A Certain Scientific Railgun Vol. 04 Manga Review

とある科学の超電磁砲(レールガン)/Toaru Kagaku no Railgun

A Certain Scientific Railgun Vol. 04 (manga review) 

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***SPOILERS***  

The highlights of this volume, Mikoto becomes aware of cash cards being distributed in back alleys and such throughout Academy City.  She overhears about someone being seen hiding these, so she tracks the person down and discovers the fish-eyed high school girl NUNOTABA Shinobu taking care of three punks. Realizing that Mikoto is “the original,” Shinobu puts Mikoto on the trail of the rumored Mikoto clones. Mikoto infiltrates a lab, where she learns her DNA that was taken from her voluntarily at a young age was not used as intended, but to make clones. However, Mikoto is relieved to discover the “Sisters” project was canceled.

Mikoto is feeling much better about life, even taking time to play with some young kids, one of whom she met during the Level Upper arc, when she suddenly senses something. Checking into it, she discovers a clone of herself, who speaks of herself in the third person as “Misaka,” and who addresses Mikoto as “Oneesama.” After helping Misaka rescue a kitten, Mikoto can’t get the clone to put forward an answer to her questions, but she spends the afternoon with the clone anyway. Mikoto contacts Uiharu, who uncovers the dark secret of the Sisters project. Mikoto races to where the latest experiment is to take place, only to discover the esper named Accelerator has already killed the Misaka clone in order to get to Level 6. With that, Mikoto attacks.

I know that the origins of this story were contained in a single volume of the A Certain Magical Index light novels as well as the first anime adaptation of that series. So, I already know the general story and how it will turn out. However, the Railgun manga story is going to seriously flesh out the Sisters story arc and that’s something I’m really looking forward to.

Before going to the dark stuff, I have to say that I loved the interlude with Mikoto playing with the cute little girl that keeps showing up, starting in the Level Upper arc, and the girls friends.  Mikoto has a nice, girlish and kiddy side, so why not spend some time with these kids?  Plus, her obsession with getting that frog badge was humorous.

As to the story, the first addition is the character of Shinobu, who wasn’t in the Index anime.  With her desire to stop these brutal experiments on Mikoto’s clones, I can’t imagine we’ve seen the last of Shinobu, who just disappears from the story, but who’s there long enough to put Mikoto onto the trail.

There was an interesting flashback showing the birth of one of the clones, which was interesting, though sick. Seriously, you have two seemingly nice female lab people who treat the clone nicely, serve her tea (even though the clone apparently has a highly refined sense of taste, enough to critique her first tea in a humorous way), but then nonchalantly give the clone her first assignment — clean up the gory remains of several earlier clones.

I don’t remember Mikoto spending an afternoon with one of her clones, but she may have done so in the anime. If so, I don’t remember that level of detail, such as Misaka stealing Mikoto’s ice cream.  Of course the 4-koma comic strips at the back add to the humorous nature of their encounter. It also helps add to the humanity of the clones, whom are innocent, who speak their minds in a straight forward manner, and whom obviously have an affinity for their “oneesama” originator.

All of this setup really helps the reader feel for the Misaka clone when she’s offed by Accelerator. We want Mikoto to go in there and kick some serious arse.  Thankfully, before things got too dark, there were enough humorous moments to help balance things out, though I wonder if additional humor moments can be obtained from here on out.

On the Seven Seas side of things, the translations continue to be ANB-approved, with full Japanese honorific usage, including sister terms like “oneechan” and “oneesama.” The extras have notes from the anime staff for Railgun, as well as four “4-koma” comic strips, humorously expanding upon Mikoto’s and Misaka’s afternoon together. There’s a preview for “Alice in the Country of Clover,” which has no appeal for me. Sadly, there are no translator notes, which is something I wish all manga had.

Because I’m so far behind on manga, volume 5 comes out pretty soon (August 7, 2012), though sadly I won’t be able to score it until the end of August. Well, such is life on a budget. However, the manga is good, so I don’t mind the wait. Besides, it will help shorting the four month wait for volume 6. ^_~

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3 Responses to “A Certain Scientific Railgun Vol. 04 Manga Review”

  1. Adam Arnold says:

    Seven Seas used to include post-manga translation note pages, but found that they didn’t enhance the reading experience because most readers didn’t even know they were there at all. Our current policy is to include any translation notes as footnotes in the margins of the paper where the item needing an explanation appears. We would much rather readers understand a book as they read it than come across some random text page in the back and go well after the fact… “Oh, so that’s what that character meant back in such and such chapter. I was wondering.”

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      Wow. That is interesting. I’m certainly not opposed to “instant notes” in the margins, but I always loved translator notes going into cultural aspects, parody items, or something tricky to translate.

      Still, if people weren’t even aware of a section for translator notes, are they even looking at the extras in the manga at all?

  2. […] those wanting to know, this episode came from chapters 22 and 23 of volume 4 of the […]

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