A Certain Magical Index and its spinoff, A Certain Scientific Railgun, are two parts of a larger media franchise that some like to call the “Raildex.” Because both series are closely related, there is a lot of confusion about the watch order.
Most people believe that watching A Certain Magical Index before watching A Certain Scientific Railgun takes the fun out of breaking down the complex arc of the characters. In this article, we hope to clear some of that confusion by outlining the best A Certain Scientific Railgun watch order.
What Is A Certain Scientific Railgun?
A Certain Scientific Railgun is a widely popular Shonen anime (a genre marketed to young men and boys) created by Kazuma Kamachi. The Manga series was first produced in 2007 as a spin-off of Kamachi’s other popular light novel series called A Certain Magical Index. Both the light novels and manga series were eventually adapted into TV anime series with the same titles.
The story of this series revolves around a heroine, Mikoto Misaka, one of the most powerful espers (people with supernatural psychic powers) in the city. It is set in a futuristic city where everyone has to undergo a scientific procedure to access magical and supernatural powers. In this series, we explore the life of the heroine and her escapades with her friends.
One of the major attractions of this series is how each character has an amazing arc. There’s a similarity in how each character is explored in My Hero Academia: Bakugo’s character arc, Todoroki’s, and Midoriya learning to use his quirk.
If you’ve seen My Hero Academia and enjoyed watching as the characters learned to master their powers and use them to protect their city, then you will enjoy watching A Certain Scientific Railgun.
What Is the Plot of the Series?
The series is set in the Academy City, a city full of students looking to gain supernatural prowess. Academy City is home to powerful espers and is where all efforts for scientific advancement are concentrated. Among them are seven “Level 5” espers, the highest level of magical ability, all with different powers.
Mikoto Misaka ranks third out of the seven best espers in Academy City and is an electricity manipulator nicknamed “The Railgun.” In addition to being one of the strongest espers in the city, Mokoto is also the best performing student at the Tokiwadai Middle School.
The series follows her as she discovers what she can do with her powers. Along the way, she makes friends with Shirai Kuroko, Uiharu Kazari, and Saten Ruiko, who tag along on her many escapades.
As events unfold in the first season and strange occurrences happen, Mikoto makes the connection that each crime has something to do with the “Level Upper.” This elusive device allegedly increases the esper level of the wielder.
As things worsen, it immediately becomes clear that they must have underestimated the Level Upper, and there is more to the device than meets the eye. They also discover that Academy City is more sinister than the glamorous place it was painted to be.
In the second season, the plot of Scientific Railgun merges with that of Magical Index when a mysterious person gets their hands on Mikoto’s genetic sample. They later use it to create clones of Mikoto, which are eventually destroyed to produce the first-ever “Level 6” esper in Academy City.
The third season opens with an annual sports festival in Academy City, which features the incidents that happen in the parallel universe of Magical Index on the science and technology side. Events move on to feature special cards that can record someone’s dreams.
The Major Characters of Scientific Railgun
Mikoto Misaka is a Level 5 Electromaster and student at Tokiwadai Middle School who is known for her great performance in school. However, she is far from a model student and is a tomboy with a great sense of justice. Satou Rina voices her character.
Shirai is Mikoto’s friend, roommate, and schoolmate. She is a Teleporter obsessed with her friend and will go to any lengths for her affection. The character is voiced by Arai Satomi.
Uiharu has a Level 1 esper ability she’d rather not have. She’s a whiz at searching out any information on the computer and is Kuroko’s colleague and Saten Ruiko’s friend. Toyosaki Ani voices her character.
Saten is a Level 0 student at Sakugawa Middle School and hopes to gain esper abilities. However, she is unwilling to put in any actual work towards it. She is friends with Uiharu and her character is voiced by Itou Kanae.
A Certain Magical Index vs A Certain Scientific Railgun
A Certain Magical Index is the original series in the franchise and is an anime adaption of a series of novels that started in 2004 and now has over 50 volumes. On the other hand, A Certain Scientific Railgun is based on a manga spinoff of the original series. It focuses on the escapades of Mikoto Misaka.
Despite being a spinoff, it still encompasses the complex nature of the series itself. The extended universe in A Certain Magical Index is so huge that even though the spinoff focuses majorly on one character and one setting, Academy City (which is the city of espers and science), it still manages to feel like a fully-developed saga with its own complex set up.
Adding to the confusion that some readers and viewers feel, both series were adapted into TV anime and released very closely together. Magical Index was released in 2008, and Scientific Railgun came out in 2009. They both became wildly prominent and popular among anime lovers, prompting some confusion and comparison between the two series.
The spinoff Scientific Railgun has sold more than twice the number of DVDs that Magical Index has. You could attribute the success of Scientific Railgun to the fact that, by chronological order, the events in that series happen before the events in Magical Index, which makes it a great starting point for anyone wishing to watch the Raildex franchise.
It’s not uncommon to see avid watchers and fans of the franchise swear by the awesomeness of Scientific Railgun, even without watching the Magical Index.
A Certain Scientific Railgun Watch Order
At face value, the answer seems easy — watch the episodes according to their release date. However, if you do this, you’re bound to make the already complex nature of the series more confusing than it should be.
As we’ve mentioned before, most of the events in Scientific Railgun happen before Index. Watching Magical Index first detracts from some of the character arcs that are deeply explored in Scientific Railgun. You lose some of the suspenseful experiences you would have had with Railgun characters when you begin with the Magical Index – which only briefly touches on their development.
To thoroughly enjoy both series, here’s the appropriate watch order to follow:
1. A Certain Scientific Railgun
Chronological order: First
Release order: Second
Release date: October 3, 2009 – March 20, 2010
2. A Certain Scientific Railgun OVA
Running Time: 30 minutes
Chronological order: Second
Release order: Third
Release date: October 29, 2010
3. A Certain Magical Index
Chronological order: Third
Release order: First
Release date: October 4, 2008 – November 29, 2008
4. A Certain Scientific Railgun S
Chronological order: Fourth
Release order: Fourth
Release date: April 12, 2013 – September 27, 2013
5. A Certain Magical Index
Chronological order: Fifth
Release order: First
Release date: December 6, 2008 – March 19, 2009
6. A Certain Scientific Accelerator
Chronological order: Sixth
Release order: Eighth
Release date: July 12, 2019 – September 27, 2019
7. A Certain Magical Index II
Chronological order: Seventh
Release order: Fourth
Release date: October 8, 2010 – November 19, 2010
8. A Certain Magical Index the Movie: The Miracle of Endymion
Running Time: 90 minutes
Chronological order: Eighth
Release order: Sixth
Release date: February 23, 2013
9. A Certain Magical Index II
Chronological order: Ninth
Release order: Fourth
Release date: November 26, 2010 – April 1, 2011
10. A Certain Magical Index III
Chronological order: Tenth
Release order: Seventh
Release date: October 5, 2018 – November 9, 2018
11. A Certain Scientific Railgun T
Chronological order: Eleventh
Release order: Ninth
Release date: January 10, 2020 – September 25, 2020
12. A Certain Magical Index III
Chronological order: Twelfth
Release order: Seventh
Release date: November 16, 2018 – April 5, 2019
Do You Need to Watch A Certain Scientific Accelerator?
A Certain Scientific Accelerator is another spinoff series in the “Raildex.” It doesn’t add much to the Raildex franchise because the storyline is tangential to the main series.
Most fans prefer to skip it and focus on other parts. However, since it involves one of the most interesting character arcs in the series, it doesn’t hurt to watch it, too.
Since it’s largely unrelated to the plots of the two original series, you can choose to watch it at any time without compromising the watch order.
To fully immerse yourself in the futuristic world this anime describes, it’s important that you watch the series chronologically. However, as you now know, the A Certain Scientific Railgun watch order is complicated. Without a little guidance, you will miss the actual chronology of the storylines.
However, with the order outlined above, watching the series should now be easy to understand and enjoy.
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