"The Meaning of Being Born in this World" (この世に生まれた意味 Konoyo ni Umareta Imi?) is the 15th chapter of the Astral Buddy manga. It was released in 2 parts when serialized in Dengeki Daioh and combined together when compiled for the tankōbon version. The first part was released on October 26, 2018. The second part was released on November 26, 2018.
The chapter was split up in the serialization due to the disruption caused by the 2018 Hokkaido Eastern Iburi earthquake.
In the distant past, the girl who would be known as Ghost-chan is revealed to have an incurable disease affecting her heart which was discovered before she started elementary school. As there is no cure, only a long-term care could be provided to her.
Back in Ideal, Junko is looking at a fashion magazine until Ghost Girl approaches her, surprising Junko. Junko asks her not to approach lest she hurts with her powers but Ghost Girl notes that Junko haven't had problems as of late, which Junko just now notices. As the Ghost Girl becomes excited, Toomine comes in to tell her to quiet down. The Ghost Girl wants to continue hanging out with Junko but the professor insists. Toomine thanks Junko for keeping the Ghost Girl company, but Junko recalls the time she was cold to her when she asked about Misaki. However, Toomine surprises Misaki and even herself when she pats Junko on the head, blushing
That night, Ayu is still awake, restless because she wants to return the measuring device for her powers. Out comes Ghost Girl, tripping to the floor still too weak to walk on her own, much to Ayu's surprise. After finding her bearings, the Ghost Girl realizes she is talking to Ayu, hugging her in excitement. The Ghost Girl reveals that this is the first time they met, but she was so popular with everyone that she just had to meet her
The Ghost Girl reveals to Ayu that she has been in Ideal for far longer than her, longer than anyone, and Ayu had no idea she was here all aong. She tells Ayu that its all because she was in her hospital room the whole time. The Ghost GIrl that though Toomine sometimes allow her to meet other girls she has never let her meet Ayu. While Ayu wonders why she has been in the hospital for so long, the girl suddenly starts coughing, making Ayu worried for her.
After a while, the girl apologizes for making Ayu worried. Ayu says that it must be tough on the girl, but then she leans close to her and accuses Ayu of feeling sorry for her. She tells Ayu that you she shouldn't feel sorry for her. She tells her all that she has learned because of her disease, from her pulse to what exactly her disease is. Despite all the things she has went through after she got into Academy City, she still still doesn't want to be treated differently. The girl smiles however, noting that Toomine has noticed it about her. Seeing how the girl doesn't let the things that are happening to her get her down, Ayu realizes she shouldn't assume how other people feel and have learned her lesson. Ghost Girl points out her way of thinking is because she is not the only one who has problems not just her, even Ayu and "Misaki-chan". Suddenly, Toomine arrives, calling out for the girl. She is worried sick for her, and tries to check on her condition while the girl tries apologizing. Toomine then asks about Ayu, to which Ayu says that she just happened to run across the girl. Toomine scolds her and says that she shouldn't walk around so late at night.
After the girl and Toomine leaves, Ayu wonders who "Misaki-chan" is.
On the day of the fateful experiment, Toomine gives one last checkup on the Ghost Girl, berating her for her antics. Before it begins, Toomine hugs her, knowing full well that she is scared and is only trying to hide it. She tells her that she can tell her anything and the girl admits that she is scared, relieving Toomine. She continues hugging her until she calms down.
As she continues hugging her, she recalls on how she forgot count on how many times she had sent children in similar experiments. In the days where she was just starting out, she was in an interview as a new engineer. She stutters and is nervous as she mentions how she was from a secret lab and worked unde a Professor Minami. Her being so excited toward "heroes" earns her new position as an engineer. In her youth she was obsessed with being a hero like the in tokusatsu programs she saw on television. And though she was physically unremarkable she was determined to use her brains instead, using science to protect the peace. She was convinced that everyone dedicated to science wanted to make a better place. And her hardwork later paid off and she was invited to one of Academy City's best laboratories, her dream finally coming true. However, it wasn't until she was proven wrong: one of the girls she was looking after had died. And now, another girl was put under her care, the Ghost Girl, and Ideal was created for her to be center of it all.
Back in the present, as the girls prepare for the experiment, Mitsuari Ayu is in the control room looking down at her friends worried. Toomine approaches her asking her if she is worried and teasing her marshmallow-like hair. Ayu tries to raise her concerns but prefers not to do so with a look of sadness in her eyes. Seeing her, Toomine notes that Ayu was a mental esper that second only to Shokuhou Misaki. She thinks that if she wanted to she could have discovered the truth about Ideal. However, it was because she was psychologically guided away from it that prevented her from doing so. Toomine knew that Ayu wanted to be with her friends and is dismayed by what had happened to her.
Toomine goes back to thinking about the girl that was left to her care, the Ghost Girl. She was a weak girl that needed a lot of care, but she became enamored with her charming and friendly attitude after spending a long time together with her. It is because of this that she her weaknesses, how she was always crying and needed lots of care.
Recalling a conference with the researchers of Ideal, the head researcher talks about animal magnetism and how if one controls it one control the mind and body. However, since he knows it is of the occult, he instead applies the concept of animal magnetism to that where he is more familiar: AIM diffusion fields. He postulates that if they can analyze the AIM diffusion fields, extract the personal reality at its core, then they could theoretically control the esper power. He however notes that they have yet to reached that point, as they cannot full analyze the AIM diffusion fields,, and that the only personal reality they can extract is the impure version found be extracting dreams. However, it is still a personal reality. The head researcher points out that if they could teach that to another esper then they could change their power. The Indian Poker card is like the Testament machine, using it to record a personal reality and teach it to another esper, altering that power in any direction they want. And then teach that altered personal reality another esper, and another, and so on and so forth. This all so they can reach their "Ideal" esper power. The other researchers stir in their seats as he continues. The head researcher says that the center of this experiment will be Yuuri Senya, the Ghost Girl we know. She has the power to remove and isolate her AIM diffusion field from her body, the core of their Ideal esper power. He states that now that they have the Indian Poker they can now record her Personal Reality and then teach the other children that and then send it back to her in the first experiment. With this Toomine volunteers to lead the experiment as she knows Senya better than anyone else, promising a good result. As she works hard for the experiment, Toomine is wary of the experiment's result and Senya's power as there is still not much known about her power. Toomine realizes that Senya's power can allow AIM diffusion fields to fuse together. The plan is for the AIM entity to interfere with the children's personal reality, but if there is too much interference, the AIM diffusion fields could all fuse together with the AIM entity as the core. Toomine notes how Senya can already possess people, and that if she loses control the other personal realities will be powerless to stop her, and she doesn't know what would happen afterwards. However, she cannot stop the experiment now. She must make the experiment succeed and bring all the children back safe and sound.
However, perhaps her determination to save all the children may have blinded her from how powerful Senya's power was. A storm of AIM diffusion fields forms above the children that is part of the experiment. Seeing this, Toomine orders her colleagues to activate the security protocol to save the children.
As Mitsuari Ayu comes to after being knocked out in the control room. She finds that many of the researchers have fallen unconscious. Down below the experiment room, she finds a man's body being controlled by a mass of AIM diffusion fields, and Iruka is fighting it. Using Wave Conductor, she momentarily blinds the monster in order for her friends to run away to the exit. She finds most of her friends are still asleep thanks to the experiment and wonders what she can do. Above, Ayu finds that she is the only one who can move as Iruka is dealing with the monster. Using one of her phones, she opts to use her Mental Stinger against it from a distance. As Iruka weighs her options, she trips from a sudden attack on her leg. And with her being vulnerable, the monster quickly cuts into her right eye. As Iruka screams in pain, a horrified Iruka dashes to get to the experiment room. Meanwhile, Rakko tries to save her little sister and grabs onto the monster. But the monster is undaunted and kicks Rakko away. Iruka screams for her sister as she bleeds from her right eye. As the monster approach her and pleading for help, Junko finally wakes up and punches the monster, angry for hurting her friends. Iruka watches in awe as Junko battles the monster with her power on her own, right before collapsing from her injuries.
Back with Ayu, she continues to struggle with the doors to the room, until she is aided by Toomine. Toomine is bleeding heavily from her stomach but tries to play it off toward Ayu. Toomine realizes that the experiment caused the malfunction and created the monster that is composed of many AIM diffusion fields joining together and knocking out all of Clone Dolly. Knowing this, they truly are on their own to stop the monster. Toomine formulates a plan, knowing that the core of the AIM diffusion field is Senya, she need only do something that would cause a great shock Senya and have Ayu’s power weaken her. Ayu is crying because of Toomine’s jokes, believing she will die with her wounds, but tries to act cool in front of Ayu and teases her a bit to calm her down. With that, Toomine tasks Ayu to use her power on the monster as she creates an opening, apologizing to Senya for what she is about to do. Back with Junko, she is getting exhausted while fighting the monster, seeing as how it keeps regenerating just like her power. Suddenly, Junko is attacked by one of her cluster headaches, making her fall to her knees. The monster attacks but before she can pierce Junko, Toomine steps in and takes an attack to her gut. This distracts the monster long enough for a distraught Ayu to use her power on the monster, finally releasing the mass of AIM diffusion fields from the man’s body.
But their efforts come with a great cost, and not all of their friends survive the onslaught. Junko and Ayu can only despair as Toomine bleeds to death in front of them. Junko asks why Toomine protected her. Despite her bleeding, Toomine consoles the weeping Junko with a pat on the head, and apologizes. As the dark cloud of the AIM diffusion fields disperses, Toomine wonders if Senya saw what she had done. She reiterates how she wanted to be a hero but still couldn’t save the child she wanted to protect long ago or the one that was crying in front of her now. She laments on how she has given Senya a great burden she has to carry, and how she wishes she could see her again.
In the past Toomine recalls a promise she made with Senya, wanting to help her find the clothes she really wanted to wear.
- Flashback chapter
- Part 1
- Ghost Girl's condition is revealed
- Mitsuari Ayu meets the Ghost Girl
- Part 2
- Toomine Kanari's past is revealed
- How Yumiya Iruka lost her eye is revealed.
- Death of Toomine Kanari
- Part 1
By order of appearance:
- Minami (referenced)
- Oua University (referenced)
- The dress Senya would eventually wear when she meets Junko again is shown in the magazine Junko is reading.
- Toomine's interactions both in the first and second parts of the chapter with Junko is her giving a reassuring pat on her head.
- If both parts are combined together, the total page count of this chapter would be 55 pages.
- Toomine Kanari's story in this chapter parallels Kiyama Harumi's story.
- Both were young female researchers hired by a seemingly benevolent older male scientist with a nefarous motive: Kihara Gensei for Harumi and the head researcher of Ideal for Toomine.
- Both bond with a young girl that she grows to care for: Edasaki Banri for Harumi and Yuuri Senya for Toomine.
- Both women witness the horrific experimentation of the children under their care leading to disastrous and fatal results.
- This chapter foreshadows the existence of Kazakiri Hyouka. It however foreshadows more closely the AIM Burst, a monster birthed from the aggregation of AIM diffusion fields. Moreover, the AIM Burst used the powers of the espers whose AIM diffusion fields that are aggregated into it. Here, the monster formed from the AIM diffusion fields of the girls of Ideal is noted by Junko to have a regeneration similar to hers. Furthermore, with the manipulation of Personal Realities through AIM diffusion fields foreshadows the true potential of the AIM Stalker.
- Appearance-wise and how it takes over the body of the person, the mass of AIM diffusion fields that had Senya as its core is similar to that of Accelerator's Black Wings.
- Toomine Kanari had graduated Oua University which was referenced in Toaru Kagaku no Railgun OVA.
- Toomine Kanari is a fan of tokusatsu, a Japanese term used to refer to live-action shows that heavily use special effects. Indeed, tokusatsu literally means "special effects".
- Tantanmen (担々麵 Tantanmen?, lit. Tantan Noodle), Toomine Kanari's favorite food, is a noodle dish originating from Chinese Sichuan cuisine. It made of spicy sauce with vegetables, chili oil, Sichuan pepper and minced pork, served over noodles.
- The concepts of mesmerism and animal magnetism are discussed in this chapter.
- As Ayu is the backup for Shokuhou Misaki as a Level 5 candidate, was Ayu deliberately manipulated not to participated in the experiment that could be dangerous for her?
- Did Ayu misfire her Mental Stinger causing Iruka to trip up?
- Toomine: "The girl left with me was weak.. and needed a lot of care. But she was a charming... and friendly girl. I spent so much time with her. We were together for so very long. So I knew she was anything but strong. She was always crying... and needed lots of care."--regarding Senya's character
- Toomine: "Any grownup... can become an invincible hero when kids are watching."--to Ayu.