Region: 2 - UK
Length: 600 minutes
English 5.1 Surround
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Welcome to Academy City, an area to the west of Tokyo dedicated to the study and progression of psychic abilities in people known as 'Espersí. Secretly locked in a cold war battle with them are a group of religious magic users under the control of the Church of England and itís into this backdrop we find the student Toma Kamijo, a hopeless level 0 with neither psychic or magical powers but a strong sense of justice. However Toma has one thing going for him, he has a power in his right hand called the Imagine Breaker that can cancel out any psychic or magical power used against him, and itís a power that both religious and scientific sides would like to get their hands on.
Toma's life starts to get interesting after an encounter with a high level Electromancer called Mikoto Misaka who's skill at firing small metal items earned her the name ĎRailgun' and encountering a girl in a nun's habit on his balcony. The girl who's name is Index Librorum Prohibirorum has been implanted with 103,000 magical texts called grimores that in the wrong hands could provide the magical power to devastate the world. Toma will find himself right in the middle as the worlds of science and religion collide with the fate of the world in the balance and it's revealed that neither side is willing to play fair.
Toma's problem is that his skill has an adverse effect on his own luck and as such is always in the middle of trouble, but he has a kind heart and has a noble spirit. Misaka has a tomboyish personality but seems to have at least an interest or possibly a crush on Toma as well as a history that gets revealed as the story progresses. Index herself is rather childlike until she accesses the information in the grimores where she gains an almost automaton personality which acts as a Deus Ex Machina by getting the other protagonists out of trouble. First we meet agents from Nessasarius, the Church of Necessary Evil, who are hunting Index with the aim of resetting her memory with the apparent aim of saving her life. Later on we meet Accelerator, part of a project by a group of Academy City leaders to create a more powerful Esper, who acts as the primary antagonist in the second plot arc of the series.
The animation is first class with a subtle use of CG, the audio has been used to perfectly compliment the series. The Funimation dub isn't terrible but has a tendency to skip over some of the finer details so it would probably best to watch in the original Japanese with the subtitles on at least once.
As a whole, the idea of magic versus science is left on the back burner and is closer to a cold war scenario while the characters are mostly unaware to the larger picture until it starts to affect their lives. This series has quite a lot between it's ears and would probably appeal to those who liked series such as Code Geass or Death Note as they all require quite a lot of concentration to get a handle on the plot. There is a plot hole or two around or at least there certainly appears to be, but mostly these seem to be a hook to engage the viewer until resolved by the ever-revealing nature of the show. There is a good mix of comedy and action with most of the series following a monster-of-the-week premise until it really gets going and digs deeper into the story.
This is a great series and well worth picking up as is the side stories A Certain Scientific Railgun and A Certain Scientific Accellerator when they become available. Highly recommended.