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 usually decide which series get full reviews and which ones get a review of the first volume and then shuffled off to the Briefs section fairly quickly, but Railgun muscled its way up over the last several volumes with a combination of dramatic plot, action, and excellent characterization. Sadly, that’s not all the series is. As part of the Dengeki line, there’s a certain amount of otaku pandering in its chapters (the same is true of its parent series, Index, and in fact many of the things I’m going to be complaining about originated there). And Railgun just wrapped up a big plot, and clearly wants to fool around a bit before it gets to the next big one. And so we get a volume like this.
I’m still attempting to save my complaints about Kuroko for the review of the 8th Index book in August, which stars her, so I will simply note that Kamachi and Fuyukawa seem to think “lesbian” and “sexual predator” amount to the same thing, and they are oh-so-hilarious. We also see a macguffin introduced here, Indian Poker, which lets you see the dreams of someone else – supposedly with their permission, but of course, horny Academy City teens are already using it to dream-screw the hottie of their choice – including Mikoto and Misaki (who at least get a reasonable amount of revenge here). Much of the last third of the book is devoted to Mikoto and Saiai (from ITEM about 6-7 volumes earlier, in case you’d forgotten) attempting to get a special Indian Poker card that increases your breast size, and many, many bust jokes follow, with the final punchline being that the card DID work but on some bystander. Oh, and to top it off, there’s an entire CHAPTER devoted to Awaki Musujime and her shotacon fetish, which if you haven’t read Index must baffle you (and honestly, even if you have read Index it’s baffling.)
Speaking of Awaki, while one can still read Railgun without being cognizant of what’s going on in Index, it’s becoming more and more difficult, due to both sly continuity cameos and callbacks/callforwards. Some time seems to have passed since the last volume of Railgun, which took place during the athletic festival. The astute Index reader can tell this because ITEM now has a lackey, Shiage Hamazura, who will grow very important as the Index series goes on, but not yet. We’re likely sometime between Index books 13 and 15 (we can’t be after 15, for reasons I won’t spoil). Moreover, the entire volume is filled with Index characters – the guy selling the cards that allow you to dream-screw Misaki and Mikoto is “the blue-haired piercings” friend of Touma’s; Frenda mentions her little sister; Mikoto’s dream of a girl wanting huge breasts is clearly Aisa, the vampire killer girl; and yay, we get more hints of the incestuous relationship between the Motoharu siblings. It’s continuity porn, even if you may not want it.
Amongst all this, there is a serious story in the middle, as Kuroko and Uiharu help a young boy with precognition try to save people from various accidents that he has seen. That said, its placement in between the two Indian Poker storylines reads like it was put in to fill out the page count as the author hadn’t quite decided which direction to go yet, and while it shows off how much of an excellent Judgment member Kuroko is that just makes it all the more frustrating that we get the “pervert” talk as a punchline. Railgun can be excellent when it ditches the cameos and fanservice and is about women kicking ass. This is mostly not that volume.