“The Dark Side of Academy City”
A Day in the Life of GROUP
With the Document of C destroyed, it’s only natural that we turn our focuses back to the main setting for the franchise – Academy City. It amazes me how quickly Accelerator and Tsuchimikado returned from Avignon, and efficiency seems to be their creed as they immediately hop aboard yet another mission. The aim? It seems like there’s a lot of little things they need to get right, in order to shut down a shady organisation. These two need no re-introduction and work in tandem within a unit of four, secretly functioning in the shadows of Academy City. One of the two remaining members would be Musujime Awaki, a teleporting girl who Accelerator face punched. I’m quite surprised to see Awaki join forces with her nemesis, and my guess is that she has no say in the matter, coerced into working for GROUP. And finally, there’s an Aztec magician named Etzali who uses magic to steal appearances from others using their skin. For those who don’t remember, he stole Unabara’s identity and failed to kill Touma in S1. Given how he’s meant to be a loyal member of the magic side, it’s safe to say that the higher ups of Academy City have him under their thumb too. Together, this bunch of misfits form the underground association known as GROUP.
Their coordination and decisiveness proved impressive, and they seamlessly handled any tasks thrown at them — Tsuchimikado taking out an informant, Etzali acting as decoy for the raid, preventing the assassination of Oyafune Monaka (can she catch a break?), Accelerator setting off to prevent the theft of a satellite dish — all in a day’s work! But I’d be surprised if everything continued going straightforwards for them, without a hitch in sight. It’s just a matter of until GROUP eventually come across another faction from the dark side of Academy City.
ITEM meets SCHOOL
On the other hand, we have another two other factions in the fray – SCHOOL and ITEM. It’s been too long, so I think a memory refresh is due in regards to ITEM. For those who’ve seen Railgun S, you will know that ITEM are a posse of girls led by Shizuri Mugino, the 4th ranked Level 5 esper who wields powerful particle beams. On her team are: Kinuhata Saiai, a monotonous girl shielded by nitrogen who likes using ‘ultra’ as a prefix; Frenda Seivelun, a cheerful girl who subverts herself to Mugino and uses explosive plush toys to fight; and Takitsubo Rikou, the lynchpin of ITEM’s operation, who uses her AIM stalker to track down their targets. It looks like new recruit Hamazura Shiage has tagged along for their next ride, and I’ll provide another memory refresher. Shiage was the former leader of Skill-Out, who held an inferiority complex towards higher level espers, causing him to try and kill Misaka’s mum. He would have succeeded too if not for Touma’s timely intervention. Ironically, he ends up serving as a lackey for higher level espers, though that becomes the least of his concerns as the episode progresses.
Anyhow, you wouldn’t think the Meltdowner would have much trouble, since she possesses such extraordinary firepower to blast down potential problems. However, hubris proved to be ITEM’s downfall yet again. Much like how they underestimated Misaka Mikoto in Railgun S, they stroll into the laboratory without taking any precautionary measures and pay dearly for it. Saiai and Frenda are taken out of commission, their fates unknown. The rest are forced to scatter, completely losing sight of their target. It looks like Kakine has gotten away with what he wanted, free from Mugino’s pursuit, as well as decimating half of ITEM for a bonus. You could say ITEM have failed whereas SCHOOL have prevailed.
I have no doubts that SCHOOL are up to no good, and Kakine has a score to settle with Aleister Crowley. Which makes me wonder about three things. What is Kakine’s ability, why does he hold a grudge against Aleister, and how does he plan on infiltrating the windowless building? I suppose these mysteries will be answered sooner or later, but in actuality, that stuff hardly interests me. At least compared with the implications that this episode has been establishing. While the Level 5 espers have always possessed significant abilities on par with weapons of mass destruction, they are finally beginning to form teams that enhance the extent of their operations, as well as introducing an unprecedented dimension to the way in which they engage against one another. This is extremely exciting, because they don’t just win by blasting each other to pieces. They now have to keenly exercise their intellectual capabilities to think a couple of steps ahead, and work well as a team in order to outmanoeuvre each other. In this instance, SCHOOL defeated ITEM. But what’s to say that they’d be able to pull off the same thing against GROUP? Thinking about it, the 177th branch of Judgement can be described as Misaka Mikoto’s affiliates. While they are a public morals committee tasked with establishing law and order, something so far removed from the underbelly of Academy City, they can definitely be counted upon if the conflicts became exposed at a surface level. I’m thrilled to witness how these various factions will interact, because ultimately, only one can come out on top.
Anyway, that’s everything I wanted to discuss for this episode. As always, thanks for reading my post and see you next week!