Chihayafuru 2 19 takes the tension it’s famous for creating and stretches it farther than I could have imagined, and it didn’t break.
To do this, it cuts back. Last week they showed us every single thing that was going on in that room, with every player and every viewer. No time for that this week. The three games still going on are too important. The episode limits itself to Chihaya, Taichi, and Nishida, and their opponents, with only minor reaction shots from others. And the episode made some interesting choices. Chihaya wins almost as an aside. Oh, we go in her mind, but all she’s doing is trying to focus. Her injured finger isn’t mentioned, like it never happened. It builds to a nice final moment, lightning fast shots of faces in the room and from her past, and then it’s over (wait, did Rion double-fault? I didn’t quite get that), and after that, well, it’s Chihaya: Zzzzzzzzzz …
The focus switches to Taichi and Nishida. The former is playing through bad luck, the latter has something to prove. I was surprised that we got less of Nishida. He seemed to be due for a big moment, or some revelation or insight that gives him an advantage, but instead he catches up through experience and guile. As he says, he’s been playing longer than anyone else still in the tournament. Not very dramatic, comparatively (I mean, if this show WANTED to it could make Nishida scratching his ear the most dramatic thing you’ve ever seen), but it gets him even with his opponent. Instead, we get a lot of Taichi and his bad luck and weak self-esteem, and finally his decision, as Desk-kun says, to change. Also, and I wondered when the show would come back to it, the two boys work together to synchronize their remaining card, making it a 50/50 chance at the end (Retro-kun can’t believe it). Later, Chihaya tells Arata that he’s wrong about team Karuta, but this moment alone demonstrates how wrong he is. When the match is over it’s as if the show was too exhausted to make anything more out of it. It’s almost perfunctory. Or maybe the creators used up their allotted tension or are saving it up for the individual tournament next week. You don’t think we’re actually going to get a breather, do you?
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S 6 worked out as I thought it would. A scene full of menace followed by reiterations of the series’ main themes.
There was no chance that Misaka would be able to put a dent in Accelerator, even if you hadn’t seen the arc in Index it wouldn’t have been hard to figure out. The question was whether Misaka was going to take a beating or not. There was no mention of it before, but we don’t know exactly how it played out. And it wasn’t until that Army of Sisters showed up to interrupt the battle that we had an answer. In the end we got what we expected. Misaka throws everything she has at Accelerator and he laughs it off. She’s no match for him. What comes afterwards, though there is no violence whatsoever, is just as interesting.
Misaka herself seems to have trouble treating the Sisters as actual people; they consider themselves guinea pigs (Shinobou also uses this image, though she says she’s changed her mind and now actively opposes the experiment) and seem to have no free will, making the theft of Misaka’s ice cream a contradiction, but it looks like she’s momentarily forgotten the details. I always thought it strange that she never befriended any. Well, this is more or less an aside. Misaka is a decent human being; besides, it’s her fault, she thinks, as she looks at a hundred of her selves. … Er, Misaka, couldn’t you just have followed them home? It would have saved you some snooping.
But Railgun is grounded in other things than clones and monstrous experiments. Her friends are worrying about her, and this means lots of phone calls from Kuroko to and from Uiharu and Saten, and a meet-up where she lies about where she was and no one believes her for a second. They make the point made often in season one: they’re her friends and they’re there for her. And at the end Misaka brings up another old theme: the senselessness of going off to fight battles alone. Looks like she hasn’t learned anything from season one.