A Certain Scientific Railgun, Vol. 14

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. Translated by Nan Rymer, Adapted by Patrick Sullivan.

Out of the ‘core four’ heroines in Railgun, Uiharu Kazari has probably gotten the least amount of focus time. She’s the hacker friend of the bunch, and would be the weakest esper except that Saten is a Level 0, and Saten is also outgoing whereas Uiharu isn’t. But we’re past the events of Index 15, where Uiharu stared down a dangerous Level 5 in order to protect a child (and got a broken collarbone for her troubles), so we know that she’s made of sterner stuff. As a result, she gets a bit of the spotlight in this volume of Railgun, though true to her character most of the “spotlight” is spent offscreen. A prison is trying to boast of its impregnability, and asks students to try to infiltrate it and free a prisoner. There’s a big cash reward, so Saten’s in, and Mikoto’s pride is tweaked, so she’s there as well. But how impregnable is it really?

The volume opens with a lovely series of scenes where Uiharu takes Saten out on a date to try to cheer her up as she’s been down lately, and Saten admits (though doesn’t specify) that she’s upset about Frenda’s disappearance. (As with most yuri relationships in Railgun that don’t involve Kuroko, there is plausible deniability here, but the entire chapter reads as REALLY yuri if you ask me.) The majority of the volume, however, shows off the huge cast of Railgun that we’ve met over the last few volumes, as they’re also trying to get into the facility – along with some “new” characters, who readers of Index will recognize from the New Testament novels but we’re seeing in the timeline for the first time, who run the gamut from goofy to helpless to dangerous – well, actually, the goofy and helpless girls ARE the dangerous ones.

Everyone is busy using their powers to break into the facility, fight the robots that try to stop them, and get taken out by various scientific marvels, but it’s Uiharu who (we see, after the reveal that the contest is over) comes up with the best plan – hack the robots, hack the cameras, hack the security and waltz away with the prisoner. It’s a good reminder of how lucky we are that she’s on the side of the angels, and there’s a very amusing joke where she talks about donating all her winning to charity because after all, she can always hack into a bank for money anytime she wants. Unfortunately, there was a new “villain group” of students at the event, all of whom are traitors of some sort, and they’ve decided that their plan really needs someone like Uiharu in it. I smell a kidnapping coming up. In the meantime, let’s hope the wait for the next volume of Railgun isn’t as long as this one was.

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