Spoiled ojousama KONGOU Mitsuko transfers to Tokiwadai, but immediately runs into problems due to her attitude. Mitoko is avoiding a guy named Unabara and gets Mitsuko to pretend to be her friend to keep him at bay. Mitsuko thinks Mitoto's name is Unabara as the two spend an afternoon together. Later at school, Mitsuko learns about factions and gets to experience one of the Railgun shock waves at a distance. Thanks to Kuroko's bragging, Mitsuko develops a dislike for this "Railgun", not knowing it is Mikoto. Mitsuko decides to start a faction but fails. However, when Mikoto returns something Mitsuko had lost, Mitsuko wants to join Mikoto's faction. Mikoto isn't in one and just wants to be friends, so Mitsuko is happy to have her first friend.
Fellow level 5 esper Misaki isn't happy with Mikoto's growing popularity, so she issues her a "friendly" warning in the library by using her Mental Out power to control everyone there but Mikoto, who's immune to her power. Uiharu is depressed because Kuroko was hurt in a recent Judgment encounter, so Saten gets her to come with her to chase a rainbow and cheer her up. Misaki has to erase her faction's memories when she's contacted in public by someone with information, who also encourages her to get in the Daihasei Festival activities. Mikoto teams up with Mitsuko in a 3-legged race, where everyone uses their powers to gain an edge. Saten runs into someone she thinks she knows.
Well, this volume certainly has several things to comment on.
First, there's Mitsuko. She was introduced in the anime early on, as I recall, and she had a role in other episodes after the Level Upper arc in the anime, which fans consider canon. However, in the manga, she doesn't even transfer to Tokiwadai until this volume. I thought maybe this 2-chapter story about her and the factions at Tokiwadai could have happened prior to the Level Upper arc, which happened in July, but Mikoto mentioning Kuroko getting hurt blows that theory apart. I'm not sure how fans completely resolve Mitsuko being in the first anime series, but maybe Kamachi-sensei has stated something I don't know regarding the canon.
As to Mitsuko, the anime didn't leave that positive of an impression with me regarding her character. However, the manga reveals a lonely ojousama who developed this spoiled, "princess" attitude in order to cope with that loneliness. As such, I felt sorry for her and was glad that Mikoto became her first friend. That friendship comes off in a very real and believable way, thus their partnership in the three-legged race worked for me as well.
Misaki's early introduction in the second anime series must be due to the fact that the anime is not planning to adapt Mitsuko's transfer story, nor the factions story. In the manga, Misaki's arrival makes more sense as Mitsuko's activities and subsequent friendship with Mikoto have not escaped Misaki's notice. Thus, Misaki feels the need to put Mikoto in her place since Misaki can't control Mikoto.
Misaki had the funniest part in the manga. I laughed out loud when she forced one of her underlings, who'd prevented Misaki from eating extra desert, to go speed eat 20 eclairs while Misaki talked with that guy about whatever it is that they have going on.
This volume of the manga shows why we non-Japanese are at such a disadvantage when it comes to these multimedia stories. Kuroko's and Uiharu's adventures where Kuroko gets hurt were documented in one of the A Certain Magical Index novels as well as the anime. Unfortunately, all we get are that Kuroko was hurt, Uiharu was depressed about it, and just a bit more but that's it. So, if you haven't seen the anime or read the novel, then this whole bit about Kuroko's injuries will be confusing.
As far as the new arc goes, the story is taking its time setting things up. Misaki is clearly involved in something nefarious and Saten meeting that woman whom she thought she recognized would seem to play a bigger role. I wonder who the woman is.
On the Seven Seas side of things, the usual honorifics are here, including "oneesama" and the like, which I approve of. No translator notes section, but there are very small print margin notes and in-between panel notes. In addition to their normal ads for other Seven Seas manga titles, I'm glad to see a couple of ads for the Railgun and Index anime titles, since cross promotion is a good thing.
All in all, although this manga volume appears to have a lot more pages than usual, it simply wraps up the Sisters arc, then takes its time setting the table for the Daihasei Festival arc. That's not a problem as I enjoyed the journey.