Recap: Mysterious envelopes with cash cards are appearing throughout Academy City and many of the city’s inhabitants go looking for them as the rumor spreads. Mikoto follows a lead hoping to discover who’s been placing them.
Jel’s Thoughts: The first episode of Railgun S was a slightly clunky but effective re-introduction to the show and this episode was a slightly clunky but effective set up for the next part of the series. I must admit knowing the general premise of the Sisters arc did dampen the impact of the opening flashback, and lines like Mii casually remembering a rumor about a Level 5 cloning project hit with all the subtlety of a jackhammer.
Then we have our rather drawn out introduction of the girl dropping the money envelopes. While her little trick to bring down the random Skill Out thugs was neat, I could have done without spending half an episode on it. I guess they wanted to end on the cliffhanger as she refers to Mikoto as “the original” and they can’t assume everyone has watched Index and knows what that means. It was a good introduction for her character, I just would have liked to see a little more progress.
Overall though this episode was still entertaining enough, particularly when you add in Saten’s appearance to sniff out the rumors and Kuroko’s little teleporting audio recorder trick. For a series that’s been running this long, I’m happy with a decent set up episode. I imagine next week will have a bit of info dumping, but we’ll finally be getting into the meat of the story. The Sisters arc was my favorite part of Index and I think there’s plenty of story left to tell on Mikoto’s side. So even if the first two episodes have been slightly underwhelming I’m still very much looking forward to more.
Zigg’s Thoughts: This is a better episode than the opener, but it’s still sort of dumb and displays a classic Index/Railgun issue in being slightly oddly paced. I do like the slice-of-life-ish opening with Kuroko and Mikoto, which is a funny, gentle way to ease us back into the action, but the subsequent subplot with the money cards is too long and drawn out, as is the scene with mysterious girl. By the way, can we have a moratorium on mysterious dark haired girls with bob haircuts? It’s rapidly becoming an unbearable cliche. Her use of psychological warfare on the random street punks (again?) is cool but could have been done more effectively in about half the screentime. There are some nice little vignettes here that brought a smile to my face though, with Kuroko’s voice recorder trick a clever use of her power and a good little scene. I’d hate to know what else she has recorded on there though.
The problem I foresee as we go forward begins to emerge in this episode though, which is the opening of glaring plot holes. While the ‘Sisters’ plot arc was always incredibly silly, in Index you were carried along by the sheer awesome craziness of the idea, and the fact that they fed you as little backstory as possible actually helped. Here though we have to take a closer look at the setup and as a result it sort of starts to break down. Why would EVIL scientists choose to clone Mikoto (we already know she wasn’t born with incredible powers) rather than a much more powerful adult esper? Where the hell are her parents? Clunky storytelling is an issue too, particularly Mikoto super conveniently overhearing the punks talking about the girl dropping the cards – what are the odds, really? And then there’s Konori’s random ‘I heard this SUPER TOP SECRET HIGHLY UNETHICAL MILITARY BIOWEAPON EXPERIMENT IS HAPPENING but it’s just a rumour k?’, which surely wins some sort of record for most forced exposition in history. Apparently nobody in Academy City can keep a secret to save their lives. Still, it’s cool to be back in the midst of the Sisters’ arc, and I’m hoping some fresh perspective can add depth to the story without shaking the foundations too much.