Mostly, I Just Wanted to Watch it
When it comes to what I choose to cover here on this website it’s easy to see that there are a few patterns for what I’m partial for. Among these are big retrospective pieces on large franchises, making today’s topic of conversation in the Index, Railgun and Accelerator series long overdue. In fact, I’ve wanted to cover this franchise for several years but always found excuses in watching other programs. Since my Funimation subscription was about to end, this made for an ideal last hurrah for that platform as Crunchyroll didn’t have the full series dubbed (for some reason). With this all out of the way, let’s get on with the main event: is this franchise worth watching?
The Season 1 Experience
Unsurprisingly this initial question is somewhat complicated. In order to discuss everything I’d like to we are going to strictly focus on comparing the first season of A Certain Magical Index with A Certain Scientific Railgun. While my thoughts and opinions on these two series evolved with each passing season (seven in total if you count Accelerator) and the one film, the initial impressions would inevitably lay the foundation for my overall experience.
Before that though, I should clarify that I watched through this franchise in airing order as opposed to chronologically. For clarity I will include this below:
- Index S1
- Railgun S1
- Index S2
- Railgun S2 (S)
- Index Film
- Index S3
- Railgun S3 (T)
In addition to this I exclusively watched the English dub as previously mentioned. I mention this in particular as the dub may be viewed as somewhat polarizing due to casting choices and changes that occurred from the initial release of season 1 in 2008 to the current stopping point at the time of writing in 2020. Concerning this, I won’t really touch on it much but for the sake of completion I thought it bore mentioning.
Let’s Talk Index
Coming into this franchise all I knew was that people seemed to prefer Railgun over Index, specifically as the seasons went on. I’m always naturally curious about these sorts of claims so I really wanted to see how true this sentiment seemed to be while watching the first season of each corresponding series. For those of you who don’t know though, let’s talk about what each series is generally about.
Trailer for you, just for some quick context as to what the show looks and feels like
Index is initially setup in the world of “science” as we follow Touma Kamijou, a citizen of the world’s most advance city at the forefront of science known as, Academy City. Unfortunately for Kamijou, he’s quite unlucky and poses no real skills or talents, leaving him to be labeled as a powerless level 0. In this city many of its people are espers, those with psychic abilities, each being ranked on a power system. Generally speaking the bigger your level, the more you can do with your power with level 5 being the highest (though there is a much talked about level 6 that persists in almost every installment of the franchise).
Got all that? Great, throw it out the window because what really matters here is the titular Index. Instead of focusing on the science-fantasy setting we’ve just established this side of the franchise explores the world of religion and magic. While these two things are seemingly related or similar from an outside perspective, internally they run on vastly different logic and rules. For my purposes though, they are essentially both magic with the esper side bearing far more restrictions in exchange for specificity with only a few minor exceptions.
Our story is set in motion when Kamijou discovers a young girl on his balcony. She is, as mentioned, named Index. Stored within her are most of the world’s forbidden books of knowledge, commonly referred to as grimoires. Even outside of this specific story and setting this concept should be familiar so I will offer no additional clarification here. Instead it is more important to understand that people want Index for various reasons in order to abuse the knowledge she posses. Kamijou naturally doesn’t buy all of this at first but upon an unfortunate accident sees some truth in the situation.
What makes Kamijou special? Superficially nothing, he’s very much your typical self-insert kind of character. He values helping people, he’s a little sarcastic, and so on. He should feel quite familiar to anybody who’s watched even a handful of anime. However, he has one quality that makes him anomalous and that is his right hand. With said hand he is capable of canceling out any esper power or magical ability. Upon establishing this Kamijou teams up with Index in order to protect her, spiraling ever deeper into various local, and even global conspiracies as the show ventures forth. In season 1, however, the plot is almost exclusively centered on the pair’s relationship and the key players within Academy City on both magical fronts.
The result is a fairly standard battle shounen that tosses in a little ecchi and comedy for flavor. I’d be lying if I said that Index is remarkable in its first season but it does do several things that set it apart from other anime in a similar vein, even if they are seemingly small. I’d like to highlight three examples for these purposes:
Example 1 is in how Index is portrayed. She represents a couple of troupes all rolled up into one package, and it is that combination of things that makes her interesting. Normally a show would only bother to give Index one or two of these qualities at most in order to easily slot them into typical, and more importantly recognizable archetypes. Here Index is a little Tsundere, she has the “eats a lot” troupe, she has a perfect memory, and quite a bit more. Now that might sound impressive, or worse yet overwhelming, but she never strays away from that sense of familiarity. I’ve seen her character before, just not in this exact arrangement. That’s saying something for someone who has seen a lot of anime at this point.
Need further example? That “eats a lot” thing, seen that with the protagonist of Darker Than Black where it is also a running gag. The troupe where a person gets angry and punches the protagonist (a rather tired one at this point) manages to be oddly refreshing here since they replaced the hitting with biting. Like I said, it’s small stuff that is seemingly inconsequential but it honestly adds up in a more-or-less positive way.
Example 2 has to do with classic episode troupes/expectations. There are a few in season one, but the biggest and best example for our purposes is the all-to-anime “beach episode”. Normally this kind of episode is there to give the viewers some fanservice, and in a smarter show, take a small detour away from the main plot to cool things down after a big event or just before. Index throws most of that out the window. While there is technically “fanservice” in these episodes, that’s right plural, it bundles it into one of the more clever plot executions I’ve seen since Haruhi.
Again, I don’t want to oversell this because you’ve seen this before. I mean the whole fact I mentioned Haruhi is deliberate after all. While still giving us a goofy beach episode, we also have a body swapping mystery with the fate of the entire world on our hands. I know that’s not a 1:1, but the comparison points aren’t hard to miss. With that said, I have to give credit to Index here because this series of episodes managed to be quite funny without falling for a lot of the more obvious (read annoying) jokes you might expect from this scenario. Does it avoid all the typical expectations entirely? No, but it does use them against the viewer to make this story work.
As for the mystery component, it is robust enough to qualify as an actual mystery that the audience can solve. It even has a decent twist where even if you weren’t totally right, you’d still have likely gotten a good chunk on your own. A lot of people might write this off as being “too easy” or whatever, but that’s not really what this show is trying to achieve, it isn’t a mystery show first and foremost and so it doesn’t really need to adhere to more rigorous writing standards in that sense. In spite of that though, it does more than most which is another small thing, but again, that adds up.
Finally example 3 is the dreaded amnesia troupe. Oh, this one is truly awful! Most shows use this as a lazy way to hook an audience or “reset” some element of the plot, rarely ever does it actually feel good. Now it’s not like I despise this troupe every time I see it, but it does garner an eyeroll or two when it pops up. That’s why I am pleasantly surprised, even in taking only season 1 into account, that its usage here isn’t terrible.
A necessary caveat first, it doesn’t have a massive impact on things until significantly later in the plot but this is an isolated season 1 take for the sake of comparison, so please do keep that in mind here as the nice things I have to say only apply to the season 1 application but it would receive more credit if the entire series was taken into account here. To that end, the mildly frustrating parts about this plot should be considered lesser if you want a more broad take.
As I was saying, the amnesia aspect of the plot is unabashedly here to be used as some emotional manipulation while acting as a minor plot reset on the surface. So it is doing the thing I don’t like, but there’s more to it. Kamijou internally talks about it with the audience, kind of a lot, and we get to clearly see how he deals with the charade of him hiding it from everyone as well as why. That’s a big deal! For how mildly irksome it is that this doesn’t have that much of an impact at the end of the first season, I can see the potential for the consequences later. So for the sake of conversation here, it isn’t perfect (and even more broadly this remains true) but yet another point to add to the pile in Index‘s favor that seems relatively minor on its own.
More generally though I found Index to be a solid watch. Season 1 is a decent start that works fine as an introduction to the franchise. This likely won’t blow you away, and it really does feel like a show you’ve seen before in spite of all I’ve said, with mixed results on the stories it tells, but altogether it works more than not. It’s the kind of thing that gets you hopeful for the evolution of a franchise as it gets more seasons, you know there will be bumps along the way but you hope the destination will make everything worthwhile. That’s the feeling Index gave me here while still being entertaining on its own. For the sake of giving you some measure of comparison for later, I marked it a 7/10.
Let’s Talk Railgun
The Railgun side of things are actually setup on the Index side, and depending on how you want to navigate the franchise, some of it technically comes first. In essence, these seasons are “side stories” that the first season is particularly clear about. That doesn’t mean they are inherently lesser, but season 1 distinctly feels “side story” in nature. I’ll be upfront here, if I was taking just season 1 in account I couldn’t see how anybody liked this more than Index.
So I never watch these trailers until I put them in my articles and… wow, that does not make the show look even remotely good. Uh, it kind of isn’t, as you’ll soon read but… still…
While Index characters or plots may make a brief appearance in Railgun, the primary focus is on the titular “Railgun of Tokiwadai” or Mikoto Misaka and her friends. It’s actually a pretty small cast with only a few other prominent characters in the first season. You have Misaka’s roommate, Shirai who’s in love with Misaka (more on that later), Shirai’s coworker in Judgement (kind of like a junior police force) named Uiharu, and then finally their non-esper friend Saten. This setup lends itself well to telling smaller, more intimate stories structured around Western-esque police procedurals… kind of.
That last statement is qualified because that’s how it is in theory, but in practice it is a very mixed bag. Unlike Index where a lot of little things come together to feel unique in an otherwise more generic show, Railgun decides to instead lean into a lot of these troupes while touting that “side story” energy in its writing. If that’s not a recipe for mediocrity, than I don’t know what is.
Alright, that might be a little harsh, because the season is perfectly watchable. I certainly wasn’t bored either. However, as we are about to discuss, there are a lot of aspects of the show that end up feeling exhausting. Namely there are two main issues that may, or may not, matter to you. Depending on your preferences, one of these could even be seen as a positive, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Anyway, these two aspects are:
- The “Fanservice” & Humor
- Plots of Inconsequence
Let’s dive into the first issue which is the “fanservice” and its humor. You might be wording why I put that in quotations, a fair question, but first let me make a clear distinction because if you’ve seen Index this would otherwise feel hypocritical. After all, Index has a TON of fanservice in it and I barely flinched. Here though? Different story. The reason for this is found in the context and application.
Railgun’s approach to fanservice is tied to its humor, which can work. I’ve seen a show or two where sexuality is half the joke (or more) and it can be done well, even if I don’t personally love that kind of thing, but here it is not. There are essentially two jokes, three if you want to be generous but one of them gets dropped past season 1 so I’ll mention it more in passing here for the sake of completeness.
The first is that Misaka wears bicycle shorts all the time, much to the disappointment of Shirai. Really this is hardly an issue, if anything it is just an extension of the main problem with Shirai’s character, but otherwise fine on its own. It is anti-fanservice in some ways because Misaka would be flashing quite often otherwise and they aren’t exactly “sexy” to look at. That said, I digress as this is that “third joke” that is realized to be kind of dumb for obvious reasons and dropped as a result over time.
That brings us to the other two, more actual issues. Since I already mentioned Shirai let’s talk about her whole character. Whenever she’s on the screen by herself or not fawning over Misaka she’s great. In later seasons even likable, but this obsession with Misaka is the fatal flaw. To put it bluntly, this character’s whole schtick is that she’s constantly thinking of ways to sexually assault, rape, or otherwise trick Misaka into engaging in her fantasies. That might sound extreme, but this comes up nearly every episode at least in passing, while some episode’s WHOLE PLOTS are about just that.
It’s frustrating. I can certainly look passed an ill-conceived joke or two in a show, especially one that’s older, but it is kind of hard to ignore just how intrusive this is here. We are talking about a full two-cour show, and after you see or hear this joke for the umpteenth time it wears thin since it is clearly supposed to be funny. Misaka obviously doesn’t like it either, which makes their friendship feel weird because they have otherwise nice chemistry. Shirai can also act like a normal person, we see it often, but every time she went “Oh, Sissy!” and rubbed a photo of Misaka, or tried to jump her while in bed, or that time she…
Finally there’s Saten. Her whole thing is that she likes to flip Uiharu’s skirt up in public while then commenting on her underwear. That’s basically the character in a nutshell outside of having no esper powers. I guess she’s also really into rumors, which is a vehicle for plot delivery but that barely feels like a character trait, at least in season 1. She does, thankfully, develop a bit more in later seasons but here she kind of just sexually harasses her friend despite how much Uiharu clearly does not enjoy that.
Given how little Uiharu is even a character in season 1, this mostly just relegates her to the punchline of this same joke which is used quite a bit as well. She’s allowed to do a bit toward the end, and I can tell you she’s good at computers, but outside of that this is the thing that makes her standout beside her flower crown. Needless to say, that isn’t a good thing.
When you add on top the shower scenes, boob jokes, and everything else it isn’t hard to see how the fanservice here just isn’t the same as how it is in Index. I guess you could say that Railgun feels more meanspirited where Index feels like everyone is in on the joke, that’s not quite right but it is the best way I have to put it anyway. I wish I could say this issue goes away in later installments, but sadly it does not, though other types of humor sneak in from time-to-time so that’s something?
I’m supposed to be talking about season 1 here though. So let’s just move right no to the second issue regarding the show’s plot. Basically the show loves to introduce a thing you’ve never heard of before, and given this is a prequal remember, it isn’t exactly hard to see things coming a mile away. This makes the plot feel underwhelming while also cheapening the overall story. Seeing how I know that this franchise can do long-form storytelling, it’s sad to see it drop the ball so hard here in season 1.
The best example of this is in the last half of the anime where we are introduced to a whole new organization that we’ve never heard of up until this point, but apparently has been omnipresent and active the whole time. It is another group like Judgement or Anti-Skill, the main police force of the show’s setting, but one that only exists to serve this narrative before disappearing forever. Makes guessing things like the villain, which is meant to be a twist, kind of silly because it is just that obvious.
The best thing to come out of the show is the opening, which is undeniably good
As a result it makes Railgun feel like it has very few stakes, which is already hard for prequel material to overcome. Even when season 1 actually sneaks in some long-form content, it ends up feeling like something you shouldn’t care about or get too attached to as a direct consequence of this poor choice in execution on these side story plots. Even then, I’d argue they don’t even pay out all that well on the Railgun side of things. The characters aren’t helping either, which is why I just can’t see the hype here with season 1 as the only reference point.
The Point (TL;DR)
In short, both shows are flawed for different reasons but Index manages to come out ahead over Railgun for first impressions. After watching each I saw potential in the former while I didn’t at all look forward to the latter as I forged ahead. Given that Railgun has a fairly positive reputation I thought it might improve (and thankfully it does), but it never pulled ahead of Index (spoilers) for me. At its best, both series shared a peak, but that only sounds good if you ignore the inconsistency of Railgun over the more consistent Index.
At the end of the day though, if you want to watch this as a franchise you kind of need both sides of the coin. We’ll get to talking about some of the optional media later, which you could fully skip, but the core experiences in Index and Railgun feel necessary to get the most out of everything. At the end of the day though, neither show is blowing me out of the water when talking about their first seasons. If that’s all there were to things, I’d tell you to move on but there’s still plenty more to talk about.
The “S” Stands for Second Coming, Sister, etc…
All kidding aside with the section title, we are now ready to talk about the second season for each show. From here on out though, I’m going to speak more broadly about the two instead of breaking them out into their own categories. This is primarily for brevity but also because I don’t have as much to say about Index this time around. Like everything in this franchise, it is kind of a mixed bag but you may just be surprised with my take on everything here.
While I still enjoyed the second season of Index, it is certainly the weakest of the three. There are a few reasons for this but the biggest one is that it is largely setup for what the third season will ultimately focus on. This leads to some poor pacing that isn’t helped by the constant barrage of new characters and factions. However, I still enjoyed what this had to offer.
Accelerator and Last Order
The absolute highlight of the season though is all the Accelerator and Last Order content. Introduced in season one, Accelerator quickly becomes the best character of the show. He initially comes off as kind of crazed, wicked and just generally too powerful for the show’s own good but his edge is just an act. When he’s paired up with Last Order, one of the Misaka clones introduced in the season one arc where we learn about Accelerator, Level 6 Shift, and what will eventually be a cascade of interesting events, this becomes all too apparent. Unlike the other clones, or “Sisters”, Last Order is a young child with a lot more personality that acts as a sort of foil for Accelerator for reasons that even this meager mention should make obvious.
Beyond what I’ve just said though, I don’t have that much more to say. The characters who are introduced are largely enjoyable, the horny is turned up a bit with how ridiculous some of the nun outfits get, and the core of what makes the show good to begin with is still present. Basically it’s a lot of setup that pays out, but asks you to be patient. For the average viewer, this may be where they decide to duck out of the franchise as a result. This goes double when you factor in Railgun S, which is kind of a shame.
In the first season of Index we spend a portion of that show’s runtime telling the primary story of Railgun’s second season. What keeps the two distinct is the change in perspective from Kamijou’s point of view to Misaka’s. It may sound bad to say that this is essentially a “repeat” of the story concerning the sisters and Misaka’s character, but the season avoids devolving into what could easily be a glorified clip show. Instead, while there are certainly reused scenes (something that is unavoidable given this is just a perspective shift, not to mention that some may not have watched Index at all), a bulk of the material is new.
As someone who viscerally hates unimaginative recap, I can confidently say that I was engaged for the first half of Railgun S. One reason is that this section fills in the gaps for what Misaka was doing during Index season 1, which we are told about vaguely but happens entirely off-screen there. We also get introduced to ITEM, which feels like another one of those “go no-where” plots, but ends up paying out for those who stick around past these seasons.
Even the part where they basically just redo two full episodes of Index’s first season they managed to find ways to keep things fresh for those who kept with the whole franchise. The big one was the surprise focus on Accelerator’s perspective where neither Kamijou or Misaka have anything new to add to the story. It’s the same fight, same outcome, but layering in Accelerator’s motivations and perspective on things kept the riskiest part of the story fun to watch.
Putting that aside, looking at only the first half of this season I’d say that critically speaking it gets away with something almost no other show can. It would be easy to say that this story is skippable, lazy, etc… but that would also be completely dismissive of the fact that the show went the extra mile to make this story worth telling from all sides. Not to mention, there’s still a whole half of the show left to talk about.
I wasn’t sure where to put this, but the way Misaka walks towards Frenda around 1:08 is my favorite part. Oh, and Sister’s Noise is good so take a listen to break things up!
Part of the joke of this section’s title is the “S” in Railgun S stands for a billion things in this season. It is kind of silly to be completely honest. The first part had to do with the Sisters, Misaka’s clones, while the next part shifts to covering the “Silent Party” story. I expected to like this second half a lot more than I did, and while I do like it from a certain angle, the main reason you may have expected me to enjoy it was a little lackluster.
First let’s talk about the good of this arc. In a society that cares a lot about Esper abilities, to the point where said society is willing to engage in several inhumane experiments to achieve a “level 6” esper with the powers of “God”, it begs the question as to how those with no powers are treated. It’s not like we don’t see this a little, putting aside notable exceptions like Kamijou, every level 0 we see is kind of treated like an outcast or a loser. Even if they aren’t, they often feel like they are. This sentiment is what drives the arc.
Enter a group of talented researchers known for breakthrough theory and ideas. Once a year they receive some minor recognition and then quietly fade back into obscurity, their knowledge used for society’s gain but they themselves getting almost nothing in return. It’s a broken system that overvalues an end product while forgetting about the steps between that allow them to even get there. Without people like the antagonists of this arc, this society would slow to a crawl.
I liked that it highlighted this iniquity in a more meaningful way as opposed to how they attempted to show it with Saten in Railgun’s first season. In a way, this is kind of the theme of season 1 but it is so muddy in the presentation that it wouldn’t be surprising if the other, more prominent aspects of the series overpowered it for most viewers. Anyway, here it is very clear and allows for some investment in the idea. It’s a big step up.
Then there’s Febri (and later her sister Janie). She’s this mysterious little girl that shows up, by complete coincidence, and attaches herself to Misaka and her crew. The sisters totally not named after months are tools of the antagonists, who’s whole plan is to cause an insurrection by committing genocide in the city? To be honest, their end game is kind of stupid, one of many reasons this arc ultimately misses. This takes the crew some time to figure out though, all the while triggering Misaka’s past trauma while poking fun at some of her quirks.
Back to some good, this arc does serve to show Misaka’s character growth from how she handled problems in the prior arc and how she handles them here. With the Sisters, she is hellbent on tackling everything on her own, in secret. Her friends worry about her and constantly offer to help, but she justifies keeping them in the dark because “it is too dangerous”. Instead, with the appearance of Febri, she sees her past mistake and asks for help. Again, that’s good.
Not only that but they bring back an older character who is meant to kind of act as Misaka’s foil. Shinobu, a scientist responsible for enabling the existence of the Sisters, mirrors Misaka’s state at the start of the Sister arc. They are both lone wolves trying to solve problems on their own, the only way they know how in spite of any personal costs. The main difference is that Shinobu doesn’t realize her mistake until it is too late, leaving Misaka to deal with her mess.
This might make Shinobu sound like a bad character, she’s not. While she’s in league with the antagonists of the show, she does actually want to stop them, but due to her approach she ends up being complicit with all of their actions. It gets to the point where she’s betrayed and left with nothing, no way to prevent all the tragedy she supposedly wanted to put a stop to in the first place. She loses sight of herself. It’s human, relatable, and again, a good example of the trap that Misaka almost fell into herself.
Unfortunately, Railgun’s obsession with remaining a “side story” instead of committing to its canon in full takes away from this plot significantly. Come the end of the arc the events of all of this are all but forgotten, Shinobu is sent away with Febri and Janie, the baddies are forgiven, and lessons are learned… I guess. This right here kind of sullies the whole season, which is a shame because it would otherwise be pretty decent. The idea is present but requiring that none of this comes back into the canon later causes the execution to feel weird. If I had to put it succinctly, the second half might have well ended by having everyone go, “it was all a dream” before resetting the plot.
I say that, but I also know that the franchise is perfectly willing to circle back to ideas and make things that seemed resolved spring back to life in later seasons. Unfortunately, the franchise stopped receiving anime adaptations in 2020 and I’ve very little knowledge of the source material. As things stand, I can’t help but feel that this was yet another stumble alongside Index season two and the reason I think most viewers would give up before even reaching this conclusion. However, for those willing to press on (and in spite of what I just said, I did still enjoy both second seasons here) the reward is worth the patience.
Intermission (Optional Media) – The Film & Accelerator
This section is only kind of half true. The Index film is certainly a piece of optional media but A Certain Scientific Accelerator might be worth it for completionists like myself. Even so, they were both pretty quick watches as one is a movie and the other is only half the length of any other installment in the franchise. This is why I don’t recommend against them, but you could skip either, or even both, if you really wanted to.
When it comes to the Index movie, it is the definition of skippable. The story goes out of its way to tell the audience upfront that none of this is really going to matter, and the few parts that feel like they should matter later, well, at least in anime form they don’t. So why even watch the thing if it doesn’t contribute to the plot? To that end I’d argue not everything always has to drive the overarching narrative. This is the kind of “side story” that I’d prefer to see over what Railgun has historically done so far in our discussions.
Trailer for the movie, should give you an idea of what I mean here. When in doubt, just go to space, right?
The main reason for this is that the cast still gets to come together, a few new characters are introduced as they always are, and a huge spectacle is made out of all of it. To put it shortly, that’s the kind of movie it is. Just a fun time, with a few attempts to be a little more, but even if it kind of misses the mark there, it achieved the overall goal of being a good time. That’s really all anyone can ask for, that and not being a dreaded recap film.
If the franchise continued I could see the film potentially mattering given its resolution, but otherwise this one is safe to skip if you somehow feel that a movie is too much commitment, but at the same time if you have already watched four seasons to get here you may as well throw in for the whole lot. Like I said, it’s a fine time, so it isn’t like you’ll be losing out on anything by watching it.
On the other hand, Accelerator is kind of a tricky beast. If it weren’t for the ending, this would be the easiest recommendation but sadly that ending is, well, not great. Resident Best Boy gets a chance to shine as he fully commits to the villain act (all while never really doing anything all that villainous and saving the day mind you), there’s more Last Order goodness, and most interestingly the story’s genre goes for this eldritch horror type vibe. That should be awesome, and the journey up until the final few episodes is for the most part, but the ending kind of undercuts it by eliminating all the stuff that had it working in the first place.
The main problem is the inclusion of a new character, Esther. She’s a necromancer, so the “magic” side of the series, that seeks out Accelerator in order to put a stop to some experiment. Typical stuff really. The plot slowly ramps up with the start focusing on a new faction of baddies that have hidden themselves away in Anti-Skill before evolving into that horror plot I mentioned before. So how is Esther the problem in all this? Put simply, she sucks.
The whole story is more-or-less forcing itself to be about her inability to stand up for herself and do what she believes is right. This thematically works with Accelerator’s character as he is constantly telling her that he “can’t play the hero” so she needs to, but at the same time it takes away from the star of the show. I’d be fine with that if it weren’t for the fact that Accelerator has a few chances to totally save the day only to give that shot to Esther who blows it without fail multiple times. Does she eventually learn the lesson? Yeah, but her tale just wasn’t worth eating up the majority of a season that was already pretty dang short compared to every other entry in the franchise at 12 episodes.
What makes this season difficult to call fully optional is the introduction of Scavanger, another contract group that acts as a source of conflict during one of the arcs. They matter a lot more in Railgun’s third season, so knowing who they are beforehand is quite helpful in that sense. Additionally, a lot of themes and character momentum for Accelerator that occurs in Index season 3 won’t feel as satisfying. Other than that though, this is really only worth it if you love Accelerator, and to be honest, he always steals the show whenever he showed up so I suspect most people will by time they reach this point.
If I had to address anything else with Accelerator though it would be that it is a notable dip in quality compared to any of the mainline stuff, and the fact that the “frog doctor” has a different VA from this point onward in the dub (which is disappointing, but kind of unavoidable given Cole Brown died). No shade on the replacement, who is apparently uncredited on aggregate websites (not in the show proper though), but it just wasn’t the same.
In terms of positives, I appreciated seeing Accelerator’s internal struggles. You can see that he’s actually quite haunted by the events of Level 6 Shift and his treatment of the sisters. It also highlights how Last Order represents his salvation, a chance to make amends. It’s a little muddy in how some of this is executed, namely in that Accelerator explicitly states he has feelings for Last Order, so one could interpret this in bad faith if they wanted to. Instead, it tows the line by being more akin to the classic troupe for the antihero where someone important to them can ground them. I know that’s cliché, but for Accelerator, it works well for his character.
Accelerator OP because I couldn’t find a trailer I liked
For these reasons, both of these are kind of hard to call “essential” to the modern viewer as they primarily exist for people who are already fans of the Raildex universe and just want more. Personally, I thought they were largely worth watching but caution that you temper expectations with Accelerator because it just won’t live up to the initial hype it presents with. There’s a good story in there, just not enough time to execute it in a way that feels satisfying.
It All Comes Together
We are in the homestretch folks, now we just have to talk about the third season of both Index and Railgun. That said, this one is going to be a bit more in-depth as I purposefully didn’t talk about some things in previous sections as I knew they would be more relevant to discuss here. With that in mind…
Bring the Headings Back!
Yeah, yeah, I hear you. I know I said earlier we weren’t going to do sections but I think it’s going to be necessary with this one. So your wish is my command, the headings are here to stay so you can read this however you want. Before we can really talk about Index though, here’s a bit of a curveball for you.
Let’s Talk Durarara!!
From the same creative mind of Baccano!, an excellent 2007 series I’ve already reviewed, comes a 2010 anime by the name of Durarara!! (I’ll refer to it as Drrr!! moving forward as it is a pain to spell). Like Raildex creator Kamachi Kazuma, this franchises’ creator, Narita Ryohgo has a knack for creating a heavily interwoven world with large casts with BIG personalities. The two franchises aren’t exactly alike, but when it comes to season 3 of Index, it would be foolish to leave out the comparison.
Drrr!! would later go on to receive multiple seasons starting in 2015 through 2016. In that time the cast would only grow larger as the plot became more and more interconnected. Eventually all of this came to a head for a pretty decent conclusion for a series that never reached the heights of Baccano! in this reviewer’s opinion, but certainly didn’t let me down either. The main reason for this was the aforementioned big personalities and how all the pieces of the individual plots came together.
Just some of the Drrr! cast
This is worth mentioning because the feeling is the same with Index’s third season. For several seasons things have slowly been mounting to a larger, and larger scale as the cast continued to grow along the way. If there’s one difference that’s worth noting is that the cast of Drrr!! is more dynamic and bombastic compared to this series, but it isn’t as if Index is lacking when it comes to interesting characters either. There’s a difference, but one that might not be super obvious unless you’ve watched both of these anime.
Anyway, the main point is I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting to experience a similar kind of magic that Drrr!!! offered in Index when I finally came to the final season (at time of writing). It’s not like there aren’t other shows with a large number of cast members, there’s tons of them, but the specific execution that these two examples hit is something you don’t see too terribly often. While not the exact same, take Odd Taxi for example. It’s a more extreme version of what I’m describing here that any fan of Quentin Tarantino is going to recognize.
This is one of those things that’s difficult to fully convey with just text, but something that couldn’t be left out of a proper review of the Raildex franchise. When it comes to the ultimate question posed by this article, whether this is worth it for modern fans or not, ignoring this facet of the storytelling would be a huge oversight as it adds a lot of value to the work that would otherwise make it difficult to recommend. So while this isn’t the full answer, it is playing a significant role in the ultimate findings as we take the time to explore everything.
Index 3 & WWIII
While starting in the familiarity of Academy City, season three quickly explodes into a globe-trotting adventure as the stage for the World War Three is set. This is the main focus of the third season, as it becomes increasingly clear to the viewer that the conflict between religion and science can no longer be contained within the city’s walls. This makes sense, it has been an ongoing event throughout all seasons, but now we get to see how it all plays out. To that end, it didn’t disappoint.
The usual trailer, just for you ❤
For those of you who have never belonged to the Christian faith or researched it much, let me take a moment to discuss the real world parallels that kind of serve as the basis for all of this. Specifically, I should point to Catholicism and the more extreme members therein, but this extends to smaller sects which have similar representation within the series for this extended metaphor. In any case, there are quite a few people who practice religion that believe science is something that goes against God. Of course, there is nuance here and not everything counts, but for the sake of argument let’s keep it as simplistic as possible.
You can see this playing out today, albeit in a more broad and politicized form. Forgive me for getting onto more “sensitive” topics, but I for one find the notion that science and religion are incompatible to be quite ridiculous. Let’s take, for example, the whole vaccine situation. Any vaccine, big Rona or otherwise, and the debates that spurn from them. That is the kind of conflict represented in Index’s third season.
Clearly, this is not a perfect 1:1 example, but again our goal here is to speak in the simplest and broadest of terms. The conflict leads to rebellion, even within the church, which isn’t too far off from some similar real life tension when Pope Francis and how even some devote Catholics reject a lot of the philosophy he puts forward. Anyway, to focus back on just the show, this kind of thing leads to the division of nations, and then later to the global conflict of World War Three.
Kamijou comes into play as he is at the center of everything. The main baddy wants the power of his right hand, and there’s some more abstract religious mubo jumbo going on here, but the ideology at the center of this is that both parties represent a form of “salvation” for humanity. I’ve already mentioned that Kamijou represents Jesus in these scenarios, so for the sake of discussion we already know that he’s in the right. For the baddy, it is more complicated. He argues that by spurning war and conflict, he’ll be able to swoop in and restore order, in his word “resetting” humanity and thus dawning in an era of newfound peace and prosperity.
That sounds nice on paper, but as should be pretty obvious to anyone, not just Kamijou, this isn’t the right way to solve the world’s problems. Violence and conflict just aren’t good solutions, they actively get in the way of moving toward the supposed ideal of the antagonist. Well, sort of, because the show also kind of argues that evil is necessary in the world as it forces people to set aside their differences and come together in order to overcome it. As a result, I’m somewhat on the fence about the actual ideology that the show puts forth.
I wanted to bring all this up because it is by far the most interesting aspect of Index as a series. There’s a fairly deep discussion on science and religion in here that doesn’t come off as super preachy or “obvious” for lack of a better word. I mean to say that this is a clear theme that most people shouldn’t miss, but the actual level of depth of the discussion is something one might overlook. This is, to me at least, fairly interesting and something someone more qualified should certainly explore in more detail. It’d be an interesting exploration of the material, even for non-religious people.
As for more story-specific beats, Kamijou’s amnesia starts to play an actual role in the events which is nice to see. If the show was allowed to continue past this point the full ramifications of him keeping it a secret and what it all means would come into fruition, but here it is just enough of a start to bear mentioning. Of course seeing all the characters’ stories collide was a great touch as well, so much so we spent a whole section on that already but will talk a little more about some specific ones a little later.
Overall, I couldn’t help but feel impressed with the third season. Funny enough, it seems that this was a poorly received adaptation though. Looking at just the MAL scores for season one through three, you can start to see an interesting trend:
From the looks of things season one has about the expected consensus that it is a solid, albeit not amazing series in its genre niche. I said as much, nothing to really write home about that after what I’ve said so far. Looking at season two is more surprising, however, as that was more liked than I would have initially thought given my generally lackluster feeling toward it in our discussion. Though, I did say that I enjoyed and thought that there were parts that stood out in a major way. So, maybe this isn’t as surprising as it seems. Season three, on the other hand, is kind of the opposite where the rating fell significantly and doesn’t at all reflect my personal experience with the anime. So why is that?
For better or worse, Index season 3 decided to cover a LOT of material. 9 Volumes in total, which maybe doesn’t sound like a lot but for reference a normal season of something is usually like 2-4 volumes. I’ve seen this before in some other shows, namely 7SEEDS, and it usually shoots up a red flag immediately. At the same time it also cut a lot of material from the light novels the anime is based on too. Having not read those, I can’t fully comment on the full extent of this but here is a handy Reddit post that talks about this in more detail (bonus, it is a reading guide for those interested).
If you are coming in from the novels, I could see why you might be disappointed as there seems to be a lot of really cool stuff that was cut entirely from the show. With that said, as an anime-only, and given you are reading this to answer if the anime is worth your time, I don’t actually think this was the end of the world like it might sound. While there are a few noticeable jumps from one thing to another that are disorienting, as in you will feel you are missing something, it never felt like it was impossible to follow.
Example time! Since this becomes a bit of a globetrotter, with the exception of going to England, any time they change countries is a bit jarring. The big one is when Kamijou goes to Russia and is suddenly joined by another character who wasn’t anywhere in the previous scene. It’s not hard to follow, and you know who the character is, so it makes sense, but it does feel like a pretty big “yada, yada, now we are in Russia” so the plot can advance.
Otherwise, as an anime-only watcher, it just feels very fast-paced. You know what though? I kind of liked that. There were a few things I wished were explored a little deeper, but not so much more so that it soiled the experience. In fact, I almost gave season 3 a 9/10, just falling shy of it for some of the pacing things as they were minorly distracting enough. That’s well above the general average I discussed earlier. So I’m a little biased in the value of the season, but at the same time, I think that if I had read the LNs I’d be disappointed by what’s missing but my overall thoughts would remain. What’s here is (mostly) pretty good.
Accelerator, Last Order & Every Misaka
Back when I was talking about Accelerator, I touched on how that show’s exploration of the titular character would ultimately pay off here. While you get those glimpses in the earlier Raildex seasons, it’s there you can see the growth that comes here in Index season 3. Like always Accelerator is hell bent on playing the villain, and for about half the show that approach, along with his ideological interpretation of what being a “villain” is, carries him through. This all changes when Kamijou and him finally reunite for one big confrontation.
It’s also at this time that a new Misaka appears, this one is named Misaka Worst (I’m not even kidding). While the Sisters don’t really properly emote outside of a smug expression or two, rivaling the Queen of Smug Anya herself, Misaka Worst is a physical manifestation of all of their contempt. In a lot of ways, she also represents humanity’s hatred for things, at least in this fight before they flip the script on things to bring it all back to the core religious themes of forgiveness and so on.
I’m getting a bit ahead of myself though. Accelerator ends up traveling to Russia, where all the action is for the final stretch of the season, in order to save Last Order. She’s been reinfected with a virus that was cured earlier in the second season by Index. The problem being now Index isn’t around (plot reasons, not trying to spoil more than necessary for the sake of discussion), so Accelerator is desperate. I’ve already mentioned that Last Order is what keeps him grounded, from losing control and destroying everything. He’s still fully embracing the edge boy life.
For this reason, when Misaka Worst shows up to kill Last Order, it isn’t surprising that he loses his shit and goes to town on her. This is visually portrayed really well, a reprise of a previous moment where Last Order had to physically stop him but it is way more visceral. Just good all around really. Of course Kamijou shows up and challenges his ideology, and the why behind his actions, they fight, and naturally Accelerator sees that his approach is wrong.
Instead of fighting to destroy with hatred in his heart, playing the “villain” so-to-speak, he instead should fight with his true intention: love and protection. It’s corny, but it really elevates Accelerator from that edgy antihero role to someone you genuinely want to root for. Now, I wanted to root for him anyway, because you could always see that he was lying to himself this whole time, but now there’s nothing getting in the way. You can see this best when he spares Misaka Worst and even recruits her as an ally, owning up to the mistakes of his past. He wants to atone and do the right thing, and while he can never really make up for killing so many sisters, this is a start.
As a big Accelerator fan, I can’t tell you enough how awesome all of his story is in all of this. He’s very well-written and executed compared to most of the other cast members not named Kamijou or Misaka. I’m also not doing any of this justice, trying to just highlight an experience that is built up over multiple seasons, but even so I had to mention it somewhere as one of the standouts of the season. That’s right, one, meaning there’s more really great stuff in this season we haven’t even talked about yet.
While Hamazura appears earlier in the franchise, I purposefully chose to leave him out of the discussion until now. The main reason for this is that his character doesn’t pay off until this third season. Like Kamijou, he’s a level 0 esper. Unlike Kamijou, he starts off as a member of a kind of terrorist group (not the best way to describe them, but it is technically what they are) known as Skill Out. When Kamijou and Hamazura first meet, it doesn’t really feel like anything special. As always, Kamijou points out the flaws in Hamazura’s thinking and in a way Hamazura turns his life around as a direct result of this confrontation. We don’t really hear anything else about the guy or why he mattered in the anime until this season.
In a lot of ways Hamazura represents something Kamijou could have easily become. It isn’t hard to see how someone could become disillusioned in Academy City, we’ve even talked about it in previously, so given how similar the two characters are this choice is almost assuredly deliberate. The main differences between the two are how they choose to interpret things and the fact that Hamazura is extremely lucky.
Once Kamijou changes his outlook, Hamazura is able to become the person he actually wants to be. So much so that the city deems him a threat, he is capable of inspiring change all on his own just by doing the right thing. The Raildex franchise is full of a lot of corny ideas like this, but there’s a charm there. Even if you aren’t somebody who usually enjoys that kind of thing, the execution with Hamazura is genuinely quite good.
I was surprised when they dedicated so much of this third season to just Hamazura (and his love interest, but she’s kind of just there). He quickly became one of my favorite characters right alongside Accelerator, which is a feat considering just how much of an “average” nobody the character is meant to be. When you think of generic characters, it wouldn’t be hard to initially want to place Hamazura onto that list after all. Seriously, that’s how little of an impression he first gives.
There’s more I want to say about this character and his struggles, but I also don’t want to spoil everything this show has to offer. Instead, it’s probably better to say that Hamazura ends up adopting a similar stance to Kamijou, becoming a sort of “disciple” of ideology in that sense. Since I’ve been using the Jesus metaphor this whole time, it shouldn’t be hard to see how this dynamic is interesting even when the two characters don’t really interact after that initial meeting.
If there’s one “fault” in this character’s story, one could argue that it is in the resolution with a prior ally, now enemy. It would be pretty easy to call this part of the story a cop-out, but given what I just said in the last paragraph, that would be missing the point. Hamazura isn’t the person he was while he was in Skill Out, he’s not desperate and blindly clinging to whatever he can while losing himself in the process. Instead, he’s able to tackle issues with conviction, and that is the point. The message is positive, albeit corny, but I would have been disappointed if the (potentially) metaphorical trigger was pulled at this character’s big moment of truth.
For these reasons I just had to mention Hamazura. I think there’s a lot more this character could offer should the anime continue, but even if it doesn’t, this story alone was something worth seeing. I’ve mentioned there are a lot of little things that shine through in Index to make it standout, and this is certainly one of them.
Rewind with Railgun T
There’s a lot more I could say about Index but if I have conveyed my point of view by now, I surely am not going to with more text. Instead, let’s go back in time before the events of WWIII and talk about Railgun’s third season. There’s a lot going on in this season so we’re going to just stick to highlights on this one. That said, I want to be upfront in saying that this was the best season of this half of the franchise to date. While I enjoyed Railgun S, I acknowledge that my view there is slightly skewed for enjoying the added context to the existing Sister story. With T, everything is new, and while it isn’t amazing, it does scratch that “rule of cool” itch.
I guess they never made a dubbed trailer for this, despite it being on the “dub” channel…
In this season there are three main stories. The first is about Misaka and Shokuhou, another level 5 esper that is introduced in a prior season (more on that later) with the power to basically brainwash/control people. There’s more going on here, but this is just an overview. Our second arc is with Shirai as she teams up with an esper who can seemingly predict when and where accidents can occur. Finally, the story rounds out with a very on brand philosophical discussion about whether a machine can have a soul or not.
Starting with our first story we are introduced to yet another Misaka clone. Not right away, there’s actually quite a lot of build up to this, but the first story has to do with the first Misaka clone “humorously” name Dolly. While Misaka and Shokuhou seemingly have no common ground, this is the one thing that ties them together. Before they can get on the same page to accomplish their goals, the show finally delivers on a previously promised premise that Shokuhou might just be a villain in this story.
Of course, I’ve let the cat out of the bag that this is not the case here, but I was extremely disappointed by this tease back in Railgun S‘s opening. She also briefly appears in that season as well, but doesn’t really do anything. Now, both of these things are extraordinarily brief, but since I pay extra attention to things I plan to cover so extensively like this, it was a real let down that these details didn’t go anywhere there. That’s why, I’m glad they mattered here.
You can essentially boil this story into two parts. The first being when Shokuhou brainwashes Misaka’s friends, causing the pair to act out of sync. In this part Shokuou feels like an actual villain, but as the arc goes on it becomes more and more apparent that this is not the case. Her reason for doing what she does is her way of trying to keep Misaka and company safe. Sound familiar? It should, she’s basically doling what Misaka did back in Railgun S.
Interestingly, this has a pleasant consequence as Misaka turns to Kongou, another high level esper that Misaka and company have a sort of love-hate relationship with. If you thought that Kongou would be the focal point though, you’d be wrong. Instead, Kongou is swiftly taken out of the picture and instead the arc focuses for a brief time on her two friends that stick to her like glue. They always seemed really lame and were barely characters, but the show propped them up and let them be super cool. It’s only for a short time, but if this franchise has demonstrated several times already, it wants all of its characters to have a moment in the sun. That’s pretty awesome, and something I certainly commend the show on.
Once Shokuhou and Misaka are finally on the same page they have to defeat a series long villain that, up to now, has basically been a boogieman that everyone talks about but nobody actually ever sees. It’s another cool moment that lets Shokuhou show off and creatively use her resources (not just powers). The half with Misaka when they’ve teamed up is less interesting, acting more as a spectacle piece. Though I can’t be disappointed as it introduced another level 5 esper who is basically the red ranger with the power to, and I’m not even joking, throw a “super amazing punch”.
Silliness aside, the Dolly story that kicks all of this off is just OK. Despite this being a major driver for several of the events in T, this is another one of those things that feels excessively background. While it certainly adds some artificial background to some of the characters while facilitating that interconnectedness I just praised in Index’s third season, it’s hard to give the same praise here. Dolly just doesn’t matter, even if they try to trump up an emotional beat at the end of the season to tie it together. I’m not saying it’s bad, but we don’t need a new Misaka every Railgun installment as it starts to feel like a crutch to tie events together instead of an organic component.
Overall though, this arc is pretty solid. It hints at a few bigger picture things should the franchise continue in animation form that have me curious (namely what the heck all that dragon stuff with Kamijou was all about). If you read that sentence and were like, “what the heck is he talking about???” all I can do is say that you’ll just have to go give this a try for yourself.
Wait, Shirai’s Arc is Good?!?
You read the title right? Every time Shirai gets a solo arc it is shockingly good but even in this show where she’s not running solo she’s so much better. Given the whole brainwashing plot where she doesn’t remember Misaka, her antics are significantly toned down to something more akin to a more traditional tsundere. That’s so much more watchable. Beyond that though, she does still get her (mostly) solo arc here.
Resident plot device Saten has heard about a new rumor, this time in app form! Supposedly there’s an app that tracks accidents, even ones that haven’t happened yet. Naturally this gets our other resident plot device Uiharu interested, and finally it reaches Shirai. Upon investigation they find that the app is accurate, allowing Shirai to use her teleportation power to prevent the accident, but most notably giving her added insight on the accident in order to make better split-second decisions.
I wanted to include a cool GIF of Shirai here, but they are all her super cringe moments so…
That last part is important as the grade-schooler behind the predictions in the app has been looking for someone who can change fate. Something, something, pseudo-science and Shirai is the godsend he’s been searching for. The remaining story is further insight into who Shirai is while setting up things for the series’ conclusion.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the arc is amazing or anything, it is very much a bridge for plot points, but it bears repeating that when Shirai runs solo, she’s pretty enjoyable as a character. The chemistry she has with this grade school kid is nice, the exploration of the concept of justice for these two was nice as well. There are a few other little things in here that are somewhat interesting, but since the arc is so short it isn’t meaty enough to go into in any real depth here.
Oh My God, It’s Godzilla (Not Actually Though)
The last story is where that rule of cool really kicks in. I mean when the antagonist gets to the point where they become a giant kaiju, what else is Misaka supposed to do other than form a keiju of her own to battle it with?!? It’s not just that though, I also enjoy the idea of this arc. The story of a girl who split herself in half, cyberized both, and then fused the halves back together to form two separate entities is pretty intriguing. That begs the question, does the robotic “doppelganger” have a soul?
Railgun doesn’t ever really dive all that deeply into its ideas, but it does generally go beyond the surface level. In this case the show forms a conclusion about artificial souls, but at the same time, it doesn’t deny the thought exercise altogether. In this way the viewer can form their own opinions, even if the narrative needs things to go one way. I find this to be an acceptable compromise that kind of reminds me of something such as Ghost in the Shell.
Why and why only in S3? Well, why not?
Really though, this arc is kind of silly even for this show. The whole concept is strung along and escalated with concepts that make just enough sense in the fiction but wouldn’t hold up to a more robust analysis. Some people might argue that somehow “ruins” the story, but I’m going to be real here, if you are watching Raildex and expecting perfect religious or scientific representation that mirrors the real world 1:1 then… why are you watching this show? My point is that it doesn’t stretch too far outside the suspension of disbelief, but this season was the first time I felt the limits being tested at the very least.
Other than this, the arc brings Scavenger back and somehow redeems them a bit. They were pretty awful in Accelerator, so getting to know them more with the prior context helped out a lot. If you passed on that season, my take is that these characters will just feel fine. They do enough in the plot to justify their inclusion, but to really get anything out of them specifically you do kind of need to have seen the spin-off series. I’ll leave that to you to judge if that’s worth your time.
Answering the Question: Is Raildex Worth it for Modern Anime Fans?
Phew, that was a pretty big discussion but we are finally at the end! All that’s left is to answer the question as the header for this section suggests. So would I ultimately recommend the Raildex franchise to a modern anime fan? The answer is a resounding… eh, kind of, maybe? If you are new to the anime space, to be honest, it doesn’t matter much what you decide to engage with. Go watch the show, it’ll help inform your taste. Plus this is pretty representative of a certain style of anime that was popular in the mid-200’s to early 2010’s so if you like it there is a LOT more of this kind of thing out there. For those a little more entrenched, it is a little trickier.
I didn’t exactly rate the franchise supper highly, and some of it was a real letdown given I did have some expectations coming into it. Even still, as the show went on, I found I enjoyed things more and more. Each of the series offers a lot of content with several ideas you can really sink your teeth into, which is great for someone doing media analysis on the internet like myself. The fact that I didn’t even cover half the stuff in the show should tell you something, I left quite a bit out just to keep this readable. Not only that, but it subverted some of my expectations in a positive way in how it stood out from a lot of its competition. The thing is though, that kind of stuff is pretty specific to me and not the general viewer. Now if you’ve read this far or read my content in general then you likely share similar views or at least find them interesting so…
I think there’s something worth exploring here, especially if the franchise gets to continue. It is extremely rare for something to run this long and seemingly not lose much (if any) of its momentum along the way. That warrants at least keeping an eye on it in my book. Personally I got a lot out of the experience but never did I go, “wow, I really gotta tell folks to run out and watch this!” either. It’s a mixed bag, and that’s why you get the mixed thoughts on the recommendation. Still, I wrote so much here that it should give you a pretty clear idea as to whether or not this is even remotely interesting sounding to you. If you are on the fence, then go give it a shot, like I said, it is a rewarding experience if you stay with it, but otherwise it’s one of those things that could easily stay relegated to an infinite backlog.
Either way, I hope you enjoyed this deep dive on the Raildex franchise and appreciate you sticking with me all the way to the end here. If you’ve read the novels, I’d love to hear your thoughts on those. Even if you haven’t, let me know if you’ll be giving this a try or your thoughts afterwards even. There will be more franchise looks on the horizon, so don’t forget to follow my stuff if you want to see more things like this (but hopefully at least a little shorter!). Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to take a well-deserved break for a few days.
7 thoughts on “Project Raildex – Worth a Watch for Modern Fans?”
It’s been a while since I watched these, but add me to those who preferred Railgun. It has a more focused story from what I recall, plus I didn’t like Index as a lead character at all. Too annoying for my tastes.
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Maybe, you aren’t the only person who has said today. Index is very coherent but it does have that rough middle bit where it kind does feel like stuff is just happening a little, and yeah, I can see that. Would you call Index a lead though? It’s really more about Kamijou and she’s kind of just there.
I enjoyed Railgun more than Index. Misaka is the superior character. I also felt that Railgun had a more coherent plot.
The biggest shortcoming of Index was that Index is ultimately a plot device. A damsel in distress with no agency. Her job is to be rescued over and over. If I compare her to Anya in Spy x family, Anya has far more agency. Another issue is that Kamijou represents the “zero who is really the biggest hero of all” trope. Yet any average Joe could whack him over the head with a pipe. He only matters if the only thing you can think to do is esper or magic him. I really wanted to see “normal” Misaka bonding with Kamijou and becoming a team.
Accelerator was good but I can’t get away from the notion that he was a heartless mass murderer. He evolves from villain to antihero. I don’t think he ever made it to unadulterated hero. His past should weigh very very heavily on him. His past should impact everyone’s attitudes towards him. Atonement doesn’t come so easily.
Railgun wasn’t perfect. They kept hyping her as this uber-powerful character But in all the seasons we only got to see her really unwind with her power one time, fighting cyber-girl. As for Shirai, I think that the two of them are playing a game. Misaka easily has the power to make it stop but she doesn’t. It may not be the intent of the writers but I think it makes the dynamics of the relationship interesting.
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Clarification, my comment about Index v Railgun in terms of which half is better really only matters for the first season. Past that they come out about even for different reasons. I mean, just look at how little I had to say about Index S2…
I won’t argue that Index isn’t a plot device, she’s not much of an active character in the show and that’s OK. She does just enough not to be irrelevant or annoying, but the story is about the people around her. So this sounds like an argument of perspective, as in you seem to want to have her do more, and I think she does past what’s animated, but that’s kind of a big ??? for me.
With Accelerator I think it does, S3 of Index ends with him forgiving himself and making a concerted effort to actually own his past. That’s not total redemption, and yeah some of the characters give him a free pass when they maybe shouldn’t, but his arc is clear and well-written for the kind of show this is. He’s not the main character so as much as I’d love a deeper dive for him, it just isn’t realistic to demand that much from the franchise.
I have no complaints with Misaka or her portrayal. She’s the best part of Railgun by a mile. She feels powerful, but not unbeatable. There’s just enough stakes for her specifically. With Shirai, I’m sorry but it just isn’t fun to watch that stuff and it eats up an obscene amount of the show’s runtime. I’ll just leave it at that, not for me and it hurts my enjoyment of the show.
Thanks for reading and commenting though. I hope you enjoyed the article.
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I’m not sure what else to say other then this was a fun read and maybe I should watch the stuff after Railgun S at some point. I didn’t know what I was missing out on apparently.
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Thanks Scott, I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I hope you have fun with the show if you keep going with it and would love to hear your thoughts then too!
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