Anime Reporter brings you the word on A Certain Scientific Railgun- the complete first series. If the title of this series sounds familiar and you’re not sure why, it might be that you’re half-remembering A Certain Magical Index, which ACSR is a spinoff of.
Magical Index focused on the incredibly technology-themed Academy City and its super powered citizens having their worlds turned upside down by the conflicting elements of (often religiously-themed) magic and a hapless, incredibly unlucky young lad (who never seems to run out of luck when it comes to surviving unlikely situations) called Toma. Scientific Railgun is a bit different, focusing almost exclusively on the more sci-fi elements of the world within the series and giving the big spotlight to Mikoto Misaka, an electric super-powered student who’s one of Academy City’s elite few.
The animation is beautiful, with smooth effects for the majority of powers and a wonderful sense of movement throughout action scenes.
The plot is noticeably different to its predecessor, with the bizarre, not very convincing friendship of Toma and Index replaced by… well, honestly with a bizarre and not very convincing friendship between Misaka and Kuroko, though it is at least a friendship with some history behind it. The plot weaves a little in and out a little from more personal stories about Misaka gradually making friends in a culture where she’s pretty much seen as a celebrity and a darker plot regarding some students finding an elicit means to enhance their powers, known as Upper Level, with some grave consequences. There’s also a fair amount of crime-fighting and conspiracy to be found, which makes the lighter plot elements from a nice border between more intense twists and plot points.
It’s unfortunate that Misaka’s friendship with Kuroko is still very much characterised by Kuroko making many enthusiastic attempts to seduce/grope/manipulate/possibly drug Misaka into something sexual. This theme was very much in play during Magical Index and, as this series takes place before and during the events of its predecessor, it makes sense for Kuroko’s character to be consistent, it just undermines the steps taken to turn these characters from missed opportunities in the last series into well-grounded representations of people in this one.
All in all, despite some regrettable character traits carried over from Magical Index, A Certain Scientific Railgun is superior to its parent series, offering stronger character building, a nice blend of humour and action and a much better sense of who the protagonist actually is.
A Certain Scientific Railgun- Season 01 is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK and Ireland from the fine folks at Manga Entertainment. For more info on upcoming releases, check out the Manga UK website.