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.

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.