The Winter 2020 Anime Preview Guide
A Certain Scientific Railgun T
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A Certain Scientific Railgun T (TV 3) ?
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Although Mikoto Misaka did appear in last year's A Certain Magical Index 3, her appearances were limited and she ultimately didn't get to do much except towards the end. That makes the return of the branch of the franchise featuring her all the more welcome and satisfying. She may have started out as the franchise's signature tsundere, but when she is fully allowed to spread her wings, she is the strongest (in a characterization sense) and most appreciable of the franchise's four protagonists. This branch allows her to do that.
Of the five Level 5s who have been introduced so far, Mikoto is by far the most stable and grounded one, and this episode perfectly shows why. Some of it is Mikoto herself; for all the power that she has, she (almost) never lets it go to her head. Because of that, she doesn't see it as beneath herself to step in and show a group of little kids how to use their developing powers to fix a dancing toy bear that has broken, then run off before they can thank her for it. Another big contributing factor is the friends that she has surrounded herself with. Saten is just an ordinary (if athletic) girl, Uihara might as well be, and while Kuroko may be a clingy, lecherous disaster area, her motives and motivations are at least plain and she is nearly as devoted to serving organized justice in Academy City as she is to Mikoto. Each of them gets their little moments to reestablish themselves this episode, as do a few other important characters, including one of the Sisters, Kongou, and Misaki, the mind-controlling fifth-ranked Level 5. (Her appearance is a bit uncomfortable given what happens with her team in Index 3.) Touma doesn't make an appearance yet but he will soon enough.
That Kuroko is still in the hospital and the Daihasei Festival is on the horizon places the events of this episode between episodes 7 and 8 of A Certain Magical Index 2, so this takes place during a lull in the action between major arcs. Those who are coming here straight from A Certain Scientific Railgun S will need to go back and watch episodes 6 and 7 of Index 2 in order to understand how Kuroko ended up the way she is, as that set of circumstances is not covered in this branch. The Daihasei Festival prominently figured into the events of Index 2, but this episode tosses out some hints about activities that did not fall within Touma's domain during the festival. Why the whole business with the pledge is such a big deal is left a mystery for now, but the first indicator is dropped that Misaki knows about the existence of Mikoto's clones, and that strikes me as a potentially troublesome development. This episode also features the anime debut of Gunha Sogiita, the bottom-ranked Level 5 and a cameo by second-ranked Level 5 Teitoku Kakine well before he appears (chronologically speaking) in Index 3. Of those two, Gunha looks like he might wind up at least peripherally involved in this story.
And of course what would this franchise be without the first episode allowing Mikoto to show off why her nickname is Railgun? This isn't quite as dramatic as her action in the openers of the last two seasons, but it's still flashy enough. Technical merits generally seem in line with previous installments and the norm for the franchise, so no concerns there.
Overall, this isn't a spectacular start to the season, but it does properly reestablish the nature of this side of the franchise and set the story up for upcoming events. It does the job it needed to do, and does it well.
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