A Certain Scientific Railgun S – 22 (The melodrama table is now set.)

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S Episode 22
とある科学の超電磁砲(レールガン)S
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

While the members of ITEM enjoy their time at a pool, where Shizuri reluctantly takes a new job related to the fake one they did earlier, Mikoto has her visit with Therestina Kihara Lifeline in prison. Therestina mocks Mikoto’s motives for saving Febri, for Mikoto’s citing how this city of darkness gave her a group of great friends, and for her not accepting the two bad choices related to the darkness of the city. Eventually, Therestina grows weary of Mikoto’s begging and she gives Mikoto a few clues as to the possibility of Febri’s origin, calling Febri a “chemicaloid”. Therestina says that the creators of Febri want to be noticed and hints that the upcoming Assembly may be the venue to do it.

Mikoto reports her findings to the others at the local Judgement branch, leading Uiharu to immediately start doing research on the Assembly. Mitsuko arrives with Wannai and Awatsuki, where they have a new dress for aligning Febri as a present. Mitsuko notices a figure on Uiharu’s computer, Aritomi, and confirms it is the man hunting Febri. Further research finds he had been a top award winner at previous Academic Assemblies, but he’s not participating this year, nor are a lot of others.  Meanwhile, Shinobu is doing covert work of her own while that night, Saten and Febri stay with Uiharu again. In their dorm, Mikoto asks Kuroko if they’d still be friends if she weren’t a level 5, to which Kuroko says that she doesn’t see Mikoto as a level 5, but as her precious oneesama, then tries to cop a feel, getting herself fried in the process.

The following day, the girls meet at the Judgement facility again, where Uiharu has learned that Aritomi is on the board of directors for a company called STUDY. She discovers a suspicious factory that STUDY purchased, so Mikoto goes to check it out. There, she finds the members of ITEM battling unmanned power suits, and unbeknownst to them, they’ve triggered an alarm with STUDY, which Shinobu goes to investigate despite the fact that this facility is only bait. Shizuri is angry because once again, they’ve been played for as fools. Rikou appears to sense Mikoto, but since they’ve eliminated the power suits, she doesn’t report a problem to the others.

After ITEM leaves, Mikoto slips in to see what she can find, then discovers power on in another part of the facility. Going there, she discovers Shinobu at terminal. Shinobu confesses to teaching Febri Mikoto’s name because Mikoto would take care of Febri. She gives Mikoto data to make the lollipops, but Aritomi arrives, holding the real data and letting Shinobu know that he suspected her of freeing Febri. His price to give Shinobu the real formula is to inject Mikoto with a paralytic agent. Shinobu refuses, but Mikoto tells her to do it, so she does. When Mikoto goes down, Shinobu demands the date, but Aritomi drops the data rod and tramples it underfoot. He reveals that Febri was just a spare for their real prize, Janie.

Thoughts/Review:

I realize that we have the “big reveal” to come, but one of the minor problems I’m having with this anime-only arc is the lack of…well, I’m having a hard time putting it into words so I’ll get to that in a bit.

Mikoto’s whole trip to see Therestina Kihara Lifeline was a bit odd to me.  I say this because as I watched, Therestina acted like I would have expected; she was haughty, she taunted Mikoto, and she had no interest in helping Mikoto. Indeed, Mikoto came with nothing to offer in exchange for the information. Other than to shut Mikoto up, which never came out as a specific reason for Therestina to give the hints she did, there was no reason for Therestina to help Mikoto, thus the oddness I felt.

I’m not getting what it is that STUDY is trying to prove over espers. I get that they’ve created a couple of artificial humans. I get that Janie can somehow remote-control power suits, robotic devices, and possibly all electronics (I think of the outage with the traffic lights early in the arc). But what that has to do with experimenting on Shizuri, the 4th-ranked level 5 esper, or Mikoto, the 3rd-ranked level 5 esper, is what I’m having trouble with. Even if STUDY has created an artificial human with esper abilities, I still don’t see how STUDY is going to make regular espers powerless.

Shinobu, as expected, is working against STUDY to save Febri. She acted like she didn’t know about Janie, which raises the question, why did Study feel the need for a backup artificial person that they could kill so easily now? After all, the purpose of a backup is to activate it should the primary fail, or something happen to the primary. You don’t just toss a backup and say, “Meh. We don’t need it so get rid of it.” Of course, this arrogance on STUDY’s part is what sets up their ultimate failure.

Speaking of arrogance, if esper abilities are mental ones, what makes Aritomi think that making Mikoto paralyzed is going to help? Mikoto can still think and even speak, and she can blast people with electricity without needing to move. So as I see it, Aritomi is getting fried next episode, which is how Shinobu and Mikoto will escape. We’ll see though.

Unfortunately, although I’d like to know how Shinobu went from being in ITEM’s custody and being locked up for life or even executed by the powers in Academy City, to a free girl on the executive board for STUDY, I don’t think I’ll be getting that answer. The story is being played out so that we don’t get that answer and I guess are supposed to not worry about it, which is a typical, yet frustrating, Japanese writing device.

Febri is being set up for her inevitable “I’m dying” melodramatic moment, which is something I’m not really looking forward to. I’ve no doubt she’ll be saved in the end.

So, while this wasn’t a bad episode, it is highlighting to me the differences between average writing and good writing.

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4 Responses to “A Certain Scientific Railgun S – 22 (The melodrama table is now set.)”

  1. arimareiji says:

    we don’t get that answer and I guess are supposed to not worry about it, which is a typical, yet frustrating, Japanese writing device.

    Not just Japanese, by any means… one of my bigger frustrations with American TV used to be (I stopped watching most of a decade ago) its propensity to either “hand wave” gross incongruities or explain the ones that were already intuitively obvious in exquisite detail, with little room in the middle. Thankfully, at least to me it seems like most anime falls in between those two extremes.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      >…I stopped watching most of a decade ago…

      Let’s see, I got rid of satellite in 2008 and never got it back. Other than Doctor Who and the Battlestar Galactica remake, I don’t think I’ve watched anything new. Oh, there was Sherlock as well.

      >Thankfully, at least to me it seems like most anime falls in between those two extremes.

      I think it depends on the series and whether it is tied to something else.

  2. ghostbeetle says:

    astute analysis, I think, ANB. And unfortunately, I’ve seen it way too often in anime, as well. Still, there are a series that manage to avoid such narrative short-cuts and cop-outs. Some of them, like ‘Space Brothers’, ‘Gin no Saji’, ‘Uchouten Kazoku’ and ‘Gatchaman Crowds’ (just to name a few timely examples;)) manage to keep me consistently excited and entertained. So I wont give up hope for animes just yet. 😉

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      For the most part, I like what J.C. Staff has done with this second Railgun series. The adaptation of the manga Sisters story was quite good and I like that they incorporated the Index aspects of the Sisters arc. I like how they’ve converted Mitsuko into the character she is in the manga. But, with this story, the writing of it is rather weak to me.

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