Its probably not the nicest thing to lead a positive review of a show by praising its craft. Generally speaking calling something wellmade is kind of a backhanded compliment at least if its the first thing that comes to mind. Nonetheless A Certain Scientific Railgun just Railgun from here on out is a testament to how far having solid fundamentals can get you. Railgun is adapted from a spinoff of the A Certain Magical Index light novel series and stars Mikoto Misaka nickname Railgun an incredibly powerful esper a Level 5 on a five point scale with the ability to manipulate electricity the nickname comes from what is presented as something of a signature move flipping a magnetized quarter and turning it into a makeshift railgun slug. She uses it only about a half dozen times over the series run and her powerset is probably easiest to compare to that of the titular protagonist of DCAU oddball Static Shock. Misaka lives in Academy City a city with a system of academies hence the name ysee running from kindergaden through university designed to nurture and train young espers. Companions of hers include Kuroko her roommate with teleportation powers who is madly in love with her this being an anime this is played entirely for comedy Uiharu a computer specialist who wears a small bouquet of flowers in her hair and Saten who tends to serve as sort of the glue of the friend group and has her own fairly extensive arc revolving around the fact that she has no powers. The latter three characters are also part of a junior police division of sorts called Judgement. If youre having a bit of a hard time figuring out what kind of show this is thats natural. Light novel camp of this sort tends to mix and match the slickest most archetypedriven bits of various different genres so it should come as no surprise that Railgun at points resembles a superhero show slice of life comedy police or scifi drama or some combination of the four depending on the episode. 880 Our protagonists. Left to right: Uihara Saten Misaka Kuroko Its a little tempting to give Railgun credit here simply because in anime at least this wasnt as common at the time as it is now many light noveladapted properties today are tossed genre salads of this sort when theyre not busy riding the isekai wave that is but Railguns strengths dont really come from being particularly original. They come from the fact that through the tonal switchups and various additions to the cast it manages to wring a lot of heart out of its premise and occasionally silly execution. The main four in particular are never anything less than a joy to see interact whether theyre ribbing each other fighting alongside one another or even not getting along see: the rift that grows and eventually heals between Uihara and Kuroko in the last few episodes of the series and on top of that the supporting cast is usually great too. The real standout here is Harumi Kiyama who over the course of her appearances in the show grows from a comedy relief character the gag being thus she often gets warm and thus takes her clothes off at inappropriate times. Hysterical to the storys first major villain and one with pretty sympathetic motives at that to a reluctant ally of the main cast in the final arc. We also have Konori the girls superior at Judgement who gets a small love story arc to flesh out her character. Kongo a ridiculous heiress type whose incompetence with cooking is the core of what is probably the funniest moment in the serieswe will leave it at the fact that it involves three of our characters attempting to grate cobbed cornand who then goes on to help in the final battle at the series conclusion and final arc villain the ridiculously named Therestina Lifeline who is just the right amount of cackling and campy. On the less impressive side there is Index protagonist Touma Kamijou who stripped of the context that his own series provides only really shows up here to either cameo which is fine but kind of obnoxious as though the series needs to remind viewers that its a spinoff or to rescue Misaka the actual protagonist which is genuinely frustrating as a sapping of her agency and thankfully it only happens twice. 880 Index transplant Touma and first arc villain Professor Kiyama are both introduced in a pretty lowkey episode in a comedic bit. This is pretty typical of how the show introduces and develops characters. Speaking of Misaka she really does remain the standout character even as almost everyone in the cast has their moments. What was a fairly though to be fair not entirely flat tsundere personality in Index is expanded here into a general brash headstrongness and a difficulty in processing her feelings and a tendency to try to strike out on her own even when she shouldnt. Shes actually one of the most wellrounded anime protagonists Ive seen in quite some time which makes the fact that Railgun is from 2009 a touch depressing but more importantly it really focuses what might otherwise be a bit of a haphazard cast without her. She is also incredibly cool when she gets the chance to shine in a fight scene which is of course very important for the protagonist of this sort of series. 880 Misaka only uses her eponymous railgun trick about six or so times but it never stops being a treat to watch. As for the visuals theyve got their ups and downs but more of the former than the latter. Its true that the CGI has not aged particularly well being a bit on the chintzy side even for its era and certainly not looking spectacular nowadays incidentally this makes the villains of the final arc who use CGIrendered power armor a bit hard to take as credible. Its a problem but a minor one and the show has a religious commitment to sidemouth that odd stylistic choice that remains the bane of anime fans everywhere our mediums equivalent of the dreaded bobbing heads of HannahBarberaera American animation. That said the animation otherwise varies from solid to actually pretty incredible bringing out the sakuga not just for action sequences but also moments where it enhances physical comedy or lends some extra depth to a character just doing something. It goes without saying that the fights tend to be very welldone with some serious bonecracking done throughout the series by almost every character save maybe Uihara. All in all Railgun is really just an incredibly fun show and if you have the tolerance for light novel camp and the occasional moment of skeeviness in the comedy episodes its pretty easy to recommend with or without the wider context of the parent A Certain Magical Index series.
78 /100
19 out of 23 users liked this review