The first US patent for a Railgun (a device that propels a projectile through electro-magnetic force) was granted in 1918. I mention that only because so much of what populates our scifi seems to be a direct result of World Wars 1 and 2.
In Volume 2 of A Certain Scientific Railgun Manga, we’re racing forward with the Level Upper story, and things are really starting to look grim. When Saten-san becomes one of the people who collapses into a coma, it’s even more urgent for Uiharu and Judgement to find out what’s going on.
This volume spends some time with Kuroko in prolonged battle, so we can see that she’s got some real chops, and also to make us realize how forlorn Saten feels when she simply can do nothing to help anyone. It’s a feeling anyone of us might have had at any time. We don’t have powers, those of us who are not physically strong know exactly the level of frustration and anger Saten feels. We can’t just wade in when the going gets tough, the only outcomes is that we ourselves will get hurt. And so Saten does. She uses her last conscious energy to call Uiharu, thus goading Judgement into greater urgency.
Professor Kiyama is turned into an apparently evil genius for the purpose of this volume of manga. I like the way that ups the tension, as well.
The bigggest weakness with this series is the incredibly stupid intrusion of A Certain Magical Index. Kamijou is a distraction, his reactions to everything and anything are absurd and Misaka’s obsession with him is random. I realize that Index is the larger body here, of which this is a mere spin-off, but the connection is so…unorganic. Everytime Kamijou appears, one just has to heave a sigh and wait for him to go away. And of course Kiyama’s propensity for shedding her clothing is merely ham-handed service.
The strength of this volume is Kuroko. It’s hard to take her seriously at first. She’s not nasty, but she’s a child, an a privileged child at that. This formula pretty much guarantees we giver he no respect. But here in Volume 2, she earns that respect in the old-fashioned way. She puts the beat down on an opponent much bigger and apparently stronger than herself by using her powers and her brains. And, to her credit, she doesn’t walk around bragging about it. Kuroko is the kind of heroine a book like this needs to be readable.
Yuri in this (and almost all the other volumes of the series) is minimal. The cover provides about the sum and total of the Yuri, with a picture of Kuroko snuggling a Mikoto doll and later Kuroko leaping to embrace Mikoto, but this series was never really about the Yuri. It’s just the icing flowers on top of the cake. ^_^
The Level Upper arc has a bit more to go, then the story turns very dark indeed. For now, we will watch as Uiharu, Kuroko and Mikoto set out to get to the bottom of the Level Upper and save Saten-san.
Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 2
Service – 4
Overall – 7
In many ways I preferred watching Kuroko fighting, since she has limitations that Mikoto does not. All in all, a rollicking adventure, suitable for scifi fans of most ages.