A Certain Magical Index Series Review

A Certain Magical Index Overview:

In A Certain Magical Index, Kamijo is a student in Academy City, a city that is almost entirely populated by students who are using science to develop supernatural powers. Only, Kamijo doesn’t have any. He’s a level 0. Which would be fine except he has terrible luck and keeps getting into situations well over his head and then he doesn’t run away, he tries to fight. Turns out he has a secret. His right hand essentially nullifies any power that comes in contact with him.

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A Certain Magical Index Review:

I’m going to be honest, if you haven’t watched either A Certain Magical Index or A Certain Scientific Railgun, watch Railgun. It’s the spin-off and is the more compelling viewing of the two series. It’s also the more traditional in terms of following group of girls with powers as they try to live normal lives but keep getting mixed up in things. In terms of concepts, Magical Index is more interesting, but makes for less compelling viewing.

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A lot of the problems with Index come from the Protagonist Kamijo. He’s boring to look at at boring to follow. He’s the typical ‘I have no power but I won’t just keep my head down’ protagonist. Oh look, there’s another highly powerful girl in trouble, I best go help her even though I’m mostly going to fail. And then his power nullifies other powers. That’s all well and good, and extremely frustrating for those attacking him, but why doesn’t anyone just shoot him with a gun?



Alright, to put some order into this review I need to discuss the plot a bit more. Index is the name of a person (the young girl dressed in church robes that are held together by safety pins after Kamijo’s hand conveniently destroys the magic holding the outfit together early in the series) and she contains a whole bunch of magic books. Essentially she’s a walking library. The church (one of many church’s – there’s a lot of religious terms thrown around in overly long explanations) doesn’t want anyone to have access to these books so they wipe Index’s memories every year. Why that would be effective at containing anything has yet to be adequately explained.

Index2.jpg

So Index is on the run because her memories of people who are protecting her are gone and she quite rightly suspects the church of trying to kill her. She ends up at Academy City and somehow falls onto Kamijo’s balcony. But rather than let her go about her business, Kamijo decided to try and save her from the evil magicians that are now chasing her. In the process he learns that Index’s memory is about to reset again and he has to stop that from happening (we’re still in the first few episodes here).

Long story short, Index gets injured and they go to one of Kamijo’s teachers for help because he can’t use magic and neither can anyone trained as an Esper but a magic spell might heal her. They do that and Kamijo undoes some magic whosit and now Index is going to be fine and not have her memories erased but Kamijo gets hit on the head by a magic feather and loses his memories.

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Wake up in hospital, pretend not to have lost memories. And then… Like, we’re only a handful of episodes in. The series is called A Certain Magical Index but the story isn’t following her, although she never leaves after this, even when she serves no purpose.

Yep, the rest of the series sees Kamijo meet a girl in distress, stick his nose into her business, try to save her, usually succeed but get severely injured in the process. While some of these individual encounters are interesting, the overall narrative kind of collapses. They try to keep an ongoing theme of rivalry between the magicians and the scientists but to be frank there isn’t enough of this for it to hold the story together.

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So, the main character is bland, other characters come and go, or come and hang around like a bad smell, the plot is not particularly coherent… Why are we talking about this?

Well, because there are some moments of sheer brilliance in this. Certain exchanges, battles, sub-characters and even the occasional arc just shine. This anime builds a rich world full of lore and history (though they could find a better way to explain some of it) and really it’s a lot of fun with the occasional hint of drama.

As I said at the start, if you haven’t tried this series, A Certain Scientific Railgun is a much better bet than this, but if you like things that feel both generic and different at the same time and you don’t mind the odd info dump to get you through an awkward bit of storyline, there’s certainly some enjoyment to be found in watching A Certain Magical Index.

If you have seen it, I’d be interested in your thoughts.


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Karandi James


Exposition On A Plane With Index And The Terrorist

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode Review Title Image

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 10 Review

There are fewer things sadder than falling out of love with a franchise but I just have to admit that is where I am with A Certain Magical Index. I’ve put the final decision off until episode 13, but I’m almost certain this one is a drop. What is making it worse though, is that this season is making me really question why I actually even liked this show in the first place.

To go through the issues of this episode would take too long, so let’s just look at the moments that really illustrate why A Certain Magical Index season 3 is failing to really engage. 

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 10

Firstly, we have an encounter between Misaka and Touma at the oh-so-familiar vending machine. That seems great and all. Misaka’s a great character and the vending machine is a staple set piece in the anime at this point. However, what was this scene doing? Really? Other than hoping fans would squee with delight over seeing Misaka was there anything happening in that sequence? Touma asked Misaka not to tell anyone about his amnesia? There were quicker and more logical ways to get to that point. Was it the comedy that was supposed to land as Misaka blushes and actually feeds coins into the vending machine? Because that was most definitely a swing and a miss as the anime continues to undervalue its female characters.

Then we get the scene in Touma’s apartment where he gets the call telling him he needs to go to England. The joke where Touma asks Tsuchimikado to make it quick and so no further information was given before hanging up was actually pretty amusing, so even though from a plot point of view it is maddening because we’re having a scene change for no explained reason, it kind of worked. What doesn’t is that right after that the window is broken as a smoke grenade is lobbed in to the apartment and both Touma and Index are knocked unconscious. 

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 10

That could work if they woke up all surprised by where they are, but instead, through flash backs, we find out they went to the airport, rejected the plane that was organised for them, and took a regular flight to England. So why even knock them out? Could the writer not figure out how to end the scene? 

Then we are finally subjected to terrorists on a plane. Index, we’ve seen terrorists on planes before. So many times. You have to at least be vaguely competent in this one because what you’ve delivered this week is half-hearted at best and what should actually be an interesting transition sequence from one city to the next turns into yet another mangled mess. About the only positive is that Stiyl shows up, in another plane for some reason, and throws some magic around. And again, unless they are just hoping that the mere presence of a character cooler than Touma makes the audience jump in delight there really isn’t anything to this scene.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 10

So positives are few and far between and negatives are overwhelming. This episode isn’t alone in this though as Index has gradually worn away any leeway I was willing to give a franchise I genuinely liked. I’m now at the point where I just have to wonder why they even continue to churn this out.

Then I realise, I’m still watching it. As are a lot of people. So either other people like it more than I do, or we’re all just continuing to keep up the popularity of an anime that really should just fade away. One thing I do know, A Certain Magical Index is falling flat for me right now and while I’m committed until episode 13, I’m almost certain to drop it after that. 

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A Fight Between Saints Should Be Exciting, Right?

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode Review Title Image

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 8 Review

Part of me wonders if maybe I’ve just outgrown this series? Looking at this episode from a distance it should be really exciting. We’ve got a whole pile of characters from the church gathering themselves together to take on a saint. It’s a dramatic fight, the music is pumping and we move through multiple set-pieces leaving destruction in their wake. Their inevitable defeat isn’t a problem because they aren’t the protagonists, not even close. 

A Certain Magical Index Episode 8

Yet, as I watched episode 8 of A Certain Magical Index, I couldn’t help but find myself wondering why I was supposed to care. 

Touma is in the hospital after being severely injured and then thrown of the bridge last week and the saint gave him one day to hand over his arm. The fight now isn’t doing anything. A day hasn’t passed, Touma isn’t even awake, it is all just filling screen time. Perhaps if I thought there was any chance they might have resolved the situation prior to Touma waking up their might have been some point to it, but all and all it just seems like an excuse to throw around more terminology and jargon and have a ‘cool’ fight sequence.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 8

This impression isn’t helped with the arrival of Kanzaki after the B Team are definitely taken out despite Itsuwa getting all fired up. Kanzaki was a cool character back in season one but she just kind of shows up now, broods a bit, occasionally does something cool with her sword, and then Touma will show up to save the day. And while I get they were trying to show that Kanzaki is a part of her group, using more or less the same sequence of attacks that we just watched against the enemy but faster and more powerful isn’t all that interesting.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 8

Then of course the whole thing is proven to be pointless by the post credits scene where Touma wakes up and instead of sensibly resting in his hospital bed off he goes to join the fight leaving the conveniently sleeping Index oblivious to the plot as normal. 

Yeah, I really don’t know why I’m watching season three of this. The issues with the plot and characters just get more and more pronounced with every passing episode.

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A Certain Villainous Laugh and Meandering Plot Line

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode Review Title Image

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episodes 6 + 7 Review

Episode 6 brings kind of to a close all the factions fighting for the tweezers, though they do throw out a new name of a new faction at the end and really there was no where near enough of an explanation for all the crazy going on from these people during these episodes or the lack of response from the city as they literally tore it apart. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t full of cool moments, because who doesn’t like a good screw-driver to the ear scene while listening to terrible puns, but it does mean the whole experience seemed relatively empty.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 6

Even the reuniting of Accelerator and Last Order couldn’t really get me excited about what was happening here. Too little context and too little connection to any of the characters and too little care about Aleister and his secret plans, whatever they may be, just leads to all of this just being flash and noise on a screen and if I just switch off I can enjoy it enough but afterwards I just have to wonder why I’m bothering.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 6

Then episode 7 switches us back to Touma and Index and what do you know, he’s being targeted by another Saint from some holy kind of organisation with a long name that I won’t remember, and another organisation is going to protect him. Wait, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this story before.

Anyway, of course the best way to protect Touma is to send the girl in, even though she’s never once actually succeeded at protecting anything and is regularly rescued by Touma. And the best thing that back up crew can think to do is orchestrate a date sequence for them. Shouldn’t they be doing something like actually looking for the crazy guy?

Never mind.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 7

Crazy guy found them and they ceased to be of consequence (assuming anyone ever thought they had any). Then crazy guy proceeds to beat up Touma and toss him off a bridge before telling him to cut off his arm and hand it over before the end of the next day and then he’ll be allowed to live.

What is it with villains doing stupid things like this?

I mean, the guy can’t fight back and you’ve taken out all the back up. Just cut the damn arm off and take it as a trophy. Done. Oh no. Let’s give them a whole day to rest, recover, rally some strength and have a bigger smack down that you are likely to lose.

Idiotic villains. I just want one villain this season that doesn’t suffer from a severe case of stupid.

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A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 5: I’m Glad I’m Not The Only One Confused

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode Review Title Image

A lot of the dialogue this episode was taken up by characters either trying to identify or asking which group others characters were a part of (not helped by on the the groups being called GROUP) and it made me feel relatively happy that I wasn’t the only one lost as to who belongs to which random name. The real problem though is that even within groups there ends up being dissent so even if you didn’t remember their names you remembered who was working together, until they decide not to work together. So colour me confused on the specifics of who is helping who and who is fighting who.

That said, Accelerator, Tsuchimikado, the Aztec guy and girl wearing bandages (see, I’m paying a lot of attention) remain fairly much the main focus and more or less everyone is against them so whether you remember which party the opponent comes from becomes more or less an exercise in pointlessness.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 5 Accelerator

And all of that might make Index sound like a terrible mess which, from a strictly speaking point of view, it is. However, you can’t tell me that watching Accelerator turn up the villain act to 100 as he squishes a bug who thought he could best a level 5 esper just because he’s a little off his game since taking a head shot isn’t entertaining. It is over the top, it is really cluttered and messy, there’s way too many characters, groups, and powers bouncing around the place to actually keep track of it in any meaningful way if you are only a casual viewer, and yet there’s so much fun energy here.

Now, the one criticism I’m not going to hand wave past because it was fun anyway comes back to the Aztec guy as he’s facing off against someone from his previous organisation. And after she pretty much loses the fight she starts unravelling, fairly literally, because apparently she took a grimoire into herself (apparently it didn’t matter as long as she killed the Aztec guy – so great thought process there). Now, it has been forever since we’ve heard about the grimoires and to be honest I forgot why they were such a big deal (seriously, the show is named after Index who houses a bunch of the things, they really should show up more often), but even that isn’t the problem.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 5

The problem is, Aztec guy just says what he’s going to do to stop it and even admits he doesn’t know if it will work and then we cut scenes. Later, Aztec guy meets up with everyone else on the team.

So, what happened? Is the girl alive, dead, consumed by the grimoire, ran away, what? I mean, they might tell us later but whatever they do now it will be telling us about this confrontation rather than showing us and to be honest Index does a little too much stand around and technobabble at the audience to explain things that we could just as easily learn by seeing.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 5

However, with that complaint out of the way, I had another very fun time watching this episode and amazingly enough we are still Touma free. From reading other posts from people familiar with the source it seems he won’t be appearing in the arc, so I guess we’ll see but to be honest I’m not actually all that upset with his absence.

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A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 4: Ditch The Main Cast And Go For A Ride

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode Review Title Image

Theoretically we might have met a lot more of these characters before than I remember. I haven’t watched seasons one and two of this for awhile but I’m going to be honest and just say that I recognised maybe four characters in this episode. The rest of the time we were just blipping between groups of people and locations as everyone kind of went about either planning to do something or planning to foil someone else’s plan and lots of stuff went boom in between.

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Part of me wonders if everyone just realised that Touma is a really boring character and that Index contributes nothing given the two of them were completely absent for the entire duration. Now, at first I tried to rationalise this by thinking that maybe they still weren’t back in academy city but that logic doesn’t really work when Tsuchimikado and Accelerator are both running around in this episode. Alternatively, Touma is probably back in hospital again but given Accelerator went by the hospital to harass the only doctor who ever appears in this anime at one point, we could have at least seen Touma in a scene to confirm that. So basically, Touma’s just vanished and apparently the audience isn’t supposed to ask why or where. I’m sure he’ll turn up later in this particular story and solve everything by punching something but in the meantime I guess all these characters are a lot more interesting even if I have no idea who most of them are.

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The episode is very concerned with you not getting bored though. We’ve got one group taking some guy into custody before the truck gets bisected and the guy gets killed by another group who are apparently planning an assassination to act as a decoy for stealing some long titled widget from a lab. But another group are annoyed about that and are going after them as well leading to a wrecking ball going through a truck and a guy jumping off a roof. And there’s yet another group that blew up the apartment that belonged to a guy in the group that took the first guy into custody and then the guy who owned the apartment apparently used Aztec magic to turn himself into one of the group and infiltrated it and they are apparently trying to steal a computer virus (or something) as a decoy because they are actually after another lab that has something to do with a satellite.

Did I mention somewhere in there we also got a quick scene of Last Order being taken home from the hospital? I’m sure that is somehow important but can’t for the life of me figure out why.

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Right, I have no idea what is going on. Or why. And for some reason I don’t really care because this was really fun to watch even without much of a context. I’m just going to assume eventually this will all make sense, and in the meantime the characters can all just keep running around and making things go boom.

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A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 3: More Jargon, More Punching

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode Review Title Image

Part of me wonders whether there’s any reason why after two seasons of this show I firstly still like it and secondly am still watching it. Basically, while the plot continues to become yet more convoluted in the jargon they like to babble at the audience, every incident is resolved much the same way with Kamijou eventually punching whoever is responsible and destroying whatever mystic whosit they were chasing by touching it before getting somehow knocked out or injured to the point where the next time we see him he’s waking up in hospital, again.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 3
I love how the assumption is that there is definitely a weakness to be found.

Yet, the answer to the question of why I am still watching A Certain Magical Index is actually pretty clear. While this formula is repetitive, it is great fun and when accompanied by the music and the general intensity all of the characters put into climactic scenes, it is difficult not to get swept up even if we are just waiting for the right hand to nullify everything and call it a day.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 3

The other reason is that this show continues to bring back ideas from each of its previous stories and continues to build a fairly complex (if at times nonsense) kind of world. This opening act delivers that beautifully with Misaka’s return as a reoccurring character and while it was nice in the first two episodes to see her hounding Kamijou yet again, the phone conversation that she overheard where she finds out that he has in fact lost his memory (something that I kept hoping someone would realise much earlier on) kind of brings things nicely together. We also get a return from Accelerator that really doesn’t add anything to Kamijou’s story but helps with world believability because even after his injuries he’s still pretty much a weapon of mass-destruction.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 3

So while A Certain Magical Index has done nothing to address its problems, three seasons in there’s probably little inclination to fix them because more than enough people are on board with the story as it is. There’s a lot of fun to be had with this cast and the overblown nature of everything is just par for the course.

Although, one of these days it would be nice to meet a villain who isn’t a complete psycho.

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A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episodes 1 + 2: That Time Something Happened to Kamijou

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode Review Title Image

I’ve previously reviewed season1 of a Certain Magical Index and at the time I kind of made it clear that while I had fun enough with the show, I preferred the Railgun spin-off, in a very rare case of preferring a spin-off and that Index has some real issues. I never did review the second season individually because really it was jut more of the same. Well, back for a third season, eventually, and the first episode finally available for people in more regions and the question is what are we in for?

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 2

There’s a simple answer though; nothing has changed. We still have Kamijou wandering around Academy City harmlessly going about his business and being just really unlucky in the events and encounters he has during episode 1 of this return. On the brighter side we’re reminded quickly of the key players in the academy and they even throw a shooting into the mix just so we’re reminded that despite looking like a goofy school club anime this show actually does have some darker ideas and fight sequences in it so just wait around.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 1

Yet they don’t make the audience wait long, or even let the plot and exposition even catch up, as we scene change to France in episode 2 where Kamijou teams up with another girl from the previous seasons, and I’m really struggling with my memory to place her, to destroy some mystic pipeline and instead they get attacked by a guy who claims to be the right seat of god.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 2

Yeah, they haven’t eased up on throwing every term and idea they can drag out of any theology book on the planet at the audience in great big exposition dumps either so it really is business just as usual for this show. The fan-service is also plentiful with panty shots, blushing girls, and other revealing outfits coming thick and fast in these two episodes.

So pretty much if you’ve enjoyed this before, it gets right back into the same tone we left off at and it is still just kind of fun. A little head scratching at times with some of their ideas about religious organisations and the way they use some of their terminology, but still fun.

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