I read two volumes of the manga beforehand and while the manga was interesting, they did not impress me that much. In addition, there were no fan service, or the level did not pass my checkpoint. However, the anime is quite different.
The manga stresses or highlights the fact that people without abilities really can’t do much in such an environment – a city full of students with magical abilities or abilities of different kinds, whether all of the abilities are magical or not are really not the real story. However, as some people do not have any abilities at all, they are often picked on or rejected. Whenever there is a crime, they often just stand by and do nothing. It’s all up to our super powerful half of the heroines – Shirai Kuroko, and her crush – Misaka Mikoto – to save the day.
The anime starts out quite different. First of all, the number of heroines is increased to four, with the addition of the girl with flowers on her head, Uihara Kazaki, and Saten Ruiko, who has no powers. Those two appear in the manga, but in my impression, they’re not really part of “the team” of heroines. They’re more like main sidekicks, or at least, Ruiko seems that way; as a matter of fact, something happens to her in the manga by volume two and takes her “off” the “team”. But in the anime, the one without power steps up and plays an important part in helping to deal with the first major crime, which is shown in both the manga and anime. Her involvement is significant that the feeling of the overall tone changes a great deal from the manga. In short, you may not have superhuman power, but you can sure do something to help.
With good animation backing everything up, this show is a surprise for me.
Additional notes: in the beginning of the manga, Misaka Mikoto starts her fight with the male protagonist within the few 20 pages or so; in the anime, he’s not even in the first episode.
And, the fan service is still an epic fail according to my standards due to the lack of showing the actual goodies.