Taking place before and during the events of A Certain Magical Index, Railgun is a side-story that goes above and beyond its parent title. The first time around, it was a franchise unsure of itself, floundering between fantasy and sci-fi. This time it sticks to sci-fi for an altogether more grounded and plugged-in series, which is convenient, given the main character is an electromancer.
Academy City is an experimental techno-mecca, where two thirds of the population are students. Ranked on a five point system, it’s a society populated by ESPers - individuals with innate mental abilities. Middle-schooler Mikoto Misaka, the Railgun of the title, is a practical celebrity, being a top-ranking level 5 with her knack for electric. With her best friend and teleporter Kuroko Shirai – whose adoration comes out as predatory perversion – they belong to Judgement, which is somewhere between Girl Guides and the Neighbourhood Watch. Between them, they’re taking care of the small fry and lowly thugs. A pattern starts to emerge between the nuisances, and point to a darker origin.
The initial episodes might scarper around directionless, but once it establishes and drip feeds the wider plot, it sheds the problems of its former iteration: the poor pacing, the muddled plot and excessive tangents.
A quality first cour with an unexpected and grisly climax, the second, however, is more in keeping with the problems of Index. It loses its focus in a big way, with many of these episodes either stand-alone or quickly wrapping up with little consequence. But it does bring itself back around to events of the first, for a conclusion that’s scant, but thoughtful.
Railgun is a series that’s a devil for cliché, but the goofy misadventures offer some deep exploration of the darker parts of the human psyche. With plenty of Easter eggs, it’ll delight old fans and impress those put off by the franchise the first time around.
Special Features; Commentaries / Textless opening and closing / Trailer
A CERTAIN SCIENTIFIC RAILGUN – COMPLETE SEASON 1 COLLECTION / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: TATSUYUKI NAGAI / SCREENPLAY: SEISHI MINAKAMI / STARRING: RINA SATOU, SATOMI ARAI, AKI TOYOSAKI, ATSUKO TANAKA, KANA UEDA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW