Tu Aru Kagaku no Railgun OVA

November 1, 2010

Just seven months after the end of  Railgun, we’re presented with another dose of the more lighthearted side of the Index world told from resident birbiri’s, Misaka Mikoto’s, POV. Considering how great a success Railgun has been, it’s no surprise that J.C.Staff would try to milk the series for all it’s worth by releasing an OVA in such little time after the end of the anime.

Looking from a broader perspective, this OVA seems to be a part of a media blitz for Index related merchandise, with the 22nd light novel being released earlier this month and the first airing of the second season of Index, Toaru Majutsu no Index II, coinciding with its release. PSP games for both Index and Railgun have also been announced, although they won’t be officially released until January 27 and April 28, 2011, respectively. As a Raildex is this a newfag thing? fanboy myself, I love seeing the franchise get so much attention, and is it ever deserved. With the total novel and manga sales of Index and Railgun shooting through 15 million copies recently (10 million for Index novels, 3.5 million for Railgun manga, and 1.5 million for Index manga), Index BD/DVD sales averaging around 10,000 copies sold per volume, and Railgun BD/DVD sales absolutely crushing with around 20,000 BD/DVD copies being sold per volume, the franchise deserves every bit of attention it gets.

The thing that stands out about Railgun is that, as far as I can remember, there’s never been any series quite like it. By that I mean, it takes the basic principles of a slice-of-life moe series and injects them into an interesting sci-fi setting with a semblance of plot. For lack of a better analogy, it’s a bit like K-ON! meets Index. As such, there’s a lot of strife between Index purists and Railgun fans, at least for the anime adaptations; while one side accuses the other of bringing in moe, filler, and simplified plot into the Index franchise, the other fires back with complaints that the parent series is too convoluted in its plot and character development, and the episodic format of the series ruins the experience. While both arguments are true to a certain extent, I find myself in the middle, enjoying both Index and Railgun for what they do. I like Railgun’s straightforward and character oriented plot, and I also like Index’s complex and somewhat episodic plot. Individually, the series are meant to accomplish different things and appeal to different demographics, and in my opinion both portray what they’re meant to well. That said, seeing Mikoto’s uber moe faces on a regular basis and Kuroko’s hilarious voice work courtesy of Arai Satomi does make Railgun a better watch on a weekly basis for me. As for why Railgun got an OVA adaptation and Index didn’t, my theory is that as J.C.Staff is more liberal with Railgun’s adaptation than Index’s, they decided to just go ahead and release an OVA with an original story, as half of the Railgun anime was filler anyway.* The more obvious reason is that the aforementioned sales difference played a role in the decision as well. That said, I can see J.C.Staff adapting the Index SS novel into an OVA series after Index II concludes its run next year, much in the same vein as Shakugan no Shana S.

As for the OVA itself, I felt it was just the usual Railgun fair, with the girls teaming up and going “Judgement desu no” to solve a random rumor in Academy City. In fact, if you were to watch this without ever having gone through the entire first season, you would probably even mistake this OVA for just another episode in the series. That being the case, I still enjoyed it, and the fact that it’s true to Railgun form and is really nothing extravagant can probably be attributed to this. It was great seeing Saten do her usual rumor gossip, this time concerning the urban legend of “Someone is watching”, and Uiharu and Kuroko doing some detective work on the net. Of course, dealing with the science side of Academy City comes with the plans of a mad scientist, this time in the form of Sensory scientist Jounan Asako, who has been causing Electromaster espers like Mikoto to feel as if someone is watching them in order to further her research. Again, it’s the usual Railgun plot of mad scientist causing trouble for the cast, but it still works well and will never get old for me as long as new ideas continue to be introduced along with them. And of course, what would a Railgun OVA be without some Saten skirt flipping and Kuroko onee-sama stalking? We even got a Touma sighting, which of course brought about the great moe Mikoto scene mentioned earlier.

So overall, it was refreshing to see Railgun again after seven months, although in hindsight that really isn’t that long. Even though some people were hoping this OVA would be more relevant than it turned out, I’m personally happy they decided to stick with the usual Railgun form and didn’t try to go for anything extravagant. Railgun is, for the most part, just a relaxed series meant to flesh out some side characters on the science side from Index, and I’m not really interested in seeing it try to develop a true overarching plot of its own. I’m perfectly content with watching the little bits of action we get from the series and the random little adventures that the girls get themselves into in between them. In a way, it’s true that this OVA and Railgun itself is just a gigantic piece of fanservice for Mikoto and to a lesser extent Kuroko, but even so, it’s fanservice done well with interesting and straightforward stories compounded by a great slice-of-life atmosphere, and I thoroughly enjoy every bit of extra screen time the two of them get, as their dynamic is hilarious. With Index II airing this fall and Shana III most likely set for next fall, this will probably be the last bit of Railgun anime we’ll get for a while. So with that being the case, I’ll be waiting for the next Railgun!




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