"A Certain Magical Index" TV Anime Review

Toaru Majutsu no Index/とある魔術の禁書目録(インデックス)
A Certain Magical Index


A Certain Magical IndexNormally, one would start a franchise from its beginnings, then work one’s way down through the sequels and spinoffs until one reached the end of the line (or lines).  In this case, I started with the canon, spinoff manga, A Certain Scientific Railgun (which I’m still reading), then worked my way to the anime adaptation, before working my way to the A Certain Magical Index anime adaptation. (As of this posting, there is no official, English release for the Index light novel series that marks the source of the anime adaptation.) To be honest, while starting with Railgun had me only slightly puzzled, I think that had I started Index first, I would have been more puzzled.

A Certain Magical IndexFor those who don’t know, A Certain Magical Index stars KAMIJOU Touma, who’s a teenage student who lives in the giant, psychic training Academy City.  Though officially classified as Level 0 (not an esper, thus having no powers), he has a mysterious ability (referred to as “Imagine Breaker”) to nullify any supernatural ability, be it psychic in nature, or magical.  One morning, he goes out on his apartment balcony to find a young, foreign, teen girl in a white, nun’s habit, bent over the railing. Taking her in and feeding her, he learns her name is Index.

A Certain Magical IndexIndex, who’s proper name is Index Librorum Prohibitorum, is a member of the British Anglican Church, and part of the church’s secret Necessarius branch.  In her head are stored 103,000 forbidden, magic texts, known as “grimoires,” which the Church stored there for safe keeping since Index cannot use them, nor is she negatively affected by them. A Certain Magical IndexHowever, to keep a measure of control over her, the Church implanted her with a magical program that causes her to get very ill after a year, requiring her non-grimoires memories to be flushed.  The Church officially explains the cause as being due to the books stored in her head, thus any new memories Index makes fills up the tiny space left in her head.  Touma discovers the truth and his Imagine Breaker destroys the spell, allowing Index to continue on as normal.

A Certain Magical IndexThere are twenty-four episodes in the anime series, which break down into six different story arcs, corresponding with the first six light novel volumes. While events and characters from previous arcs may play a role in a following arc, the anime as a whole has no real, overarching plotline.  The closest thing to such a plotline would be Index being saved from having her memories purged, but the Church does nothing about Index for the rest of the series other than to leave her be. Sadly, Index quickly gets relegated to a more comedic role after the first arc, and doesn’t get involved seriously again until the final arc.

A Certain Magical IndexBecause I had watched (and read some of) the Railgun spinoff series, I was very well versed in what Academy City was, what the group Judgement did, and the concept of psychics being trained in Academy City.  However, had I started with the Index series first, I would have been puzzled by a lot of things. That’s because the nature of Academy City isn’t clearly spelled out from the start.  When Mikoto shows up from the start to challenge Touma, I already knew what was up, thanks to Railgun. When Kuroko first appears and announces she’s with Judgement, there’s no explanation in Index, but thankfully, I knew what Judgement was from Railgun, otherwise I would have been going, “Huh?”

A Certain Magical IndexAs I mentioned earlier, the character of Index gets pushed off to the side for most of the anime, despite the series being named “A Certain Magical Index.” While there are several, other females who “fill the void,” as it were, the one who seems to do this the most is MISAKA Mikoto, the star of the Railgun spinoff.  I can certainly see why Kamachi-sensei felt compelled to give Mikoto her own series.  Mikoto’s introduction in Index is powerful, even if somewhat out of left-field.  She’s pretty much a cameo character until the dark and sinister “Sisters” story arc, when Mikoto pretty much joins the “A-team” of characters from then on. She’s further involved with her attraction to Touma as well as her rivalry.

A Certain Magical IndexThe character of TSUKUYOMI Komoe-sensei is designed oddly.  I say this because despite being an adult, she looks and sounds like a child (possibly 11 to 12-years old in appearance).  There’s nothing in the story that says anything about her appearance being odd to folks, so I guess that Kamachi-sensei wanted to create her, so that he can have a loli-looking character who guzzles beer (and other adult beverages) and smokes like a chimney for comedy purposes.  (Well, that aspect would be more of an aspect in the anime than a novel.)  She’s Touma’s homeroom teacher, and seems very fond of him in a motherly or sisterly fashion, going so far to address him as “Kamijou-chan.”

A Certain Magical IndexReturning to the story aspects of Index, I find that when compared to the Railgun anime series, Index has a much darker, sinister aspect, though I’m informed that with the Railgun manga will massively expand on the dark, Sister’s arc from Index. While I certainly enjoyed the Index anime, the fact that it compresses so much from the light novels does mean that the issues, such as a lack of explanation of things, come to life.  It appears that the anime writers pretty much expect the viewers to fill in the blanks from the original, light novels, which would not be an unusual occurrence in anime adaptations of manga of novels.

Still, despite the weaknesses mentioned above, I found the anime fairly enjoyable, amusing at times, and interesting, enough so that I am very interested in watching the sequel.

A Certain Magical Index
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12 Responses to “"A Certain Magical Index" TV Anime Review”

  1. Anonymous says:

    well you need to look for the second season that is the turning point of the series.

  2. arimareiji says:

    True. IMO, most of the first handful of episodes are shamefully bad… poor Kugimiya Rie got one of the dumbest roles she’s ever had to play. But the rest are often literally LOL-funny, especially the ones featuring the Misaka sisters.

  3. JGZinv says:

    I just finished S2 of this, and watched it the same way you did.
    Be prepared for a cliffhanger for S2.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am going to say that Season 2 (with the exception of the 0930/Academy City Invasion Arc at the end of the season) is pretty disappointing in comparison to Season 1. That said, the 0930 Arc is what made To Aru Majutsu no Index extremely popular. But, I would start reading the light novels after watching Season 2 if I were you and I would start with Volume 12 (start of the 0930 Arc) and keep going from there. But, the guy who said Season 2 was the turning point was right. The end of Season 2 turns To Aru on its head both in mood as well as the fight scenes and the light novels only continue to get darker, especially the most recent volume (Shinyaku To Aru Majutsu no Index Volume 4) being the darkest and most tense thus far. If you do feel like reading the novels, check out baka-tsuki as they have all of the volumes (Side Story Volumes included) fully translated.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Toaru Majutsu no Index’s story focuses on Kamijou Touma’s adventures, but there’s are small details that show what goes on behind the scenes. Those small details are important, since they are the backbone of the Index universe.

    Remember the upside down dude in the tube, Aleister Crowley? He’s one of the characters most likely to be the final boss.
    A recurring element in the Index novels is Academy City’s strangeness, its military and political power, and Crowley’s plan. In case you aren’t aware, Aleister Crowley exists IRL. It’s not really important, but try looking him up. You might get some interesting things.

    Aaaaand no, the movie probably won’t cover for the cliffhanger. The next season would.

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