Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S 23 is an episode of long talks that I suppose were necessary before we get to the big battle next week.
The first, inevitably, comes from Aritomi, one of those smirking speeches bad guys give that give away just about everything, along with some twisted logic involving espers and normal people. While we need to hear his motivations, it comes as no surprise that his are rather predictable, and not new to this show. Normal people are ignored in favor of espers, etc. In the four seasons this franchise has had, we’ve explored this no doubt legitimate problem from every angle, so it’s become tiresome. Anyway, he’s going to start a revolution at the conference tomorrow. Misaka and Shinobou listen to it and then have a talk of their own, where the other old Railgun chestnut “I have to fix this on my own,” is held up and destroyed by Misaka, who knows better.
Then we get the next talk, back at Judgement headquarters, and thankfully there are no more themes evoked apart from the “every smiling” image (However, we do switch to STUDY doing more gloating and using the “darkness” theme somewhere in there). Instead it’s one of those strategy talks where everyone is depressed for a while. They don’t know where Janie is, can’t get Anti-Skills to do anything because they’re compromised, and so on. So everyone makes a few phone calls, the smiling image is evoked, everyone cheers up, and we end with everyone set up and prepared for the human/robot showdown. Saten with her bat was a nice touch. So I can forgive all the talk we had this week, it all had to be said (even the stupid parts), and next week we get what we really want from the show, unless you’re in it entirely to watch Kuroko grope Misaka.
Watamote 11 is as close as this series gets to a happy episode. So happy that they stuck balloons on the closing credits. This comes after a girl in a dog suit gives Tomoko a balloon, and a hug. Now, I could add that before this the dog had been giving balloons and hugs to children, and so we come back to the thought that Tomoko is no more than an overgrown elementary-schooler, but sometimes everyone needs a hug. The girl in the suit was the school festival chairman, who had been running into Tomoko throughout the episode and seen her either moping or injured, and so borrowed the suit to give Tomoko a special gift. And so, for one of the few times in the series, a stranger does something nice to Tomoko because she needs it.
Normally, strangers, not to mention classmates and teachers, treat her with benign indifference. The same is true for the earlier parts of this episode. Her class is busy with their cosplay cafe plans but somehow doesn’t manage to include Tomoko in them. This is fine with Tomoko, it seems. School festival–bah! But we know her too well. She wants to be put to work, be part of a team, if only they’d remember she existed. On the other hand, they’re probably not sure how good a job she’d do, and their fears are confirmed when she injures herself with the box cutter. Otherwise she mopes a lot, gets sick, the usual. Until Yuu visits the festival and she realizes that she’s actually … having fun, and it’s because she’s doing things with a friend. Her problems are still there, but the goal has rarely been so obvious. Alas, she still has no way of fixing them, so it’s nice when a stranger in a dog suit gives her a balloon and a hug.