A Certain Scientific Railgun T
Episode 18

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 18 of
A Certain Scientific Railgun T (TV 3) ?

With this episode the series delves deeper into the nature of Indian Poker, and it does so by taking a somewhat perverse approach to it: making the impetus for the activity be self-consciousness about bust sizes. Hence instead of Level Upper, we now have Bust Upper – or the belief that it may exist, anyway. And that brings together an unlikely pairing of two like-minded girls.

That the series would take an angle like this is hardly surprising. Mikoto has been self-conscious about being modestly-endowed since the early days of the franchise, and the sniping over how “developed” each other is has been particularly sharp between Mikoto and Misaki in this season. That Mikoto would jump at any lead about improving herself in that way is a given. The surprise here is who her rival-turned-partner in this endeavor ends up being: Kinuhata Saiai, the powerhouse of ITEM. The new opener made it clear that they would be showing up at some point in some capacity, but I did not expect this angle at all since, in previous appearances, Kinuhata has shown no concern about such things. Granted, the other three members of ITEM are considerably bustier than she is (even the petite Frenda), but she took to interpreting Hamazura's comment about drinking milk for growth the wrong way remarkably quickly. Thus the stage is set for a meeting of the minds.

Their efforts to discover the Bust Upper, combined with what is shown about Saten at the beginning and end of the episode, reveal a lot more about these Indian Poker cards. They are potent enough that someone can learn a new skill from using them, much like the unconscious training used in the Sylvester Stallone movie Demolition Man. Saten may be a joke for using this to develop some thoroughly useless party tricks, but the possibilities here are both wondrous and scary. What happens if (when?) this gets applied to more violent and/or nefarious skills? This sequence also reveals that there are vendors out there for Indian Poker cards as well. Just as importantly, the girl (?) with the striped black-and-white hair shown in the opener appears in one of the dreams, vaguely suggesting that there's more to this than what Mikoto has seen so far. So an entity who communicates only through dreams, perhaps?

The other dreams she and Kinuhata have provide a nice variety of entertainment as well and reference characters from various points in the franchise, including some that have not appeared in animation yet. The first dream for Mikoto is clearly from Kikyou Yoshikawa (Aiho Yomikawa's scientist friend), and the first for Kinuhata is from Maika Tsuchimikado (i.e., the maid girl from Index). The third, featuring the girl who thinks she's being scouted, is Rakko Yumiya, the original sniper for SCHOOL, who has not yet appeared in anime form but should be popping up later in this arc. The ninja one is Kuruwa, a character who encounters Hamazura in one of the Index side stories, while Mikoto's last one is Megumi Kirifu, the short-haired telekinetic who had a featured scene during the Balloon Hunter event back in episode 3 of this season. (She got taken out in a trap.) All somehow wind up being breast-related, which is either a running joke or a suggestion that the one experiencing the Indian Poker card can influence the dream. Also watch for a very brief background cameo by Index and a slightly less brief appearance by Sphynx, her cat. And the girl with the big breasts spotted by Saten in the last scene? That was the girl who got the card dropped by the crow in the earlier scene. Seems the Bust Upper wasn't just a myth. . .

The early shower scene featuring ITEM definitely ups the fanservice quotient for this episode, and the animation seemed a bit sharper than normal. In all, it is a fun episode that nonetheless has significant plot implications.


A Certain Scientific Railgun T is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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