3 days have passed since the events of the previous episode and the school is seemingly quiet. Yuri wakes up in the School Infirmary with Otonashi, Kanade, Naoi and Hinata by her side. While Yuri has been resting, most people have disappeared and moved on. However, the remaining members the have been busy arranging a Graduation ceremony. Both Yuri and Kanade appear to act more 'girly' now, a point that Hinata raises and is swiftly beaten by Yuri for even suggesting such a thing.
The ceremony gets underway with Otonashi both leading and participating in it. They start by singing the school song, at first it seems pretty standard but eventually degrades into a song about Szechuan Tofu. Guess who wrote it?
Next up is the presentation of graduation certificates, with Hinata acting as the principal - complete with bald head patch and glasses! After all of the certificates have been given out, Otonashi swaps places with Hinata to award him his own certificate. Otonashi, as the graduating class representative, gives a speech summarising his time in the afterlife, putting an emphasis on his change to accepting his previous life and making good friends in the afterlife.
As the ceremony ends, everyone says their goodbyes. First to go is Naoi, he thanks Otonashi for all that he has done. Next is Yuri, she talks to Kanade and regrets that they didn't become friends sooner. Finally, Hinata goes, he thanks Otonashi for starting the entire process of getting everyone to move on.
This leaves just Otonashi and Kanade, who head outside. Suddenly, Otonashi asks Kanade if she wants to stay and help any others that arrive in this world to graduate. He finally confesses his love for her, but she seems to ignore it at first. She tells Otonashi that if she reveals her true feelings for him, she will disappear - [spoiler]Kanade received Otonashi's transplanted heart back in the real world and her regret was that she couldn't thank the donor[/spoiler]. Therefore, if she thanks Otonashi she'll disappear. Otonashi questions the truth behind Kanade's story - she reveals that she realised it when she first stabbed him, [spoiler]he didn't have a heart[/spoiler]. In addition, she reveals that Otonashi regained all of his memories due to the proximity to his [spoiler]transplanted heart[/spoiler] in [spoiler]Kanade's chest when he spent time with her in the infirmary after rescuing her from The Guild[/spoiler].
Kanade begs Otonashi to say he loves her one more time, but Otonashi doesn't want to if it makes Kanade disappear. Finally, he gives in and hugs Kanade tightly, saying the words that send her on her way. Realising she's gone, Otonashi breaks down in tears. Over this scene, Yui's [spoiler]disappearance[/spoiler] song (一番の宝物, ichiban no takaramono, My Most Precious Treasure) plays. It was sad when this was played for Yui and even sadder with Otonashi and Kanade.
In the ending sequence, instead of gradually fading in, Class SSS gradually fade out. The last person to fade out is Otonashi, hinting that he also disappears at some point.
We see a brief epilogue which is seemingly set in the real world. Otonashi walks past someone who looks extremely like Kanade, who is also humming Iwasawa's My Song. He turns around and reaches out for her, and then the episode ends.
To summarise, wow. This episode really was an emotional rollercoaster - I went from being really happy at seeing them all move on to being extremely sad when Otonashi had to say goodbye to Kanade. It might be hard to convey that feeling by just reading the episode summary above, but go and watch the episode and i'm sure you'll feel the same.
I'm curious as to what this means for the timeline. When Yuri found the second computer lab in the previous episode, we learned that a long time ago there was someone who loved another who disappeared and was stuck alone in the afterlife forever, hence creating the program to take measures to stop love in the afterlife. Is Otonashi the programmer? In addition, if Kanade [spoiler]received Otonashi's transplanted heart[/spoiler] that means she died after he did, however she is in the afterlife before he is - what?! Hopefully this will be clarified soon.
This has to be one of the best episodes of the series, sure it had no action but I loved the plot of this episode, even if it did make me feel sad at the end. If it hadn't of been for that small epilogue however, I would have come away from this episode feeling a lot more negative about it, at least we have a glimmer of hope that Otonashi and Kanade have been able to meet up again.
A series summary post will be up soon. It has taken me two and a bit weeks to write this post but I hope to have the summary done much sooner - blame my general lazyness and the significance of this episode for the delay!
A fantastic action-packed finale for Railgun and by far my favourite episode, the only one that comes close is Episode 12 (AIM Burst).
This episode really brings together all of the events of previous episodes and makes you realise that Railgun is just one long arc with several sub-arcs. There are some extremely impressive fight scenes featuring all of the main characters in different situations. Like the fight in Episode 12, the fights are timed to the opening music. However, as there are two main fights, the first is timed to the second opening (LEVEL5 -judgelight-) and the second to the first opening (Only my Railgun).
Some of the new fight techniques where quite amusing, when Kuroko pulled a machine-gun style belt of pins out of her bag I couldn't help but burst out laughing. It turned out to be quite a successful technique too allowing her to rapidly teleport the pins into the weapons of her enemies, thus disabling them.
[spoiler]Telestina[/spoiler] is perhaps the most evil and insane villain I've ever seen and simply does not give up. She had to be [spoiler]blasted by Misaka's railgun[/spoiler] twice before she was finally subdued! Perhaps more amazing is that after this, she is [spoiler]still alive[/spoiler]!
I will post up a series summary soon. It's sad that Railgun is now over but i'm pleased that they made the final episode as epic as it was and didn't leave any loose ends (Code Geass R1, i'm looking at you).
Apologies for the high number of screencaps, there was so much awesome that I found it difficult to limit myself. In fact, at first I had 135 separate screencaps and eventually narrowed it down to the ones below.