「天文台（ベルヴェデーレ）」 (Tenmondai (Beruvedeeru))
“Astronomical Observatory (Belvedere)”
There was a fair bit of build-up in this episode towards about the Croce di Pietro, which Touma and Tsuchimikado had a fairly long talk about, so hopefully it won’t be simply brushed aside with a new development as well. After the Stab Sword turned out to be a “plot feint”, I’m starting to become a bit wary of these twists that don’t really feel like one. The only thing worst than lengthy exposition to build suspense is lengthy exposition that I take the time to understand, only to learn in the subsequent episode that I didn’t really have to bother to do so. This episode moved fairly slowly for me because of that, with the only scenes that had a somewhat quickened pace being the two minutes of Kuroka drooling all over Mikoto’s mother, and the the two minutes of Touma and Stiyl getting their asses handed to them by Oriana.
Be that as it may, the slow pacing didn’t really bother me all that much as my interest was piqued by their suspicion that the Roman Catholic Church is using the stars to create an astronomical magical circle to use the cross’ powers. With Oriana moving about Academy City, its large-scale deployment also gave off a bit of a Fullmetal Alchemist vibe to it. The strange imbalance was only really noticed when I was taking the screen captures and found that half of them pertain to the last few minutes of the episode. Looking back, I do wonder if so much time needed to be allocated to Tsuchimikado’s lengthy explanation on how the cross can only used in certain places and on the day St. Peter was crucified, when Orsola’s phone call made light of it almost instantly by saying it can be used anywhere at anytime. The only portion of his explanation that really needed to be emphasized is that there are conditions on its use and Orsola was able to figure out the possible locations given the current date, leading us to the suspense from the race against sundown near the end.
I will say that I still feel a bit shortchanged by Stiyl‘s build-up at the subway station about how things are going to get ugly from hereon, as it was just the same girl that Touma punched in the face two episodes ago. Without any indication that more Roman Catholic Church members were going to show up, it was kind of hard to see how this was going to be Touma’s fight of his life. After all, he’s just doing what he does best by going to lengths to confirm that Oriana deserves a beat down before he actually gives her one. I felt kind of sorry for Stiyl who probably laid on the ground listening to him after getting kicked in the face, when he could have used it as an opportunity to get a jump on her. Touma’s preaching used as a distraction? Now there’s something I’d like to see. In terms of fairly useless exposition, I question whether it was really necessary for Tsuchimikado to make a big deal about the aerial surveillance at the airport, when the three of them just darted out onto the airfield anyway after a plane flew by. All things considered, between that and giving Touma an extra minute to say his spiel, I guess that was a blessing in disguise.
Plot-wise, I’m actually curious if Himegami nearly getting killed is going to driver factor for the outcome of this fight. It works for Touma because injuring innocent bystanders is enough to set him off on his righteous movement, but it’s kind of odd how Oriana almost has a sense of guilt over what happened too. Despite what she says, it’s kind of weak to see a religious activist’s resolve get even remotely shaken by someone she may have killed. Thou shall not kill? Yeah, I don’t think so. If that somehow causes her to ease up on Touma and allow her plans to be foiled, I’m going to be a bit disappointed in her character. She doesn’t need to show any sign of weakness when Touma’s here telling her not to take away everyone’s happiness from the festival (lol). Anyway, with Oriana making mention of Kaori, part of me still wishes she’d show up and end this so Touma doesn’t have to punch her in the face again. Let another girl do it for a change.
Note: The To Aru Majutsu no Index II broadcast is on break next week. Episode 13 airs on January 7th.