A Certain Scientific Railgun User Reviews

A Certain Scientific Railgun is an anime series in the To Aru Majutsu no Index franchise
Write a Review 3 user reviews Average score of 8.6 / 10 for A Certain Scientific Railgun
More worthwhile watch than the main series. Reviewed by asian_pride on June 3, 2010. asian_pride has written 8 reviews. His/her last review was for Thermae Romae. 40 out of 41 users recommend his reviews. 9 out of 10 users found this review helpful.
When people have power, they feel they can do whatever they want with it. They feel like they can change the world, whether it’s contributing to society, or bringing total destruction. But for those unfortunate ones who don’t have power, it’s almost impossible to not feel a little spiteful for the gifted. Having power or not does have negative consequences, as they can bring the worst out of people. It can manifest feelings of hatred, jealousy, and even greed. However malevolent it is, people have a reason for doing what they do. Sometimes it even seems like the good side can look like the bad, and vice versa.

Much of these concepts are evident throughout To Aru Kagaku no Railgun. The fact that the show mainly focuses on these issues makes it a worthwhile watch, even more so than the main series, To Aru Majutsu no Index. In the end, Railgun’s overall presentation wasn’t perfect, but everything it does, it does extremely well.

 Meet Railgun's 4 main characters.
 Meet Railgun's 4 main characters.

If you’ve watched To Aru Majutsu no Index, you don’t really need an explanation of Railgun’s general premise. But for those unfamiliar with it, both series are set in Academy City. It is home to about 2.3 million people, in which 80% are espers (like, people with psychic powers, yo). As Index focuses on its main character, Touma Kamijou, Railgun is centered on Mikoto Misaka – a Level 5 esper who has the power to control the element of electricity – and considered one of the strongest psychics in Academy City. She is joined by her obsessive partner, Kuroko Shirai, and two other characters, Ruiko Saten and Kazari Uiharu.

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun’s story started out slow, but gradually got better in the later episodes. I was a little disappointed, though, that the show took a spin-off approach towards the halfway point; similar to To Aru Majutsu no Index’s lackluster outcome. There were some pointless filler episodes strung within the 24-episode period, but I was surprised the show’s second arc was actually fairly enjoyable. They do shed light on the minor characters’ dilemmas and whatnot, so it gives you a chance to connect with them a little better. They also did a pretty good job explaining some of the history behind Academy City, so I at least had a basic understanding on what was going on each episode. Railgun isn’t all serious though, as it also shows a lighter, comical side of things, which all the more makes the show entertaining to watch.

 The show more or less focuses on Misaka's adventures.
 The show more or less focuses on Misaka's adventures.

Of course, an anime show wouldn’t be one without its moral values in mind. Unfortunately, the whole pretense of “I’m pretty much useless” or “I’m such a burden to everyone else” is really starting to get old. Honestly, these days it just serves as more of a nuisance than a matter actually worth caring about. Though that is the case, the bigger questions of whether or not Academy City is just a cesspool or the perfect place for espers to live in, and how the endless pursuit of power can bring out the worst out of people - often leading to the brink of losing one’s humanity in favor of the latter - is hard to ignore. These issues presented give the narrative something meaningful to think about and it’s impressive how they portrayed these sentiments through Railgun’s strong female protagonists and persistent minor characters.

For example, Mikoto Misaka (a.k.a. Biribiri) has absolutely no problem expressing and sharing her opinions on various subjects. Her brash and outspoken attitude tends to get her into trouble, often leading to other characters criticizing her moral viewpoints. Though her sense of justice can seem somewhat flawed, it all the more proves that she is just as human as the person next to her, psychic or not. It gives you a thought of - hey; just because they have the power to control lightning doesn’t mean they’re any different from the normal, ‘Average Joe.' And you don't really need to have powers to make a difference; everyone has the ability to do that. The people she encounters and the different opinions she hears from them helps Misaka grow as a character, which makes her enough to stand out amongst the strongest female leads in other anime shows.

Visually, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun doesn’t stick out like Bakemonogatari or anything like that, but the great action set pieces, the brief yuri moments between Kuruko and her ‘onee-sama,’ and the overall presentation is pretty impressive to watch. The costume designs can tend to be fairly generic, but everything else is detailed enough that it’s easy to forget all that. 

 Expect a lot of crazy people before you're done with this show.
 Expect a lot of crazy people before you're done with this show.
Railgun’s first two op/ed songs are definitely easy to get into; with ‘only my railgun’ by fripSide having an electrifying intensity, and ‘Dear My Friend -Mada Minu Mirai he-’ by ELISA counterbalancing the latter with a more laid-back, sweet tone. Unfortunately, the rest of the instrumental tracks and the secondary op/ed songs just don’t live up to my expectations. It’s probably a first impression kind of thing on my part, but the generic techno themes in the rest of the soundtrack didn’t exactly scream, “awesome” to my ears.


Overall, the voice acting is excellent. The seiyuus did an outstanding job portraying various emotions through their characters, which made them all the more believable and easier to connect to. A few voice-overs such as Kuruko’s seiyuu seemed weird and out-of-place with her character, but she grew on me as time went on.

Though the spin-off approach towards the halfway mark was a little disappointing, the second arc was just as pleasing as the first that it’s easy to forgive them for that. Of course, not everything Railgun presented was exactly favorable for my taste, but the show had its share of very meaningful moments, making it definitely more worthwhile than the main series. Whether or not you’re into cool, super-elemental superpowers, 14 year-old lolis, and insane, power-hungry women, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun is definitely worth checking out.
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