To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 11
「自動販売機」 (Jido Hanbai Ki)
“I know those passsers-by aren’t actually heartless. Even if they barged in to help, it’s not like they’d be able to do anything. They’d just get hurt themselves. Everyone looks out for themselves. That’s normal. If there’s anyone willing to stand up for a stranger, they’re either an idiot or…”
As far as a statement about the world goes, Misaka hits the nail on the head with her quote to start things off this week. In general, there are a lot of things in the world (and about people) that you just know are true. Many of these things aren’t exactly ideal, but at the same time, they’re things you can’t blame people for doing/not doing/believing. And in the end, while it’s arguably quite sad how human nature is at times—even if it’s logical—it’s also something that can at least give you a sense of “known quantity” in your life (should you choose to accept that this is how we are). Indeed, one way of looking at life is just to expect nothing… and it’s something that’s not only notable in and of itself, but a notion that could theoretically serve as the standard by which you differentiate the people that are “special” or “different from others.” And really, that’s the core behind the “friendship” between Misaka and Touma.
Having previously watched Index myself, I knew this “reunion” was coming, but this week just hammers in just how fateful of a meeting it was. There’s just nothing like coming off one of the biggest tribulations of your life and just stumbling upon the one guy that’s pretty much the definition of “not normal.” Of course, part of that is innately related to his ability to negate esper powers, and really, when you link two and two together—that is, his ability and its potential effectiveness against Accelerator—it really just screams “fateful meeting” in more ways than one.
Either way—again, I’ve seen this moment before in Index—but dang, it still doesn’t change how awesome this moment was. There’s just nothing quite like just trashing evil vending machines in revenge for taking your ten-thousa—wait, never mind, Misaka kind of deserved that. Ahem* But yeah, in any case… drinks are on the house today it seems… and with it, comes the great slice of life bits that the series just knows how to slip in perfectly. Yes, I’m talking about Saten’s belief that all of Misaka’s problems are caused by a guy—which is theoretically true. I mean, she’s not wrong if you consider the male scientists and Accelerator… but hah, yeah, let’s just say that the point is that this led to quite the sequence of hilarious developments. You gotta love all the faces this week in particular (quite the trend in Railgun S especially) and well, this week highlights a bit of the eye of the storm so to speak…
…as it looks like things just aren’t over yet. The cheery atmosphere of the first half gives way to the resumption of the darker bits we’ve been accustomed to lately as we find out that the Level 6 Shift is still ongoing, and to say it comes as a shock to Misaka is an understatement. The question now though, is exactly what she finds herself asking: What should I do? What can I do? With the city itself seemingly behind everything (and 183 facilities popping back up virtually overnight), it’s morale sapping to say the least—especially when you how she finds this out while also being literally face to face with a sister that knows nothing of her feelings and will likely die before the end of the day. Just absolutely heart-wrenching to watch.
Ultimately, it was a tad bit surprising (although, I guess it shouldn’t be) how similar this was to the corresponding parts in Index. What’s notable however, is how I still felt emotionally invested regardless though, because while I was half expecting myself to be like “oh hey, it’s nostalgia time” and shrug it off… things didn’t really end up working that way at all. I suppose it’s true what they say though: it’s all about perspective. And finally seeing things from Misaka’s view really changed the landscape so to speak, because it really highlighted just the anguish she’s had to go through before the vending machine scene—things that we never got to see in detail in Index. Needless to say, all of this just strengthens my impressions of both Railgun S and Index in general, and it’s just a testament to how well this series has been done for the most part—something that hopefully will continue to carry on to the remainder of this series.
ED2: 「stand still」by 井口 裕香 (Iguchi Yuka)