Recap: With the end of Summer Vacation coming soon, Mikoto and the girls arrange a study group together.
Jel’s Thoughts: On another day at another time I may have found this episode a little slow and boring, but given its place in the series it felt good taking a bit of a break. I probably would have been happy with some simple Summer Vacation hijinks on their own, but what I really appreciated was the effort put into smoothing the transition from the last arc. Addressing lingering issues like the Sisters’ life expectancy and the girls’ curiosity concerning Mikoto’s homemade cookies made the change in tone feel natural and believeable.
Perhaps the only scene that was a bit of a stretch was the encounter with Frenda and Mugino. You would think their run in would have been a little more tense considering they were trying to murder each other the last time they met. You’d also think a group of contract killers like ITEM would try to keep a lower profile. Still, the idea of Mugino and Mikoto siccing their respective lolis on each other was amusing enough to just shut your brain off for a few minutes, so I was cool with that.
What I found most exciting though was the new OP, not because it was a particularly great song but because it seems to hold out hope for another story arc. Mikoto fighting an army of green mechs? Yes please. Less exciting is the teaser for next week, which seems to be a tie in with the admittedly awful sounding Index movie. Even if that means next episode is a dud though, overall I found this episode reassuring and I’m feeling a little better about the remainder of the season.
Zigg’s Thoughts: There’s nothing wrong with a gentle wind-down episode after such a run of high-stakes storylines, and this little tidbit did a nice job of being gentle without becoming excessively boring. As a bonus, there was actual plot development too, albeit some very mild tying up of loose ends.
Really though, the attraction here is getting some nice character interplay after the gang has spent so long sidelined. For me the absolute highlight was the Mikoto/Saten teasing – Saten’s knowing asides and playful curiosity are both cute and funny, and it’s a pretty decent imitation of the way a pair of teenagers might actually react. Uiharu’s bits are mostly boring but it’s a pleasure just getting her back on the screen again. Kuroko gets some decent little interplay with Mitsuko, who judging by the credits will actually be quite a major presence in this segment of the show. I’m sort of OK with that – she may play the most cliched character type ever, but it’s always good when the author remembers Tokiwadai is a school and not a two-person operation.
I was a little disappointed with the showdown with Mugino and Frenda, which threatens to be good drama and/or great comedy, but ultimately manges neither. It’s a little distressing Railgun feels it has to resort to boob jokes so quickly, and as Jel mentioned the atmosphere of the meeting is a little incongruous considering the parties involved were out to kill each other last time. Kuroko’s interaction with the clover children also felt a touch tacked on but since (judging by the OP and ED) that seems to be a plot setup so I’ll let it slide. This was the perfect breather, light, airy and totally without substance, but charming enough for me too keep watching. Next week though…