Greetings! Sometimes, it’s good to be bad and today we have a series which focuses on a character who is not your typical hero. In fact you would be hard pressed to even call the stories’ main character a hero in the true since of the word. Good guy heroes are a dime a dozen but those characters that are morally ambiguous are not only more rare but are also more interesting. The series that I will be discussing today focuses on such a character. The series is a spinoff of a franchise which has been popular for about a decade and has already spawned a successful spinoff. Strap in as I discuss 2019’s A Certain Scientific Accelerator.
One of the reasons that I believe people are drawn to the universe of Index/Railgun/Accelerator is it’s characters. There are plenty of great characters in the universe and the title character of this series is certainly one of them. Accelerator is definition who really just doesn’t give a damn about what those around thinks. He has a bad attitude and the ability to back it up. I would say that the Accelerator stories in Index were better than many of Touma’s stories. Accelerator is a snarky, cocky asshole and his quips are incredibly entertaining to watch. We also get some appearances by Last Order who is easily the most adorable character in the Index universe. The brother/sister dynamic between Accelerator and Last Order was certainly on display when the series wasn’t full blown action. I always liked that Accelerator had that foil, that someone that regardless of what she said or did, she would be the one person that he would have a soft spot for. You also get appearances from some other characters in the series including the involvement of one of the Misaka sisters who always steal whatever scenes that they are in. The tied in characters are certainly more than a “see what we did” moment. They add to the narrative of the series and it is the mark of good writing when you do that.
Accelerator takes it 12 episodes to tell an interesting and action packed story. The best way to describe the Accelerator series is like an 80’s/90’s action film. The action scenes as is the case with any series from the Index universe look awesome. This was always a strength of Index and Railgun and it is great to see it continue in Accelerator. The series especially in it’s battle just captured the darker tone so well. There was a constant use of darker and more subtle colors and it really set the atmosphere. I also have to give a shoutout to the awesome as hell opening credits to the anime. Not only is Shadow is the light a banger song but the visuals really capture the more hard core tone of the of the series.
Accelerator has a tough task in terms of it’s narrative, tell an entertaining story while remaining in the confines of the overall narrative of the universe. The Accelerator we meet at the time of the series is in a transition period. His main character development points happen before and after in the Index seasons so the narrative can’t change things too much for him. What you can do is introduce new characters, give their story and have your main character have a critical role in it. And that is what the series does. Knowing where the series takes place in the universe I didn’t expect to see ground breaking revelations concerning our MC. I figured we would get a cool side adventure. This is not a knock on the series at all because such stories can be quite entertaining.
I thought Esther’s story to have quite a bit of heart as she confronts her past mistakes and her family legacy. Just like in Index where many of the arcs focuses on the side characters stories and not Touma’s, Accelerator focuses on Esther’s story which so happens to tangle with Accelerator’s and the Misaka Sisters. And in terms of stories and characters from the Magic side, this was one of the more impressive ones. Here you have a character in Esther who is not inherently bad and wants to help people but is just off base as to how to do it. She also wants to make a unique name for itself and not solely rely on her family legacy. And while it would have been cool to see a more Accelerator focused narrative (such as his past pre Index I), the story we got here was still pretty damn good. The villains of the series while not the most impressive out there were good enough to make for menacing but relatable characters. I also liked that the story structure resembled Railgun’s structure more than Index’s. The entire series was one arc which gave you time to understand and appreciate the characters and not rush the narrative. But getting a full 12 episode really was a nice touch.
Despite being a side story, Accelerator does have plenty of connections to the main narrative. When looking at the grand narrative of the To Aru Universe is that one of the lynchpin stories especially dealing with the Science side is the Project Radio Noise and the Level 6 Shift experiment. Most of the Railgun stories tie in some manner to these events and the same is true for Accelerator. And while you could argue that it is a cop out in terms of the narrative, I think that this connection is great. However the connection does lead to one downside. Because of the nature of the story, I would advise against picking this series as a starting point. Except for the new characters to the franchise, character and setting introductions are overlooked as the series chooses to focus it’s time on the story. I acknowledge that it makes it tougher for newcomers to understand certain aspects of the series. The series is entertaining enough on it’s own but it is meant as a supplement to the main story and not a main story story itself. I would certainly recommend A Certain Magical Index first before checking this one out.
So how does Accelerator stack up in comparison to Railgun and Index? In looking at the series on it’s own merits it is quite good. But one cannot avoid the comparisons to the sister series Index and Railgun. It is a common discussion to look at which of the three series is best. On that note I will say Accelerator falls square in the middle of the three. I will concede that while the narrative is good, it still doesn’t quite have the impact that the stories in Railgun do as the cast is not quite as strong and you don’t have a major character arc for the MC. However, it is certainly a better narrative than Index where it takes the good elements from Index (Such as the idea of taking a character and putting him out of it’s element and the fascinating but under explained magic side) and merges it with the better narrative structure that Railgun has.
Overall, I believe that A Certain Scientific Accelerator is a wonderful addition to the ToAru Universe. It was great to see one of my favorite anti-heroes in action again.The series has a great story, spectacular action sequences and features one of the best anti-heroes in anime. If you are a fan of Index and/or Railgun and haven’t checked this out yet, I recommend that you do so. Accelerator may be a side story in the truest sense but it is still an entertaining ride.
And now the trifecta is complete until Railgun T’s second arc finishes. You can certainly expect to see my thoughts on that once the season is complete. It’s been excited to discuss all three of these series and I am glad that the universe came back for another round. Did you watch Accelerator? What did you think? Please comment below of message me on Twitter (@railgunfan75) with your thoughts. So until next time this is Railgunfan75 signing off. Stay safe, stay respectful, and stay geeky my friends!