Toaru Kagaku no Accelerator First Impressions (1-2): An unlikely hero

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An escaped esper

I honestly wasn’t sure about a series revolving around Accelerator of all people, but this series has been promising so far. Taking place in the Academy City of Toaru Kagaku no Railgun, this series follows the aforementioned Accelerator, the strongest esper in the city, rather than Mikoto Misaka. It takes place after the events of Railgun, during which Accelerator was injured protecting Last Order, a clone of Mikoto.

Esther tries to ask for Accelerator's help

It’s been a while since I watched Railgun, so it’s hard for me to remember what information I should already have about the setting. At the very least, I think that the prequel gives insight on Accelerator’s traumatic reaction to dead bodies and his protective relationship with Last Order. However, I personally feel that the series is watchable without having seen the precursor. In contrast to Mikoto, Accelerator seems have more of a flippant anti-hero style as a protagonist.

Accelerator confronts the fake Antiskill

I don’t know if I was supposed to get this from Railgun, but I think these first two episodes would have benefit from some explanation of Accelerator’s current condition. I’ve been able to piece together that his powers have been weakened as he recovers from some kind of brain damage. He wears an electric device which seems to allow him to use his powers in limited intervals. More relevant to this particular episode, it seems to dampen his senses when he turns it off, which is likely the reason he doesn’t notice Esther when she enters his hospital room.

Accelerator analyzes his enemy

The first episode seemed to cover a more random attack to introduce the series, so I guess this week’s episode was meant to set up the overarching antagonists for this series. Currently only named as DA, these guys seem to be some rogue branch of Antiskill bent on using dead espers to further their cause. In many ways, it reminds me a bit of Skill Upper from Railgun, since these “coffins” seem to amplify the powers of the corpses they use.

Accelerator figures out how the coffins work

I guess the story seems interesting so far. It has a darker tone than its predecessor, having quickly approached the ideas of manipulating the dead and suicide in this episode. I’ll be curious to see how they build on this tone without getting too deep into territory that the prequel already covered.

Accelerator confronts Esther

Standing against DA is Esther, an esper who gave them the ability to manipulate dead bodies and whom Accelerator inadvertently saved. So far, she seems determined to put Accelerator on the path of the hero, which makes things interesting. I’m also curious how Last Order factors into this story, since she seems to be Esther’s main interest.

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Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 37: Race to the end

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Dazai warns the boys

While I understand how much this episode had to resolve with both Pushkin and Fyodor, I think the events largely felt rushed. Atsushi and Akutagawa’s fight against Ivan felt like it should have been an episode climax on its own, but it largely feels like a backdrop for Dazai’s search for Fyodor. I say this mostly because I felt like Akutagawa and Atsushi were at a crossroads of sorts, whereas Fyodor’s capture seems more like a temporary setback for him.

Dazai helps direct the search for Fyodor

So, I have a question after seeing how this episode concludes. Was Dazai’s search for Fyodor meant to be a smokescreen for the audience or for Fyodor? It clearly works as a smokescreen for the audience, but it’s more impactful if he was trying to fool Fyodor. However, I guess I don’t see how it could have been the latter…

Atsushi gains a new ability

Watching Atsushi and Akutagawa forced to work together and combine their abilities is very much a cool moment for the episode. This is partly why I wish the episode would have taken more time for this fight. I feel like this new combined power could have been explained better with more time. From what I can gather, Akutagawa is giving Atsushi more reach with his claws, but there has to be more to that.

The group finds Pushkin

This may be a weird question, but how exactly do they get rid of the virus? From later scenes in the episode, it’s highly suggested that Dazai was never on-site, so it doesn’t seem like he could have touched Pushkin. I know that Pushkin surrenders in this scene, but the bosses punch him before he does anything, so it doesn’t seem like he would have willingly dropped it. Does it just go away when Pushkin is knocked out?

Dazai meets up with Fyodor

Seeing the shocked expression on Fyodor’s face was actually pretty cool. He doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would take defeat well. That aside, I like the fact that Fitzgerald is used to defeat Fyodor, because it gives a solid reason for focusing on him earlier in the season. The Eyes of God that he steals are used in the finale to wrap things up.

Akutagawa threatens to kill Atsushi

The final scene between Atsushi and Dazai is nice, but I kind of wish that it had been used to tie the present day events with the flashback at the start of the season. Atsushi and Akutagawa seem like decent analogues for Dazai and Chuuya. Both pairs work well together despite having very antagonistic personalities. I think linking the two together would have given the opening flashback some more meaning.

Final Score: 7/10

A fun season with a lot of solid action, but the story starts to feel rushed in the end.

Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 36: The plan unfolds

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Fukuzawa is preparing to open a certain agency

This week’s episode has a pretty strong start, but it gets into weird territory from a logical perspective later on. I think the series does a great job when it’s talking about its characters’ pasts, as we see in Mori and Fukuzawa’s fight. However, I think it tries too hard to emphasize Atsushi’s importance whenever it can, which results in some awkward moments.

Dazai tells the legend of Natsume Soseki

I like the idea of Natsume Soseki as a kind of legendary protector of the city. This idea is expanded later, but I think it’s interesting that the various organizations within the city work in a state of balance. It’s a concept that’s often hinted at in the series, but we finally get a more explicit explanation of it.

Fukuzawa clashes with Mori

While Fukuzawa’s fight with Mori isn’t too long, I thought it was nice to see each play to his own strength. Fukuzawa easily overpowers Mori in the fight itself, but Mori fights back by appealing to Fukuzawa’s sense of reason. It’s a great scene that showcases how well they know each other.

Natsume makes his entrance

Well, I guess the cat was the culprit all along. It’s a fun twist to wrap the story up a bit, and I’m sure I’d see some cool moments if I looked back at previous scenes that involved that same cat. Small foreshadowing like that can be pretty entertaining.

Dazai analyzes the situation

This is probably the point in the episode where it starts to lose me. I get that the series needs to showcase that Atsushi is close to Akutagawa’s level, but having him blaze past all of the guards and sensors is kind of overkill. Even if we ignore that, a later scene has Akutagawa and Atsushi very clearly standing in front of a camera without being noticed.

Atsushi feels Akutagawa breaking

I’m curious about what this scene is supposed to signify. From the surface, it feels like an indication that Atsushi and Akutagawa are starting to build a sense of trust or something along those lines. However, I find it hard to buy that Atsushi specifically feels Akutagawa snap in that case. My best guess is that Akutagawa has come to accept that Atsushi thinks similarly to him, so he’s forced to accept Atsushi’s reprimand.

Akutagawa is infected by the virus

Hmm, this seems to complicate matters.

Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 35: A secret duel to decide it all

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Ranpo chooses to fight

I guess the fight between the Port Mafia and the Armed Detective Agency wasn’t a lie after all. This week’s episode had some surprisingly entertaining interactions despite being mostly action-focused. I’m curious to see where this plot line is headed, since it’s looking grim.

Ranpo asks Atsushi to find Katai

It’s kind of weird for Ranpo to be the one gearing for a fight. I’m also not sure I like the fact that he conveniently gives Atsushi an out from the decision. Sure, it doesn’t necessarily go anywhere, but it seems like a quick way to cut off the conversation.

Katai is shot

Given the fact that he appears in the opening, I have a hard time believing that Katai is dead. I’m going to guess that Fyodor has him captured to keep him out of the fight.

Ranpo tricks Chuuya

Seeing Ranpo trick Chuuya was pretty awesome. Despite having no real combat effectiveness, Ranpo manages to neutralize a large threat from the Port Mafia with some help from Poe. It definitely took me a while to remember that Ranpo has no abilities, but it’s a cool scene.

Akutagawa sees himself in Kyouka

I definitely didn’t expect it, but this is a nice moment between Akutagawa and Kyouka. Akutagawa in particular seems to be softening with his interactions with Atsushi, so it’s nice to see him acknowledging that Kyouka has found her place. I like the idea that he sees himself in her and wishes her the best, even if she chose the other side.

The president meets with Mori

I was expecting the virus to fully incapacitate the two leaders, but it looks like we’re getting an epic fight instead. I’m curious to see the president in action a bit more, to be honest, but I look forward to seeing the fight overall.

Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 34: Staving off the inevitable

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Tanizaki faces off against the Port Mafia

Wow, Fyodor really doesn’t mess around. While this episode didn’t end up being the massive fight it was hyped to be, I still liked what we got. There’s a good sense of pacing in the episode, which works to emphasize the fact that the Armed Detective Agency is racing against the clock. However, I’m having trouble making sense of where some of the story is headed, so I’ll have to wait to find out.

Kunikida is forced to fight kids

I thought that the focus on Kunikida was interesting, but part of me wonders why kids are so often used against him. That being said, I like the reference back to the OVA’s story, and it’s somewhat funny that Kunikida is somehow explosion-proof. What bothers me a bit is that I’m not sure what Fyodor’s trying to get at by bringing Katsura back into the story.

Fyodor plays in front of Katsura

The reference is fine, and I got the sense that the ultimate goal was to show that Fyodor is more ruthlessly trying to break Kunikida. However, he’s not exactly attacking Kunikida’s ideals like Katsura did. It’s more of a parlor trick, coldly killing a kid in front of Kunikida. I wonder how it will affect him going forward, but it’s not exactly related to Katsura.

The target is a trap

I’m curious about the fact that Fyodor uses a non-gifted person for his deception here. Who exactly are the gifted people in his organization? Does he even have any? Given that his ultimate goal is to wipe out the gifted, it’s not surprising that he doesn’t rely on them. So, I wonder if he even has any gifted allies.

Rampo discovers the fake document

Fyodor’s heavy use of misdirection in the series makes him a cool villain. It definitely makes you wonder how the Armed Detective Agency is going to avoid war if their only lead is a wild goose chase. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fyodor later reveals that the virus doesn’t even work the way he described it. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s outright lied about how a power works.

Tanizaki stands over Mori

I liked seeing Tanizaki in action in this episode. He has a great power, so it’s nice to see it take center stage. It’s clear that he could do some terrible things with his ability, but he largely holds back for the benefit of his sister.

Kouka saves Tanizaki

I’m a little sad that we didn’t get to see Kouka face off against Ozaki. I don’t remember how much it’s been set up before this season, but there’s a clear connection between the two. Is this season gearing towards a face-off between the Port Mafia and the Armed Detective Agency? That’s the only way I see that connection being explored.

Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 33: Let them fight

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The president is attacked at night

It looks like it’s finally time for Fyodor to make his move, and it was a big one. He seems to bring an interesting mental aspect to the series, which really allows Dazai to shine. He’s engineered a massive battle between the Armed Detective Agency and the Port Mafia, which I’m looking forward to seeing (if it actually happens). It’s been a long time since I’ve seen many of these characters in action, so it should be fun.

A string of attacks on gifted people

I think the idea of having the leaders of each organization attacked to spark conflict between them is great, but I did have a thought on it. Specifically with the president of the Armed Detective Agency, he generally doesn’t contribute to the story anyway. So, it’s like the story is taking out a character that wouldn’t otherwise do anything, and I don’t know how I feel about that.

The masked figure is revealed

I probably should have remembered Nathaniel from the last season, but I had another small nitpick to add here. We established in Fyodor’s introduction that his ability doesn’t allow him to control his target’s mind. Instead, he does that naturally. So, I think it would have been more impactful if Nathaniel had been truly convinced to help get rid of the gifted users. It could still be the case, but I don’t like how mind-broken he looks in this episode.

Fyodor is searching for the book

I’ll be honest. I’m a little skeptical about Fyodor’s plan here. Don’t get me wrong. His personality makes complete sense given the author he’s based on, but his ultimate vision could use some work. The whole “purge the gifted” thing isn’t the most inspiring goal. How big was his organization again?

Fyodor uses a virus to infect the leaders

Watching Dazai and Fyodor play chess with each other was great, but the episode could have given a little bit more explanation for this virus bit. Fyodor mysteriously says that it would end poorly if Dazai touched the virus, but that doesn’t really add up given what we know. Why wouldn’t it just work? Sure, it’s probably almost impossible to find them, but Fyodor makes it sound like there would be some backlash.

The Armed Detective Agency mobilizes

This fight is looking pretty epic so far. I think it’s funny that they cut the episode after Chuuya asks whether the fight will be one-on-one or all-out. I’m kind of wondering that myself.

Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 32: The power of money remains strong

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Louisa tries to find Francis

For a story entirely focused on the Guild, I thought that this week’s episode was fun. I wouldn’t say I like Francis more as a character after seeing this, but I think his actions make a lot more sense now. I’m curious to see what the implications of the Guild’s return will be. I think it would be cool if they allied themselves with the Armed Detective Agency in the same way the Port Mafia did for the previous season. Alternatively, they could just throw a wrench into the larger battle by acting as an independent faction.

Francis loses all of his value

I honestly don’t remember too much about the characterization that Francis got in the previous season (my apologies for my weak memory). I do remember that his power derives from sacrificing his monetary holdings, which is a neat concept. All of that aside, I liked that episode used monetary values to give a sense of his progress. It’s not something you can do often, and we get to see Francis go from 50 cents to 400 million dollars.

Louisa is captured by some thugs

One thing that did bother me about this episode was that I couldn’t get a sense of why Francis decided to come back. After giving a speech about how he no longer has the motivation to continue his efforts, he immediately reverses his entire decision after seeing Louisa in danger. Is that just meant to show that he cares for her? I would have understood it if he just came back to help, but he basically goes back on everything he said.

Francis is surprised to not own the entire building

Watching Francis deal with poverty was my favorite part of the episode. His implicit assumptions about owning the building and his obsession with cookery sales are hilarious. He’s adapting well.

Francis gives Louisa a hint

This comment was a bit leading for my taste, but I do like how the episode loops in the Armed Detective Agency. They effectively trick Ranpo into helping them. It does seem to set the groundwork for a future alliance, though. Maybe it makes more sense for Francis to act on his own, but I still like the idea of having him work together with the main cast.

Francis objects

I think Francis might be in the wrong series here. I probably would have been more impressed with his plan if I hadn’t already seen it before in Western dramas (the idea of short selling stock before immediately tanking a company). That being said, Francis is meant to be an American character, so you could even argue that it makes it more impressive that he’d use a tactic that’s often used in his supposed home country.

Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 31: The trials of parenthood

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Kyouka admonishes Demon Snow

It looks like the story is still on standby, but I did like the thematic style of this episode. On its own, it’s a combination of two side stories to explore the pasts of Atsushi and Kyouka some more. However, I like the idea that they share the same basic idea of a child being unable to understand the actions of their parents. I did think that the stories suffered a bit from being cobbled together, but I think it worked fine as a sense of emotional backstory.

Lucy appears with the missing page

On a completely unrelated noted, I think Lucy’s a fun addition to the cast. She seems to play the role of the jealous ex well. To be fair, her introduction is probably part of the reason why this episode felt a bit rushed, but I think she becomes better as a character from it. Her power makes for a funny interaction with Atsushi, especially when he tries to use it to dry their clothes.

Kyouka finds out about her parents

Kyouka’s story felt the most awkward for me in this episode. I was glad to see her return to the series, and I liked hearing the truth behind her parents’ death. The fact that Demon Snow originally belonged to her mother explains why she can’t control it well. Additionally, I feel like the story does a good job of explaining why she might have believed that she killed her parents, despite it being far from the truth.

Atsushi investigates a dead body

On the other hand, Atsushi’s side of the story ends up being relatively mundane, but I think the conclusion is built up better than Kyouka’s story. My first guess when I saw this scene was that the accident would be related to the blood control from Kyouka’s story, but it ended up being completely Atsushi-focused.

Atsushi struggles with how to react

I thought that Atsushi’s struggle with the death of the headmaster was interesting. It reasonable that he’d be upset with the headmaster for mistreating him, but it’s nice to see him overcoming that instinctive reaction. With everything he’s learned about his power, he’s come to see the world from the headmaster’s perspective in some sense, which I think is a great indicator of character growth.

Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 30: The mysterious girl

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The gang is feeling lethargic

Compared to last week’s episode, this week’s episode ended up being fairly light despite the explosive opener. It felt like a bit of a refresher to me, which I greatly appreciated given the gap from season two. Other than that, it was a fun episode overall, and it was cool to learn that Gin was Akutagawa’s sister.

The cafe is attacked

While I think the attack on the cafe was a bit excessive, it was an entertaining bit of mini-development. It makes sense that the detective agency members would need some time to chill after the Moby Dick incident, so the attack is a chance to shock them back into action. It became pretty obvious when the gang leader started bragging about his defenses that this group was destined to die.

Kunikida and Atsushi track down a hacker

The flashback in this scene is well-timed. Given that tracking down Katai as the hacker is actually a legitimate plot point, it’s nice that the episode refreshes the context of that search from the previous season’s climax. I know I certainly forgot about it. I wonder if this hacker will be the inevitable link to Fyodor (or if that’s just something else I’ve forgotten).

Higuchi offers to join the search

I think it’s a testament to how much anime I watch that my first thought when hearing about the “black-haired beauty” was that she was going to be a guy in disguise. I feel like that’s a problem.

Gin is caught

In general, I think it’s funny when the Port Mafia and the Armed Detective Agency have to work together, so this episode had an unexpected lightness to it. In the end, not much of the story really progresses, but it’s entertaining. If anything, this just proves that I have a lot to remember from this show.

Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 29: A veil of confidence

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Fyodor is captured

This episode was a pretty solid opening for the present day story. I liked how Fyodor was presented in this episode, and he’s shaping up to be a formidable foe. I’m looking forward to seeing how he interacts with the Armed Detective Agency, since he seems to be less focused on raw power. I definitely wasn’t expecting the characters introduced in this episode to get killed off, though.

Ace plans to overthrow Mori

I’m starting to wonder how the Port Mafia operates at any level with how many members want to kill Mori. It’s seeming like a common trait amongst the stronger members of the organization at this point.

Fyodor declares his power

I think the best part of the episode was the fact that Fyodor both lies and tells the truth about his power. He truly does have the ability to mess with people’s minds, but it’s not his supernatural power. I think it’s a nice distinction to make because of perception. In this series, we get a flashy effect whenever a power is used, but presumably not all abilities are that showy. Can a normal person even tell if a power is being activated?

Ace figures out Fyodor's power

Even if the ending is a bit grim, I liked the concept behind the episode. As Fyodor explains later in the episode, he essentially takes advantage of the confidence people feel when they’ve figured something out. This might just be the neuroscience background in me talking, but I thought that aspect was really cool. He describes a cognitive bias that actually happens, and he uses it to trick Ace into killing himself.

Fyodor steals the list of powers

In the end, Fyodor was fighting an information battle, which gives him a lot of potential as a character. He might end up being a good match for Dazai, who tends to handle the strategic thinking for the Armed Detective Agency. I’m honestly surprised that the collared lackey we met in this episode died as well. I would have expected him to join up with Fyodor. It was a bit sad.