stop (or at least calm) him now that he can make plasmanados. But that’s okay: show us, Railgun!
  • Touma made a very poignant point: the sisters aren’t suicidal at all: they in fact are, as he says, “doing everything they possibly can to live.” The problem is, Accelerator is way, way stronger, and what they can “possibly” do is limited by their programming.

 

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 11

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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)