A Certain Scientific Railgun T
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 22 of
A Certain Scientific Railgun T (TV 3) ?
Last episode formally introduced Ryoko Kuriba, the girl with the black-and-white hair who was split into two cyborgs and then reunited into separate flesh-and-blood and all-machine bodies. This episode explains more of the particulars of her situation and the potentially dangerous consequences of what happened to her. It also explains the truth behind the Indian Poker cards while also, for mostly-unrelated reasons, drawing the Scavengers into the active mix. Of course, all of this is ultimately just an excuse for super-powered mayhem, but would you really expect anything else from this franchise?
Misaki reading Ryoko's memories – and thus allowing viewers to see her backstory – brings up several interesting points. The first is that Ryoko's alternating black-and-white colored hair is apparently natural, rather than being the result of the cyborg experiment, as even the youngest shots of her in her memories feature that pattern. Strange, but not a big deal by Academy City standards. The second is that the cyborg experiment was altruistically-motivated (at least on Ryoko's part, anyway) and the third and biggest point is that Ryoko not only proposed the project but volunteered to be its subject. That lessens the moral and ethical culpability of the adult scientists but does not by any means let them off the hook, and it still glosses over how the split could have been accomplished without killing her. (That this is yet another case of a preteen/early teen super-genius accomplishing incredible scientific developments also bugs me, but you can't enjoy the franchise if you get too hung up on how underaged many of the characters are for what they're doing.) At least she is shown still having to take medication to offset rejection side effects from the experiment.
The parts that Ryoko willingly relates are also interesting. One is the idea that the cyborg's “soul” could effectively possess things other than just its machine body if that body is sufficiently damaged. This ultimately justifies how the Doppelganger can pull the classic stunt of using materials from the surroundings to reconstitute and/or grow her body after it is damaged, which creates the vexing problem that destroying parts of her can only worsen things – possibly even catastrophically so. Another revelation gets to the heart of Indian Poker: that it is actually a roundabout information-gathering tool which Ryoko is using to figure out how to deal with the Doppelganger should she go rogue. I have to sympathize with Mikoto being less than pleased with Ryoko about that one, since Ryoko clearly either disregarded or did not consider how much trouble the Indian Poker could cause in carrying out that mission.
Then there's the Scavengers, who just cannot catch a break; as “dark side” groups go, it's no wonder that they have not achieved the cool name that groups like ITEM and SCHOOL have. They crossed the #1 Level 5 back in A Certain Scientific Accelerator, and now they must deal with the #3 Level 5. That's on top of being in over their heads against Doppelganger, too. They do get a good action exchange with Doppelganger, who is frightfully powerful even without the special ability, to the point of raising questions about why Ryoko's experiment was done with seemingly combat-grade components. Looks like the next episode should be plenty of fun as the Scavengers try to navigate this mess.
A Certain Scientific Railgun T is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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