Blu-ray Review: A Certain Scientific Railgun S – The Complete Series

Mikoto Misaka returns to take on the underworld of Academy City in A Certain Scientific Railgun S; but what can one expect from this ‘second season’ instalment into the ‘Railgun’ franchise? and more importantly is it any good? Well let’s find out in our Blu-ray Review of A Certain Scientific Railgun S.

Synopsis:

Something sinister is going on in Academy City. The shadows are filled with whispers of an organization cloning super-powered students known as espers. High-ranking master of electricity, Mikoto Misaka, laughs off these stories until she comes face to face with a copy of herself.

After learning that these clones – her sisters – are being systematically murdered in a series of experiments designed to turn a sadistic killer into the strongest esper in history, Misaka vows to save her copies and destroy the organization responsible for the project.

As Misaka prepares to face off against the organization’s power-hungry esper, she discovers that she wasn’t the only victim of the scientific forces conspiring within the city – and that’s something Misaka and the girls of Judgement simply won’t stand for. It’s time to get even, in A Certain Scientific Railgun S!

Our View:

It’s not often that a sequel is better than its original; but when it comes to A Certain Scientific Railgun S then truer words have never been spoken. Taking place before and after the events of A Certain Magical Index comes a story that will ‘shock’ and ‘awe’ fans with its mix of adrenaline fuelled action and emotional back-story into one of the more lovable characters in the entire ‘Railgun’ series; Mikoto Misaka.

Featuring twenty-four-episodes across three blu-ray discs A Certain Scientific Railgun S, otherwise titled at the end as A Certain Scientific Railgun Secondseason, is a series that features two distinctive story arcs with each taking place during a different era of the Index and Railgun timelines. The bulk of this series, of which takes place ‘before’ the events – and in turn during the early episodes – of A Certain Magical Index, follows Misaka as she attempts to uncover the truth behind her look-a-likes that are walking around the city.

Those who have watched A Certain Magical Index, and in turn A Certain Scientific Railgun, will already be familiar with the clones of Misaka, otherwise known as Sisters; but during this story arc we experience the origin story of how these sisters came to be as well as the emotional impact it has on Misaka. Compared to story arcs featured in past Index and Railgun series it is a long one; but with good reason as it fully explores how the sisters were created, their purpose and the lengths that Misaka will go to in order to stop their creation and experiments from taking place.

In hindsight this story arc offers a ‘darker side’ to the Index and Railgun series we’ve come to know; not solely from the scientific experiments that see clones of Misaka created, but more so in the way Accelerator acts and interacts with the clones during their experiments. It’s cold, calculated and evil – a swift change of pace from how the character appears in A Certain Magical Index II.

For those unfamiliar the project in itself sees 20,000 clones of Misaka being used in experiments to help the Level 5 Esper ‘Accelerator’ level up to Level 6 with Accelerator required to kill each one in order to increase his rank. Obviously once Misaka learns this fact it’s all out war between the two; that is until a familiar face (in our eyes at least) shows up to offer a helping hand. It’s a fight we’ve all seen before – as it was part of A Certain Magical Index after all – but it is great to see it played out in a slightly different way; this time from the perspective of Misaka.

The second story arc meanwhile, of which only lasts a third of the entire series, is a completely new experience but continues the theme of scientific creations. In this case Misaka, Kuroko, Uiharu and Saten discover that a young girl, later to be revealed as Febrie, was created alongside her older sister Janie as a way to overthrow the Esper community. It’s a slight change of pace from the previous story arc, which focused entirely on Misaka, as this time the whole group – including Judgment – work together in attempt to discover which group is behind this plan and more importantly how to put a stop to it.

From start to finish A Certain Scientific Railgun S is an emotional and action-packed rollercoaster that puts the story first and everything else second with little to no fan-service but plenty of story-telling, action and violence. This is not only the Railgun story we deserve; but ‘the’ origin story we needed to see. Naturally it’s not all fun and games, as this series does have its fair share of long dialogue sessions and references to past events; but on the whole its good fun and one of the better series in the franchise.

Extras:

Although my thoughts are mostly positive of the events of the series the selection of bonus material on offer is nothing short of compulsory; with only a selection of episode commentaries and textless songs spread across the multiple discs.

In this case English Dub Episode Commentaries are spread across the set with the each one seeing numerous voice actors providing uninformative opinions about the show. Sometimes these can be informative and helpful, such as the audio commentary in A Certain Magical Index II that provided insight into lip flaps and dubbing procedures, but in this case the voice actors merely explain whats happening on screen or unrelated events.

The final selection of bonus materials is the textless songs, of which four are available, as well as the original American trailer for the series. Naturally this selection of bonus materials is nothing special; but it is the bare minimum of content that is expected from a release originally produced by FUNimation – so at least we get everything that we should get.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50 x3
Region: B
Running Time:  3:09:36 (Disc 1 & 2), 3:11:13 (Disc 3)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

A Certain Scientific Railgun S may be considered as the ‘second season’ but instead of providing a continuation to the story found within the previous season it opts to provide some much needed context into the events that have plagued the entire Index and Railgun Series. As a result we get a deep emotional origin story that explains the background behind the Misaka clones, the project to increase Accelerator to Level 6 and the trauma that it brings with it.

In addition to this origin story, which is easily the most ‘entertaining’ aspect of the entire Railgun and Index storyline with its series of electricying fights, we have the story which highlights another dark side of science within Academy City. It’s a story that revolves around a little girl known as Feberie and the connection she has with Misaka and the science underworld. Unlike the first story, which takes place before and during the early episodes of Index, this storyline takes place much later and sees a range of focus shift from Misaka to her whole host of friends and evidentially a nice change of pace from anything we’ve seen before. It’s cute, charming and a little bit light hearted with some darkness thrown in for good measure – and that final episode is just the icing on a perfectly good cake.

This Blu-ray release, which uses the American masters but reauthored for the UK Market, features the same consistent picture and audio quality that you would come to expect from this kind of release. Interestingly though this set only features Stereo 2.0 audio whereas other sets of this series contain feature a 5.1 audio track. It’s unclear why this is the case but the original DVD release of the series featured 2.0 Stereo audio so most likely an oversight by FUNimation when recording the dub – a shame really seeing as the series does feature a high amount of explosive action (along with a fair amount of mundane dialogue that help moves the story along).

Overall A Certain Scientific Railgun S is the best entry into the ‘Index’ and ‘Railgun’ franchise; foremost it fully explores the origin story around Misaka and the clones but more importantly it delivery a consistent story with a natural steady of progression that looks great on Blu-ray. The only shame is a lack of a 5.1 audio track but its not the biggest issue in the world and more of a personal niggle from me.

Score: review-stars-4

A Certain Scientific Railgun S – The Complete Series will be available as a Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack from the 21st August 2017 within the UK.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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