A Certain Scientific Railgun T
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 20 of
A Certain Scientific Railgun T (TV 3) ?
Last episode provided a partial set-up for the Battle Royale arc in Index III. Though this episode spends most of its time focusing on sniper Rakko Yumiya's pursuit of Saten and Frenda, it also completes that set-up (or at least as much of it as is ever likely to be animated) and at the end shows some of the aftermath. None of this has any significant impact on more deeply understanding what is happening during Battle Royale, but it provides an effective complement to that story and demonstrates further how most of what happens in this setting is interlinked, even if not directly part of the scheming of the Powers That Be.
Rakko's hunt for Saten and Frenda provides the most substantial sustained action that the series has seen in a while. That it is not over quickly entirely comes down to Rakko's sadistic tendency to toy with her prey so that she can get maximum enjoyment from it, something which, ironically, Frenda can sympathize with. That, of course, contributes mightily to Rakko's eventual undoing. Her quirk about shifting between killer mode and this headspace she's in about having (or, rather, not having) friends also contributes, as it distracts her at a key point and thereby giving Frenda enough time to gather herself, but she also does not seem to recognize who she is up against and so wholly underestimates her target. Frenda did, after all, spend most of an episode single-handedly matching off against Mikoto and giving her a tough time (see A Certain Scientific Railgun S episode 8). In the second half of this episode she reminds us quite well about how dangerous she is.
Honestly, I had mostly dismissed Frenda as just a Mugino groupie prior to this arc. Take her out from under Mugino's shadow, though, and she becomes quite a likable character, one well-capable of being the co-lead for two episodes. That she is not hampered more by her injuries is a little hard to swallow (she does get shot three times, even if Rakko is not going for kill shots), but she demonstrates impressive toughness, an ability to quickly think on her feet, and some capable close-range moves. She even shows that she can mess up in a humorous way, and she does not ultimately abandon Saten even though she was thinking about it. I do have to wonder where the heck she keeps all of those bombs, but hey, I'll play along on that since it allows her to pull neat stunts like the way that she finishes the fight.
The follow-up is nearly as interesting. Rakko was known to have been killed at some point prior to Battle Royale, as ITEM had a replacement sniper by that point, but Frenda blowing off part of her face was not what did it. The conversation after she appears in cyborg form implies that offing her was left to Kaibi (the blonde in SCHOOL), though I have heard that ITEM was supposed to be responsible; apparently something else happened between this and Battle Royale. Frenda's “we'll have dinner one week later” promise is a bit sad, as anyone who has seen the Battle Royale arc knows that Frenda will never get back to Saten again, but as a bonus treat the injured Uiharu winds up filling in for her; that shoulder injury was the one she sustained at Kakine's foot while trying to deflect him away from Last Order (see Index III episode 6)
And so one of the side threads of the Dream Ranker arc wraps up in satisfying fashion. Looks like we will be finding out more about Zebra Girl next episode.
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