Misaka Mikoto is not your average girl. Unlike most young women her age, Misaka was born with incredible psychic powers and has been sent to hone her skills in Academic City, a full-fledged megacity designed to cultivate advance psychic powers among children who also happen to make up the city’s personal security force. Misaka is special because she is one of the seven Level Five psychics, an elite group of people who display an awesome range of talent. Her power involves the ability to shoot a small metal object at the speed of sound, earning her the nickname “Railgun.”
Volume one of A Certain Scientific Railgun spends the majority of time introducing the key players of the series but it eventually gets to the heart of the matter: a serial bomber is loose within Academic City and the only lead Judgement has to go on is that the killer is a psychic who is using aluminum to create deadly graviton explosions. While investigating the cause of the bombings, the major characters of the series spend a considerable time getting to know one another and becoming friends. Misaka develops relationships with fellow classmates Uiharu – who is sick throughout the first volume – and Ruiko, who can teleport at will and delights in making Uiharu as uncomfortable as possible.
The artwork of A Certain Scientific Railgun doesn’t really stand out and while it is competent, outside of the major battle sequences, the artwork is not overly complicated or especially detailed. During instances of comic relief, however, certain characters will take on silly, exaggerated faces. With as powerful and dangerous as psychic powers can be, there is hardly any graphic violence being committed against various people. There is a small degree of questionable content in the form of Ruiko’s and Uiharu’s relationship. As mentioned previously, Ruiko likes to make her friend feel uncomfortable, such as teleporting behind Uiharu and grabbing her breasts. While caring for her, Ruiko gets a little too close during a sponge bath after Uiharu’s fever breaks. Despite Ruiko’s behavior, it doesn’t come off as sexual. In fact, one can argue that there is absolutely no sexuality between them, it is just the manifestation of Ruiko’s playful nature rather than intimacy.
A Certain Scientific Railgun feels familiar, as it is one of many manga stories that presents the life and times of high school students. By making students psychic, however, it offers a nice change of pace from most school life comics. Fans of this particular genre would find this series of some interest.