Lily Girls’ Review: A Certain Scientific Railgun S

Hey, lads and lasses, Lily’s bringing you something currently airing~!

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Misaka Mikoto and Shirai Kuroko,
Railgun and Teleporter

So, here’s the basic premise and most of what you’d need to know about the world if you wanted to skip the more laid-back Season One and get straight to extreme violence of A Certain Scientific Railgun S.

A Certain Magical Index is a supernatural action series about a world with both magic and human evolutions called Espers (Japanese catch-all term for psychics and the like). While Index follows the story of Touma who solves all his problems by punching stuff, Railgun follows Misaka Mikoto and her four-girl almost slice-of-life team of pals. The two series take place in a town called Academy City which is made up of two million or so students and support staff and related researchers for the city’s schools and other facilities.

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Kaziri, Saten, Kuroko and Mikoto.

Misaka Mikoto is the titular Railgun, a powerful ‘level five’ (of five) Esper who has masterful control over electricity, to the point that her signature move is taking a yen coin and using electricity to shoot it like a bullet. Hence the nickname Railgun, or the more derisive nickname “Biribiri”. Her roommate, personal adoring psycho-lesbian and best friend Shirai Kuroko is a level four teleporter, able to move herself or anything she touches to a physical location in space. Kuroko works with Kaziri, a level one who seems to grow flowers and helps Kuroko with their work at Judgment (student law enforcement). Kaziri is friends and potentially more with Saten, who though I’m sure some readers will doubt my claim, I think Saten’s affection for checking what panties Kaziri wears kind of supports the ‘Saten is gay’ theory. Saten is a level zero, one with either no power, power that cannot be quantified (in a bad way) or negligible ability.

Confusing? Don’t worry, every series in the franchise explains all of this pretty well. Again and again. I kind of feel like Academy City is more documented than real towns.

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The new face of the “psycho lesbian” trope.

While the first season of Railgun does a wonderful job establishing the world, exploring the people in it, and being a comedy with elements of high-paced action, Railgun S takes place during the first season of Magical Index. So thins get dark. In Railgun’s case, the S might not be just a random letter as the Japanese seem fond of doing, because this season follows the ‘Sisters’ arc in Index, which in the original lasted three or so episodes and the majority of Railgun S takes place in that tiny window. Meaning fans of Magical Index are going to get a much more detailed picture here, while newcomers to the franchise may be inspired to turn to Index to explore more. All in all, good work in my opinion.

The basic premise of the Sisters arc is this: Misaka Mikoto is powerful. But she’s one person. So ignoring pretty much all laws about how contracts work and running wildly afoul of medical consent, scientists trick a young Mikoto into turning over her DNA map, and they make clones of her. The goals the scientists have in mind for the MISAKA sisters are pretty irredeemably barbaric.

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The MISAKA sisters.

The MISAKA sisters are also probably the cutest damned clone army ever. Sorry, Star Wars. First, they have a completely over-the-top love of cute things, especially cats, and since they were accelerated to maturity in fourteen days they have a lot of childlike traits. And they have the coolest speech pattern ever, probably inspired by Mass Effect’s Elcor. “MISAKA tend to talk in monotone quotations and explain their emotional state afterword,” says MISAKA informatively. This leads to some hilarious moments where the Sisters give away the fact that they’re lying or guilty of something without seming to be aware of it. Also, this unusual speech pattern is pretty much ignored by everyone. I mean, talking like that is normal, right?

Because this is set during the events of Index’s first season, people who watched that through aren’t going to find themselves reeling from a ton of surprises, but there is a lot more backstory given and a much deeper understanding of the Sisters than Index gives. Also, tons of cameos.

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Oh, Railgun, you crazy show.

Now, I hinted at the yuri content earlier. Saten and Kaziri seem to have a pretty healthy, if potentially unrequited (I don’t think so, though) relationship. Kuroko and Mikoto on the other hand massively do not. Kuroko is obsessed, beyond obsessed with her very not platonic love of her roommate and Misaka (who I argue passionately is bi) is a little preoccupied with the main character of the show she spun off from. But he’s a dull-witted guy who likes to punch stuff and has like four women into him, so who wouldn’t?

I really dislike characters who are one-trick ponies, and all Touma from Index ever does is punch stuff. Dull.

Anyway, the franchise as a whole is worth your time, but the dark tones and the yell-at-your-screen moments or the visceral delight of seeing a yen coin rip a helicopter in half are certainly strong points for Railgun S in particular. Is the yuri strong enough to watch just for it? Nah, but the fun rides this franchise takes you on are worthwhile no matter what brings you to it.

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Be content not knowing where Kuroko is clinging.

“You should really watch these series,” MISAKA urges the Lily Girls audience.

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