Original Run: October 3, 2009 - March 20, 2010 Number of Episodes: 24 Genre: Action, Comedy, Science Fiction Based on the Series Created By: Kazuma Kmachi
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for A Certain Scientific Railgun. Reader discretion is advised.***
Academy City boasts a thirty-year technological gap when compared to any other place in the world. This is thanks, in large part, to a population comprising of 80% students. And if that wasn’t enough, many of these students are espers possessing a variety of superhuman powers.
One such student is Mikoto Misaka (voiced by Rina Sato). Though she looks like a typical middle school girl, Mikoto is one of the most powerful espers in the city. Designated as one of a handful of Level 5s, she is the one and only Railgun.
Mikoto is often investigating incidences with her close friend, Kuroko Shirai (voiced by Satomi Arai). Adding to that, Mikoto is also supported by Kazari Uiharu (voiced by Aki Toyosaki) and Ruiko Saten (voiced by Kanae Ito). When all four are working together, they are a near undefeatable team.
Mikoto’s friendship will be essential since Academy City is filled with people seeking to unlock the sort of power that could destroy everything.
I didn’t realize that A Certain Scientific Railgun wasn’t the first entry in its series. That distinction belongs to A Certain Magical Index. Although I believe Railgun is a side story and not a sequel, I’m sure since I have yet to look at Index.
Be that as it may, what I can tell you is, A Certain Scientific Railgun was fantastic.
I plan to review Index as soon as possible, but I can confirm that you don’t need to watch it to enjoy Railgun. Obvious references did existed, except that they were either rare or negligible. I may not have fully appreciated what I was seeing, nevertheless, I see it as a blessing in disguise.
After all, not only is there a second season of Railgun, but there are also two seasons of Index (as of the posting of this review), and all twenty-four episodes a pop. So, we’re going to be with this universe for a while, and I cannot be more thrilled.
Just the premise of this world was enough to get me onboard. Think about it: An entire city dedicated to scientific advancements and academics with the vast majority of its residents being students. Plus, superpowers, many of which were sick as f@#$. Yeah, I’m a little intrigued.
I except that Academy City is a place that exists in this series’ universe. It behaved precisely how a metropolis of super-smart superpowered people would behave (I assume). Yes, ridiculousness happened and there were a lot of over the top antics, but you can’t help buy what you’re seeing under the circumstances.
It was more than that, though. The social dynamics of the city was what made it believable. Consider that you have individuals with either tremendous physical power or are in positions of high authority. Prejudices might form and with that, animosity.
Imagine if you’re a Level 1 who’s always being belittled by some asshole Level 3, it’s not a stretch to see how some people might feel inferior. To take it a step further, replace the Level 1 with a Level 0, someone with no power. I bet some days will be a bit harder than others.
Railgun did a great job of illustrating all this, and how people could overcome it.
So, the social-political make-up of Academy City was all well and good. However, there was something this series had that I need to praise because not enough shows have it – power balance.
What do I mean by that?
Take Mikoto. Despite how awesome she was, she was an oddity. Level 5s are rare exceptions to the rules. Thus, it’s great to have them on your side, and yet, odds are they’re not going to be there. Who do you turn to then?
You go to the more abundant Level 4s, who are not pushovers.
In Railgun Level 4s were combatants who could hold their own in a fight. They weren’t plot devices that could get nerfed whenever it was convenient for the story.
Mikoto didn’t and couldn’t solve every single problem; she had to rely on her friends. Although Mikoto would faced-off against the main baddy, it was her team that allowed her to do that. Kuroko, in particular, could handle the grunts without breaking a sweat.
The series gave us time to get to know the characters. Mikoto, Kuroko, Uiharu, and Saten were the main reasons this show was as fun as it was.
The incredible action was because of them. Railgun’s comedy was funny because of them. The story’s more profound moments came from them. They were able to be goofy and silly, but when they had to focus, they meant business.
Throughout the show, Kuroko’s unashamed, often perverse, one-sided crush on Mikoto was a running joke. One time when Mikoto was in the bath, she and Kuroko were having a real discussion. They were trying to decide their next move and weighing what consequences would come of it. As they continued their talk, Kuroko walked into the bathroom uninvited only to be instantly reprimanded by Mikoto for crossing yet another line.
It was hilarious, but it didn’t kill the mood; it didn’t break the tension. That bit of humor didn’t undermine the seriousness of the situation. Why? It’s because that was how these characters would react.
Even though I loved this show, there was way too much pseudoscience-speak in this series.
Explanations spiraled into incomprehensible nonsense really quick, and it got a little obnoxious at points. These moments were also rendered meaningless since all problems got taken care of the same way: Just beating the s@#$ out of it.
While Railgun did go a tad overboard in this respect, it was few and far between. Good thing too, because that was a straight shot path to insufferable.
For shows as long as this, it usually means two major crises.
The mistake Railgun made was that it went too big with the first one. The finale did step it up, but the damage was done. Following the events of opening story arc, it made it impossible for the show to set up surprises.
Villains stuck out like a sore thumb. The story tried to have twist moments. Sadly, nothing seemed to work because anything that should have been unexpected was apparent from the moment of its introduction.
Though disappointing to see, how did it affect the ending? As I said, the show stepped it up; the finale was quite badass.
If I could turn back time, I would want to see A Certain Magical Index first. On the few occasions when a reference was noticeable, it might have made this show a tad more enjoyable. Still, A Certain Scientific Railgun did a pretty damn good job on its own.
The story’s great; the action’s awesome; the characters are fun; this was great. If anything, it’s setting a high bar for Index to meet.
A Certain Scientific Railgun has earned a recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise A Certain Scientific Railgun? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
If you liked what you have read, be sure to follow Anime Hajime on our social media sights so that you never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.
For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
More From The Academy City Series
A Certain Magical Index
A Certain Scientific Railgun
A Certain Scientific Accelerator