Mikoto Misaka and her friends prepare for the Daihasei Festival, a seven-day athletic competition between esper schools. Academy City opens to the public for the event, but with the whole town abuzz, no one notices when trouble stirs behind the scenes.
This review is only for the third season, id est A Certain Scientific Railgun T. Too long; Didn't Read: Probably the best season among the three. Read to find out why. Unlike the rest of the seasons, this one kicks off pretty quickly without the slow-burn mini-cases leading up to the big fish setup and I suppose most of the previous two seasons had been setting up the events of this season anyway, not that I'm complaining. It has two halves to it, the first half featuring a Level 6 shift experiment arc and the second half going on a tangent with similar themes with a soul-split cyborg arc. While the first half is quite relevant to the entire franchise, the second half is mostly a shorter self-contained story arc. I'll get into both the arcs one by one. The first arc is a grand finale to the entire Level 6 shift project as laid out by Kihara Gensei. While saying more would probably be spoiling things, I'll just say that it heavily features Shokuhou Misaki and her part in a secret Academy City experiment which made a weapon of Mass Destruction and provides a little more insight into the character. The arc has the most exciting ramp-up to provide a spiritual climax to the entire Certain Scientific Railgun franchise and that too, in a very strong fashion. It features every single character we know from the entire series including the original, A Certain Magical Index, as Kamijou Touma does his best to help out Misaka Mokoto as best he can, and teases us with many more characters for spin-off franchises, one of whom is also quite heavily featured. Story-wise, it is about Misaka Mikoto participating in the Annual Sports Festival in the same time frame as the second season of A Certain Magical Index wherein Misaka Mikoto plays for her school only for one of her clones to step in and take her place. The clone gets kidnapped by a mysterious organisation which puts her on the hunt to unravel a far more sinister plot relating to the Child Errors and the Esper Essence. Meanwhile, Shokuhou is hunting all of Misaka's friends down and making sure that they forget all about Misaka, making it a very challenging and personal mission for her. This arc has the most suspense to it leading up to a massive blitz featuring both physical prowess and intellectual capabilities alike. It probably also has the most depth to it and does a good job of tying in the entire franchise together. Moving on to the second arc, it is far weaker as compared to the first. The entire fact that they chose to place it after the actual first arc makes it feel far more like a filler. That being said, it also has its unique elements to it and has the signature Certain Scientific Railgun darkness and does a good job of showing the mystery behind Academy City. However, it also feels like something that's only there to promote A Certain Scientific Accelerator as it features a group of mercenaries on the good side who had recently lost to Accelerator and try to use Railgun to regain their reputation. That part actually ties into A Certain Scientific Accelerator, which is its own shorter spin-off franchise. As far as the story goes, this arc concerns a scientist whose body was split into two equal parts and replaced with Cyborg parts. The two bodies were later taken and assembled together to form two bodies, one with human parts and one with cyborg parts. The problem is, now they both think that they're the original person and they both have all the memories that they got to experience as the other half. However, the human who was a part of this research now has a concern about how her soul has been split into two and how the cyborg might react to it once it becomes disillusioned and self-aware. There really isn't much more to the story for this arc except for some surprising mecha action and an immensely overpowered Railgun and a handful of new characters that lead to a few loose ends regarding everything that happened here and there. Here's to hoping that there's another season dealing with all of that. As far as the artwork goes, it is quite stunning and I'm honestly surprised to say how much it has improved over the seasons, just like the seasons themselves. Even the animations have turned much smoother and far more pleasing to the eyes. It really has a lot of impact behind it and seems to suggest a pretty large budget for this season in particular. Or perhaps it was just improved technology. Or perhaps it was both. The same goes for the sound, and I don't really want to say more about it than the fact that it was on-point. And once you actually get to watch the anime and realise the epicness of the events occurring therein, you'll realise that it is far more than a modest compliment. Actually, it was more than on-point. The sound is simply perfect and you probably couldn't ask for more. Even the Background Score and the OP and ED are something else. If there is one thing that the entire franchise is known for, it is the sheer number of characters that it literally mints like money. However, unlike a Certain Magical Index where most of the characters were just spammed into the story without much clearly defining them apart from a few gag tropes to separate them, the characters in A Certain Scientific Railgun T, both old and new alike, have their own distinct personalities which really breathe life into them. You can actually tell them apart based on what they're doing and what they're saying rather than having to visually confirm by looking at them and I was honestly surprised to see even Kamijou Touma, who had a pretty short role get a greater depth to his character. All characters, good and evil have clear intentions behind their actions instead of just being evil for the sake of being evil or just being on the good side. They all have their own agendas and it goes a long way to add more detail to a character. In all aspects, it is a far better series than its predecessor. One thing that I did miss from this season was probably the cute and calm slice of life segments before everything becomes serious and intense in the story arc. This season picked up the pace and never really had a segment like that except for a short-lived one at the very beginning of the first arc. As a whole, I personally find A Certain Scientific Railgun to be the superior series as compared to A Certain Magical Index in general, but A Certain Scientific Railgun T took to new heights. I honestly wish that any more series that come out of the franchise are at least made like this series, if not this specific season. While I thought that Season 1 was pretty good and that Season 2 was quite amazing, ignoring the duplicated Misaka Clones arc from Misaka's perspective, Season 3 was the pinnacle that makes the entire series shine. I'm now hoping for an even more amazing Season 4 or at least other spin-offs which can match this quality.
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