A Certain Scientific Railgun, Vol. 8

By Kazuma Kamachi and Motoi Fuyukawa. Released in Japan as “Toaru Kagaku no Railgun” by ASCII Media Works, serialization ongoing in the magazine Dengeki Daioh. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

It has been noted several times that Academy City, where the events of this series take place, is providing young teens with power development so that they can, in essence, become superheroes. They are ranked all the way from Level 0 (Saten falls here, as well as Touma, though he really doesn’t count) up to Level 5. And our heroine, Misaka, is one of seven people in the entire city strong enough to be a Level 5. Of course, we’ve seen a few other Level 5s along the way. Accelerator. Mugino, leader of ITEM. And we just met Misaki and her mind-controlling in the previous volume. And it has to be said: Misaka is easily the most down-to-earth, sensible, and normal of all these overpowered lunatics.


And part of the reason for that is that, unlike most of the folks I mentioned above, Misaka isn’t lonely and doesn’t drive people away. She has a social life. She has her best friends. Yes, OK, Saten teases her, and Kuroko wants to assault her every chance she gets, but they’re still her support system that keeps her going through the tough times. Note how she tried to limit contact to those three during the Sisters Arc, where she was contemplating a) murder, and b) suicide. Unfortunately, Misaki is shaping up to be the next big antagonist, and can manipulate people’s memories. And Misaka finds out what this really means when her friends… no longer remember her.

I give credit to Misaka for taking this in and then quickly dealing with it. She’s in the middle of a crisis, one of her sisters has been kidnapped, and while I’m sure she’d love to argue with Kuroko till she’s blue in the face, there just isn’t time. But her face as she accepts what’s happened is simply depressing. Luckily, Misaki hasn’t had a chance to get to everyone, and Kongou is able to help her and give her a few words of comfort… well, anti-comfort, really. Kongou says she’ll try to get information, but Misaka absolutely shouldn’t trust it, as she may be ‘gotten at’ by the enemy.

Kongou, by the way, has two friends that we met in the previous volume, who are usually referred to as ‘those two guys/girls’ by anime fans. They’re the friends of the person who actually gets the dialogue and situations, there to show that they have their own backup and support system. And Kongou’s friends are sweet, adorable minor characters. They even joke in the first chapter about how they have no idea what it’s like to be really angry. Except… why do those two minor characters have such a large picture on the cover? That’s right, this is foreshadowing. And there are no minor characters in Railgun, there are only a bunch of awesome women who will beat the crap out of you. Watching Wannai and Awatsuki get furious and hand the minor mook (who’s a sexist to boot) his ass is a joyous thing to see.

Things are getting quite complicated as we move further into the school festival. At first we thought Misaki might be behind everything, but now it transpires there are multiple groups of villains (a favorite tactic of the author in the main Index series). Will Misaka be able to rescue her sister, restore her friends’ memories, win the athletic competitions and speak with Touma without n blushing and stuttering? Well, we’re caught up with Japan, so you’ll have to wait till April to find out!

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