Nov 8, 2014
DreamingLily (All reviews)
When it comes to anime in general, more than often is there a tendency to get turned off by the words "spin-off". This is especially true when it involves taking an intense, action packed parent story and drawing from it a spin-off that is mostly about a group of cute girls doing cute things. After completing Index two years ago, I was all pumped and ready to get into Railgun, but I never really did that until now. I for one, was really attached to the characters of the parent story at that point, and it bothered me that we would not get to see as much of them here. Mikasa Mikoto struck me as a very interesting character from the very start, but not interesting enough to follow for an entire series on her own. I watched the first episode of Railgun and thought to myself "Nope, not today I don't." It seemed interesting enough given the setting, but I was completely turned off by the drastic change in tone when compared to Index. Now that I have come back to the starting line and pulled my way through A Certain Scientific Railgun, my thoughts about the show were completely changed. After completing it, I can say that watching the show was quite an enjoyable experience.

The show centers around four girls (Misaka Mikoto, Shirai Kuroko, Uiharu Kazari and Saten Ruiko) who come together in Academy city and end up becoming the best of friends. For me, the setting here was as interesting as ever. I was never a big fan off the magic side of the world of Index because of the direction that it veered off to, but the science side was always really interesting to find out more about. Inside academy city, we are introduced to a broad variety of characters as they go about in their daily lives in the city. In academy city, it seems that the amount of respect you receive by other people in general is heavily paralleled by the amount of power that you possess. Those that possess amazing power are highly praised (for example: other people's reception of Misaka in many cases) and those that lack it are often driven to lead their lives into more undesirable directions. There is a lot going on at all times in this lively city, and the city would often be plagued by various spontaneous occurrences. Those that keep order are divided into two groups: Judgment (those who aid in keeping daily order) and anti-skill who work more like a combination of the police and the military. We are introduced to quite a few characters throughout the show, and many of them were actually pretty interesting. But more importantly, the development of these minor/major characters has really done an amazing job of bringing the setting to life.

There isn't a whole lot to interpret about the relationship of our four main characters. Because of their bright and enthusiastic personalities, they easily get along with each other ever since their first meeting. However the ridge that really divides our characters is once again, a difference in skill level. Standing at the top is Misaka Mikoto, a level 5 esper who is the 3rd strongest in all of academy city. Her roommate Kuroko is also a strong level 4 teleporter (I just love this ability) and a game-changing member of judgment. As nature would have it, Uiharu and Ruiko (levels 1 and 0 respectively) do feel a certain degree of helplessness when it comes invert desire to become stronger. While they would continue trying their hardest to improve their abilities, this difference in power is what would eventually prompt Ruiko to use the level upper as a shortcut to becoming stronger. As a result, her friends are able to finally understand a bit of what she is going through as someone who completely lacks power.

There is of course, a degree of fanservice in many forms in the series as well. One of the more obvious cases lies in Shirai Kuroko's perverted nature and the obsession that certain characters other have with the type of underwear that other girls wear. Episodes like the one where they become swim models are mostly geared towards fanservice but they do end up being decently enjoyable one way or another. On the other hand, we are occasionally offered a glimpse of our main characters from Index, leading fans of index around with a carrot in hand. It was pretty nice to see Touma and Index again, but they are not really involved in the plot at this point.

The overarching plot that develops throughout the series revolves around Kiyama Harumi as she desperately tries to save the lives of the child-errors she was once forced to teach and later abandon to an experiment she had no prior knowledge of. As someone who is willing to go to the ends of the earth to save these children, she certainly takes many drastic measures. I really felt bad for her when Misaka looked into her past though, because who wouldn't experience agony after going through what she did.

The antagonist in the last arch, Threstina, really made me roll my eyes a bit though, because it honestly would have been better in my opinion to make her "betrayal" come as more of a shock. Instead, they have her with a menacing grin in the background since the very beginning, so there was no surprise there. Though I guess it would be hard to disguise that level of insanity.

The battles play out pretty nicely throughout the story. The esper powers are really interesting to observe given the wide variety of powers that are introduced. My favorite is Kuroko's teleporting power. It seems so useful on a daily basis while also being a lethal weapon in battle. Being a level 5, Misaka's power does stand out quite a bit. Her control over electricity is supreme to an extreme point. I must say, I raised my eyebrow the first time she used her electricity to stick herself to the wall. The final battle came in a series of intense sequences. The power play shown was interesting, and we get a glimpse of Kongo Mitsuko's level 4 ability as well (which is a pretty nice ability as well).

Production value-wise, the animation was really solid throughout, and the art was really nice and pleasant to look at. This is something that I think has really improved since Index. Overall, A Certain Scientific Railgun was an enjoyable anime to watch, and we see lot of development of a world that I have indeed become quite invested in.

My score: 7/10 Good~

I really look forward to anything else that the author has in store for the future.