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Book Review: A Certain Scientific Railgun Volume 1

August 17, 2013

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As I stated in the previous post, I recently received my order of four books from Barnes & Noble. So far, I have covered one of those titles and three remain. Today, I will be reviewing A Certain Scientific Railgun Volume 1 by Kazuma Kamachi.

As I have given a series synopsis in earlier post and it seems to work well for a volume synopsis too, I will not go over it again.

I am not too sure about this book. I did like how I got to know the characters a bit, since this was the volume that started the Railgun series. If I did not, this would have been a pretty terrible beginning. I also think that I liked Misaka a bit more here than in the anime. Yes, she was a pretty interesting character and probably one of my favorites in the Index universe, since Railgun does take place in that same universe. However, she seemed to be a bit girlier in the anime. Here, on the other hand, it does not seem that she is like that too much, though she does have those moments. I also liked how things were intertwined with Magical Index. Although the Sisters Arc portrayed in the Railgun S anime did connect the events of Magical Index with what had happened in the Railgun manga, it looks like the first time the two overlap occurs in the Level Upper Arc, because I saw some scenes in this volume that were shown in the Magical Index anime, but not the first Railgun anime. Because of this, I understand why Misaka got mad at Touma for interfering with her plans to talk to some thugs in the Magical Index anime, none of which was revealed until this volume, though the Magical Index novels may have explained it. Another thing that I liked was that there was a Table of Contents. I know that some of you might be saying duh to yourselves, but in volume 7 and the recently released volume 8, which might not be the case anymore because Japan is supposedly going to be releasing volume 9 soon, there does not seem to be a Table of Contents. While it may not be a big deal, a TOC does at least help people find out what volume that they need to pick up if they are migrating from reading the scans that can be found online. This makes me wonder when Seven Seas decided to stop doing a Table of Contents, since the first volume of the Railgun manga had one. Outside of that, I cannot really think of anything else that I particularly liked. The fact that the overlap between Railgun and Magical Index happens earlier than expected, and explains what happened when Magical Index started, as well as the fact that the first volume has a TOC, made this a bit better than recently released volumes.

Although there were things that I liked, there are certainly some issues. First, although I kind of got to know the characters, I did not really feel like I really got to know and understand the characters like I did during the Sisters Arc in the manga or even in the first anime. Yes, this is just the first volume. Because of this fact, it does kind of make sense that we do not know everything about the main cast. However, I think that it would certainly help. After all, that was what I liked about the anime, even though it took more than seven episodes just to get through the Level Upper Arc. In fact, I think that the thing that caused this issue was how quickly things seemed to progress. One moment, they are facing a robbery in progress to already talking about the existence of the Level Upper. Then again, glancing through the pages of the third volume, I cannot be too mad about the pacing because the Level Upper arc ends in the third volume. Another thing that I did not like so much was that things were not very interesting. Yes, the confrontations between Misaka and Touma did bring some excitement, but most of it was not that exciting. For example, the fighting Kuroko did with the robbers and Misaka firing her railgun did not really have that big of an impact on me that those events had in the first episode. It looks like the people behind the anime have been doing a pretty good job of making things better than the original, because I think that I probably would have liked those scenes more if I had not been introduced to the anime first. Another scene that was kind of disappointed in was the Seventh Mist bombing. It played out somewhat like it did in the anime, but the excitement died the moment we saw the explosion happen from them outside. I was really expecting to see Touma negate the blast, since it was clearly setup for such an event to happen, but the only we see such happening is during a flashback. If Touma had intervened onscreen, I think that this would have been so much better. The other reason that it did not seem that exciting was the fact that I had already read the Sisters Arc and the beginnings off the Daihasei Festival Arc, I already knew that Misaka was going to live. I guess this is a situation where I should have started off with the first volume instead of the recent releases. While the volume was not particularly bad, the fact that I did not feel like I really got to know the character and the pacing being too fast for my liking kind of ruined my enjoyment.

Despite the good things about this volume, the fact that I read later volumes before this one and saw the anime first made this a waste of time. I recommend that fans of A Certain Scientific Railgun skip this volume, if they have already seen the first anime and/or read the later volumes, because, because this would seem rather pointless. As for everyone else, this would probably be a decent introduction to the series, but I think that the first anime series does a better job.

What are your thoughts on A Certain Scientific Railgun Volume 1? Do you agree or disagree with my views? Do you have anything to add? Feel free to comment.

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2 Comments

  • I can understand your feelings, but that's what you get for reading out of order and watching the anime first. ^_~ For me, I read the manga first of ANYTHING in the Index/Railgun universe. As such, I didn't experience the "uninteresting" aspects that you did. My only knowledge of the franchise was from promotional images and clips I'd seen. I had certain expectations based on my limited exposure and found the manga to be different, which was a pleasant surprise. I wouldn't say your reading this was a waste of time since the manga is the source canon for the anime. Besides, I love having manga to read before going to sleep. ^_^
  • @AstroNerdBoy I wanted to read this one first, but unfortunately, the Barnes & Noble close to me did not have this. Anyway, thanks for the comment, I think it may improved my expectations of the next two volumes, while I wait for volume 9 to come out.
    Comment by bryce on Aug 17, 2013 04:32pm
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