To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 12
「樹形図の設計者(ツリーダイアグラム)」 (Ki Gata Zu No Sekkei Sha (Tsurīdaiaguramu))
“Tree Diagram (Tree Diagram)”
As we get into Railgun S’ twelveth episode, the gradual tightening of the figurative noose finally completes Misaka’s transformation from someone fairly innocent to someone whose views regarding the world have changed forever. Indeed, in a manner akin in ways to those entering society for the first time or say, getting taken advantage of for the first time in their lives, one of the big things that have been happening is the subtle change in Misaka’s personality. The world’s just not all fun and games anymore, and as she says so herself:
“Reality’s a harsh mistress.
It’s not like a miracle will happen, even if I begged for it.
There aren’t any heroes around to save me.”
Still, despite how this sentiment readily applies to the typical real-life situation, there are still cases where reality’s other side shows itself. Sometimes, there’s someone that just comes along at the right time and place. Sometimes, it may even turn out that the person who could help you has been right next to you the whole time. Heroes do exist, after all. They just might not come in the form or manner that you expected them to be. And in the case of Misaka, this proves especially true, because her hero’s arguably been right next to her this entire time: in the form of a certain… “misfortunate” character.
On that note though, this episode just continues the string of good episodes we’ve had with Railgun S lately (and through most of the season), as it’s quite notable how much of the story elements and events in this episode tie into the mindset of Misaka (who’s just adorable as a kid by the way) and the reality of her situation. For instance, the blimp flying above her ends up being a kind of literal symbol of the problem she faces: both in how it towers above her reach and how as Misaka puts it “represents humans acting in line with a machine’s calculations.”
To add to that, there’s also the twisted irony of the weather being sunny the whole day—which stands in stark contrast with the dark nature of the twisted experiments happening in the shadows. Furthermore, there’s the fact that Touma just suddenly ends up appearing once again in front of Misaka… as well as a particular MISAKA sister as well. In the case of the latter, it’s really kind of brilliant how it seemingly serves as both a sign to Touma that there’s something not right here, as well as a sign to us that he’ll likely play a large part in the future.
Generally, everything here is just geared toward supporting and developing the plot line. I noted it before in previous episodes as well (as the discussions between Kuroko and Co. regarding the “what ifs of cloning” was used similarly before), but this continues hammering that aspect in and shows just how well they’re doing things here in terms of both literally and figuratively setting things up in the background.
Interestingly enough, the added screen time of the MISAKA sister also seems to indicate some kind of emotional development in recent episodes, and it shows that Shinobu’s efforts might not have been for naught after all. MISAKA’s bit with the chest pains, and her question to the scientists (“What would happen if you saw a clone of yourself?”) adds further ammunition to this notion… and her latter question notably brings to the forefront the potential contrasting views regarding this question and just how emotionless the people working on this project are. To that end, the whole bit with Touma, MISAKA, and the cat plays a big deal in this respect too… but for me, the big thing wasn’t the fact they they were having such a nice, normal discussion, but the fact that MISAKA’s attempt at naming the cat Schrodinger was not only ironic to the cat, but to herself as well. Because in many ways, the whole poison in a contained environment experiment reeks of the Level 6 Shift, and it’s arguable that up until this point, MISAKA and the rest of her sisters were neither dead or alive—merely tools that are born to be killed, rather than living actual lives and possessing emotion.
On that note, one wonders though… Shinobu herself and the rest of ITEM have been conspiciously missing for a few episodes now, and it’s an interesting question whether or not they’ll even return in any real significant role… because it looks like there’s a lot of one way traffic from here on out with Touma’s impending involvement—especially so when considering that Misaka finds out that there isn’t even a Tree Diagram to trash. Sometimes, miracles do happen.
Either way, as we bring things to a close here, it’s also noted again how for those of us that have watched Index before, our prior knowledge of what’s going to happen here seems to play a large part in actually heightening our enjoyment of the series (although some of what happens here this week notably doesn’t happen in Index). As some of you noted in our podcast comments (where we discussed the concepts of spoilers and them potentially ruining the experience), Railgun S seems to be one of those situations where the knowing of what happens can actually result in the opposite case, and it’s both a testament to the way that they do things with the series, how well they have been doing it, and how memorable the characters and events are to fans of Index/Railgun. Then again, it is pretty hard to forget someone who slings along walls like this (Shingeki no Railgun anyone?)… and the obvious cat abuse.
Full-length images: 15.