It’s tough waiting. Not many people like sitting around and just doing nothing―especially if there’s something you know you could be doing right now. And as the beginning of this episode highlights, there are just fewer things tougher than the situation Kuroko is in right now. On one hand, she knows by now there’s definitely something up and she wants to get involved. At the same time though, as a friend, she knows she has to respect Misaka’s decision to not involve her too. Combine that with the fact that she said she’d wait―which innately means that she believes that Misaka can handle it by herself―and it’s something that’s pretty gut wrenching to see considering her usually cheerful demeanor. But I guess in the end, that’s just how it is. Because behind all the things going on and all the shenanigans we’ve gotten, Railgun’s something that’s always shined as a result of the friendships and bonds the main cast has, and what this shows is how great of a friend Kuroko really is. Indeed, you know you have a true friend when they suffer just as you do when they see you dealing with a problem.
While we’re on the topic, another key thing about friends is that they typically come in all types. Some may be people you only see once in a while. Some may be people you don’t really know too well, but would come running to your aid regardless if you needed it. And as we see this week, Touma’s one of these kinds of people. With the realization of Misaka’s plight―courtesy of a certain feline―Touma springs into action. As it turns out, the hero that Misaka so wished for was around her the entire time, and it sets up the bridge meeting that many Index fans have been waiting for this entire time.
Suffice to say, it’s an emotional confrontation―one that demonstrates the toll that this entire arc has had on Misaka. Indeed, everything here shows the trauma she’s had to deal with, and how she arguably isn’t thinking clearly at this point. Wanting someone to blame her, wanting to willingly sacrifice herself to try and stop the experiment, thinking that Touma’s whole purpose in coming was to make her pay, questioning her worth, believing that her death would definitely stop the plan, thinking that the world has no place for someone like her anymore… all of this is the culmination of the last 13+ episodes and again, although many of us knew this was coming, it doesn’t lessen the impact at all.
With that said, all of the above just makes what Touma did―his refusal to let her pass (YOU SHALL NOT PASS!) while deciding not to fight her―even more notable. Because what this ultimately makes Touma in this situation is a kind of tether to reality and to humanity. He ends up being is the person that forces Misaka to calm down and realize how she’s acting purely on emotion and not necessarily doing this as much for her sisters as she is for herself (to give herself peace). With this, he pulls her back down to Earth so to speak, and gives her that chance to finally cry and let out the emotions she’s kept inside all this time. And what’s more is that in and of itself is not without its own irony too, as the guy with the most inexplicable ability ends up being this tether.
What the above goes to show though, is that friends (and heroes) can come in all shapes and forms, and that friendship can show itself in more ways than one. Looking forward, it’s Accelerator vs. Touma coming up… and with Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou (and its tarot card focus) having recently aired, I can’t help but note how fitting it is to compare Touma to “The Fool” at this point. After all, The Fool is typically represented by the number 0 (Touma’s level), the literal definition of the word “fool” is theoretically representative of him as well, and it’s been said that the zero is also representative of both nothing and everything (an apt description for his ability and how he’s theoretically both powerless and extremely powerful at the same time). Talk about fitting the description to a T (literally, even the T matches his first name!).
Full Length Image: 17
ED2: 「stand still」by 井口裕香 (Iguchi Yuka)