The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun – EX OVA

Title: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun – EX OVA aka Toaru Kagaku no Choudenjihou aka A Certain Scientific Railgun OVA
Genre: Action
Company: J.C. Staff
Format: 1 OVA
Dates: 26 Sep 2010

Synopsis: In the aftermath of the Level Upper incident, Antiskill has increased its presence in policing Academy City, while Judgment’s Shirai Kuroko is helping to keep the streets clean… when Misaka Mikoto doesn’t get to the delinquents first. It’s rare when Mikoto and her Level 5 esper powers aren’t the centre of attention, but she has recently felt particularly uncomfortable, as if she’s being followed and spied on. This, according to Saten Ruiko, is because of “Someone’s Watching”, the latest affliction of espers in the city… or, so say the urban legends.

The Highlights
Themes: Railgun‘s propensity for friendship is on display again.
Action: Well executed, but extremely short.
Music: fripSide‘s “Future Gazer” is both sweet and catchy.
Antagonist: Underdeveloped and formulaic.
Atmosphere: Standard Railgun, but one particularly creepy scene in the middle of the OVA.
Format: Too restrictive.

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any one-off follow up OVAs that were better than the series they were spawned from. Generally these amount to little more than filler episodes so I can’t say I understand why they get made… oh wait, yes I do: to sell DVDs. For an OVA follow up to be at all worthwhile, you generally need at least two episodes and preferably closer to four. The Railgun EX OVA is a decent outing for fans of the Railgun TV series, and I suppose it might work as a taster for those curious, but not willing to take the plunge and commit to 24 episodes. But don’t expect anything that reinvents the Railgun formula, and don’t expect anything as good as Railgun at its finest.

The important theme in Railgun is friendship, and the way the camaraderie between the four main characters is shown has always been one of its strengths. Fortunately, that hasn’t been diluted in this outing. The character interactions always feel genuine and the way they each work together to overcome Misaka’s problems is emphasized to make an important point: as powerful as she is, she isn’t a one-woman band, and she needs her friends around her to support her. The theme of friendship in Railgun permeates almost everything: even during a fanservice sequence in a bathhouse they take the opportunity to stop for a moment and allow the characters to display a warm (and totally non-sexual) moment of affection. And, for a particularly concentrated dose of the charming and sweet bond that these characters share, check out the OP sequence, set to fripSide’s “Future Gazer”, which I’d say is the best OP song of the entire Index/Railgun franchise.

Railgun is a moe anime, but it’s also an action anime, and this is where the OVA leaves a little to be desired. Misaka again finds a very creative way to use her power, and while most of the action is kept to the end, the climax features a fairly well executed set piece (and as good an excuse as any for Misaka to use her railgun move). There’s also a creepy tinge to the build-up to this moment: one sequence where Misaka irregularly blinks forward through time is particularly trippy. However, boil it all down, and everything that happens after this is standard Railgun. The badguy is very underdeveloped and their profile is so reminiscent of the villains featured in the TV series, that it feels formulaic. Also, the action sequence at the end is pretty much over as soon as it begins. If you’re into Railgun for the action, you’ll probably have no complaints about what they show, but you’ll be left wanting more.

I would have preferred a Railgun movie to an OVA. Sure, this outing has almost as much charm and ass kicking as any single episode of Railgun, but the single OVA format is too restrictive to give us anything that could stand tall of its own accord. With a bit more time, and a movie budget, they could flesh out the antagonist, add another subplot or two, make the action sequences more elaborate and animate them with polish and gusto. As it stands, the Railgun OVA is decent, but its limitations mean that it doesn’t have much that’ll surprise fans of the franchise, or impress those who aren’t.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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