Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete – 12 (Fin)

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With the overarching objective of saving Kaori successfully and satisfyingly (if tragically in terms of the cost of Yui) achieved, I had no idea where the show would go in its final act. I’d argue in its post-main-plot-resolution state it was just as successful and satisfying.

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The odd feelings of deja vu and of some kind of ‘absence’ in the astronomy club and in its members’ lives don’t simply go away. On the contrary, the feelings get even stronger for Sou, who is constantly reminded every time he sees something or somewhere that Yui had once been in another timeline. Also, there are lots of coincidences like everyone who had Uchihama Syndrome suddenly waking up…at once.

That makes sense (in the science of the show), because she came back a lot, and because the human brain is a quantum turing machine (again, in the show), it is capable of retaining information it recorded in other timelines. But still, for now, that ‘temporal residue’ manifests faint echoes or mirages. Enough to get Sou thinking, but not about anything concrete.

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For her part, Kaori seems to be alright after Sou rejected her the previous day. She comes right out and says she feels like she can move forward now, which obviously wasn’t the case when buses kept killing her. Sou’s recollection of the rejection, particularly the reason, are hazy to him (he did hit his head, after all).

Kaori insists he said he only sees them as childhood friends, which suggests that he didn’t say he couldn’t love her because he already loved Yui…because Yui didn’t exist anymore. And yet…he keeps being reminded that someone existed at some point; most strongly when he finds an old mannequin where he had found a naked Yui so many times ‘before.’

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Surprisingly, we head back to the future where an old, worn Sou and a weary Airi continue to look over a comatose Kaori. Here, they’re resolved to the fact that Yui may have failed in her final attempt, though even if she succeeded, the universe they live in wouldn’t necessarily vanish, but continue along in parallel to the one she created by saving Kaori.

When Airi wonders out loud whether Sou only ever saw Yui as a tool, and sent her to the past knowing she would disappear if she succeeded, you can feel her own bitterness and impatience with Sou, as she’s the living, breathing, non-artificial woman right in front of him with whom he could have found happiness had he only let go of the past and let himself.

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The day of the festival arrives, and their planetarium cafe finally goes off without a hitch. But yet again, being there gazing at the stars and hearing the same things he said about them to Yui both in the past and future, Sou starts to get deja vu again and cries, but about exactly what he still isn’t sure.

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He even gets a flash of the night he and Yui gazed at the stars alone, only there’s nothing but a dark cloud where she sat. Compare that to Kaori becoming the most visible person at the school and named Miss Uchihama, and it’s as if the fates of Yui and Kaori were reversed.

Then the school pop idol Karin comes by the club room to regale them of her experience on stage, when for one moment she saw the friend she thought she had but no one else had remembered. Karin, like the club members, had clearly formed a deep enough bond that her brain retained memories and even imagery of Yui even after she vanished.

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That same ability to retain is echoed in a car ride (MAZDA FD RX-7 FTW!!!) in the future with Airi and Sou, who tells her that even if Kaori was saved and Yui never needed to be created by Sou, the memories and emotions still within past Sou’s head will ultimately lead him to create Yui anyway, but for a different reason; one that really capitalizes on the whole ‘chicken or egg’ nature of the show.

Sou won’t be able to stop picking at that mental scab, and when the time comes, he’ll create Yui because he wants to see her again.

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Then, after a worrisome delay, the effects of Yui’s actions reveal themselves in future Sou’s timeline, and Kaori finally wakes up, her mind no longer trapped behind a causality roadblock.

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The resulting passionate reunion and hug is a real showstopper, and yet I noted Sou’s words well: “You came way too late, dummy!” I wouldn’t be shocked if at this point, even this Sou’s love for Yui outstrips whatever romantic feelings he had for Kaori.

That’s not to discount his elation at Kaori waking up, but he isn’t elated because the love of his life woke up; she isn’t that anymore, nor was she ever. He’s elated because his beloved childhood friend woke up, without whom he had been just as lost as she was.

His true love, meanwhile, has yet to be born. It’s a little weird to think that Sou was the creator of his own true love, because that’s a kind of situation ripe for the assignment of sinister undertones in a lot of fiction, be it literary or visual. But if ever there was a case of ‘good playing God’, this is it.

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Let’s not forget that Yui couldn’t have been made without some of the information from Kaori’s brain. It’s as if Sou would have been able to fall for the person Kaori is, if only she were someone else. Yui was that someone else.

As the box beside the computer in the club room glows once more, I have more questions, like ‘if Yui is coming back, how did that happen without a comatose Kaori?’…but the time for questions has ended, and I’m satisfied with the answers I did get, plus the ones to questions I didn’t even ask. This show was a nice bit of light sci-fi romance that I don’t regret sticking with.

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To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 04

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Misaka’s friends find her in unusually high spirits while hanging out with her, unaware that she’s satisfied all of the cloning business is behind her. Alas, three months prior, two scientists extract MISAKA SN# 9982 from her maturation tube and begin to train her for outside life. After occupying an otherwise boring day by hanging out with some kids, Misaka send them on their way and senses her own power. She runs to its source and finds MISAKA 9982 standing before her.

Misaka’s dull summer day is juxtaposed with flashbacks to the lab where her doppelganger is being honed, but there really it’s a pretty tension-free day until nearly nineteen minutes into the episode, when Misaka finally senses her clone is out and about. The only stresses she had to deal with prior to that was not letting on too much to her friends about clones or why she’s suddenly so chipper, or the difficulty in acquiring a frog badge she can’t even proudly wear because she fear’s Kuroko’s pity.

Speaking of pity, perhaps we’re misguided in feeling compassion for compassion-less biological machines that just happen to look like Misaka – we’d probably be less outraged by what we saw if they were robots made of metal and circuitry rather than flesh and blood. But the Sisters are flesh and blood, and we’re sorry, and this shit’s all kinds of fucked up. If the scientists we follow in the flashbacks feel any reservations about the project, they certainly don’t show it, and abdicate any moral ground they might’ve stood on when they order #9982 to clean up a room full of dead, bloody sisters.

If you’re going to play god, the least you can do is clean up your own goddamn messes.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Kuroko thinks her onee-sama has already been replaced, until a remark about her panties gets her fried, and she’s convinced it’s the same old Misaka.
  • Considering all the punks and rapists in Academy City, why are those little kids running around unsupervised?
  • The sudden change in tone leading up to an awesome Big Reveal of Misaka finding MISAKA is quite powerful, and just about makes up for all the prior dawdling.
  • That closing shot of an emotionless 9982 saying “Understood” while her two tending scientists smile calmly at the sight of the carnage before them…a real chilling knife-turner.
  • Where the hell were Misaka’s frigging parents when criminal mad scientists where coercing her into surrendering her DNA map, the equivalent of blueprints for a WMD? Why was there no one around to say “No” on her behalf?*