"July 16" (七月十六日 Shichi-gatsu Jū-roku-nichi?) is the first chapter of the Toaru Kagaku no Railgun manga series, published on February 21, 2007.
We witness a sneak peek into the lives of two friends from Academy City, a city where students acquire esper abilities. Misaka Mikoto, a Level 5 esper, displays her tendencies to put the law into her hands, while Shirai Kuroko, a Teleporter and Mikoto's friend, tries to do her job... and stop her friend from putting herself into trouble, to no avail.
Yet another man falls in the hands of Shirai Kuroko, a young middle-school girl from Judgment, Academy City's student-based crimefighting organization. In a swift move, she takes down a runaway thug and pins him to the ground, twisting his arm to fully subdue her target. However, after she cuffs the thug's wrists, she sees a short-haired girl deep into the alleyway, a girl with electricity leaping from her hair and a smoking pile of thugs in front of her. It turns out that Kuroko knows this girl, and she had mistaken her for a helpless girl that needs her help; instead, Kuroko needed to save them from her electrifying grasp.
Afterwards, Kuroko gives her friend some reminders on who is supposed to uphold the law in Academy City, and that it's either students affiliated with Judgment like Kuroko or teachers who are enlisted at Anti-Skill to handle problems that Judgment cannot handle on their own. However, the girl doesn't seem to listen to her friend's reminder, instead wondering about her flawless win streak — flawless except for a blotch on her record due to a certain someone. Their talk shifts to the clear offset between Academy City's advancements in technology and the amount of thugs still littering the city. Kuroko, however, trusts enough how it goes around in Academy City, and tells her that lawbreakers are inevitable no matter the place, and this is the reason why Kuroko chose to join Judgment.
The two soon arrive at a park with a vending machine. As Kuroko continues talking, the girl, later called by Kuroko as "Misaka", delivers a roundhouse kick to the poor vending machine to make it eject a free drink. Misaka takes her free drink on their way to their school: Tokiwadai Middle School.
Class begins at Tokiwadai Middle School. A teacher teaches her class of female students about the system used to classify an esper's power level. According to the teacher, it goes from 0 to 5, and it is possible "through hard work and determination" for an esper would reach Level 5 from scratch, and it depends on how Academy City's Power Development Curriculum would work on each student.
A loud explosion is heard by the class, and the startled students began to ask where the explosion came from. The teacher responds that the explosion was caused by one of the most successful products of the Power Development Curriculum, a girl who has climbed from Level 1 to 5 through sheer determination: the "Railgun", the Level 5 Misaka Mikoto.
In Tokiwadai's shower room, Mikoto hears from Kuroko about the response of many students about the explosive potential of her ability. She is worried about the disturbances that she might have caused, but Kuroko assures her that she has a right to make heads turn as the Ace of Tokiwadai. Soon, however, before Mikoto can react, Kuroko uses her own esper ability — teleportation — to get to Mikoto from the other shower cubicle. Fortunately for Mikoto, she is able to shove Kuroko out before her breasts are claimed by the perverse Teleporter.
After class, Kuroko and Mikoto head to the park, where Mikoto visits a crepe stand while Kuroko continues to lecture her about knowing her place as a civilian. Kuroko declines under the excuse of "being still on duty", but Mikoto figures out that Kuroko is on a diet. Nonetheless, Mikoto offers her crepe to Kuroko. However, this is part of Kuroko's plan to get an indirect kiss from Mikoto, with Kuroko quickly going into her clingy mode, which Mikoto easily takes care of.
Soon, the two are joined by Uiharu Kazari, a student and another member of Judgment, who is wearing a mask to cover her nose and mouth due to having the flu. Mikoto quickly shows some concern for Uiharu's condition and even checks her temperature by placing her forehead on Uiharu's. This triggers Kuroko's jealousy, and while Kuroko tries to contain herself, Uiharu tells Mikoto that despite her sickness, she is still compelled to go to duty due to a sudden increase of cases involving rogue espers who use their powers on crimes. Mikoto thinks that a device that restrains an esper's powers are needed, but Kuroko thinks that such a device might be dangerous to one's brain, since an esper's powers are harnessed by the human mind.
Uiharu notices that a nearby bank has its shutters down too early. Shortly afterwards, an explosion rips through the steel shutters and a group of masked men escape from the bank carrying bags of money. Kuroko quickly goes into action and confronts the three, while Uiharu is assigned to look for casualties. Meanwhile, Mikoto is asked to stay in place.
Kuroko stands in front of three men who quickly laugh at the small girl confronting them. However, Kuroko quickly shows what she is capable of. One of the men, upon charging towards Kuroko, suddenly finds himself upside down, and another prepares to fight using his pyrokinetic powers. Unfortunately, Kuroko's agility is more than enough to take down the pyrokinetic, and in a few seconds, Kuroko drives several iron spikes through the pyrokinesist's clothing, pinning him in place.
The remaining robber tries to escape, and in his haste spills Mikoto's crepe on her clothes. Kuroko soon feels chills down her spine as she sees Mikoto slowly losing her temper. Then, the gang remembers a particular rumor going around... about a Teleporter who "is unbelievably merciless and wicked" and her partner, the ultimate electric weapon... the Railgun!
As the remaining robber speeds up using a stolen car, sparks fly on Mikoto's head, and after Mikoto flips a coin on her right hand, she launches it using her electricity powers, sending the car flying due to the sheer force of the coin being fired at blinding speeds. Soon, Anti-Skill takes over the incident, and as Uiharu reports to a fellow Judgment member, Kuroko sends the gang to the Anti-Skill.
And just like that, Mikoto, Kuroko and Uiharu quickly return to their normal daily lives as students in Academy City.
This chapter was adapted into the first episode of the Toaru Kagaku no Railgun anime series, with some changes to several details from the manga.
By order of appearance
- Teleport - Shirai Kuroko, Level 4.
- Electromaster - Misaka Mikoto, Level 5.
- Pyrokinesis - Okahara Ryouta, Level 3.
- An indirect kiss is a belief wherein a person who uses something that was already used by another person's (particularly a crush) mouth is supposed to have kissed that person indirectly.
- "If you, even a small bit, feel frustrated about yourself losing, train harder and show us what you're capable of." — Kuroko's send-off message to Okahara Ryouta before he is taken to the authorities