Review: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S (A Certain Scientific Railgun S) Season 2


Back on Tuesday I finished watching the second season of A Certain Scientific Railgun. In my review of the first season I said that, though this was essentially a spin-off of A Certain Magical Index, it would not matter if you chose to watch Railgun first. After watching season two, though I still think it would be possible to watch Railgun first, I feel that by watching Index beforehand you’ll appreciate the events that occur in this season of Railgun a lot more.

Background:
On the whole, the background is pretty similar to how it was in the first season. The main characters from the first season return, however, there is a much stronger focus on Misaka, particularly through the first sixteen episodes.

Plot:
The second season of A Certain Scientific Railgun is split into two main arcs, the first, lasting sixteen episodes, runs at a parallel to the Sister arc from A Certain Magical Index. The second arc, known to those who explore this internet as the Silent Party arc, lasts eight episodes to conclude the season. I’m not going to get into the business of comparing seasons too much, but it has to be said that the pacing, for the first arc at the very least, was much improved on the opening of the first season. Misaka is faced with an overall problem that is broken up well over the course of the arc. This is also the time when Toma really makes his main cameo performance in Railgun which I felt really added something a bit different to the feel of the anime without turning it into an over the top shonen wrecking ball. It is worth noting however, if you have watched Index and are expecting something new this won’t do as much for you – despite extra insights and events that we didn’t see before, this is still essentially the same story being retold by Misaka and her friends.

Toma making an appearance in Railgun S

The second and final arc of the season is also very well done, though the story does feel a little as if it has been tagged on after the long first arc. This storyline feels much more like the first season with all four girls taking a much more central role as Misaka decides to open up about the problems she uncovers. It was also good to see some of the side characters develop a little more, getting more involved in the plot. Though, some might see this a diversion and essentially a set of filler episodes, I think there is definitely a lot of value in the last eight episodes, even if they aren’t as spectacular as the first sixteen.

Character Development:
For those of you who read my review on the first season of Railgun, you’ll remember how I criticised the slow start to the anime. However, it is here in season 2 that we really see the time put into character building pay off. Though it is Misaka who dominates much of the first two thirds of the season, I never felt disconnected from the other main characters who I’d got to know really well in the first season.

The focus on Misaka in this season is, in my opinion, almost certainly the best aspect of the anime. When I heard about a girl that could control electricity and magnetism at the start of Index, I really wanted to know more about her and see some really good action scenes that depended upon her – and wow did I see it. Avoiding spoilers, the moral conundrum that Misaka faces really lets you into her character, explaining not just the strong level 5 that she is well known for across Academy City, but also her childish nature that I can’t help but love.

Sound, Artwork and Animation:
There is a noticeable change in the artwork in season 2. It’s that bit sharper and more vivid than before. The new strength of colour really added to my experience of the battle scenes between Misaka and her various opponents which are animated to the same high standard as in the first season. The sound is once again very good, though don’t expect anything different as it seems the producer/director wanted to stick to exactly the same format of music as the first season.

Toma proves his resolve to Misaka through total idiocy. That’s Toma.

Favourite Episode:
Episode 14, The Promise. There were times in Index where I felt I’d had too much of Toma, but his cameo in the mid part of the season worked really well in helping to bring out Misaka’s character to the full. This episode is somehow packed full of emotion, character building and action sequences and is pretty much perfect.

Overall:
I really enjoyed the second season of Railgun. Not only was the artwork sharper, but on the whole the plot was more engaging as well. The focus on Misaka as strong female character, while showing off her weaknesses is executed very well and gives a whole new dimension to the whole Index/Railgun world. The only thing that really lets this down is despite it’s strengths, the final third does feel like an add on which is very noticeable after the incredibly strong Sister’s Arc. Regardless, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this season of anime.

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