Review: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun (A Certain Scientific Railgun) Season 1


So as promised here is my first real post and it is a review of the first series of A Certain Scientific Railgun.

Firstly, it is worth pointing out that Railgun is the spin-off to A Certain Magical Index and as such should probably be watched after the two seasons of that anime. That said, though there is a significant plot cross over, you probably wont be disappointed by watching Railgun first.

Background:
A Certain Scientific Railgun is based in a futuristic city called Academy City. The city is full of students called espers: young people with varying levels of scientific power. Railgun focuses on the third ranked of only seven level five espers, Mikoto Misaka, and her friends.

Plot:
The plot is split into two distinct sections which both roughly take up half of the season each. The first half can be described as a mix of filler and character building. We might argue that really none of this first half is essential to the story but by incorporating it into the series you develop a real connection to the characters when things really start to happen later on. It’s also worth saying that the start of the anime of is genuinely very funny: from the nuances of Uiharu and Saten to Kuroko’s infatuation with Mikoto.

Review: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun (A Certain Scientific Railgun) Season 1

‘Railgun’ Mikoto Misaka

In the second half of the season the action really gets going. There are some really good scenes showing off Mikoto’s power that is talked so much about early on, mixed in with some really emotional dialogue based problems that gives the anime some much needed depth. One of the best aspects of the second half is just how much depth is drawn from the character building that often seemed so pointless at the beginning.

Character Development:
Each of the four main characters have clear roles that are developed very well. Though they can be split into two distinct groups, at no point did I find myself thinking that two of the characters were fulfilling the same role. Mikoto as a main is particularly well written and though her motives can almost always been seen to be good, I felt the writers had subtly given her character enough of the problems you would expect to be associated with being the third most powerful esper to really good effect.

Review: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun (A Certain Scientific Railgun) Season 1

Doctor ‘Heaven Canceler’

Besides the main characters, most of the characters are written fairly well. Despite his relatively small amount of screen time, I felt particular credit should go to the writing of the doctor, ‘Heaven Canceler’. As in the parent story, A Certain Magical Index, the doctor’s purpose was never really given away but allowed for speculation as to his role from the very first time we met him.

Sound, Artwork and Animation:
The sound for the anime works very well throughout, with particular mention going to the Big Spider/Skill Out arc for some really emotional background overtures. On a personal level, I also really enjoyed the first opening, Only My Railgun. The artwork is pretty good, though it has to be said that some of the character work good be slightly better. That said, I am looking for flaws and on the whole it’s not something that detracts from the overall quality. The animation is also very good, particularly in Mikoto’s action scenes.

Overall:
A very good season that benefits from some really good character development and a strong story that really develops in the second half. Though the lack of plot in the first half does detract from overall season. The background really lends itself to the scientific, esper story line. The humour really adds to the overall story and doesn’t ever feel tiresome.

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