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.

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.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 32

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I lauded McGillis’ decision to take to the battlefield to personally end the “mayhem” stewing between Arbrau and the SAU, but I did not expect the enemies he was fighting to be the Earth Branch of Tekkadan, but that’s exactly what went down thanks to the scheming of Galan Rossa and Radice.

Takaki and Aston have been so thoroughly, well, brainwashed by the charismatic veteran Galan that they’ll fight their own ally without hesitation – though it’s unclear how well they know McGillis and his relationship to Orga and Mika.

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It’s a relief, then, that all of the delaying is done away with and the Barbatos arrives in the middle of the battle just in time to save McGillis from Takaki and Aston. And man does McGillis, and all that he represents, almost get killed in a nameless skirmish spearheaded by a nameless mercenary, all for the benefit of his political and military rival, Rustal. Mind you, Mika isn’t helping an old friend, or even a guy who gives him cool chocolate: he’s simply obeying Orga’s orders not to let him die.

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As for Aston, he steps in front of Takaki and takes the brunt of an attack from McGillis that kills him, and all of Takaki’s hopes and dreams and innocence seem to die with him. That last thing is surprising considering how much Takaki has gone through, but up until Aston dies with a grateful smile on his face, Takaki was determined to go home to Fuka with Aston, not leave him behind. This may have been a pointless battle, but it might just cost Takaki the most.

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As for Hush, he gets to tag along with Mika, as Mika is willing to give him a shot, but let’s just say Hush doesn’t do so great in his mobile suit debut. Indeed, he’s quickly disarmed, loses his cool, and very nearly cries for his mommy before Mika has to bail him out (the second big bailout Mika executes this week).

Hush’s comrade later tells him he’s still got the self-awareness of his weaknesses to be a good pilot, but yeah, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a very very weak asset to Tekkadan right now, and can’t be trusted with anyone but Mika, someone who can take care of himself.

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Okay, maybe Mika isn’t the only one who can take care of himself and his own affairs when it comes to mobile suit battle. When Eugene and Akihiro arrive at Tekkadan Earth HQ, corner Radice and learn of His and Mossa’s treachery, and furthermore learn that Aston has been lost as a result, he goes the fuck after Mossa, and doesn’t stop until the guy has to self-destruct himself to keep form being halved by Akihiro’s giant vice-grips.

Their battle is the most emotionally and physically intense of the episode, illustrating both how badass Akihiro is and how fiercely he defends (and avenges) his fellow ex-human debris. Though like Aston, Akihiro has never really come to grips with the “ex-” part; he always puts others before his own well-being, and almost gets blown up by it, moments before Laffter can arrive to warn him. Laffter doesn’t want to lost Akihiro because of his own paltry sense of self-worth.

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I enjoyed the little scene between McGillis and Mika near the episode’s end; both because these two are always fun to watch interact directly with each other (especially now that they’re on the same side), but that it almost shows that for all their differences, these are two guys utterly ruthless in their own ways, going after very specific goals only they believe they can achieve.

He’s almost an Orga surrogate here, without the shared past. Both McGillis and Mika seek a better tomorrow, and for now, their interests are aligned, with no sense of that changing anytime soon. And just as McGillis has Mika, his rival Rustal has Julieta, who seems to be the only one who sheds any tears for Galan Mossa, but is told not to do so by Rustal, as it wouldn’t be what Mossa wanted.

But as much as Mossa—who seemed to be a good friend of Rustal’s; perhaps even a blood relative—tried to erase his identity and that of his entire operation, he couldn’t erase one eccentric pilot’s regard for him, nor her grief over his loss.

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As for Takaki, the loss he experienced is more than evident both in the cockpit, at Earth Branch HQ, and back at home. His gaze has changed, from his easygoing glint to more of a Mikazuki stare. He decides to take care of “Earth branch problems” in the injured Chad’s stead, doing what Mika casually offered to do and putting three bullets in Radice for his treachery.

The once kind and gentle Takaki has crossed over into new territory, and both the blood of Aston and the lies of Radice and Mossa crafted this new, darker, more tortured Takaki, who no longer seems comfortable in Fuka’s presence.

This was a hard-hitting and very satisfying episode that swiftly and efficiently wrapped up the Earth Branch arc. I won’t lie that bringing in Mika, Akihiro & Co. definitely raised my interest level, but I also won’t deny that despite the fact either Takaki or Aston (or both) were doomed here, I was still fully emotionally invested in their fates. Not a bad feat for a miniature war with no name.

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