To Aru Kagaku no Railgun

Title:To Aru Kagaku no Railgun
A Certain Scientific Railgun
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - JC Staff
This side story from To Aru Majutsu no Index is based on Kamachi's original story set in Academy City where about 80% of its 230,000 citizens are students, and shows the adventures of four girls: Misaka Mikoto, famous for being one of the few Level 5 skilled in the city; Shirai Kuroko, Level 4 skilled and permanently lusting for her Mikoto-onee-sama, plus their new friends Saten Ruiko (Level 0) and Uiharu Kazari (Level 1). With both Kuroko and Kazari being members of Judgement (the city's organization dealing with everything from police work to cleaning the streets), these four girls get involved in strange and even dangerous situations every now and then. And living in a city where developing ESP skills is the focus of everything can provide hard times for people with limited skills or even none at all.


24 TV episodes plus some Blue-ray/DVD OVA specials, covering an extended version of the first three "Railgun" manga volumes (which contain little more than the level-upper arc). A second TV season has been announced.

Image left to right: Misaka Makoto, Shirai Kuroko, Uiharu Kazari, Saten Ruiko.
Read the translated manga online at MangaFox.
[edit] The ↗To Aru franchise:

Main story: Railgun spin-off:
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 9 9 8 6 7 7 Ggultra2764 [series:2178#1552]
It's not perfect, but this spinoff to A Certain Magical Index is at least a major improvement over Index. Unlike Index, Railgun maintains a consistent narrative focus on its look into the everyday life of Mikoto and her friends within Academy City, making it a more character-driven work as a result. To a good extent, this series dabbles into slice-of-life comedy-drama in its focus on Mikoto and pals focusing on the comical quirks and developments that the girls go through such as Mikoto learning to be more dependent on her friends to aid in overcoming a problem and Saten overcoming her insecurities of lacking esper power. The Level Upper arc offers the best developments for this season of the series with the girls dealing with differing issues affecting those close to them and parts of the city populace, hinting that the upper levels of Academy City's society may not be as good as the public perceive.

The series does, however, suffer from some pretty major flaws though, the biggest being that it dabbles fairly heavily in filler. Episodes not focusing on a major issue serve either to provide more depth on certain characters or are comical fodder focused on the quirks of the characters. While the former has meaning, the latter is a complete waste of time.

Other issues that hurt the quality of the series include Kuroko's character and the title's final arc. Kuroko plays the role of obsessive lesbian who lusts for Mikoto and makes failed efforts to have her way with the title's main heroine. This makes her character rather obnoxious at many points whenever this aspect of her character is exploited for failed attempts at comedy. The final arc of the series is the weakest of the series due to having a major foe depicted as your archetypal crazy loon when they reveal their true nature and having some rather sloppy narrative moments with how said baddie failed to defeat the girls at several points in the arc. Plus despite whatever hints the anime drops regarding Academy City's corrupt underbelly, this series lacks a resolution as the series continues on with Railgun S.

In terms of presentation, Railgun maintains the high quality presentation of Index with vivid colors, nicely detailed scenery and character designs, and fluid movements from characters during action scenes and mundane moments. The soundtrack consists of upbeat, energetic tracks with some J-pop implemented for the OP and ED sequences. Some of the songs were pleasant on the ears like Dear my Friend, but not much stuck out for me.

While carrying some major issues, Railgun's more character-driven focus does make it somewhat better to see than Index's jumbled up plot arcs and questionable character focus. It's a rare case for me of the spinoff being better in quality than the main continuity of the franchise.

Last updated Wednesday, August 28 2013. Created Wednesday, August 28 2013.
Unevaluated AstroNerdBoy [series:2178#436]

Review forthcoming now that I've watched the series.

Last updated Friday, January 06 2012. Created Friday, January 06 2012.
Rent 9 9 7 8 7 6 Devil Doll [series:2178#752]
[Rating: 75% = "Rent-", weaker than "Index"; similar anime: Uchuu no Stellvia, Mai-HiME]

To Aru Majutsu no Index was a patchwork of almost unrelated arcs and didn't lead anywhere but was entertaining through its many good side characters. This side story doesn't continue the previous storyline (church vs. ESPer); the main content of this show is comedy, slice of life and girly talk, in sharp contrast to the background scenario with those many criminal incidents. With embarrassing yuri/ecchi scenes and police work by kawaii teen girls (with lots of explosions but hardly anyone taking permanent or even visible damage) this is a less gloomy show than "Index". But with the first arc's theme surfacing it gets a lot more serious (much like Full Metal Panic) and returns to the quality of the first series.
"Railgun" isn't a sequel to "Index" as it has different protagonists and a different plot, although it is later in the time line of this world and has various cameo appearances of "Index" characters. Then again, this spin-off explores various aspects of these "skills" much more thoroughly, thus dealing with some of the open questions of the first series. And the two main arcs (the final five episodes of each half of the series, i. e. 8-12 and 20-24) are strong and better connected than the various arcs of "Index", and they leave no important question unanswered; in terms of telling one consistent story this series beats "Index" significantly.
Unfortunately, "Railgun" suffers from a number of weaknesses: Too many filler episodes, an unnerving Kuroko (both her voice and her behavior), and a talkative villain whose sheer arrogance makes them lose a game that was already won. Had this series been just the two main arcs plus three character introduction episodes, and the main opponent more capable, this could have been a low "Buy"; as it was delivered it almost lost the "Rent" rating during the final episodes.

Besides the again high-class visual presentation, the fast and powerful techno-pop ballad OP1 song (for episodes 2-14, the OP2 is very techno as well but not as good) is the highlight of this anime for me (despite its mixed language lyrics) whereas I consider both the slightly jazzy ED1 and the rocky ED2 songs rather boring. Kuroko's blatant nude boobie-grabbing in the shower scene of the first episode calls for the "yuri" and "ecchi" keywords despite not being typical for this series in this intensity. The frequent talk about underwear, undressing in public etc. was also an unwelcome ingredient for this scenario. On the other hand, I like how those girls aren't just fighting with sheer power (as in so many shounen series) but occasionally use their skill with tactical intelligence to outwit their opponents, making some of the occasional battles surprisingly interesting for the audience (unfortunately not the final one). Characters are a mixed bag: While the team chemistry is great (most notably during the poltergeist arc when not everything is Love, Peace and Harmony) the idiotic villain and the unnerving Kuruko cost this attribute two full points. Episode Story suffered even more from embarrassing actions resp. stupid decisions of many people in about a dozen episodes (which may be supposed comical but caused facepalms instead), three fillers in a row (17-19), and my big disappointment about the final two episodes.

  • Episode 1 (bank robbery) introduces the four girls.
  • Episode 2 (one month memorial) has Kuroko fawning all over Misaka.
  • Episode 3 (eyebrows) has our "girl group" act as police squad again, featuring Uihara's computer skill and a story that's credibly funny and serious at the same time.
  • Episode 4 (urban legends) gives Touma an appearance, making this show a time-line sequel to To Aru Majutsu no Index.
  • Episode 5 (promise) has more Judgement team work and character relation development.
  • Episodes 6+7 (aluminum bomb) is the first more complex Judgement case, with Touma having a short but significant appearance.
  • Episodes 8-12 (level upper arc) show that this series is less episodic than it appeared and that the issue here isn't as simple.
  • Episode 13 (swimsuit model) is a filler with a nice "2001" reference.
  • Episode 14 (special lesson) is an ethics interlude with two teachers we know from earlier stories.
  • Episodes 15+16 (skill-out) feature new OP & ED sections & songs and provide a side story about a Judgement senpai.
  • Episode 17 (computer game) is a filler featuring an Anti-Skill side character, with cameos of Index and Deep Blood.
  • Episode 18 (dorm mother) is another filler, with Kuroko in command.
  • Episode 19 (dorm festival), one more filler, with cameos of Touma and Index.
  • Episodes 20+21 (poltergeist) finally start the second arc, with someone returning whom we didn't expect here.
  • Episode 22 (first sample) is a highlight as it finally explains how all the events are related.
  • Episode 23 (ability crystal) has the drama climax but suffers from a severe plausibility flaw (why would the enemy let two witnesses escape after they learned about the villain's true identity?).
  • Episode 24 has the showdown with two more weaknesses (the already defeated enemy suddenly returning out of thin air, and the heroes still not making the well-known level-downer part of their battle plan) but showing why only this particular team could do what they did, making use of every single skill they have.

Last updated Friday, January 06 2012. Created Tuesday, August 17 2010.
Rent 9 8 8 8 8 8 Dreamer [series:2178#2279]
After watching and enjoying To Aru Majutsu no Index, I decided to pick up this spin-off. It turned out better in my opinion.

Art, Animation & Character Designs
Artwork and animation was good. Rich details and the animation was smooth. Character designs were well done as well.

The OP wasn't too bad at all. It was sorta catchy fast piece. The second OP on and after episode 15 was slightly better with female vocals.

Series and Episode Story
A spin-off from the original "To Aru", we get to see some familiar characters and settings. Here, characters seemed much better animated and illustrated. At least our main girls were super kawaii. As for the plot, it went at a slow pace but threw enough at you to keep you interested. At least it was the case for me. Some of the final battle scenes were pretty entertaining and well animated with the use of a bit of CG here and there. Not bad.

The only real gripe I have was the horrible, horrible voice of kuroku... the perverted lesbo sidekick of Misaka. It just did not fit her personality and body. I mean, the voice sounded like a grannie's voice.... old. It seemed really off.

Overall, it was an entertaining series with some nice "guest" appearances here and there (from the original series). The plot was fair and entertainment level was good enough.

Last updated Tuesday, May 25 2010. Created Tuesday, May 25 2010.
Rent 8 10 8 8 7 8 Silence [series:2178#2939]
This series started out ok, but fell flat on its face in the second half.

At first, we go into the lives of Misaka Mikoto, one of the seven Level 5 espers in Academy City, and her 3 friends, Shirai Kuroko, Saten Ruiko, Uiharu Kazari. It mainly involves slice of life stories of this group of friends (and how perverted Kuroku is), with some crime busting action as 2 out of 4 are from Judgement. Nothing too fresh or exciting thouhg. Toma makes appearances every now and then, and that's pretty cool. Things get a little interesting and heated in the Level Upper arc, where a scientist set up a program which can increase the power of abilities, but it actually makes use of those who use the level upper to fall into a coma and synchronize their brain waves to act as a super computer. And of course, our hero stops this scheme, but also learns the motivation behind this.

But in the second half, things start to fall apart. Stories get less coherent and interesting, and the same crime busting happens over and over again. Until the final arc of Poltergeist, the villain is loud mouthed, crazed and does the laugh. She blows her own cover, announces her plans, and generally behave like a villain in a children's show. The hero's escape from defeat is unconvincing, as with the villain constant lack of desire to kill, despite setting out to destroy the entire city. There is no suspense who will actually win, but the villain's comeback after her first seeming defeat is SO cliche that I just wanted to palmface.

Come on. To Aru Majutsu no Index may not be the most epic story ever, but it is certainly very fresh, original and intriguing. To Aru Kagaku no Railgun is just a mundane show down a beaten path. Actually, I would not recommend wasting too much time on this one.

Last updated Saturday, March 27 2010. Created Monday, November 09 2009.
Buy Forbin [series:2178#1573]
Analysis : All 24 Episodes Watched

Hmm, this definitely needs to be watched with Index. It makes so many Index references that you miss over half of the jokes.

What did I like about this show
  • Mikoto Railgun of course
  • Depicting how people do crazy things just because they want to get ahead.
  • How people who are level zero (Saten) deal with being a nobody in a world of somebodies.
What did i NOT like about this show
  • Kurko - (Mikoto's Lesiban lover) - She's too over the top, and her VA sounds just like one of my 70 yr old aunts. But Kuruko is 15 in this show. And she is WAY too aggressive.
Index made Academy city a place to live with one weird issue (Level 6 project) while being attacked from the outside
On the other hand, Railgun deals with the day 2 day politics of living in a city dedicated to creating Espers.

Last updated Monday, March 22 2010. Created Sunday, October 04 2009.
Buy Jan-Chan [series:2178#967]
Take MIKOTO Misaka, the cute sassy-n-brassy level 5 psychic from the To Aru Majutsu no Index series and create a sidestory about her life at school. Her ability is electric power, which allows her to accelerate a coin to supersonic speeds hence her nickname: the '↗Railgun'.

Add to the story her dormmate who comes across like a perverse obsessed and YURI little sister Kuroko, and one has the makings of slightly risque and silly law enforcement team. Kuroko's psychic ability is as a teleporter. Balancing out their team are two 'ordinary' girls who try to keep up with the antics of Misaka and Kuroko.

As long as one does NOT take this story with any measure of seriousness, then it can be fun.

Otherwise the story is pretty strong, with several episodes clustered into an event or mystery, which collectively play into a larger story that ties everything together.

Last updated Monday, May 24 2010. Created Sunday, October 04 2009.
Unevaluated Stretch [series:2178#628]
(One episode watched):

Railgun just never attracted me. There didn't seem to be anything particularly distinctive about it--just esper combat for the 596th-odd time with wooden characters. There are two girls who are awesomely tough and dangerous, but have unremarkable personalities--except that one seems to be an incestuous lesbian. The characters were trying a little too hard to be cool; and why would I want to watch such people fighting in a psychic manner? I can't help feeling that some sort of horrible conspiracy by evil espers will turn up, which the girls (and their two friends) will be called upon to defeat--which seems repetitive and predictable. A dose of breast fondling and skirt flipping was included, which only made the show seem more insincere in my opinion. Perhaps the problem was that Railgun was taking itself too seriously. The animation was very good, but I'd prefer crappy animation with a solid plot to the other way around.

It turns out that the two girls weren't sisters after all--it's not uncommon to refer to a good friend as your "nii-san", even if technically she isn't. The fact that I haven't watched Index in its entirety might explain why Railgun seemed uninteresting.

Last updated Thursday, October 02 2014. Created Sunday, October 04 2009.

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