A Certain Scientific Railgun, Vol. 10

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.

I have to be careful not to repeat myself too much here, as the third Index novel is out in a couple of weeks and covers similar themes. But Academy City, as we’ve seen, breeds superheroes. Which is fine, except that you’re left wondering what they want an entire city of superheroes for. And when you get to the Level 5s, and the quest to get one of them to Level 6, be it Accelerator, Misaka, or what have you, it’s no longer about superheroes but about nuclear weapons testing. Many of the scientists we’ve seen in Index and Railgun regard morality and ethics as something that gets in the way of results – in fact, Yoshikawa may be the only nice scientist we’ve met to date (in Index), and she ends up almost dying for her sins. Gensei, on the other hand, is perfectly happy to wipe out the entire city in the name of science.


You’ll note that Misaka’s in the background of the cover art, while Misaki and Kuroko take center stage. That’s a somewhat accurate look at the volume itself – given that she is the weapon being tested, Misaka doesn’t get much to do here except be used. That said, the other two end up carrying the “women in this series are awesome” load very well, and Uiharu also provides assistance with her amazing hacking skills. Kuroko in particular is impressive, and reminds us how brilliant she can be when she’s not scheming to get into Misaka’s pants. Misaki outgambits not only the villain, but also herself. And then there’s Mitori, the main miniboss of this arc, who may be trying to help Gensei but is still, like the rest of the weapons being created in Academy City, just being manipulated herself. So after a mammoth beatdown we see her bonding with Misaki, and the two of them reuniting with their past.

I should also mention Touma, as he’s here as well, though doesn’t do as much as expected. (For Railgun readers wondering why Touma’s arm can turn into a dragon, the 2nd Index novel can help with that.) The author is quite fond of the grand gesture of “saving the girl”, and it’s not going to go away – the only way to keep it out of this title is to have him not appear. A better appearance here was Gunha, another Level 5 who had barely appeared in either series till this point. He’s even more of a shonen hero than Touma is, dealing with problems by punching them and insisting that “guts” is the solution to absolutely everything. He’s a nice light-hearted moment in what is otherwise a very serious book.

The arc wraps up here with almost a sitcom ending – Misaka is forced to dance with Touma at the conclusion of the athletics festival and Kuroko naturally kicks her way in between then – but overall this arc with Misaki and Misaka was one of the most satisfying of the entire series. Which is good, as it may be at least another year before we see a new volume here.

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