A Certain Scientific Railgun S Anime (English) Guest Review by Mara

August 7th, 2013

ACSRSWoo-hoo! It’s Guest Review Wednesday! Please welcome back serial Guest Reviewer Mara!

A Certain Scientific Railgun S (streaming for free, legally with applicable region limitations from Funimation) is a direct sequel to the anime A Certain Scientific Railgun… which doesn’t have ‘S’ at the end. Picking right up where its predecessor left off, it adapts the manga of the same name. If you are one of the lucky ones who only watched the anime of either Railgun or its mother series A Certain Magical Index, you should give this new season a go right now as it will be more of the same – i.e. an incredibly entertaining esper action story.

However if you are as voracious a consumer of the ‘A Certain Blank’ franchise as myself, you may be hesitant. Understandably so as this new series of Railgun is forced by existing cannon to now tackle the story arc that pushed Railgun into the so called ‘dark side’ of Railgun’s setting: Academy City. A story that focused on illegal cloning and perhaps the most gruesome form of level grinding in fiction. Known as the “Sisters” story arc – in the original novels it was responsible for introducing a lot of important characters; such as Kuroko, the Misaka clones and Accelerator. When it came time for the Sisters arc to appear in the Railgun manga the story focused almost entirely on Mikoto’s point of view leaving fan favourite characters out of the spotlight for an extended period of time; pretty much assuming you had already seen the Index version of the story in some way.

Not so for the anime adaptation. The anime gives you a complete story to enjoy and while Mikoto and the Sisters arc cast take centre stage we are not allowed to forget the rest of the cast, including characters that were introduced in the first Railgun anime:

By that I mean that Haruue is still around as is Banri, both characters from the first season. It is a treat to see that the anime staff did not just ignore them and assume that no-one would care if these characters appeared or not. In a show that had less effort put into it Haruue would have been put off stage now she has been reunited with Banri, instead we see their story continue alongside everyone else’s.

But it is Kuroko Shirai who receives a good portion of episode seven all to herself with her own sub-story that includes Saten, Uiharu and Haruue too. It keeps Mikoto’s story from becoming the dense all-encompassing mass it was in the manga buy piding up other events that would otherwise be entirely sequential. It also gives us an important glimpse of Kuroko’s view of Mikoto during this period, how concerned she is and the frustration that comes with trying to help someone who does not wish to be helped.

New to the Railgun story are quite a few scenes from Touma’s point of view as a digest version of the events he experienced in Index to add context for those who may have not seen or not remember the Index anime (way back in 2009). The manga assumes that we have seen Touma’s point of view before and thus gives us little to explain his appearance or motivation.  The anime however does show us how Touma finds out about Mikoto’s situation, including his interaction with Kuroko which involves a fun bit of perv to perv verbal combat that I really enjoy.

So if you have read the manga like myself and are wondering if you should bother with the first half of Railgun S, rest assured. The first season improved and expanded upon the story and the second season does the same with its source material far better than expected.

Score so far (Episodes 1-16):

Art – 7
Character – 10 (The A Certain Blank series is a fantastic example of Erica’s thesis that every character should have a unique ‘voice’. You would not mistake one character for another based on their lines… apart from the clones.)
Story – 6
Yuri – 5
Service – 9
Overall – 9

E here: Well, you’ve convinced me to watch it! I was dithering, since the manga had been so gloomy, but okay, I’ll give it  a try. ^_^ Thanks so much for the review and the prompt to reenter Academy City once again. ^_^

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4 Responses

  1. Lilyvess says:

    Touma ruins this for me. He comes on screen and suddenly Misaka goes from being a badass confidant independent character to being a useless love sick harem object. It doesn’t help that his appearance suddenly kicks all the wonderful side-characters to the bin. Seriously. Kuroko, Uiharu and Saten all disappear for episodes at a time as soon as the Sisters arc began.

    I enjoy Railgun, but this is a comon comic book mistep. Typical good series that ends up getting tied into a larger arc and forced to play second fiddle to a worse series.

    • Mara says:

      I can certainly understand your dislike for Touma even though I personally find him to be a wonderful character when he has his own series it does make him feel like an intruder no matter how it is presented in railgun. Ie: ‘you have your own books that are about you let some other people have a turn!’

      While I go over the treatment of the rest of the cast in Railgun in this article I would point you to Index if you like the cast of Railgun as they appear in Index quite a bit. In fact Mikoto has even more dashing moments in the Index novels if I could draw your attention to this image: http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120528094956/to-aru-majutsu-no-index/images/8/8a/Capture.png

      I would also point out that as a series Index is much more international than Railgun has the ability to be with a great deal of characters from many different parts of the world. It is very nice to see such positive representations of ‘foreign’ characters in a Japanese novel series.

      Although I am biased as a UK citizen and many of the foreign characters are either British or very quickly end up living in Britain.

    • BruceMcF says:

      There is a little difference to the conventional harem tropes in that there is an actual reason for Misaka to be a bit flustered by Touma, given the “Level 0 but untouched by the railgun effect” shtick when they first met.

      But still, I do like the Sister’s story more this time through, grounded as it is in Misaka’s lonely fight against the evil system, than I did the version in the Index series 1 anime version in Index episodes 10-14 … and a part of the improvement is that its not embedded in Touma’s serial power-girl harem.

  2. If I understand correctly, Railgun’s origins is as a side-story in the Index Light Novels. So it was always tied into the larger narrative.

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