A Certain Scientific Railgun
- Trailer: English dubbed version
- What it’s about: Academy City is home to the world’s foremost scientists, particularly when it comes to the development and exploitation of mysterious “esper” powers, for which it has a number of dedicated schools. The protagonist, Misaka, is a rare “Level 5” esper with the power to generate electric fields, earning her the nickname “Railgun”. The story follows her and her friends as they stumble into a series of adventures and mishaps around town.
- Why you should watch it: Railgun is a side-story to A Certain Magical Index, but it stands perfectly well on its own. In many ways, it’s a more approachable work. It’s an easy watch that doesn’t require you to pay a great deal of attention, but will draw your eye back to the fantastically animated action scenes. The characters are fairly fleshed out (though several of them fall into the standard tropes) and the comedy is well-timed, but really it’s the *world* that acts as the series’ main draw.
- Caveats: The second season spends half its run on an arc that’s covered in three episodes in Index. It does a much better job of it, but if you watch Index first, you’ll be pretty spoiled going into it. The question of which to watch first is a tricky one, though Railgun is the more polished work.
- Themes: Class conflict – Academy City is essentially an aristocracy based on the strength of your in-born gifts, and any attempt to upset the natural order (as, for example, by artificially boosting your power) is treated as a bad thing by every character in the place and punished via plot. The emphasis is instead on how best to use what talents you are given.
- Similar works: A Certain Magical Index is the obvious choice. Otherwise, maybe Problem Children…