I'll be totally honest, this is technically the 3rd season of the franchise and this is the first I've watched. When I seen promotion for A Certain Magical Index, I just wasn't interested and shrugged it off. Then I heard the fan response to it and it's successor, A Certain Scientific Railgun which featured an all new cast of characters and was debatably bigger than Index. Then came the side story to Railgun, A Certain Scientific Railgun S, and I felt it was as good as time as any to jump into the Indexverse. Is it worthwhile?
In the futuristic Academy City, are unique people called espers, someone possessing unique psychic powers, Mikoto Misaka (voiced by Brittney Karbowski) is what's known as an electromaster and is the third strongest of a seven espers who have been given the rank of Level 5, the highest ranking you can be given on a scale from 0-5.
Mikoto and her friends are trying to have some rest and relaxation after some events that occurred in the previous season, but she can't ignore the rumblings of the Academy city underworld where there are rumors of a project, cloning a very high ranking esper. The idea that it could in fact be Mikoto is enforced when she continually has flashbacks to a time in her past where she allowed scientists to use her DNA to cure a crippling disease. On top of all this, She begins to hear rumors that a girl that looks eerily similar to her has been seen in various parts of the city. Despite the uneasy feeling it's causing, Mikoto decides to just simply brush this rumor off as nothing but what it is, a rumor, and not take it seriously. However, her worst fears are realized when she comes face to face with... herself.
While coming face to face with yourself would be a bit unnerving and surreal to say the very least, Mikoto while shocked, takes it in stride and uses this encounter to her advantage and tries to uncover how she was created. These clones, or sisters as they're called, were designed to not converse or divulge any information to the original. However, the two begin to bond, during which, she receives a code that if deciphered, will tell the truth of what's going on. With the help of her friend who ends up cracking aforementioned code, she finds a horrifying truth... Due to these clones not being able to replicate her Level 5 abilities, their original plans were scrapped and are now being used in an inhuman experiment meant to create the very first Level 6 esper, by having him said esper battle 20,000 of the clones.
Enter Accelerator (voiced by Austin Tindle.) We're told that Accelerator is one major badass, and he proves it in his opening scene by literally ripping apart the Mikoto clone and promptly crushing her to death with a train. Accelerator is revealed to Mikoto of being the number one esper in Academy, as well as being the chosen esper to hunt down all of the created clones. The real Mikoto is fueled with rage and attacks Accelerator in a blind fury. Accelerator rebuffs her with ease, showing her only a taste of his real powers, leaving Mikoto on her knees, trembling with fear.
After this terrifying experience, Mikoto pushes on, deciding to delve deeper into the mystery behind her being cloned and to shut down the facilities behind it once and for all. She begins hunting down the facilities one by one and destroying them trough electronic warfare, thus getting the attention of the higher ups in the program, known as Kites Knockraven whom prepare a counter attack against Mikoto by hiring a mercenary team known as ITEM. Can Mikoto bring an end to this heinous project on her own?
+ Great action sequences.
+ A very clever story.
+ Fans of Index will be happy to see some extended cameos from it's lead character and primary antagonist, Toma Kamijo and Accelerator.
- Takes a bit to get going.
- ITEM, whom take up a large portion of the back half of the set, are hollow villains with no reason to stick around so long.
Video and Audio:
The transfer for A Certain Scientific Railgun S is presented in it's original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Hands down the best thing about the animation are the action scenes, which are beautifully animated and are easily the highlight of the series, visually speaking. The character designs are solid, albeit a bit bland, although each character does stand out. The backgrounds are greatly detailed as well. The animation of the series remains fairly consistent throughout.
The series comes with two available language tracks. The first is a English stereo track and the second is the original Japanese stereo track. As per usual I watched the series in English dubbing while sampling a few episodes in it's original language. The dub was solid throughout and over the course of the series there were no signs of dropout or distortions. in the dialogue. The music never overtook the scenes that were taking place during the quieter moments while ramping up during the action scenes. It's overall a solid mix.
- Episode 5 commentary with Brittney Karbowski, whom portrays the lead character,
- Episode 7 commentary with Jerry Jewell, the series' ADR director, and Alison Viktorin, whom plays Kuroko.
- Textless opening and closing themes.
- US dub trailer.
- Standard FUNimation trailers.
With my first view of the Index/Railgun universe starting out as a series that didn't really hold my attention, it quickly evolved into a well told story that commands your attention. These first twelve episodes barely scratch the surface of what is really going on in Academy City, but just enough to hook you into getting the next set. It's a compelling set of episodes and can't wait for the next part. Highly recommended.