English: A Certain Scientific Railgun
Synonyms: Toaru Kagaku no Choudenjihou
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 3, 2009 to Mar 20, 2010
24 min. per episode
PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
L represents licensing company
Score: 7.961 (scored by 43393 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisAcademy City is a highly developed place in terms of technology. It is said to be 20 to 30 years ahead of the rest of the world, and 80% of its 2.3 million residents are students. The focus of studies here is directed towards esper powers. Misaka Mikoto, one of the top level espers in town, shares a room with Kuroko Shirai, another high level esper who is a member of Judgement, a law enforcing agency composed of students. Both attend Tokiwadai, a private school reserved for the high-leveled and the rich. Kuroko's partner at Judgement, Kazari Uiharu, is a low level esper who studies at Sakugawa middle school. Her best friend and classmate there is Ruiko Saten, a level zero, one who has no esper powers. Together, the four encounter several adventures in the exciting scientific town.
Related AnimeAdaptation: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun
Parent story: Toaru Majutsu no Index
Spin-off: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun Specials
Side story: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun: Misaka-san wa Ima Chuumoku no Mato Desukara, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun: Entenka no Satsuei Model mo Raku Ja Arimasen wa ne
Sequel: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S
Characters & Voice Actors
Are the burdens of being special greater or lesser than the burdens of being ordinary?
Academy City is a city that thrives on those who are espers -- who are special -- whether they already have powers or are trying to attain them. Everyone is reaching towards their ideal self, but some people don’t care what methods get used. The pursuit of the “next level” is absolute. If our limitations only exist so we can surpass them, should there be a limit to how far we can go to get there?
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun, or A Certain Scientific Railgun, follows the events around Misaka Mikoto and her core group of friends and their exploits within the City. They are students, aiming to better their powers as espers. But in a city with a concentrated amount of people with special abilities, it’s only natural for the criminally-minded to try to carve out their own bit of power at the expense of others. To combat such an element and maintain civil order, the organization Judgment exists. Having a free-willed, ace-in-the-hole player like Misaka who keeps people in line all by herself doesn’t hurt either.
Misaka (affectionately dubbed “Biribiri”) is one of the most powerful espers in Academy City. Her ability to generate and manipulate electricity makes her a force that most overconfident thugs learn too late shouldn’t have been reckoned with. Kuroko is her best friend, a crazy and hyperactive girl whose yuri-obsession with her beloved “Onee-sama” is hilarious despite constant rejection. Teleportation of objects (herself included) is her esper proficiency, making her one of the more menacing opponents to come up against, despite the diminutive and cute appearance. Uiharu is the demure techie: easily embarrassed, but a wizard at hacking or culling information from any network. As a member of Judgment, she is often the “eye-in-the-sky” for Kuroko when they take action.
In a place brimming with espers, Saten is the most fascinating of the four. Her official designation is Level 0. She has no powers at all. Nevertheless, she attends classes and learns all there is to learn about being an esper. The teachers explain to the Level 0s like her that it’s possible to reach Level 1… but Saten always has a wistful look when the topic comes up. It’s clear she doesn’t have that kind of optimism. What does it mean to be that kind of outsider looking in? And how much worse is it to be in the middle of this incredible city, surrounded by so many exceptional people she’d love to be?
Academy City is almost a character in itself. It’s hard not to fall in love with it. Clean, stylish, dotted with wind generators, a near-futuristic center of learning and advanced scientific research, all the while supersaturated with technology. The juxtaposition of seemingly sentient trash-collector robots and soda machines that only work if you kick them appears to point out that we’ll always have some low-tech around.
Railgun fixes most every glaring problem that tripped up Toaru Majutsu no Index. Gone are Index’s occasional -- albeit entirely useless -- scenes where those involved in the higher echelons of running Academy City were up to some sinister, boring machinations. Fortunately, Railgun is much more down-to-earth. It also wisely limits the amount of talking that occurs during fight sequences. The action is left to unfold naturally, instead of cramming in reams of idealistic soliloquies that the Index villains probably weren’t even listening to. Finally, it does away with Index’s tendency to tell one mini-arc, followed by another mini-arc, followed by another mini-arc… ad nauseam that tended to make the show’s overall narrative out of focus and its pace too breakneck.
The structure of this show, however, is a bit of an odd thing and does deserve to be mulled over. It begins largely episodic with only a scattering of episodes focused entirely on the more serious arc that concludes at the halfway point. The second half is much the same. I say ‘odd’ because it’s a unique structure I’ve rarely come across. Most non-episodic anime tend to follow the same format as any other narrative medium: an identifiable conflict or targeted goal at the outset; gradual complications along the way; an ending with the inevitable climax and resolution.
Railgun mostly ignores that age-old wisdom. Twice.
The four or five episodes that precede each climax are strong, focused, and exciting. So if the creators were so capable, why not follow the arcs in every episode? Simply put, it seems to be a stylistic choice -- and one that is as refreshing as it is surprisingly effective. It frees up the story, allows our perspective of Academy City to expand by degrees and the characters a chance to breathe. The importance of the latter cannot be stressed enough. After all, our heroines are living here primarily to learn. It’s a given that attending classes and socializing are going to make up no small portion of their day-to-day lives.
That said, Kuroko and Uiharu’s work at Judgment comprises the larger portion. Most of the fun is watching them work on cases and hunt down perpetrators. Even though Misaka isn’t a part of Judgment, she often forces herself into the role of unofficial member. That she has this proclivity for beating up criminals isn’t so much that she’s a do-gooder, but rather that’s how she finds it easiest to protect her friends. She has an active investment in their well-being and specific meaningful relationships to lose if something goes wrong. This is, of course, all to say that it’s vastly more engaging to watch her and her cohorts, as opposed to a certain bed-headed, misfortunate guy with a chronic Helper Monkey Complex.
I usually don’t mention voice acting, but the consistent excellence is such that I can’t avoid it. Toyosaki Aki easily hits her highest note yet here and in one pivotal moment gives an amazing, touching performance. Even the always-talented Tanaka Atsuko creates a character that is very special. So to avoid a laundry list of names, let me simply say that if some of your favorite seiyuu are involved, it probably wouldn’t be an exaggeration to urge you to check it out for that reason alone.
The OPs are as highly-charged as Misaka’s railgun and the EDs are catchy outros after all the excitement. In fact, the songs that bookend the show’s second half are as good as -- if not better than -- the first half’s. And here I thought it was some sort of sadistic tradition in anime for second-half OPs and EDs to be lacklustre.
The overall soundtrack is just as fantastic. Not only the music itself, but also its skillful use. At one point, a solitary piano begins playing, making us realize that since the episode started there hasn’t been any music. Instead of merely reinforcing the mood, it becomes the subtext that the characters can’t say. Later on when they connect to each other, a similar piano begins. As they are finally able to talk, more and more instruments are woven into the song as they become more and more desperate to express everything they wanted to say earlier.
Sound effects are another design element that truly shine. There is something so perfect in the execution of Biribiri’s electricity and Kuroko’s teleportation. It isn’t that Index’s sound effects for these abilities were bad at all, but rather that in Railgun they have been refined enough to be a little addicting to listen to. Likewise, the action of the fight scenes is as much aural as it is visual. Impact is visceral, whether against concrete or someone’s face.
The art is crisp and beautiful. The visual design is such that your eyes get drawn in, from a particularly huge parfait to some spellbinding fight choreography. Some close-up expressions of the characters are priceless. Unfortunately, certain distance shots of them can dip in quality. It’s a pity given the polished look of everything else around them, but comparatively speaking it’s easy to forgive as it doesn’t occur often.
Railgun is an anime that starts with a cast of memorable characters, tells a very entertaining story, and has the privilege of doing so with laudable production values. The questions it raises are thought-provoking and relevant. Even when the story meanders into a stand-alone episode that has no real bearing on the plot, it is always with a sense of how it fits into the overarching frame. Like its characters, the story breathes. At times it runs; at times it walks. And yes, also like its characters, sometimes it takes that random detour and ends up discovering something wholly unexpected. While science plays a large role in the show, all its elements end up filled with quite a bit of magic.
And that’s a certain kind of awesome. read more
Back in January, I watched a just licensed anime called "A Certain Magical Index". Which I thought was a pretty good show that was worth watching, with it's interesting world and likable characters, though at times it got too complicated and hard to follow at times. Though what made it worth watching was the secondary character, Mikoto Misaka. In a sea of basic stock anime characters, she was the most unique out of them. Plus, watching her made me want to see more of this character, including her friend, Kuroko Shirai. But seeing how she was popular enough to get her own spin-off, I'm not the only one. So, will this more Scientific "Certain" show live up to my expectations, or will I end up disappointed? Let's find out.
The Story (9/10)
Now let me say that the scientific side of this world is a lot more easier to follow then the Magical side. Academy City is a city in which it's technology is three decades ahead of the rest of the world, where many people come to train to be espers. Some of which were born with such powers, whiles others were originally ordinary folk who had the potential to develop them. The ranks range from Levels 0 to 5. 0 being the lowest (As in, have no powers) while 5 being the highest, in which there are only 7 espers ranked Level 5. One of them being our main heroine, Mikoto Misaka. She is joined by three other friends, including her best friend and roomate Kuroko Shirai, Ruiko Saten, and Uiharu Kazari. All four of them go on action packed adventures exploring the more darker aspects of Academy City, as well as having their friendship for each other help them get by.
This side-story does a very good job explaining the basics and details of being an esper in this scientific city. Not only that, but it also explores the more psychological side of being an esper. If you replace the esper dream these girls have and replace them with your own, you would know how many of the characters would feel. You relate with working hard for your goals, or the fact that while you may try your best, you would still be stuck at square one. But that's were I talk about the themes of this show, and let me tell you, they're REALLY good. The main one being the power of friendship. The lessons of relying on one another, no matter how empowered you are, you will always need help. Or how your true friendships are much more important then things that you think are more important, but they really aren't. Not only that, but it has strong messages of "Working hard for your goals", "Never giving up", "Be true to yourself", "Try again", and "Always stand up for your friends." All of which are very helpful in life.
I even give credit to the fact that the fanservice does take a back seat in this. Okay it's STILL there, but it's actually treated as a small part of the show. The bigger part being the characters, their relationships with one another, and their inner hardships that they fight to overcome. Not to mention the story arcs having unique ideas that rely on sci-fi complexity, and have a subtle connection with one another. Filled with twists, backstories, and some very sentimental moments. And because that this is a slice-of-life show with a lot of sci fi elements, it really has that Haruhi Suzumiya-vibe to it. Achieving on every aspect Magical Index only did "Okay" on, makes this show one of the most surprisingly deep I've seen in any medium.
The Dub (7/10)
Now we get into the more...."Controversial" side of this. At least in it's overseas release. Ever since the dub's trailer, it's gotten a lot of hate towards dub haters. (Which is not surprising) Me? Well, I actually tolerated it, though that's not to say I think it's perfect. Brittney Karbowski I thought was terrific as Mikoto Misaka. Capturing her tom-boyish attitude fairly well. Plus it's funny to hear her as Ayu Tsukymia and then as Mikoto. Kuroko Shirai was actually the first time I heard Alison Viktorin's voice. Now her english voice for Shirai might not be as funny to listen to as her sub voice, it still suites her character just fine. Plus, changing "One-sama" for "Sissy" was because the latter sounded more familiar towards American and European countries. Also, it means the same freaking thing, so calm your tits dub haters! Then there's Cherami Leigh as Uiharu. Now she is a character type that Leigh would usually play, just changing the little girl to a teenager, and she does an okay job as Uiharu. At least to a point where I can tolerate it. Plus, is it me, or does her Uiharu voice kinda sounds like Lisa Simpson at times? Last but not least is Brina Palencia as Saten, which is where I think most of the complaints come from. People complained that she sounded like a tomboy just like Mikoto. While I can somewhat see where they're coming from, I think there might be a reason to this. I think Saten's personality is in the middle of girly-girl and tomboy. She's not to much of one side, but not to much on the other either. Now Brina........only did a good job on it. Not great, but her voice for Saten can be fun to listen too. Funimation isn't always perfect with their dubs, but they STILL work hard on them. And their work here does show. At least to me.
The Characters (10/10)
Now here is where we get into the strongest aspect of the show. Or in some cases, the heart of it. You see, the problem with Index's cast is, (While they are okay) they're for the most part copy/paste anime archetypes. Ones that we're use to seeing all the time at this point. That is not the case here.
Let's start out with our main character, Mikoto Misaka. Who on the outside, looks like your typical stuck-up girl due to her high ranks as an esper. But on the inside, we learn that she's really nice, flawed, and very identifiable. We learn that she was originally a Level One esper, but thanks to hard work, got to where she is now. Plus, her personalities very unique for anime standards. Sure tomboys are fairly common, but she's given reasons to act like that which can be seen for yourself while watching. Also, just because she's one of the most powerful espers in Academy City, doesn't mean she'll prevail. Which makes the action scenes more intense, and her friends very useful when the times right.
There's Kuroko Shirai, who's Mikoto's best friend and might have a possible love for her. Which could get annoying to some people, (And is mostly there to turn on the male watchers) but there is more to her character then that. We learn that she's very devoted to her role in life, her friends, and everything else that's important to her.
Kazari Uiharu is the Judgment officer along with Kuroko. Which is basically a junior police force in some cases. She does have the look of your typical moe girl (With a bouquet of flowers on her head to boot) but she's still just like the other characters. She's the voice of reason to Saten, and the straight girl to Kuroko's shenanigans. Plus, she's very devoted to every friend she makes, and I'm not just talking about the other main three.
And last but not least is Ruiko Saten, who has to be my second favorite character. Why? Well, I feel that she's the one that's the most relatable of the four. She's known to be a Level 0 esper, which causes her to think that she's insignificant compared to her friends. Not only that, but no matter how hard she would try, she would always get little payoff to her hard work. Which causes her to make some decisions that would go against what's right. You know what? That makes her a very great character. She does make mistakes, and she does get into trouble for them (Mostly for the first story arc), but I can connect with her, understand her, and really care for her that way. I mean, I would do the same thing. But it's her growth as a character that makes you very happy when something good happens to her.
I would also like to point out that the characters relationships with one another are really great. They're actually more to Mikoto's friendship with Kuroko, despite all the times Shirai would act flirtatious towards her. We do see that they're friendship does seem legit as the show goes on. Saten and Uiharu's friendship is similar, but it is just as genuine and believable. I also like how Saten's views on Mikoto does change through out the first two episodes. At first assuming Mikoto was snooty for being a Level 5 esper, becomes good friends with her after knowing her more, as well as someone she could look up too. Helping her coupe with her rank as an esper, and see what's more important. Kuroko and Uiharu's relationship does feel very normal. They fight, argue, make up, and do work as a team. Unlike it's parent show, I feel that I'm looking at real people most of the time. Because the main 4 girls are so colorful and unique (Only relying on one familiar character trait) and there are many times that I'm looking at a genuine soul. Now there are other characters in the series, but I feel that you just have to see them for yourself due to spoilers, and they aren't as worth mentioning as the main four. But other then that, this is a near-perfect cast of characters.
The Music (8/10)
This has some very catchy opening and ending theme music. "Only my Railgun" and "LEVEL 5 -Judgelight-" really due capture the esper and scientific feel of the show, while "Dear My Friend" captures the shows theme of friendship. "Real Force" has to be my second favorite song from this, the first being "Dear My Friend". Plus, there's also a special ending song for episode 12, but I wouldn't dare spoil it for you. You just have to listen for yourself. Every opening and ending theme has great visuals making you feel pumped up for what you're about to see. Not only that, but it does reflect on some of the aspects and themes of the show.
A Certain Scientific Railgun managed to live up to my expectations, and more. Proving to be much more entertaining then the series it spun off of. With it's more interesting and easier to follow side of the world and ideas they create, inventive ideas filled to the brim with sci-fi complexity, a lovable cast of unique characters, and some of the best themes that could be taught through anime. It's like "Haruhi Suzumiya" meets "Azumanga Daioh", and I do highly recommend this to anyone who's a fan of those two shows, or at least is a fan of slice of life animes. Now, it's kinda required to watch A Certain Magical Index first, just so you can understand the cameos from that series, as well as the fact it makes a good introduction to the character of Mikoto Misaka. Plus, a second season of this just started 2 days ago, and it's suppose to focus more on the Sister Arc from Mikoto's point of view. Which sounds VERY interesting, since she IS the heart and soul of that messed up project.....which you just have to see for yourself that is. Overall, it's one of my new favorites. read more
Fighting tsundere heroine with quite same character. Comedy, mostly girls on main roles and quite pacifistic but overprotective protagonist
Drawn by same company, has similar seyuu's, character personallities, physical looks, and chara types.
Kuroko's VA is the narrator on Ookami-san, and the first episode reminded me of the slice-of-life bits of Toaru no Kagaku.
both have brave characters with high skills...
both have a side-kick...
the guy has something special that attracts both girls...
both of the main characters look some-what alike...
Fighting for what they believe in, both series has a strong female heroine. Additionally, there are action, comedy, and some hints of romance in Ookami-san. Both series also has drama in later episodes that becomes somewhat emotional.
Just having Kuroko's VA is enough for me to enjoy both of these shows. On a more serious note, I especially like the slice-of-life comedy approach J.C. Staff focused on in both shows instead of the typical action-oriented approach most shounen anime appear to have.
Opening Theme#1: "only my railgun" by fripSide (eps 2-14)
#2: "LEVEL 5 -judgelight-" by fripSide (eps 15-23)
Ending Theme#1: "only my railgun" by fripSide (ep 1)
#2: "Dear My Friend -Mada Minu Mirai he-" by ELISA (eps 2-11, 13-14, 24)
#3: "Smile -You and Me-" by ELISA (eps 12)
#4: "Real Force" by ELISA (eps 15-23)
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