Toaru Kagaku no Railgun, or its translated title, “A Certain Scientific Railgun”
As you can see from the similar title, this series is a manga spinoff of Toaru Majutsu no Index, illustrated by Fuyukawa Motoi, with story still written by Kamachi Kazuma, and also animated by studio J.C. Staff.
The protagonist of this spinoff is Misaka Mikoto, the 3rd strongest esper in Academy City with the power of electricity, thus earning her the title of the eponymous Railgun. The story, is about the adventurous everyday life of Misaka and her friends. Among the important ones are; Shirai Kuroko, Misaka’s crazy and funny but dependable lesbian roommate (yes you read that correctly) with the power of teleportation. Uiharu Kazari, Kuroko’s colleague, a hacker with weak esper power. And also Saten Ruiko, the normal human and Uiharu’s best friend who like to flip Uiharu’s skirt (yes you also read that correctly).
Like the Index review, this review is only for the 1st season of the Railgun anime.
Good quality of animation, slightly better than Toaru Majutsu no Index in fact. It still has good animation effect like the sparks in Misaka’s lightning power, and also the CG in some part of Academy City animation. Its more dynamic and more fluid. Perhaps because its adapted from a manga rather than a novel, the animators can easily adapted the visual and capturing the element of the story.
The art quality is pretty much the same as Majutsu no Index, but there are some minor improvement compared to Index. It still has the beautiful background of the scientific Academy City, and we get to explore into many other area of the city that hasn’t been explored in Index. The overall quality of the character design however, has quite a different plus point than Index.
This spinoff are about exploring the science side of the Toaru-verse, and because of that, there are no cool looking magician characters like in Index. The focus are on the characters from the science side here, and that means… uniforms. Lots and lost of uniforms… like police in uniform, scientist in uniform, school girls in uniform. Quite mundane compared to the magician/magic side characters. However, those characters have a better, detailed appearance here than in Index, and more varied, despite the mundane design. So its like losing some positive quality but improving the ones that are still there.
The story is the strong point of Kagaku no Railgun. The structure differentiate itself from Majutsu no Index. Index’s plot structure is a few episodes forming a story arc, and after that it moves to a new story arc, quite simple and to the point. Railgun’s plot structure, however, are episodic at first glance, but are subtly interconnected, and as the story progress, those connection are highlighted, showing that those episodic stories are actually a build up to a big story arc, making a bigger impact.
Except episode 13 which is the weak point of this anime. Not really because it’s a fanservice breather episode, its just that the placement is awkward because it comes after and before a rather serious episode without much connection with anything.
The characters are also handled quite different here. Index has a huge cast of colorful characters. But in the end, the focus is on developing the story, not really on developing the characters. But in Railgun, despite the world building in the story telling, it also managed to nicely developed the 4 main characters that I explain in the beginning of this review.
Unlike Touma who is a badass whose role is more in developing other character but doesn’t really develop himself as a character, Misaka is developing herself as the story progress. Another one that also stands out is Saten Ruiko. Being the only normal girl among her super powered friends, the story nicely showed her feelings and development to that situation, and her development also become one of the influence of Misaka’s development.
The music is also good, slightly better than Index again. The background music pretty much used the same music from Index. But what makes the music here is slightly better than Index however, is the opening and ending song.
For the opening, its still J-pop with techno, but in Railgun the techno part is toned down just a little bit, and also with changes in melody. Unlike Index’s opening that has a sort of mystical supernatural feeling, the opening in Railgun is more upbeat, fun, and energetic in comparison.
For the ending, the second ending song sound quite generic and not that good. However, the first ending is a lot better, titled Dear My Friends. Its a song that really signify the friendship of the cast, and goes to give more impact when not only the song is played again as the final closing song, but that the title is also used as the title of the final episode.
My Overall Opinion
– Exploring the already cool setting of Majutsu no Index even more
– Very interesting main characters and their developments
– Nicely structured plot development (except for episode 13)
– Episode 13. Here’s an advice, switch the order of episode, watch 12, then 14, then 13, Its better that way
– Has a bit of everything in a nice mix, but although above standard, its not really the best series there is
Should you try this?