To Aru Majutsu no Index was a show that inspired great feelings of disappointment in me. It did not set a new high for the amount of disappointment derived from a show, but it hit pretty annoying levels of This Could Be Way Better. Despite having a cast of well designed, quirky and cute characters along with a world that was fairly well thought out, nearly all of the show’s stories fell flat due to poor planning and stupid amounts of pointless exposition. It had entertaining moments, but on the whole the show was less than stellar.
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun is a lot better.
Despite being a touch put off by the shift in tone from Index to Railgun, I’ve come to really appreciate the show throughout the 11 episodes that have aired so far. Railgun takes the types of characters and world established by Index and presents them in a fun an interesting way, rather than being the test of patience that Index often was. The trick is that Railgun keeps it simple. Rather than telling the story with long 20-minute scenes of exposition, Railgun does well to show the story, as visual media should. This can in some ways be attributed to each series’ source material–Railgun is a comic and Index is a book. That said, I don’t think I’m being totally unfair in thinking that a studio should make some effort in successfully transferring a story from one medium to the next. This would not have saved some of the shoddy stories Index had (and boy did it have some shoddy stories) but it would have at least made the show a bit more watchable.
But yeah, Railgun is great. It’s a nice mix of slice-of-life antics with some nice stand-alone stories, and has recently shown it can tell a nice longer-form science fiction yarn well, too. This is all topped off with some really smooth animation and decently composed action scenes. It really is a shame that Index couldn’t even be half this entertaining.