I didn’t like A certain Scientific Railgun anime much — I thought it had too little Mikoto. I don’t think I’ve ever made it through a season of Index (though when I watched, I watched for Mikoto).
But, gosh. I like the Railgun manga. Quite a lot.
This manga is carried by the charm of its quartet of main characters. Mikoto and Kuroko may be powerful (and they may attend the elite Tokiwadai Academy), but they think nothing of spending time with the level 0 and level 1 Saten and Uihara (initially, to Saten’s surprise). In addition, Saten and Uihara have roles of their own to play in the plot — they’re not just an audience for Mikoto’s displays of power. And neither is the reader: the manga spends a good deal of its time just hanging out with these four — at cafes, shopping for girly pajamas, eating crepes.
It may have helped my appreciation for the manga to be subdued in comparison to the anime (though otherwise the anime is a pretty faithful adaptation of the manga, at least as far as volume one is concerned). Mikoto may growl as much in the manga as she does in the anime, but here it’s kept on the page. Kuroko is not quite the enthusiastically smitten lech as in the anime, but she’s still head-over-heels for Mikoto and happy to show it. (One advantage the anime has over the manga: Arai Satomi’s voice as Kuroko.)
The manga also makes it a little easier to ignore the cliched tsunderism whenever Mikoto is around whats-his-name.
Volume two is about to come out. Much to my surprise, I’ll be picking it up.