OP2: 「eternal reality」 by fripSide
「勉強会」 (Benkyo Kai )
As you’ve probably guessed by now, what we get this week is a brief respite following the action packed Sisters’ arc, and it’s just nice to get an episode that settles back to Railgun’s norms so to speak. That’s not to say I disliked the previous arc in any shape or form, but at the same time, there’s just nothing quite like seeing some of the shenanigans we got to see this week. After all, there are few replacements to seeing the dorm supervisor wreck some mental havoc on Misaka, the many faces of Saten, Misaka’s blushing face, Kuroko confusing Kongou’s desire for food for that of an alternative variety, or Misaka’s sudden reunion with Frenda and Mugino. Generally, it was pretty relaxing episode for the most part and it’s pretty much what the doctor ordered.
Still, despite the relative calmness this week, there was a lot going on in the background—particularly in regards to the repercussions resulting from Misaka’s virtual disappearance from the lives of Saten, Uiharu, and Kuroko throughout the previous arc. In particular, what we get is an emphasis on how much the rest of the group was worrying for Misaka and their relief felt in seeing she’s fine now, and it’s something that serves as a nice foundation to show that their friendship is still stronger than ever, while allowing Misaka herself to admit that she could’ve handed the situation better herself. There’s a bit of a maturation and reaffirmation previously established sentiments here and it’s a nice showing that kind of “wraps up the bow” on the Sisters’ Arc once and for all—especially so when one considers the revelations regarding the Sisters’ shortened life spans and how they’re still theoretically fighting, but for a different reason (to live rather than to die). Going back to episode 16, this was the exact thing discussed in the omitted scene I mentioned last week, and it was good to see that they actually did in fact make sure to go over it before moving on. So kudos to the guys working on the series for doing so.
In any case, this episode just goes to show how great the previous arc was, because if there’s one thing I really felt watching this episode, it’s just how my view of “friends and what it means to have a real friendship” have really changed as a result. In many respects, the dynamic between Kuroko, Uiharu, Saten, and Misaka is theoretically the same as it always was, but I just can’t help but feel a kind of increased appreciation for their friendship and how well it’s depicted. Each of our main cast really has their own part in creating the group dynamic we love watching so much, and they all contribute something of their own the to the friendship, even if they’re not necessarily always around. Again, it’s nothing particularly new (as their friendship has always been a key element of the series), but coming off from the Sisters’ Arc, it feels like there’s more meaning than ever to their friendship.
Overall though, the big thing is that with the Sisters’ Arc over, things are quite relaxed compared to the previous weeks (as Kuroko notes herself). One does wonder if it’s merely the calm before one last storm (before the show’s end) however, as the attempted hacks of the Sakugawa Middle School newspaper servers seem to allude to something on the horizon (even if it might just be a red herring). At the very least, the re-introduction of Kongou and the others herald a new beginning (as does the inclusion of a new OP/ED sequence), and I guess we’ll see how things roll from here.
ED3: 「リンクス」 (Rinkusu) by 三澤紗千香 (Misawa Sachika)