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Caution: While the simple question asked here itself is ok, thanks to @ShayminGratitude's answer and some further research I did, I have found that the premises on which the deeper curiosities this question was prodding at were two wrong assumptions: One- that Misaka affects wind turbines by her machine-control ability (it's actually her EM wave ability), and two- that the wind turbine begins turning due to that ability (I later found that it was likely due to coincidental wind). Please enjoy this display of my analytical foolishness.

In the Railgun anime's second season, episode 16, starting at 19:20, Misaka is visiting Touma with homemade cookies in appreciation for saving her sisters by defeating Accelerator. After some classic tsundere-style failure to communicate, when Touma is about to leave (at 20:14), saying "Jaa na, Biribiri" ("See you later, Sparky"), Misaka asks him to remember her name, to which he responds by saying "Matana, Misaka" ("See you later, Misaka"- presumably the first time in the anime that she hears him call her by name). At that moment when he says that, the screen just shows a nearby wind turbine, and after he finishes saying it, for a split second, shows the wind turbine beginning to turn.

The implication (I'm 90% sure) is that Touma calling her by name made her heart flutter a bit, which caused the nearby turbine to begin moving, which sort of (more on this later) makes sense, since Misaka has the ability to take control of machines. I thought it was a neat/cute artistic, visual detail.

My Question

Does this little visual detail also happen in the light novel and/or the manga adaptation of the light novel?

I haven't read the light novels or the manga adaptation. I imagine it's easy to do in two panels in a manga (one panel of stationary turbine, and one of a turbine turning with some motion lines), but that something so visual would be difficult to convey "naturally" to the same effect in a novel without being an awkward distraction (I feel like it would be an awkward / unnatural reading experience to suddenly read "at that moment, a nearby wind turbine which was stationary began to turn" (or maybe I just can't imagine an elegant execution because I have no writing background)).

The deeper reason for my curiosity: "In-universe"-reality-checking the anime's faithfulness to the canonical limitations of Misaka's machine-control abilities

There's a somewhat deeper reason I'm asking this to do with Misaka's abilities. Bear with me because it'll seem like I'm overanalyzing, but I'm genuinely interested in these things, and I think it has significance in the universe of A Certain Scientific Railgun where my experience has been that the fictional, but science-based mechanics are quite self-consistent, and that the author cares about that self-consistency.

The reason I'm asking this is because I want to know how canonical it is- how faithful it is to Kazuma Kamachi (the author of the light novels)'s design of Misaka's abilities and their limitations.

In the anime, Misaka's non-magnetism-based machine-control ability demonstrations are (to my memory) always at close-range- either she is already touching the machine / one part of the connected system / a device that can communicate with the target system, or she is close enough that reaching out her hand a little further would allow her to touch it / one part of the connected system. I think you can see how that would at least make me as a viewer think that for her to be able to control a machine electrically, she needs to be within physical reaching distance of it or a device that can communicate with it.

Some examples: From season 2: ep3 at 6:48, ep3 at 17:17, ep7 0:00, ep10 at 18:26, ep10 at 18:40, ep12 at 20:14, (the same applies to the sisters) ep16 at 0:28-1:17. Some from season 3: ep1 at 0:47, ep4 at 11:28, etc.

The wind turbine is on the other side of the bridge she's standing on at that moment (see timestamp 20:54), and I'm not aware of her carrying or interacting with any device at that time that would allow her to remotely communicate with the turbine or its controlling system.

That's why I'm wondering if this was a "non-canonical" (where "canon" here refers to Kazuma Kamachi's design of Misaka's abilities and their limitations), artistic decision made by the manga adaptors or the anime producers that wasn't designed with the canonical limitations of Misaka's abilities in mind.

Note: I guess that if this long-distance machine control were found to not be canonical, one might be able to explain this with "the power of love and friendship"™, but if that's really the explanation, I'd expect it to be backed up with the same level of in-universe "rigour" as it was when that reason was given in season 2 ep24 at 16:04 when Febri wakes up Janie (emphasis added):

Nunotaba: We need Febri to release Jani from the runaway system. She's not taking any inputs from the outside, but because they share the same biological base, strong emotions from Febri just might reach her.

Saten: Naruhodo. So basically, the power of love?

Nunotaba: *blushes* Huh? I... I guess.

1 Answer 1

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What can we learn from the Index light novels and Railgun manga about this scene?

In short: nothing.

This appears to be a scene that only appears in A Certain Scientific Railgun. Both the light novels and manga for A Certain Magical Index conclude the arc after the hospital scenes (with the last one being with Index). This is volume 3 of the light novel and volume 4 of the manga.

Thinking on it closely, it shouldn't have surprised me that the scene is not in the light novels. Mikoto Misaka is only able to make the homemade cookies with Saten's help, and Saten is a character not found in the light novels, but was made for the Railgun manga.

Thus, we move on to the manga for A Certain Scientific Railgun, which is, as we'd expect, the source material for the anime. The corresponding volume is 7, and the chapter is 39, at the very end in the section labeled "An Iron Bridge Is A Signal For Romance" (this might denote a special chapter, particularly as it does seem separate from the rest of the chapter).

A windmill is not shown at any point during this scene in the manga. During the moment in question when Touma calls Misaka by name, the panels show the sky and the bridge without any buildings in the background. This windmill component of the scene must have been made for the anime.

In the scene in question, is the windmill actually just being moved by wind?

Given the timing of the windmill moving, and all the electromagnetic induced windmill turning that's happened in this arc, it isn't unreasonable to think a change in Misaka's emotions is what causes the windmill to move. However, could it be this isn't what the anime is trying to imply, and the windmill turning is actually just for visual appeal?

According to user starball,

It turns out the volume I watch at is too low for me to be able to hear the ambient environment noise. With volume turned up, at 19:20, I can hear what sounds like water and/or light wind. At 20:14, all ambient noise is silenced (probably for artistic effect to complement Misaka's feelings at that moment like-"everything else went quiet"), and in the zoomed-out scene showing the turbine (20:54), once the volume is high enough, I can easily and definitely hear the sound of wind. In fact, I can even hear some clear wind sounds at 20:50.

I rewatched it myself, and I did indeed hear some wind noises too. It is highly likely that the windmill is being moved by wind, not Misaka's electricity.

Is moving the windmills something Misaka can actually do at a distance?

Misaka has actually caused wind turbines to spin without touching them. starball tipped me off again since in the anime Touma is able to find Misaka in the first place by following wind turbines. This is also in the third light novel in chapter 2, part 9:

A wind generator's propellers were spinning in the distance. I can't feel any wind right now, thought Kamijou, when suddenly he slammed on the brakes.

Its propellers were rotating in the abscence of wind.

Just that one turbine, about a hundred meters away, was slowly gyrating. [...]

The word turbine or generator really just refers to a motor. [...] In addition, a person can get the motor to turn by pouring specific electromagnetic waves into it. That's how the microwave generators on the cutting edge of Academy City tech worked.

The propeller--the motor-- [...] was reacting to invisible electromagnetic waves. [...]

He didn't even know whether it was spinning in the first place. The wind's generator's propeller had only been swaying very slightly. [...] Beyond this spinning propeller was another propeller, turning just a teensy bit faster than the first, and beyond that one was a propeller spinning faster still.

It was like he was steadily drawing closer to some invisible explosive epicenter.

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  • Embarassing that an assumption I was 90% sure of was self-debunked by simply turning up the volume -_-. If you want, feel free to paraphrase what I discovered into your answer post, or block-quote it in. It think it could definitely help back up your answer.
    – starball
    Jan 20, 2023 at 19:59
  • @starball Okay, I don't mind adding in any new information. It shouldn't be embarrassing though. Frankly, I kind of messed up too. I watched it once and thought the windmill began moving before Touma started speaking. But after watching it again, the movement did seem to begin when he said Misaka's name. Not sure what happened there, but it's left me quite confused. Jan 20, 2023 at 20:39
  • But I guess it is a pretty typical thing in anime for a-gust-of-wind-to-blow-and-flower-petals-to-fall™ when something romantic happens. One particularly memorable instance in my head is the one in Hyouka ep22 at 22:46.
    – starball
    Jan 20, 2023 at 20:45
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    I was just doing some prep for another different question, and came across info relevant here! In season 2 ep14 at 9:14, Touma is looking for Misaka, and notices in the distance some wind turbines spinning without wind. He realizes it's due to EM waves and figures that Misaka will be near those turbines, and he's correct. The scene cuts to Misaka standing on a bridge with a little spark jittering from her head (9:28), and he soon finds her there. So my understanding was wrong- her ability to affect wind turbines is by her EM wave abilities, which is different than her machine-control ability.
    – starball
    Jan 21, 2023 at 0:48
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    ^ and she seems to have a larger range than the sisters for exercising that EM wave ability, since when those sparks came out of her head indicating the use of her abilities, she wasn't standing directly next to any wind turbines.
    – starball
    Jan 21, 2023 at 8:31

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