Mikoto Misaka and her friends are back, investigating rumors across Academy City. Soon, Mikoto discovers something terrifying: horrific experiments are taking place throughout the city, involving the murder of thousands of espers. Moreover, these espers are far from just ordinary people: they are clones of Mikoto herself. Feeling responsible for their treatment, she sets off to put an end to the experiments; however, the forces opposing her are much more dangerous than she anticipated, and Mikoto finds herself up against some of the most powerful espers imaginable.
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S continues the story of the Railgun as she desperately fights to put an end to the inhuman experiments that she believes she helped cause, her life dragged deep into despair in the process. There's never a dull moment in Academy City, but no one ever said all of them would be pleasant.
So you want to see a review of the latest installment of the raildex universe, To Aru no Kagaku no Railgun S? Then you'll have to make it through this paragraph first.
Second paragraph now. Look around, enjoy yourself, try to find anything of interest. Alas, nothing to note is in sight. Best to carry on to the third paragraph.
Third here, and what's going on? Surely I wouldn't spend 3 entire paragraphs in an attempt to be witty?
Fourth paragraph, and I clearly would.
After enduring that horrible joke, let me save you some time and cut straight to the point. This review will consist of 4 parts:
a brief introduction to the series and the raildex universe, a review of the first arc of the season, The Sister's Arc, a review of the second arc of the season, Silent Party Arc, and finally a conclusion, melding together the scores of the previous 2 reviews to create the season's total score.
PART 1 - THE INTRODUCTION
As one should know from watching the prequel to this season, To Aru no Kagaku no Railgun, Railgun is a sidestory of the main franchise, To Aru no Majustsu no Index. And while Railgun is a mere sidestory, what makes it so interesting is it takes place in the same universe as the main series and follows the main timeline as to not create any weird plot holes or inconsistencies. Thus, the term I will use when referring to the universe of the series and the timeline of the universe is "raildex".
There are a lot of things that make the raildex universe very appealing and enjoyable. It's the kind of series that allows supernatural powers to exist but takes pride in its logical and tactful explanations for them. You'll never see someone powerup randomly or pull a super awesome ability out of thin air; there's always a reason why characters are able to do what they can.
However, what really makes the raildex universe so enthralling is its ability to portray its stories and weave them together with no inconsistencies or plot-holes. Many times, in fact, the events of one arc in Index can have huge implications for later events in Railgun, and vice-versa. There is a very detailed timeline in this universe, and knowledge of this timeline makes watching the show very fun and exciting. With this knowledge, you are able to watch an arc in, say, Railgun season 1 and know exactly what is happening at that point in time in the Index plotline. Seeing characters from Index cameo in railgun, even if they hold no real involvement in the current story, makes one feel a kind a joy one didn't even know they could experience. That kind of detail and involvement is a fantastic story telling tool that makes the universe feel so much more alive, and it does the raildex universe well.
As stated above, one of the strong points of the raildex universe is how the associative stories of each series tend to play off or around each other. But, taking the different series as a whole, Railgun and Index have completely different atmospheres. While Railgun (The first season) has a happy SOL (Slice-of-life) feel with a bit of action-adventure thrown in, Index has a much darker mood that delves into story elements that include corruption and chaos, not knowing exactly who the ultimate evil is.
PART 2 - THE SISTER'S ARC
The sister's arc is, in the raildex universe, probably one of the most important of the franchise. Not only does it setup later events, it introduces a multitude of important characters and scenarios that play their role later on in the timeline. It's one of the core pillars the build the foundation of the entire universe, and damn does it look fancy. But, one of the more interesting aspects to note about it is this is the arc where the Railgun series and the Index series directly intersect. It's no longer just a bunch of cameos and references towards Index, but rather this is an arc that both series share. While Index provided the core plot in its original telling, a lot of details were left out, such as Misaka's role in this conflict. You could tell she was suffering and that she felt hopeless, but you had no idea what events led up to that peek of desperation. Railgun's POV on this arc, however, let's us in on the juicy details.
STORY - 10
There are many ways to tell a story, but there's a specific method that holds a special place in my heart: multi-perspective storytelling. Being able to see a huge plot-ridden event from multiple different angles and perspectives really adds a sense of depth and involvement that other forms of storytelling can only dream of. Railgun S's adaptation of The Sister's Arc does just this.
Spanning over 16 episodes, the majority of this season is focused on Misaka Mikoto and how she got involved with the conflict surrounding this Arc in the Index adaptation. After being conditioned from this happy everything-will-be-okay mentality the first season of Railgun threw at us, it is quickly shattered and stepped on with the revelations this arc has to offer.
Without delving too far into spoiler territory, our protagonist finds out about an experiment involving the murder of many individuals in the hopes of producing a level 6 esper. Misaka attempts to halt this experiments and stop the murders, but she is constantly thrown obstacle after obstacle as she desperately fights through this endeavor alone. Indeed, this is one of the first times in the entire Railgun franchise where Misaka Mikoto feels utterly powerless and unable to do anything, and the transition to this point is sure to draw emotions out of you.
Additionally, we get the perspective of Kamijou Touma, one of the main protagonists of Index, and his involvement in the arc. For the most part, it's just a better retelling of the index arc with a few details skipped here and there, but with the context of Misaka's actions, the story feels much more fulfilled. There is so much care in both perspectives in this arc that it could replace the Index version entirely. You don't have to watch Index first to understand how Touma got involved or why he cares. It's all clear as day, and was an excellent experience.
ART - 10
Done by J.C. Staff, everything looks absolutely stunning, from the character designs, background, environments, and special effects. The animation is stellar, actions feel powerful, and the climax of this arc was absolutely breath-taking. The threat above Academy City looked menacing and dangerous, and really set the atmosphere, creating a sense of impending doom. This is something the original adaptation in the Index anime failed to do, and J.C.Staff really stepped it up and out-did themselves with this scene.
SOUND - 10
The soundtrack this time around is very noticeable. We have exciting music during the fights, powerful, emotion-inspiring music during the tragedies, and another up-beat, catchy opening song Railgun is known for (titled Sister's Noise by FripSide).
The sound effects were powerful and imaginative, and didn't feel out of place at all. Many times, the sound effects actually completely made the scene. Touma's Imagine Breaker sound effect is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. You will understand why if you watch it.
Voice acting was professional and convincing. Misaka's transition from happy-going to depressed was clearly shown in her voice. I give major Props to her voice actor, Rina Satou, as that is something not many can do as well as she did.
CHARACTER - 10
Misaka Mikoto - If you didn't already know from watching the first season of Railgun, Misaka Mikoto is the third strongest esper in Academy City and the leading protagonist for the series. She's a strong character who can handle nearly anything that is thrown at her and overcome it with ease. She also has a strong sense of justice and will go out of her way to make things right.
One of the signs of a good story is seeing the characters evolve, be it personality, strength, philosophy, or even simply aging, and Railgun does this well with Misaka. She goes through a ton of character development throughout this arc, with her "I can do anything" attitude slowly but surely being crushed. It's very interesting and emotional to see our star overcoming every obstacle just to be thrown another to conquer, slowly becoming more depressed and psychotic. It's a strange kind of storytelling, one that we don't see very often, and it was done very well here.
Needless to say, yes, she gets better.
Kamijou Touma - Touma is one of the leading protagonists of Index and has a heavy role to fill in The sister's Arc. Maybe it's just me, but I find Touma to be a much more interesting character in Railgun than in Index. In Railgun, his powers are never really explained, and so he has this sense of mystery to him. From the first season, all we really know about him is he has the ability to nullify esper powers, and has occasionally saved the day in Railgun. He made cameos here and there, but his role changes dramatically in this arc.
Touma eventually finds out about the experiments going on in Academy City and confronts Misaka about it, thus evidently leading him into the conflict surround this arc. Like Misaka, he is also a strong lead character, and is the person Misaka eventually turns to in her hour of desperation.
Accelerator - The main antagonist of The Sister's Arc, the strongest level 5 esper in Academy City and best candidate for the first level 6 esper. Much of the conflict of this arc is caused by his actions. He's sadistic, twisted, and an overall badass. What's more to say?
The Sisters - The group of people this arc is named after, the source of the conflict surrounds the sisters. They are to be killed by accelerator in the effort to make him a level 6 esper. Not only do they have a major role here, the are also a very integral aspect to the Raildex universe after the events of this arc.
ITEM - A set of 4 characters who play a major role in obstructing Misaka's progress during her struggle. They're an underground organization that performs a number of dirty jobs, and have the power to do them flawlessly.
And, of course, you have the main cast from the first season, Saten, Uriharu, and Kuroko, who don't hold much of a role in this arc due to circumstances.
Overall, Misaka goes through a lot of character development, driving the plot, with many other important characters being introduced who all hold very strong and driving personalities. Not a one seems bland or generic.
ENJOYMENT - 10
You know a story is thoughtful and well-written when it can draw real emotions from the audience. Railgun's perspective of The Sister's Arc does this amazingly well. I remember feeling very down with Misaka's desperation, Angry at Accelerator's actions, and moments of pure happiness and excitement during Touma's fight. There were moments of clear danger and impending doom, moments of legitimate laughter from the comedic interactions between Misaka and The Sisters, and moments of pure awesomeness from the action of the characters.
OVERALL - 10/10
I almost feel biased by giving this arc a 10/10, but there was nothing I could find flaws in. It's not very often I give something a 10/10, but The Sister's Arc deserves it, giving the audience thrilling action, emotional and powerful revelations, and portrays the story in an exciting, multi-perspective fashion. Clear character development can be seen in the main character and it is done so beautifully. I'm not a huge fan of the Railgun series, but this was the single best piece of animation from J.C.Staff I have ever seen. This was, unquestionably, the single best experience I have with the raildex franchise, and it deserves every bit a praise it can get.
PART 3 - SILENT PARTY ARC
If The Sister's Arc was the star of the season that everyone likes (and rightfully should), then the following original filler arc, Silent Party, is the retarded half-sibling who drags down the entire season with every word muttered.
STORY - 4
Oh boy, where to begin? The best way to describe this arc is "painfully average". We have one of the weakest plots I've ever seen, one of the worst antagonist organizations ever (with an even worse, half-assed motivation), characters who act completely out of character, action scenes that make no sense in a series that takes pride in its logical universe, and cameos up the wazoo (possibly the only salvation of this arc). I don't even know how to approach this without being spoilerish, to be honest. I'll do my best.
The biggest fault of this arc is that not only is it completely unnecessary, it's just plain horribly written. Skipping the character flaws for now, what we are left with is a empty plot filled with inconsistencies. Setting aside the details, we have an "evil" organization that wants attention, so they make an army of mechas (Fueled by loli hair) to do diabolical activities with. Misaka and friends meet one of said lolis, find out she'll die in a few days, and try to find a way to save her. In doing so, they meet said "evil" organization, attempt to foil their dastardly plans, everyone and their grandma joins in on the fun, and the day is saved! Also, Cameos everywhere they can fit. There you go, saved you the trouble of enduring this yourself. You missed nothing.
ART - 9
The art is still visually stellar, though being a filler, there's a little less attention to detail the previous arc had. The animation is not quite as crisp, but that's just a nitpick. Nothing to complain about here.
SOUND - 9
Still the same sound track, new opening sequence that's still catchy and upbeat, though the timing and selection of the background music wasn't quite as noticeable as the previous arc. It was, however, by no means bad.
Voice acting was still superb, no complaints.
Sound effects are still fantastic and nothing seems out of place.
Overall, very good quality.
CHARACTER - 5
Misaka Mikoto - The strong, independent, powerhouse of the series who just went through a huge ordeal in the previous arc is now some wussy friendship enthusiast who can barely stand her own against a tin can with an attitude. What happened?
The whole reason why she was fighting the conflict in The Sister's Arc alone was because she was fighting an enemy who was unknown and dangerous. If she asked for help from her friends and got them involved, chances are their lives would have been endangered with a high chance of one of them dieing. Fast-forward to this arc, where nearly the same thing happens, and what does she do? She forgets all reason, tells them, and then the yall decide to play hero and save the day!
Now, I understand that this arc was attempting to portray a certain message that Misaka learned from her previous ordeal, but they went about this in all the wrong ways. She was completely out of character for nearly the entire arc, being shown to be significantly weaker than she actually is and doing things she would never do. For example, there was a point in the arc where she was thrown into a fight with her friends nearby, and during the chaos a metal pole was about to fall on one of them. She then starts controlling the bar so it won't fall on her friends, and it shown struggling to keep it up. What? During the previous arc, we saw her completely rip a section of a train track from the ground, bend the bars, and thrown them all as an attack. Ugh, just, nevermind.
Her personality and actions are just a series of deus ex machina writing with no real consideration of her actual character. That's a pretty good summary for every character in this arc, actually.
Kuroko - Misaka's friend, roommate, and a powerful level 4 teleportation esper who works for Judgement, a police force manned almost entirely by espers. She has the hots for Mikoto (mostly used for comedy), but is surprisingly reliable and a great fighter. She doesn't change much at all in this arc, thankfully.
Uriharu - A level 1 esper who is friends with Misaka and is partnered with Kuroko in Judgement, she's fantastic with intel and data-mining. However, for the purpose of this arc, she is the single best super-hacker ever to walk the earth.
Saten - Friends with Uriharu and Misaka, she's a level 0 esper with a fun personality. She's an ideal character for a SOL anime, but holds almost no presence in an action-adventure aside from being a damsel in distress. However, for the purposes of this arc, she is the single best mecha pilot in history, putting all Gundam pilots to shame, despite it being her first time. Lol.
Febri - The super-cute artificial loli who Misaka and friends stumble upon. She drives most of the plot for this arc, as much of the motivation of the protagonists stems from her.
STUDY - The antagonists of this arc who aren't even trying to be subtle with how evil they are. They have the ability to create 20,000 loli fueled mechas that can be beaten by a random citizen with a broom. Neat. They are also apparently funded quite well, as they can, in addition to mass-producing 20,000 mechas, build a super complex missile that can be found orbiting the earth. Every time the mutter a sentence they have to adjust their glasses, and their motivation for these terrorist acts is... because a random scientist they overheard made a snarky comment towards them. Clearly, they are the darkness incarnate.
Overall, the characters in this arc are a complete joke. There's no consistency with their actual design with their actions being solely for the purpose of driving the plot (sometimes in weird and pointless ways).
ENJOYMENT - 5
I'll reiterate what I initially said about the story: the best way to describe this arc is painfully average. There's was little to no depth in any of the scenes, the pacing was significantly slower than what should be allowed, actions that make no sense (such as Misaka having trouble fighting one robot and then being able to effortlessly cleave through an entire army, Misaka and Kuroko being able to breath and talk in the ozone layer, etc.) plagued the arc, and the plot was barely worth watching.
OVERALL - 6.4/10
The only reason I was able to endure this without quitting was because of the occasional cameos from ITEM and Index characters. It was really hard to watch this directly after the masterpiece that was The Sister's Arc. It's really a shame, because what could have been one of the best anime seasons of the year got dragged down pointlessly. Save yourself the trouble and don't watch this arc unless you want to be bombarded with mediocrity and deus ex machinas.
PART 4 - CONCLUSION
While I can't say I enjoyed the Silent Party Arc, and it no doubt takes away from the season's potential, it was by no means a a bad experience. The quality and enjoyment of The sister's Arc completely overshadows the following arc and is, to this day, one of the best experiences I've ever had watching an anime. I highly suggest, if you have watched Index season 1 and/or Railgun Season 1, to watch the first 16 episodes of Railgun S.
I do not recommend watching the last 8 episodes, but as much as I ranted on it, it's not horrible. Just painfully mediocre. If it were a standalone arc outside of Railgun S, then I may have seen it in a different light. However, as it stands now, it has to be judged in the shadow of the towering colossus that is The sister's Arc, and simply can not meet the large expectations that story set for the rest of the season.
As much as I'd like to just ignore the existence of Silent Party, it's there and it won't go away. No matter how much I loved The Sister's Arc, both arcs have to be taken into consideration when rating the season as a whole.
The Sister's Arc lasted from episodes 1-16 and the Silent party Arc lasted from episodes 17-24. Because the first arc lasted for 2/3 of the series, this will be a weighted score.
The Sister's Arc:
Story - 10
Art - 10
Sound - 10
Character - 10
Enjoyment - 10
Overall - 50/50 = 10/10
Silent Party Arc:
Story - 4
Art - 9
Sound - 9
Character - 5
Enjoyment - 5
Overall - 32/50 = 6.4/10
To Aru no Kagaku no Railgun S:
Story - 20 + 4 = 24/30
Sound - 20 + 9 = 29/30
Sound - 20 + 9 = 29/30
Character - 20 + 5 = 25/30
Enjoyment - 20 + 5 = 25/30
Overall - 132/150 = 88% = 9/10
In this world, there are some people who excels in certain things more than others. These might be anything in the field of academics, sports, games, etc. For a particular middle school girl though, she is already know for being a prominent level 5 esper who excels in academics, her electromaster abilities, and is even given the nickname the 'Railgun' for her signature attack. Thus, begins the story of a certain girl, the one and only Misaka Mikoto of the Railgun.
Finally, the series debuted in Spring of 2013. I was waiting for this ever since watching the spinoff of the first season, A Certain Scientific
Railgun. Although Misaka had a major supporting role in the Index series, she is now the star of her own show in this sequel of Railgun known as Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S. For the sake of the franchaise, this series is a considered as a spinoff of Toaru Majutsu no Index, and sequel of season 1 of Railgun. The major difference in this sequel is that it focuses on two major story arcs. One of those arcs greatly expands the 'Sister's Arc” that details the dark side of Academy City's secrets from behind the scenes. The other arc details of an original anime arc known as "Silent Party" with Misaka Mikoto and her friends as they encounter a new threat that puts a young girl's life in danger. And like it's predecessors, JC Staff once again takes up the role and adapts this into a medium of entertainment for fans to enjoy. As far as the adaptation goes though, the series delivered itself very well, at first anyways. However, my feelings are a bit mixed after the second half with a new style of its presentation. Yes, I'm looking at you, Silent Party.
The series focuses mainly on Misaka Mikoto from her perspective. From what Index originally adapted the Sister's Arc is now greatly expanded in this sequel. It is from here that we get a detailed and insightful view of what is truly going on behind Misaka's mind and both the physical as well as mental paths she walks down as she faces the dark side of Academy City. Among first things though, the series focuses on Misaka Mikoto the third strongest level 5 Esper in Academy City. The city itself is the main setting from where the story takes place. It is divided into 23 districts, called School Districts. Misaka is a student at Tokiwadai Middle School, a pretentious school among the districts. More importantly though, she managed to achieve level 5 among over 1.8 million students in the city through hard work. There are only seven level 5 espers known and she is one of them with the ability that earned her the title “Railgun”. She is also seen as a proper lady from the outside but her inside character is a girl who seems to have a short temper, is prideful, and considered to be a tomboy for someone her age. Regardless though, she is a kind girl who is willing to help others in need and often shows concerns for her close friends. This is especially true in both arcs as Misaka strive to save a certain someone in the second half of the series.
Speaking of close friends, the cast from the previous season of Railgun returns! Yup, we got Shirai Kuroko, the leve 4 esper with the ability to teleport. Voiced by Satomi Arai, she often lusts after her “oneesama” but at the same time geniully cares for her. Then, there's Saten Ruiko and Uiharu Kazari, two dear friends of Misaka whom are level 0. These four main characters all make their returns in the first episode as we get that sense of refreshment for Railgun fans. They can be seen as best friends, sisters, and inseparable. More importantly though, this sequel explores the Sisters' Arc in depth that the originally Index series touched upon. Make no mistake. The Sister's Arc is here and present you a spectacular journey that you won't forget. But on the other hand, the delivery of the Silent Party arc might be a bit forgettable especially given the change of its delivery in terms of themes. The difference just feels worlds apart.
Misaka isn't the only level 5 esper in Academy City. We also get to meet other level 5 Espers. In fact, no less than 3 other Level 5 espers makes their debuts in Railgun S including a rival for Misaka. I won't be spoiling here but she represents the opposite of Misaka while at the same time possessing a very dangerous ability of her own. Then, of course there's the strongest level 5 esper in Academy City, the one and only Accelerator. For those who have watched Index, you may be familiar with him. For those who haven't, let's just say that badass is only one of many words that describes the young boy. With that noticable albino hair and sadistic smile, Accelerator demonstrates the true darkness of Academy City and what's going on behind the scenes. The excitement doesn't stop there though. There's also a group of espers that shows up and one of them with a very dangerous ability that sparks perhaps the first ever one-on-one legitimate battle between two espers of level 5 strength. The fight represents the action packed delivery that Railgun presents and for me, it's quite delightful to witness it first hand.
On more psychological side though is the “sisters” of Misaka Mikoto. Rather, I should probably refer to them as clones. Because throughout the early beginning episodes, a bizarre question is asked:
"What would you do if you find out you have a clone of yourself?"
For Misaka, this comes as a rather disturbing experience that she won't ever forget. Well, it didn't start out that way. In fact, the first parts of the clones meeting Misaka can be described as strange, humorous, entertaining, and touching all at once. It's definitely bizarre when you realize there's someone who looks exactly like you. More importantly though, she realizes the clones also have a purpose rather than its existence. In fact, that purpose becomes her worst nightmare once she finds out the truth behind the scenes. As a synopsis says, the project of becoming a level 6 is essential for Academy City and she became involved in it after we get a glimpse of her past in one of the episodes. This seems to put Misaka into a state of both physical and mental despair afte realizing what was happening behind the scenes. It explores a different side of Misaka like we've only glimpsed at Index but now fully comprehensible by her viewpoint of the story. At the same time, she is so young (not even in High School yet) and already experiencing first hand what's like to witness someone being killed for the sake of just an experiment. To her though, it is not an experiment but an inhuman project that she's desperately trying to stop. The problem? Well, the strongest level 5 esper in Academy City isn't exactly someone who's good with negotiations; neither are the scientists.
I am also quite pleased though with the faithful adaptation of the Sister's Arc. Having read the manga, there's a lot of action and drama presented. There is of course the lighthearted and occasionally slice of life feeling to it. There are some of those fillerish moments. However, the slice of life part from this sequel is lesser than its prequel for the first arc. Instead, it gets rather into the Sister's Arc for fans. As such, Misaka has her hands full quite a bit in this season. Luckily, this gives fans many opportunities to see some of her abilities as the third strongest level 5 esper. This typically involves her spider like movements, electronic hacking, power movements with her electromaster ability, and of course her infamous 'Railgun'. It doesn't stop there though with the action because her adversaries gets tougher and tougher. In fact, we get glimpse of some of the other level 5 espers in this series. There's room for other espers to shine too including a genius girl who seems to earn quite the respect later on in the series after being confronted about the clones project.
As the series focuses mainly on the Sisters' Arc in the first half, expect violence and blood being shed. Surprisingly enough, the series presents that clearly especially in the terms of the clones. Although they are just 'clones' of experimentation, Misaka sees them as human with a life and purpose beyond just being part of some project for Academy City's sake. JC Staff also takes that level of violence both physically and mentally though its visuals. There's gruesome scenes to expected and moments where viewers can even feel what Misaka is going through from her viewpoint. At the same time, there are also scenes of fun and lighthearted moments that captures the cheerful girl that Misaka is. Her kindness are shown to viewers as someone who cares for those who she has met in life that she sees as important people to protect whether they are strangers, classmates, or friends. Other times, we see her as the typical tsundere denying some obvious facts in front of her. Among other things, a certain main character from the Index franchise also makes his debut later on that brings out some humor despite the dark aspects of the Sister's Arc.
The series does lose some touch though. As the star of the series, Misaka Mikoto obviously gets the most screen time but at the other times, some characters seems to outshine her in a few particular episodes. Among other factors, Misaka's friends gets lesser spotlight as compared to its prequel. When they do get some spotlights, it usually involves that feeling of fillerish-like fever. Although this can be also seen as nostalgic from the original Railgun, I find it a bit sometimes slow paced and dragged out. Additionally, there are censorship in some of the more brutal scenes. Maybe the BD's will eliminate them but the AT-X's airing has it. But perhaps one of the most prominent reasons Railgun S seems to fall a bit apart is the anime original arc after the conclusion of the Sister's Arc. The change of pace, delivery, and style contrasts quite differently. It still retains the dark side of Academy City in some ways but presents it in a contrasting perspective. The reintroduction of a supporting character as well as a certain esper group could be appealing along with the comedy. However, I find the Silent Party arc to swing much more on the slice-of-life style with less appeal to plot but more so on character relationship. Unfortunately, the dynamics of the relationship is explored as rather dense without any special appeal. The antagonists in this particular anime-only arc also cliched and lacks any decent personalities with steretypical design. Their creations aren't far from that scale either in the lines of science. As such, the enjoyment of Railgun S might not be as appealing when comparing the two arcs to each other.
As J.C. Staff is also involved in this project, expect some of the similar designs with its previous predecessors. Luckily though, the animation seems to have been enhanced with greater visual depth. I am quite happy by its production values. The action scenes are fluid and gets its strongest moments during some of the struggles between Misaka against a certain group during her attack against some science facilities. Then, there are the sunny atmosphere of Academy City and touch of technology that shows us how powerful its settings are. There is some fan service here and there though but don't let that become a barrier to enjoy this sequel.
The soundtrack of this sequel is also strong with the OST and OP song. In fact, fripSide performs both of the opening songs, “Sister's Noise” and “eternal reality”. Through its montages, we can see many of the characters and some foreshadowing. Rina Satou portrays Misaka Mikto once again with a brilliance through her struggles in moments of weakness, moments of cheerfulness, and moments of her typical tsundere. Satomi Arai who protrays Kuroko also does a fine job while my favorite character from the series Accelerator is accompanied by that voice of malevolence.
Being a fan of the manga, I am proud to say that the series has achieved satisfaction from me in terms of the Sisters' Arc adaptation. There are times when I do get frustrated at some of its fillerish moments. However, that is thankfully made up with the expanded Sisters' Arc that Railgun S has bought for us. The action and violence comes into fruition as we see Misaka's struggle to protect the clones. It's moments like this where Railgun shines at its best. It's more than just about saving people but her ways of ending the cruelty of an almost incomprehensible goal. To become the strongest in Academy City by reaching level 6 through killing is inhuman and someone has to stop that. Even though she made a mistake, it's now time to fix that mistake and end it once and for all. It might be super hard but then again, it's a super fun experience for viewers to see first hand the Sisters' Arc directly from Misaka's point of view. On the other hand though, the anime only original arc of the second half falls apart and lacks the depth and the enjoyment I got out from first half.
As a mixture genres of action, fantasy, science fiction, and super power, expect some of the unexpected that comes from this series at its finest. However, also be prepared for some lose and snooze. Honestly, if JC Staff decided to go with its adaptation, they should of went with a different route for its second arc. Oh well, at least most the enjoyment excelled with Misaka Mikoto from the Sister's Arc. Now, that was worth living for.
To aru Kagaku no Railgun S. A sidestory series which retells the popular “Sisters” arc from To aru Majutsu no Index, though in this iteration it is mostly retold from the perspective of Misaka Mikoto.
The result of this adaptation is mixed to put it favourably. There are times when this anime ascends to brilliance, but there are also sadly many instances where it falls to outright trite. One of the first problems evident is the appallingly slow pacing – the sisters arc takes 16 episodes to tell its story, whereas the original Index adaptation covered it more concisely in 4 episodes. The Index adaptation was
a frenetic battle arc with well placed comedy, by comparison the Railgun adaptation drags its feet and peppers the storytelling with dull filler scenes.
Unfortunately there is a painfully high amount of filler present in Railgun S – which seems unforgivable given the amount of material they could adapt for this anime, all the more so since the moeblob (which the director likes inserting) feels so out of place in a battle shounen. Switching scenes from outright terrorism to moe-moe tripe about swimming costumes is pretty jarring.
On the plus side, the series introduces ITEM and the four episodes where they appear are some of the best seen in the animated Railgun/Index franchise. The battles with ITEM are fantastically choreographed and provide the much needed energy which so lacking throughout the rest of the series, they also provide a much needed change of characters (the Railgun anime all too often focuses on the same central group). This is followed with a fantastic newly animated battle between Accelerator and Touma, the production values are at the highest for this section of the story and it’s well worth watching that section of the story.
Unfortunately the series really nosedives in quality once the sisters arc ends. Once again, the show resorts to filler to plug the last 8 episodes, and delivers some of the most abysmally scripted rubbish you’ll ever see. It’s no exaggeration to say that these episodes rank amongst the absolute worst of all anime: the plot is contrived and predictable with mad scientists running around to conduct experiments to test powerlevels; it also introduces an awful mascot character whose presence on screen for some reason reduces other characters to cooing morons.
Worst of all, the filler arc greatly contradicts major storylines and plot devices present in the main series – quite why this happened when there is an enormous amount of excellent canonical content available for adaptation is extremely sad. Such is the immense dislike of this butchery that the fanbase have come to label it “Nagaispace” (there is even a wiki entry for this).
It’s worth mentioning that the animation has improved exponentially since the previous three series: it’s now actually presented in 720p HD; liberal use of keyframes makes everything look incredibly smooth too. Backgrounds (as usual) are well painted, and in some cases interestingly make use of hand-painted 3D models. If future Index series look this good I’ll be pretty happy.
All in all, I can’t help but feel like the manga did a much better job of telling the story; it’s a shame that overall it turned out to be such a poor production. I would hope that a subsequent series would address many of these issues – but after two weak series I’m not going to hold out much hope.
While the second installment of the Railgun series picks up almost directly after the conclusion of the first series, A Certain Scientific Railgun S goes for a different kind of approach thematically and in terms of emotional appeal. Overall, there is a larger focus on the troubles of Misaka Mikoto herself. S1 gave a pretty even amount of screen time to all four of our main characters, so she was not put entirely into the spotlight before, but now she leads this show head on following the events that take place during the sisters arc.
The first episode is what one would expect from watching the
pilot episode of a returning show. We're given a broad overview of the events that took place before, and a warm up to the characters that were previously introduced. An interesting event that took place was the introduction of the psychic level 5 Misaki, called the Queen of Tokiwadai. She seems like quite the interesting character with enough power to control an entire library full of students. She leaves Misaka with an open-ended threat, hinting at a possibility of a later confrontation. Just from this one episode, we are able to immediately note the positive change in production values. The sky fall scene in the later part of the episode was a pleasure to see given how good the visuals were.
Compared to S1, the art and animation has gotten even more captivating. The shots, angles, and overall direction were things worth marveling at. At times, especially during the sisters arc, the quality of the episodes resembled that of a well directed movie. The background art is always intricate and detailed. The great ost choices also amps up the general intensity and mood of the show.
"What would you do if you suddenly met your clone?" The question is thrown at Misaka, but it is something that is hard to answer truthfully until you actually come face to face with the situation.
The Atmosphere in the sister's arc feels completely different from any of the previous arcs. There is less of the day to day scenario type of feel you get from the first series. There is a lot more buildup and momentum, and the episodes follow in more logical, developed arcs. The transition from episode to episode flows more smoothly and the series is divided primary into two arcs.
Misaka's power is shown to be even more powerful than it appeared to be in the first series. She is able to hack into and control anything electronic which is a pretty op power given the different possibilities you can achieve with that level of utility. In the sister's arc, Misaka distances herself from the other girls and tries to become self-reliant. Now that the background is all set, we are introduced to some of the deeper, more pressing issues of Academy city. The fifth episode of the show deserves my utmost praise because of how well it was adapted. It was one of the most gripping episodes I've seen in the series, and the end sent a chill straight up my spine. I was not entirely expecting the drastic change in tone but it was a pretty pleasant surprise. Accelerator is as intriguing of a character as ever and his voice acting is superb. The entire episode felt like a standalone movie complete with its own unique ending theme. It honestly made me feel an urge to tip my hat to the producers for their excellent work.
Naturally, while a very mentally stressed Misaka is out running around and trying to save the sisters, her friends become very concerned. The ost does bring out some tingling emotions at times. Kuroko's feelings do eventually reach Misaka, but she is still unwilling to drag anyone else into "her mess".
The action scenes throughout the show are seriously well played with smooth, eye opening animation. I rather liked the appearance of tomboy/ponytail Misaka during her raids on the different labs. This is the first time we get to see more of a full out battle between two level 5's of similar skill level, and overall, the battle ended up feeling really solid in production. While the meltdowner does not have some of the utilities that Misaka's power has, her beams are powerful enough to disintegrate most objects on contact. From the battle we can see that esper powers do in fact, have a limit. After using her powers and getting beat around so much, Misaka feels weak in the knees as an aftereffect and is extremely exhausted. I've always wondered why Kuroko didn't teleport around all the time for everything(she complained about running around all day for judgment work), but it makes sense if an overuse of her powers would result in a physical toll. While most espers seem to be lacking in terms of hand-to-hand combat, they do seem to have good reflexes and manage to dodge most things that come their way. ITEM seems like an interesting group of characters to keep around, and I hope to see more of them in the future.
The meeting between Misaka and a memory-less Touma works as a nice change of pace. Misaka's clone has such a cute personality and creates some comedic scenes. As more time passes though, Misaka gets more and more emotional as she accumulates pent up anger. Her breaking down in front of Touma is done with even stronger feelings than in Index given all the buildup. The final battle's action sequences were great as usual and accelerator's personality is as refreshing as ever(those epic screams are pretty nostalgic). Touma's ability feels more mysterious here given the lack of explanation. Just imagine them adapting Index with the same great quality.
While most of the show focuses on the sisters arc, the last 8 episodes focuses on the "silent party" arc. Immediately, there is a return to a more "cute" feel, but it was nice to see the four of them all together again. I don't particularly dislike Haruue, but I was glad to hear that she was moving out because she always felt a little extra in my opinion. There is a 4's a group, 5's a crowd feeling. Kuroko's personality is as strange as ever, and Ruiko's personality is also as interesting as ever. It was pretty amusing when she tried to inquire about the recipient of Misaka's cookies. Academy city seems like such a great place to live. There seems to be just the right amount of danger, security, and excitement.
With the new arc, Misaka finally decides to consult with her friends about the new issues. It is a bit sudden, but it's tied in with the plot I guess, especially since it was impossible for her to do so during the sisters arc. In a nutshell, this arc is about the group trying to save Febri, a tiny artifical loli girl who sustains her life off lollipops. Apparently esper compatibility is mostly determined from birth(the case with little Misaka proves this), and they are able to tell very early on whether or not you can be a powerful esper. There seem to be a lot of bonker scientists in academy city who are affiliated with the "underground of academy city". As usual, they are portrayed as skill-outs who crave power. The issue here is pretty coincidental but understandable given that it is an anime original arc. I had mixed thoughts watching this arc but it wasn't too bad of a watch.
While it was interesting to see so much of academy city united(people and resources) for the final arc, the fight is dragged out for a pretty long time. The mass fight wasn't bad but it had substantially less intensity compared to previous fights. Similar to S1, it seems that the producers have a habit of continuously playing the opening themes throughout the final battles. My final thought on this arc would be that it was not nearly as "dark" as they had tried to make it sound with phrases like "I ask you once again, are you sure you want to face the darkness of this city?"
The show ends with some pretty nice closing scenes complete with all of the characters introduced throughout. Overall, the show is fairly action-packed complete with stunning visuals. There's never a dull moment in this city after all.
The world of anime in 2013 was a whirlwind of quality. Some of the most popular shows in recent history came out this season, giving anime a massive popularity boost overseas. We've collected the top 20 anime of 2013, based on their MAL scores. Are your favorites on the list?