Saturday, 12 December 2009

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun - Episode 11

With Harumi Kiyama revealed as the villain of the current story arc last episode, the eleventh instalment of To Aru Kagaku no Railgun naturally takes us down a path which depicts her exact intentions when it comes to the development of Level Upper - But can she be stopped?

With Anti-Skill on her trail, Kiyama hands her hostage Uihara what she claims is an anti-dote to Level Upper, which will return all of tis users to normal - A ray of hope, but Uihara understandably finds it rather hard to trust this woman all things considered. Kiyama also suggests the reasoning for her experimentation and creation of this huge "neural network" of skill users via Level Upper to Uihara, which seems to hint that there are far larger conspiracies in place than her efforts.

This conversation is brought to a halt by an Anti-Skill roadblock, but it's here that we get to see the true power which Kiyama can wield on account of her creation, tapping into the network of skill users to borrow any of their abilities on a whim, with devastating results. The Anti-Skill roadblock is destroyed in no time at all, but it's at this point our heroine of the day Misaka appears on the scene, only to find herself faced with this rather tricky customer on her own.

Mikoto prevails in the end, but this isn't the end of the story - Far from it in fact, as an electrical bond created between herself and Kiyama sees her tap into the latter's most vivid memories, which relates a story of an experiment on orphaned children overseen by Kiyama gone horribly wrong... or horribly right, depending on which point of view you take. This in turn reveals just why Kiyama has gone to such lengths to create Level Upper - A shocking story detracted from only by the further horror about to unleash itself upon anyone in the vicinity.

While the whole flashback sequence engineered between Misaka and Kiyama felt like a rather contrived way of advancing the story (and I know, it's probably unfair to pick on that particular point on a series that is hardly aiming for scientific accuracy), it was perhaps a necessary way of progressing what was another good episode - As usual for this series, animation quality was top-notch throughout, particularly in the action sequences which showcased Kiyama's veritable store cupboard of abilities in suitably spectacular fashion, and the actual plot itself feels all the stronger by moving Kiyama's character from that of some kind of outright villain into something more ambiguous. This whole shift in the story also gives us plenty to feed on in future episodes, which is doubtless a path that further episodes of To Aru Kagaku no Railgun will grab with both hands, and quite rightly so. There can be little doubt that we've sliced into the real meat of the series at this point.

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