The Power Curriculum Program (
The Power Curriculum Program has been running for over half a century, with Academy City's first esper having been a normal girl who was trained based on the data of Meiji era psychic Mifune Chizuko. Subsequently nicknamed "the Beginning Child", the Power Curriculum Program and Academy City were built based on the system used for the Beginning Child.
Before and after that, programs and experiments for research on Espers have been going on since the time of the Cold War, such as the Stargate Project which tried to replicate natural-born espers (Gemstones).
Principles and Concepts
The program's aim is for the student to attain their own Personal Reality, a term referring to normal reality being replaced by a person's own reality, which is the basis for gaining powers that often defy normal reality. Through a series of tests, studies, lectures, medicines, body stimulation (drugs injected directly into a blood vessel, the brain being pierced directly from behind the ears) and hypnosis, a person's brain can be modified so that they can unlock their very own Personal Reality.
Apparently, the program uses doublespeak in order for the city to deceive observers of the true nature of the many tests in the program, such as "recording skills" and "memorization skills". This is justifiable as some tests such as the ability to bend spoons can be dangerous  due to the risk of trauma, tearing the blood vessels in the brain and possibly something malignant such as RSPK Syndrome.
The curriculum not only covers how to attain personal reality and powers, but also various concepts associated with it, such as basic Quantum Mechanic principles,[Notes 2] as well as the effects of their powers, such as AIM diffusion fields.
However, as a result of going through the program, it changes the body to run in a different circuit, because of this an esper using magic is highly likely to be injured, as magicians and esper run on very different circuits. There has been at least one attempt to solve this, a program twenty years ago that aimed to create the first Magician-Esper hybrid.
Adults are unable to participate in the program, and though it is not elaborated why, it might be related to the fact that hormones generated during puberty and adolescence are critical to esper development. In consequence, Academy City's curriculum begins at 5-years-old at the earliest.
According to Uiharu Kazari, esper ability names are decided on by the school, simple ones such as Electromaster or Telekinesis. However, there are also esper abilities that are decided by the student like Railgun. It is unknown what criteria are required to have one name their own esper ability, though uniqueness of the ability may be a factor.
Joining the Power Curriculum Program is a contract that allows the esper to gain money, which is automatically banked into their accounts. The more prestigious the school or higher the level of the esper, the greater the reward. However, they are then tasked to participate in more experiments and researches.
- Main article: System Scan
Part of the program is the System Scan (
The esper Level (
Most students are categorized as Level 0, normal people that have weak powers (Akemi) to the point of nonexistence (Saten Ruiko), but may have the potential to develop powers, and are encouraged to participate in the program to help them train or acquire their powers artificially. About 60% of Academy City's espers are Level 0s. However, not all Level 0s have no powers at all; there are special cases that a Level 0 has an ability that can't be directly measured (e.g., Kamijou Touma and Tsuchimikado Motoharu). While most students (Level 0s) fail the program as they never had powers to begin with or fail to increase their power, some start at higher Level than 0 and are able to advance their powers from their initial Level. (e.g. Misaka Mikoto who started as Level 1 and after some time she got to the Level 5)
Although it has been revealed that even if this was the case, Academy City may not give them the resources and procedures they need if the cost of producing them would not compensate for the power gained, as dictated by the Parameter List. Therefore, even if a person like Saten Ruiko worked hard to gain a higher Level, it is possible that resources needed for her advancement would be used on someone else with better cost/power ratio (e.g. a Level 2 that can become Level 4 quickly).
According to Tsukuyomi Komoe, Level 0s are an anomaly in the system, since the program can theoretically allow people to gain their own personal reality and therefore, powers if they consume enough "curriculum". Komoe states that solving the mystery behind the occurrence of Level 0s may be the key to attaining SYSTEM, the entire reason why Academy City was built.
List of Level Categories
Powers are filed under one of the following stages accordingly with their strength:
|English Term||Japanese Term||Description||Examples|
|Level 6 (Yen Press: Level Six)||Person with Absolute Powers (絶対能力者 Zettai Nōryokusha?, Yen Press: Absolute)||
Powers of an extent that they're considered immeasurable. However, nobody has been able to achieve it yet, with many institutes in the city trying to find ways to attain it, such as the Railgun Mass Production Plan. It has been stated that only Accelerator can achieve Level 6.
|Not yet achieved|
|Level 5 (Yen Press: Level Five)||Person with Super Powers
(超能力者 Chōnōryokusha?, Yen Press: Superpower)
|Powers of an extent that their wielder can fight alone against a military force on equal terms.||Misaka Mikoto|
|Level 4 (Yen Press: Level Four)||Person with Great Powers
(大能力者 Dainōryokusha?, Yen Press: Master)
|Powers of an extent that their wielder acquires tactical value of a military force.||Shirai Kuroko|
|Level 3 (Yen Press: Level Three)||Person with Strong Powers
(強能力者 Kyōnōryokusha?, Yen Press: Expert)
The degree when powers are considered convenient in everyday life, ability-wise this is the Level when one starts to be treated as part of the elite.
|Level 2 (Yen Press: Level Two)||Person with Unusual Powers
(異能力者 Inōryokusha?, Yen Press: Adept)
|Just like Level 1, powers are not very useful in everyday life.||Haruue Erii|
|Level 1 (Yen Press: Level One)||Person with Low Powers
(低能力者 Teinōryokusha?, Yen Press: Deficient)
|Powers of the degree to bend a spoon, many students belong here.||Uiharu Kazari|
|Level 0 (Yen Press: Level Zero)||Person with No Powers
(無能力者 Munōryokusha?, Yen Press: Impotent)
Exceptions aside, cannot be considered completely powerless, but is considered one of the so-called "students that can't keep up at school". Might possess some degree of power, but unable to truly control it.
Effects and reactions to the program
Promotion and propaganda
Despite the majority of students that undergo the program are Level 0s, the prospect of attaining their very own powers is enough for people to have children go to Academy City, as was the case with Saten Ruiko.
Academy City uses the mystique of gaining powers to promote people to send their children into the city as well as to attract sponsors, events such as the Daihaseisai, which showcases esper battles in regulated competitions which are normally prohibited by the city, is an example of this. Bringing in thousands of spectators and outsiders into the city, which is normally closed to outsiders.
Contributing to this is one of the program's success stories, Misaka Mikoto, as she started from Level 1 and apparently worked her way up to Level 5; she is presented as proof that with enough hard work and determination, anyone can become a powerful psychic. However, because of the existence of Parameter List, she was already predicted to attain Level 5 at a young age, as is maybe the reason why researchers came to take her DNA knowing full well of the potential she showed at such a young age. Mikoto is used as the "mascot" for the city and the program, and is apparently the only Level 5 competent enough to be able to be a representative of Academy City.
Academy City is the first to successfully create artificial espers, because of this however, many organizations such as the Asociacion de Ciencia and other Science side organizations desire the secrets of the program, as well the ire and suspicion of the Magic side. As consequence to this, security in the city is tight with three surveillance satellites above the city during the start of the series, a wall that separates the city from the outside world among others.
Some of the scientists who research psychic powers try to increase a person's powers, especially if said powers are unique, via unethical methods such as dangerous drugs (e.g., the Crystallized Esper Essence and Body Crystal) and experiments (e.g., the various institutions Accelerator has been through in his youth).
Some of these methods achieve their desired results, but others fail horribly, ending with its participants traumatized, injured, or even dead. In fact, some of the most powerful espers in Academy City are the result of these dark programs. One example is Accelerator, who was the only survivor of gruesome experiments. Another is Kinuhata Saiai, whose Personal Reality was developed by studying Accelerator's own; while failing to reach Level 5, she managed to obtain "automatic activation of esper ability" similar to Accelerator's auto-reflect.
It is implied, through the fact that the city is always under surveillance, that Academy City's Board of Directors are aware of these experiments, but choose to turn a blind eye to them and allow the scientists that run them to do as they wish as long as the public does not know and said experiments have achieved their desired results.
Furthermore, Hamazura Shiage found proof that Academy City was preventing the majority of espers from developing their powers via the Parameter List. Because of the lack of facilities for espers with slow growth, some students give up entirely in attaining an esper power and become criminals or Skill-Out, armed Level 0s that are against espers. Strife between Skill-Out and espers continue to grow in Academy City, with harmless Level 0s being taken in the crossfire.
Moreover, Levels are used as a status symbol for students, and especially apparent in schools such as Tokiwadai Middle School, the higher levels are more likely to treat lower levels poorly even with disdain.
Relationship to Aleister Crowley's plan
- Main article: Aleister's Plan
The true nature of the program was to create as much espers as possibly can, as so a large amount of AIM can be dispersed into the city, allowing for the creation of Kazakiri Hyouka, the key of the Imaginary Number District. The program was also setup in order for Aleister to find a being that could attain Level 6 or SYSTEM, which is both Accelerator and Kakine Teitoku's purpose.
- Komaba Ritoku referring to Musujime Awaki as an esper.
- Throughout the series, the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment has been used as a basis for Personal Reality, wherein an esper can theoretically choose what happens to the cat inside the box. The Uncertainty Principle is referenced as well, although this is not really expanded upon.
- There is a slight anomaly regarding this, as Mikoto does the System Scan twice in the Toaru Kagaku no Railgun. However, one can assume that the test is done at least once a school year.
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