A Certain Scientific Railgun, Vol. 15

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.

In my last review I extolled the praises of Uiharu, whose mad hacker skills were impressive enough to break someone out of an unbreakable prison. Sadly, it turns out that she got noticed by the Dark Side of Academy City, as she’s kidnapped here. Unfortunately, she’s pure peril monkey for the rest of the volume, so it’s up to the other three members of the cast to step up. Do they rescue her? Not yet. Are they badass? Aw yiss. We get to see Mikoto, Kuroko and Saten all show off their best sides as they fight to rescue their friend. Which is not so impressive for Mikoto – it is her series, after all. And we’ve seen Kuroko be badass before, both here and in Index. The more Railgun manga we see, though, the more I remain convinced that it’s an excuse to show off Saten rather than any other Biri-biris who might be lying around. She doesn’t even have a baseball bat this time, but is amazing.

The first two thirds of the book are well done and yet will feel familiar to the Railgun reader. The bad guys here are all teenagers, for the most part, and Index/Railgun has hammered home over and over again that their lives are basically experiments for various bad adults. As a result, Mikoto gets a chance to try to talk the enemy down, which… well, doesn’t work, but hey, she tried. I like the fact that the enemies by now are expecting Mikoto to be, well, a goody-goody, and while she insists that this is Touma’s job and not hers, it’s more or less accurate anyway. Also, salt-based attacks allows for more Biblical imagery in this Bible-heavy series. As for Kuroko’s battle, well, she’s cool and clever, but the “my yuri fantasies can beat up your yuri fantasies” bit was as ridiculous as ever.

And then there’s Saten, who discovers that Uiharu has been kidnapped and begs her friends to have her come along and help. This proves sensible, as while Mikoto and Kuroko both pursue leads that turn out to be false, Saten does what she does best – play detective. She’s questioned for the fallout of the battle between powered folks that happened around her, and, due to various plot-related reasons, this is done in the very prison we’d seen before… where, as it turns out, our enemy is really based. Sadly, they have the world’s dumbest prison guards there, and as a result Saten is able to break out pretty easily. Of course, getting to where Uiharu might be requires jumping between two buildings that are not that close together, and Saten is, as she reminds us, a Level 0. Does she make it? Of course. She’s fighting for her girlfr— erm, best friend!

Again, I suspect Saten is in this story, along with Hamazura in the main Index series, to remind us that Academy City’s “Level” system is complete and total bullshit. That said, I’m fairly sure she’s not gonna rescue Uiharu all on her own. This is shaping up to be another big arc, so we’ll have to wait a month or two… or ten… to find out what happens next. (And with the Index novels now seemingly over in North America, we’re not even getting to tide ourselves over with the main series.) Still, this was an excellent volume. If you take away anything from it, think of Saten, leaping between those buildings and making it – bear-ly – due to the power of conviction and borrowing other people’s technology.

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