There are two kinds of romance novel. One is the kind that everyone thinks of when they read the words “romance novel,” which is to say, romance novels targeted at adult women. These are often generically called “Harlequin novels” after the famous publisher of the genre. The other kind of romance novel are for men. They are packaged as action-adventure books, but are always as much about the hero and the beautiful woman getting together as any Harlequin. We call these “Clive Cussler novels.”
You can tell the difference between romance written for men and for women by the way they use language. A woman’s romance might describe a scene, “His bronze skin glinted in the evening sun as he closed his brawny arms around her slim waist and full hips.” Whereas Clive Cussler would describe the scene this way, “His bronze skin glinted in the evening sun as he closed his brawny arms around her slim waist and full hips.”
Many of the manga I read are for older teens, young adults. They aren’t *quite* children and they aren’t quite adult, really. I find myself reading these manga, noticing how often random bits of service are wedged into scenes that make basically no sense at all. In effect, all these manga sound like this to me:
“Hey Carol, I wanted to get those sales reports to you by End of Business day, but spent the afternoon thinking what Kim would like like in a bikini instead.”
“Oh, hey, Bob, thanks, I’m going to need those reports for a presentation I’m making in front of the marketing team. I was working on it, but spent the afternoon wondering what David looked like in the shower.”
Which brings me, at last, to A Certain Scientific Railgun. In the first scene, which begins with narrative expositions, so the audience not familiar with the world from To Aru Majutsu no Index, the mother ship franchise for this series, can know enough to get by. This is enhanced slightly by more exposition by the teacher who is saying stuff that presumably the students in her class all know.
We are then introduced to Misaka Mikoto, one of the objectively most powerful people in the book’s world. In the shower. I’m not saying it’s pandering, I’m saying it’s *distracting*.
In any case, we quickly meet Mikoto, her admiring, pervtastic kouhai Shirai Kuroko, Kuroko’s fellow member of Judgement Uiharu Kazari and her friend Saten Ruiko. These four girls are the series’ greatest strength. They like each other, they respect each other. Kuroko and Mikoto could easily treat Saten and Uiharu, who have neither power nor money, as dirt…but they do not. They are kind – not pitying kind, genuinely kind. Mikoto and Kuroko are…nice.
The story is weaker than that in the anime, but easy enough to follow and if you don’t much care that Index is not in English, so we are indeed coming in in the middle of the story, then it should be no particular hurdle.
Yuri is thin, one-sided and a bit tired, but Kuroko’s antics cover what is probably a genuine desire for Mikoto.
As this is a Seven Seas book, all the technicals are quite good. Once again a very authentic reading experience.
Look, take your brain out of your head and watch the girls fight the bad guys. It’s fun.
Art – 6
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 4
Service – 3
Overall – 7
I think this series is a decent manga, but it made a terrific anime. I’m not sure what I would make of this manga had I not seen the anime, but the one that that indubitably worked in both is the friendship of the four girls.
Many thanks to brand-new Okazu Hero Steven M for sponsoring today’s review!