A Certain Scientific Railgun T
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 15 of
A Certain Scientific Railgun T (TV 3) ?
Last episode I wondered about the wisdom of placing an additional flashback concerning the Daihaisei Festival arc's backstory after the climax and denouement. After seeing how this episode handled everything, I retract any such concerns. This is the arc's true epilogue, and it not only completes the full picture of what was really going on but also brings the arc to a more complete and satisfying resolution than last episode. Despite having no action, little emphasis on power use, and only featuring Mikoto in one segment, it's one of the best episodes of the current installment.
Part of the reason for that is because, unlike the previous two episodes, this one is very precisely timed and constructed. Every scene, and just about every shot, has a specific purpose and need to be there, and in exactly this order. Mitori's backstory starts the episode off, not as a result of Misaki probing her mind but instead as her own reflection before waking up to see Mitori, as shown last episode. It is a “how did I end up like this” kind of reflection (even though those words are never spoken), and as expected, it's all about Dolly. Like Misaki, Mitori was reluctant about associating with Dolly at first but got emotionally involved, which led her to poke her nose into things – always a bad idea in Academy City. The consequences of that (namely, being locked in a cell until Misaki did her own breakout) are why she abruptly stopped seeing Dolly, and a failed attempt to get back at the powers behind the cloning are what led her to association with Gensei, who was looking for someone motivated by hate.
The irony of this all is that Mitori and Misaki, as teenagers, were acting on essentially the same impetus from their childhoods but from wholly different angles. That's also why Misaki's response to Mitori's question about why Misaki didn't just mind-control her – “Did I need to control you, though?” – is such a great line. Since they are both products of a system that treats kids like lab rates, both have a bone to pick with the higher-ups, and both care about a certain clone, they should have been working together from the beginning. Their interactions on the way to Dolly 2.0 (at least, that's what I am going to call her) and their reunion (of sorts) with her, pack enough subtle little details to make the whole progression effective in an emotional sense. The scene with Mikoto and Misaka 10032 afterwards makes a perfect follow-up, and the last scene of Mitori, Misaki, and Dolly all on the beach as children is a perfect finishing touch.
That's not to say that everything is perfectly fine at the end. Whatever her motivation, Mitori would have personally killed Mikoto's mother if Kuroko had not intervened, certainly tried to kill Kuroko more than once, and willingly worked towards the destruction of the city. Though she deserves some sympathy, not sure how I feel about her seemingly getting a pass at the end; Misaki did say something about having Mitori turn herself in later, but how is she going to carry that out after the later scene with Dolly 2.0? Of course, Academy City as a whole is nothing if not morally ambiguous. . .
Sadly, this also looks like it will be the last episode for quite a while, as Crunchyroll is advertising that episode 16 will not air until July 24th. At least the big break is happening between story arcs, and I have to wonder if straggling out these last four episodes wasn't part of a push to prepare for a bigger break that the production team knew was coming.
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