The second half of A Certain Scientific Railgun is very much like the first half: excellent when it seriously tackles the world and the characters in it, appalling when the creepy fanservice takes over.
The Swimsuit Episode
Episode 13 is the Dreaded Beach Episode (TM). As the TV Tropes page says: “Beach episodes are usually … considered extreme examples of filler.”
This understates the extent to which it is filler, and very bad filler at that. The filler here, naturally, is more of the creepy fanservice plus the introduction of another character in the role of the spoilt Ojou who will be treated to a Humiliation Conga as the series progresses (she does get to be useful in the final arc though).
Under the circumstances I suppose I should be grateful that there wasn’t a Hot Springs Episode as well (and I was expecting one).
The Day in the Limelight Episodes
There are several Day in the Limelight episodes in the second half, but I actually quite liked most of them. These episodes irritated me slightly as I watching them since I kept expecting the main plot to start up.
In retrospect this is unfair as the main plot actually required a slow build and a sudden finish. The hints leading to the main plot are nicely scattered throughout these early episodes.
As with the first half these episodes usually had solid character work, and some had major payoffs in the finale in terms of character growth.
The Final Arc
The final arc of season one doesn’t really get started until about episode 20 but moves fairly quickly once it gets going. There are elements that rely on the youth and relative inexperience of the main characters. This aspect is handled well, and leads to Mikasa in particular learning some painful lessons about trust, friendship, and shades of grey in the world.
The finale itself is well done, and provides critical roles for all of the four main characters. This is wrapped up by a sort of epilogue during the end credits that I thought was a really nice touch (I’m not going to spoil it, suffice unto the day that I appreciated it).
It does have to be said that the fanservice elements never quite go away, and remain awful throughout. That said, A Certain Scientific Railgun does, eventually, deliver a strong ending that is worth seeing.
Overall I think I liked A Certain Scientific Railgun, but I won’t be in a hurry to show it to friends. Above average, but not by much.
Since I forgot to include it in my first review, here’s the first opening for A Certain Scientific Railgun:
- A Certain Scientific Railgun (2009): First Thoughts with minor spoilers (piratesobg.wordpress.com)