“With great Power comes great Responsibility!” – Stan Lee
Power is something that every human being has dreamt of having at least once, being it the power of money, strength or simple influence. It is something that helps people change things around them and makes it possible for life to be a lot easier. However, Power does not come without a certain price tag, sticking onto it. With whatever power you obtain, you get the chance to not only change your life but that of others as well. A huge responsibility lies upon the shoulders of those ruling and having the powers that others long for and there are several ways to handle this responsibility and for everyone there are good examples for it. You can simply abuse your power, oppressing everyone that is weaker. You can simply ignore everyone around you and don’t care about anyone but yourself. Society though in this age, sees it as the duty of anyone having power to help the ones that have less and speak up for them. Ladies and Gentlemen, todays Anime deals with the issue of obtaining power and having power. Today’s topic shall be Index’ first Spin-Off To Aru Kagaku no Railgun!
As this is a Review of both Seasons of Railgun, I am going to give two scores for every category! (One for the original and one for Railgun S)
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun’s setting is almost exactly the same as Index’. The Anime takes place in Academic City, a fictional town, that dedicated itself to the advance of science. It has amazing technology and almost 80% of the people living there are students. Most of these,didn’t come here for the science aspect though, but for the second big objective that the city was found because of. The training of Espers. Espers, to those who don’t know, are people that mysteriously obtained power that they now can use for all kind of things, but for the most time for the sake of fighting. They are split into Levels ranging from 0, which indicates that you have no ability at all, to 5. There are only 7 Level 5 Espers and those are counted as the 7 strongest ones in the whole world. In that city, lives our main character Misaka Mikoto. She is pretty popular Esper, since she is known to be the third strongest Level 5, also known as the “Railgun”. One day, she gets to know her roommate Kuroko’s, a Level 4 Teleporter, acquaintance from her work at Judgment, an organization that focuses on keeping Academic City safe. The acquaintance Uiharu, a Level 1, has always been a huge fan of Misaka and brought her best friend Saten, who doesn’t have any powers at all and is of the opinion that probably all Level 5 Espers are arrogant and annoying people. As they meet the “Railgun”, a friendship quickly develops and the four of them hang out together more and more often. But at the same time, strange incidents start happening everywhere in the city and even though the four at first seem to have nothing to do with it, they get sucked into it faster than they thought they would…
The Story of Railgun starts of rather weak, presenting a lot of Slice of Life episode to begin with and only a few episodes that really go into the Setting itself. Not to say, that these are bad or anything, it’s just not what is to be expected out of a setting that looks this way. After quite some while though, the pacing starts to get faster and more and more incidents start happening. Meanwhile, the show decides to bring in an actual plot. That is to it’s better, as the story for Railgun’s first season might not be as good as for Index, but it certainly is well done and while there always are a few filler episodes between different arcs, they get back to the actual plot fairly quickly. The strength of the arcs is just as with Index, it’s climaxing. When Railgun wants to set it’s climax, it gets amazing. Using epic fights great speeches and really well done villains for the sake of ending everything with a big blast.
The first season’s story is while certainly not being bad not as good as Index, the second season blows everything out of the water. Entering the second season, we get to see the sisters arc, a part of the Index show that only had 3 episodes over there, from Misaka’s point of view. In Index it was a fairly decent part of the show, but now in Railgun, it gets extended to more than a half of the season and a lot of things get shown that people who watched Index didn’t know about. It suddenly shifts into a part that is really dark compared to everything Index has ever done and is what I loved about it. That said the first season did something similar but not to the extent that Railgun S did!
Railgun S: 8.7/10
Even though getting amazing at points, the story of Railgun is not what drives the Anime. The strongest point that the Spin-Off has is in it’s characters. Other than it’s predecessor, this show uses it’s characters a lot more and is working towards their development. While Index often only used them as a plot device, Railgun rather uses both parts to bring each other further. The story advances the characters and the characters advance the story. We have our main protagonist Misaka Mikoto, aka the “Railgun”. She is a pretty popular Esper, as she is listed as the third strongest Level 5 in the world. Still, she stays really levelheaded and often doesn’t really think that her powers are anything to show off with, but rather sees them as a practical tool. That’s what makes her friendship with the other three characters possible. Nonetheless, she is a really strong woman in total while caring for everyone around her. Caring this much for people, often makes her vulnerable though, since she never wants anyone around her to get involved into things happening around her. The next character is Misaka’s roommate Shirai Kuroko. Kuroko is a Level 4 Teleporter that is (at least it gets strongly hinted) sexually attracted to Misaka. She has a rather bold personality and is the one that the most comedy relief comes from, mostly using her tries to get close to her roommate. She can get really serious at times, though most of the time being when it is about her work at Judgment, an organization that keeps the streets of Academic City in order. Next up is her Judgment Colleague Uiharu Kazaro. Uiharu is a really quite and kind girl. She is Kuroko’s team partner in Judgment, but she normally only sits at their base though, as she is really good with computers. The last one is Saten Ruiko. She is an energetic girl, that has a unique fascination for urban rumors and is Uiharu’s best friend. She is a Level 0, meaning that she has no power at all.
The side characters in Railgun are pretty much the same as for Index. While all being fairly interesting to watch, they often lack a little depth and character development. They are all given background and motivation, but they don’t seem to stand out as much as they used to in the first instance of the franchise. That is not due to them being bad though, but due to us now having strong lead characters. For Index, the main characters were really generic and didn’t have any interesting characteristics. This made the characters shine, since they were a lot better written than Touma and Index themselves. For Railgun, this is not the case. In Railgun, the main characters are really well done, making the side characters only remain in their shadows and not seem as amazing as they were in Index. They still are quite good though.
The characters in Railgun are a lot better as in Index, as Railgun focuses a lot more on them than it’s parent story does. It is able to let them grow on you really fast and manages to capture their mentalities really well! This can be seen best, whenever the show enters a darker part of the story, such as middle parts of the Level-Upper incident and the Sisters Arc. They are in no way one-dimensional and everyone has a believable and likeable side to him. Heck, even the villains in the end often turn out to either be pretty cool or just amazingly well written for the most part. There aren’t quite as many side characters in Railgun as there were in Index, but the amount of them still is pretty high compared to other shows. They all are well written though and almost none of them is boring.
Railgun S: 9.1/10
The Art in Railgun’s first season is pretty good. As expected from J.C. Staff, the animation is pretty well done, while not being outstanding. It is detailed and fluent during the action scenes, but is kept to a rather standard level in the Slice of Life parts. The use of CG-Animation is quite obvious though, as it does stand out quite a bit and does not look good! This gets really annoying, when they start doing the background purely based on CGI. For the second season, the standards of Animation rises quite a bit, as there were several years of a gap between the production of the two shows. The Animation does get more fluent and even though it doesn’t get any more detailed it doesn’t need to. However compared to other shows of it’s time, both are only above average and could’ve been better. One plus point for Railgun S though is, that they use a lot less CGI than any other Raildex show. The character designs don’t look too original, but are nothing to complain about, since they for the most part are bound to the original show. However the ones that are new aren’t too original either.
Railgun S: 7.7/10
Railgun’s Soundtrack was done by Maiko Iuchi, who is part of the company “I’ve”, that did the OST for Index. He also did the Soundtrack for Ano Natsu de Matteru. The Music in Railgun is really good, having a great variety of tracks, ranging from energetic electronic music for the fight scenes, light hearted tracks for the Slice of Life parts and quite piano OSTs for the sad scenes. It suits the show really well and is really good to get you either hyped up or breaking to the ground. Of course it is not something that a Hiroyuki Sawano (Attack on Titan, Guilty Crown) would have created, but it does it’s job. Even outside the Anime, the OST still has an impact, as it is a lot of fun to listen to even while not watching the show. That is an attribute, that makes an amazing OST. The only part that I don’t like about it are just as in Index the light hearted tracks, that often annoy the hell out of me. They are fine when not being noticed or really quite, but they don’t really sound good to me. The Openings on the other hand are amazing. All four of them capture the show really well and are able to get you hyped for the show itself. The songs are amazing and I’ve been listening to them on my phone all day long. As for now, there is no dub available and the Japanese voice acting is as always really good (I can’t judge too much though since my Japanese is not good enough).
Railgun S: 7,8/10
Despite being part of the same franchise and even being set in the same city as Index, the themes presented in the two Raildex instances are entirely different. While the parent story focuses more on the war between church and science, the church doesn’t play any roll in the spin-off. Instead, Railgun is more about Power, how to obtain it and what to do with it. It deals with the lack of power and how the wish of having it can effect people and it deals with the responsibility of having a lot of power and how it can effect people’s life. It does so amazingly well, presenting it in the characters in a great way and never disappoints in good and flashy action. The story and setting both are really interesting and both seasons of it are great.
Now as I calculated the scores I gave to To Aru Kagaku no Railgun and To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S (being Story, Characters, Art, Sound and my personal enjoyment) I got to a score of 8.02/10 for Railgun and a score of 8.58/10 for Railgun S. The first season already is good mostly for it’s characters, but the second season then proceeds to get lengths better and is simply amazing. As it stands now, both Seasons are currently unlicensed and is available for legal streaming on Crunchyroll.
And with that, I hoped you enjoyed this Review and until the next post!
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- Anime Review: To Aru Majutsu no Index I+II (korisanime.wordpress.com)