Recap: Mikoto’s interrogation of Frenda is interrupted when reinforcements arrive. Shinobu tries to enact her new plan at the other research facility, but she encounters problems of her own.
Jel’s Thoughts: Shinobu sure has some crazy plans, doesn’t she? While this is considerably less ridiculous than leaving cash cards around, banking on human kindness from some obviously cold hearted researchers is still a bit of a long shot. Particularly crazy is discerning Accelerator himself might be anything more than a remorseless killing machine. Looking at it from the perspective of someone who has seen Index (which the show has seemed to assume up to this point), it just felt like another cheap shot in the battle to get us to believe he’s some kind of sympathetic anti-hero and this is just not the time or place for that. Still, they do acknowledge the plan is an act of desperation and figuring out that simply destroying the facilities will not be enough to stop the project was reasonably insightful.
While Shinobu’s story did get a little more screen time this week, I still felt the episode was a good mix of action and exposition as the rest of the ITEM girls made their debut. I absolutely love the idea of finally getting a battle where the combatants are on relatively equal power levels. You’d think that would be pretty common but it’s not when you really think about it. Frenda’s comment about Mugino and Takitsubo being the top Level 5 and 4 duo (not to mention the OP) all but confirms Kuroko will be joining the fight at some point. Really ITEM as a whole is kind of painted as a villainous foil group to Mikoto and her friends: Mikoto and Mugino have equal power levels, Kuroko can disappear while Takitsubo can find anyone, Frenda and Saten don’t have any powers at all, and Uiharu and Kinuhata are… OK so it’s not totally perfect, but I’ve always thought that was a fun storytelling device for an action show to cart out every now and then.
The action itself continues to be well animated and directed, although again there’s not too much more to say about that. Particle beams are arguably the only things that look cooler than lightning shooting out of your hand. I do wonder how Mugino can fire through walls with that kind of accuracy when Takitsubo is the one that can actually see, but I’ll let that one slide. Next week promises to have even more hot Electromaster versus Meltdowner action, and with Mikoto pretty much exhausted I’m sure we’ll be seeing a few more cards from her totally stacked trump card deck.
Zigg’s Thoughts: This episode has a ton of stuff to like about it, from some awesome looking laser beam beatdowns to Mikoto prancing around on the walls in tiny shorts. Still, despite all of the bombast it does carry the slight whiff of filler about it, although to the production team’s credit some smart direction and good pacing mean that thought only crossed my mind occasionally.
I think all of the Shinobu scenes are by far and away the weakest part of this episode. As Jel, and the show itself mentions, her plan is hopelessly naive and while this might have worked had she been presented as an eternal optimist, her established character is way too canny to have realistically believed that anything like this would be effective. It’s a nice attempt at showing an emotional edge to her but I don’t believe it rings particularly true. Her staredown with Kinuhata (who appears to be battling Mikoto for the shortest shorts crown) is very effective however and kudos to the script for naturally introducing Last Order in a way that both allows a twist and sets up some interesting questions to be resolved later.
As for the Mikoto side of the argument, it’s padding but such damn good padding that it’s difficult to complain. Everything goes boom satisfyingly, Mikoto sticks to walls like some sort of more skimpily dressed Spider-Girl and ITEM get to turn the tables on her pretty comprehensively. It’s nice to see Mikoto on the defensive for once and there’s a gratifying amount of both sides actually using their brains rather than just hurling their strongest possible attacks at each other. The criticism is that this segment doesn’t really take us anywhere, and I probably would have preferred a tense cat-and-mouse stalk off rather than Mugino just shooting randomly through walls, but complaining is pretty churlish.
Overall, this was a damn good effort for a ‘holding’ episode, and with the juicy promise of a one on one between Mikoto and Mugino next week, Railgun looks to continue its streak of very strong episodes. No complaints about that here.