A Certain Scientific Railgun Vol. 03 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. 03 (manga) 

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***SPOILERS***  

A Certain Scientific Railgun Vol. 03The highlights of this volume start with the conclusion of the Level Upper arc, with Mikoto learning why Kiyama-sensei started the whole Level Upper experiment,which leads to Kiyama-sensei “giving birth” so a monstrous, physical manifestation of all of the unconscious people in her. Mikoto is able to defeat the monstrous entity, but after Kiyama-sensei gives up, Mikoto learns that Kiyama-sensei got the idea for her special network from Mikoto.  With everyone safe and now waking up from their comas, Mikoto and Kuroko get caught sneaking into the dorm after curfew and are punished by being forced to clean the school’s massive swimming pool, where Kuroko’s schemes for Mikoto don’t go as planned.

Finally, in a backstory set of chapters, a much younger Kuroko and Uiharu meet for the first time during rudimentary Judgement training, where Kuroko is already a member but having to take the training again and Uiharu is attempting to get into Judgement. The two become friends, but when they are caught up in a bank robbery with a senpai, Kuroko learns that despite her skills, she has a lot to learn.

While the Level Upper arc concludes successfully, it is somewhat of a shame that the story of Kiyama-sensei continuing her quest to save her former, young students isn’t covered in the manga. It is covered well in the anime, so there is that. The manga does provide one image of Kiyama-sensei out of jail and with her former students, whom are now in middle school attire, seemingly for the first time. So the manga does imply a happy ending there.  One thing I don’t recall from the anime is Kiyama-sensei’s revelation (and foreshadowing) that her idea for a human network actually came from Mikoto. Whether it was or not, the foreshadowing is a nice touch.

The aftermath story where Kuroko and Mikoto are punished for being out late was also covered by the anime.  The story is more about Kuroko and her lesbian obsession with Mikoto, which is an eye-roller, but whatever.

That said, the final two chapters covering the grade school-aged Kuroko and Uiharu give Kuroko that added bonus that takes her beyond the normal cliched homosexual character in anime/manga who’s obsessed with getting it on with their straight friend. This story was also covered in the anime, but to be honest, I was surprised that it was a manga story first.  Still, getting backstory of how Kuroko and Uiharu became friends and working partners is a good thing, more so since Kuroko’s character is shown to be much more than some 1-dimensional, lust-crazed lesbo. That’s why even though Kuroko’s “oneesama” obsession is tolerable to me.

As to the Seven Seas side of things, the honorifics are still retained, including the brother and sister honorifics.  Seriously, it just wouldn’t be the same if Kuroko was saying “Big Sister” or even “Mikoto” rather than her trademark “Oneesama!”  There are sketch extras and excerpts from Kuroko’s diary, before and after Mikoto (which is funny, especially since Kuroko held a negative impression of the “Railgun” before meeting her). There’s also a note from Kazuma-sensei. Sadly, there is no translator notes section, which is something I like, but on occasion, there are translator notes on the same page somewhere.

In the end, this a good volume that not only wraps up a major story arc, but takes a little down time to let folks catch their breath, followed by a nice, 2-chapter story fleshing out Kuroko and Uiharu.

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