A Certain Scientific Accelerator is a part of the Index manga/anime/light novel series, which poses a problem for me as a reviewer. Since my knowledge of the franchise consists exclusively of its naming scheme (every entry follows the pattern of “A Certain Magical/Scientific [fill in the blank]”), I spent more time reading Wikipedia than reading the actual Accelerator manga. In brief, it’s set in a futuristic world where almost everyone has psychic powers, and magic exists too, but as a dark secret that most people don’t know about.
The titular Accelerator is a powerful esper with the ability to control vectors. He starts off in the hospital, recuperating from his defeat at the hands of Touma, the protagonist of A Certain Magical Index (the main book in the franchise). Estelle, a necromancer, is on the run from DA, a rogue unit of the police force Anti-Skill, when she meets Accelerator. After a rocky start, the two join forces to stop DA from using Last Order (a 10-year-old girl with special powers) to remake the world. Disappointingly, Volume 1 is mostly set up for the coming battle against DA.
I’m only scratching the surface of the many references to previous series. Like A Certain Scientific Railgun, the series is a spinoff about a fan-favorite Index character, but there’s no establishing exposition, meaning that a trip to a wiki is required for anybody new to the franchise. Meanwhile, characters throw around proper nouns like “Anti-Skill” and “Layers” without any explanation. That’s not to say the manga is bad, but it’s a confusing starting point.
Newcomer Arata Yamaji’s artwork is plagued by inconsistent proportions and awkward poses in nonaction scenes. It’s clear he’s more comfortable with action, where his scratchy lines create a sense of energy and motion.
It’s difficult for me to evaluate the manga’s story since there’s a huge amount of lore behind the series that I’m unfamiliar with, but I can see how a franchise fan might enjoy it. Accelerator is a cool antihero, more concerned with personal satisfaction than the good of humanity, and his attitude contrasts well with Estelle’s selflessness and Last Order’s innocence. Plus, the underlying world seems like fertile ground for X-Men-style superpowered battles. If that sounds interesting to you, you may want to try Index, but hold off on Accelerator until you’ve done your homework!
Publisher: Seven Seas
Story: Kazuma Mamachi
Art: Arata Yamaji