So roughly a year ago I picked up ‘To Aru Kagaku no Railgun’ right after finishing To Aru Majutsu no Index’s first season well knowingly that Railgun was nothing but a side story. “But it has Misaka!” I said to myself. “Surely, a show that has Misaka Mikoto as main character can’t be bad, even if just a side story.” Oh my, how wrong I was…
Story: 5 (mediocre)
The main plot in this anime is about some sort of “Level upper” that supposedly can increase the level of espers. So it becomes incredibly popular among level 0s but unfortunately many people start abusing their powers for illegal activities. The start is quite frankly boring since the first couple episodes are nothing but episodic events of Misaka and annoying, under-aged lesbian fighting petty criminals. Naturally, since Misaka is level 5 esper, the grunts stand no chance against her and action scenes aren’t nearly as suspenseful or exciting as Index’s.
The second aspect of story is the everyday life of Misaka and her friends. This is hand-down the worst aspect of story and the reason why this anime’s pace is slower than a snail trying to climb a mountain of glue. What doesn’t help is the fact that 2 of 4 main characters are unlikeable and hasn’t got a single line that doesn’t sound like is written by obnoxious 10 year-old. (I blame the writers!)
Speaking of writing, I start to think that the writers didn’t get paid or something because they sure as hell weren’t trying. The dialogues are just plainly dumb or dull. Since episodes often have exciting (sarcasm intended) scenes such as ‘Girls eating ice-cream’ expect to see a lot of girlish talk and friendship nonsense. There are also a lot of dialogues consisting of fictional science and although this ‘science’ talk wouldn’t normally bug me, it was just dull and imaginative. Not to mention this whole science crap was spoken by middle-school students. I don’t care if it’s some advanced city of science or not, people at that age don’t talk like that.
To make things worse, the pace of the story is way off as you constantly get filler episodes which are concentrating on more daily aspects of main characters. The first 12 episodes did follow closely on the ‘Level upper’ case but after that the anime just lost its pace.
The story did have some strong parts and has some pretty cool fight scenes. But they just seem to be scattered all around anime and feel too far in-between since the pace of the anime is so off.
Animation: 7 (good)
So we finally move onto next category which is animation. Although nothing special and definitely not great by today’s standards, the animation was pretty good and stayed consistent through-out the entire anime.
Sound: 8 (Great)
The voice actors did great job to represent their character. I was annoyed by the teleporting lesbian’s voice but I guess it did fit the obnoxious character nicely (yay?). The most interesting performances were definitely for the villains.
The openings/endings consist of lighthearted songs which fit the whole feel of the anime. The OST for the anime did its job nicely although none of the tracks really stood out.
Characters: 6 (Above average)
You get 4 main characters and unfortunately 2 of them are annoying as hell. Naturally, the main character is Misaka Mikoto which sadly didn’t get nearly as much attention as I hoped. She did get couple cute/funny scenes but they were extremely rare. The main Index’s character, Touma makes couple brief cameos for extremely short moments but he’s pretty much non-existent in this anime.
One of the other 3 main characters is the loud, obnoxious and annoying Kuroko. If you didn’t like her in Index series, don’t worry – you’ll utterly hate her in Railgun. At first I thought she’s just a psycho, obsessed with Misaka until I realized she really is gay (literary) for Misaka. I’m not sure whether her constant harassings of Misaka were meant to be funny or not but I sure as hell know they got redundant and old fast. I wish Kuroko was never in the show but I must say there were couple enjoyable scenes with her. Such lovely scenes as getting electrocuted by Misaka’s attacks or where she was getting strangled and beaten up by dorm mistress ^.^
Then there was the incredibly childish and naive Uiharu which dialogue I found highly clichéic and irritating. Finally, Ruiko Saten. She is the most normal and relatable character in the entire anime and is actually likeable unlike Uiharu or Kuroko.
The rest of the cast consisted of secondary/minor characters, with one the most memorable being the female scientist that strips for no reason :D
Overall: 6 (above average)
The story definitely had potential. There were couple great action scenes and both sound and animation did a good job. Even some character developments and their stories were great. But in the end, whatever good qualities this anime had were buried under slow-paced, dull every day moments and shit loads of piss-poor writing and bad pacing.
I rate the anime 6, it definitely has quality production-wise (and Misaka) to set it apart from majority of anime but at the same time there are way more exciting series out there. I can’t really recommend this anime unless you’re huge Index or Misaka Mikoto’s fan.
Fun fact: I started watching To Aru Kagaku no Railgun in July 2011 and only finished it recently in July 2012. It took me a year to finish this show as opposed to To Aru Majutsu no Index season 1 which only took 3 days.