I’ve been saying for awhile that at the mid-season I was going to cut this from my watch list. It ended up happening a bit earlier. While watching episode 11 and being bored senseless as Touma and Index went through their usual ‘I’m hungry’ shtick at the airport before we get introduced to the apparent Queen of England and three Princesses who all look totally appropriate for the role.
After some more exposition and dialogue we get the usual joke about Touma being broke and then we hit the road to find some terrorists. However, it was at that point that my boredom gave way to annoyance.
They introduce the new terrorists the exact same way we were introduced to other random groups who ended up being of no-consequence earlier in the season. See one of the group talking on a phone before we skip over to another and each one does some sort of look or thing to distinguish themselves and once we’ve had a look at each one get some random comedic misadventure that leads to an encounter between one of the terrorists and Touma.
Cut over to another one who smugly claims she’s going to succeed and then she’s facing our B team of magicians leading into another action sequence. It was sometime around there I killed the episode. I have no interest in these new characters; I barely have any interest left in the ongoing cast. I find it amazing that I will sooner finish watching Conception than even finish one more episode of this show and I realised that Conception might be bad, trash, and fairly poorly written, but at least it hasn’t managed to bore me as much as Index has this season.
So, no season review of this one because I won’t be finishing out the season.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let’s be real, I haven’t been overly thrilled by the return of A Certain Magical Index at all this season. The first arc was mostly nonsense that even on going back to season two it is still fairly hard to figure out what was going on or why. The second arc ditched the protagonist altogether. Now we’re in this third arc and the glaring issues with this narrative are becoming almost impossible to ignore. It isn’t a case of being fun anymore surrounded by exposition dumps. It is now a case of tired attempts to recapture something of the spirit that drew people to the show being crammed in amongst nonsensical dialogue just to ensure the audience hasn’t cracked their nose on the keyboard when the dozed off.
Alright, that was pretty harsh and actually not true.
At heart the lightning, the movement lines, the cheesily delivered lines mid-fight all still actually work for me, but – and this is a huge but – now these feel like inserted filler to a narrative about characters I don’t care about in a world that has become increasingly random.
Maybe it is all a byproduct of the long gap between seasons. Maybe it is a result of my being much older now and less easily impressed with shiny, pretty things (who am I kidding, I love shiny pretty, things), but I just know that I almost forgot this even came out yesterday and when I did watch it I found myself really just kind of nodding along to the expected beats.
Kanzaki turned up as the last minute hero of last episode and lasted less than five minutes before she was coughing up blood. I’ll admit, they were a cool five minutes. Actually, I’ll fix that. There was about a cool minute in those five minutes of actual fight, meanwhile the two saints prattled various bits of nonsense at one another that I guess passes for plot or exposition at this point but honestly, who could care.
Then we have Acqua more or less pounding Kanzaki while pointing out how stupid she is and her church for even fighting if they are that weak, blah, blah, blah… More big hits, more property damage, where the hell is anyone from Academy City while the churches are fighting it out destroying entire levels? Nope, no answer to that one.
And then there’s the revelation. Team work. Kanzaki calls on all the glorified extras who were beaten down in last week’s bit of filler and they all jump down an entire level and then proceed to more or less just stand totally still while Kanzaki and Itsuwa try a repeat of the saint spell they used last week and they still would have lost except that Touma manages to arrive, at that precise moment, in the middle of the battlefield and blocks Acqua’s attack with his hand.
While watching this, it occurred to me, that not even the shiny, pretty action is that shiny anymore. During that final strike we didn’t get to see the characters in relation to one another once. We had close up of Kanzaki, close up of Itsuwa, close up of Acqua, one very brief panning shot of the scene that didn’t even make it down to Touma, and then back to close ups. There was no chance to get a sense of what was actually happening and all the characters had more or less identical pained looks on their faces so if they were going for revealing emotions, they kind of failed.
I’m giving this one to episode 12. At that point, I’m almost positive I am done. It is going to need to do something pretty spectacular in the next three episodes though because to be honest, this was just bad.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Less Shouting, More Plot, Still Great Action – Yes!
It’s taken awhile for me to get to this review and it isn’t because I didn’t enjoy the anime or that I didn’t have a strong opinion. It was more that the anime ended at a weird time of season and I’d already finished drafting my Summer anime reviews and scheduled them but I hadn’t yet gotten in to my backlog of anime to review and so Attack on Titan season 3 went on the list to catch up on at a future time and then I got busy.
But, now that I’m writing about this anime again, the only thing I can really think is ‘wow, I really had a lot of fun with season 3’. If you recall my pre-season thoughts, I was pretty pessimistic about Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin). Season one started great but meandered. Season two did whatever it did. I guess we did get an amazing reveal but it really felt like the plot was lost and we spent a lot of time just kind of reacting to things or rushing from action show piece to action show piece. Don’t get me wrong, some of them were cool, but it felt like the plot was lost or stalled.
Well, season three has come along and it has brought us some wondrous things. Levi getting into the action as Kenny attacks his squad in the early stages of the season is a solid and exhilarating beginning to season 3.One that captures the adventurous spirit as well as the danger and idea of life being pretty cheap very well and reignites enthusiasm for the series in a way that was badly needed (at least in my case).
Sure the fight across rooftops and through the streets of the district is over the top and from a physics point of view highly improbably(how dead is Levi if he actually attempted those stunts), but it is beautiful,fast paced, the sound perfectly complements it, and everything about the sequence just works from a raw emotional point of view. And it opens up the characters of Attack on Titan to us in a way we’ve never really had the chance to explore before.
From Eren and Historia, to the Ackerman’s, the false King, Eren’s father, Kenny, all of the cast get some life breathed back into them as we take a break from riding around on horses and fighting and actually look at what is behind all the mystery and intrigue. Do we get all the answers? Well, it is Attack on Titan so not really, but it brings together a lot of the plot threads, the half hints and ideas, and it seems to throw them back into forward motion in a way that ends up being immensely satisfying.
While I’m at it, I’ll mention that the OP this season is fantastic. I get that when you first hear it, or if you hear it without watching the show you will be wondering what that song is doing attached to Attack on Titan, but the opening perfectly captures what this season aimed for and ultimately accomplished. We see that the characters have grown up but that their pasts haven’t disappeared. Who they were and what they have been through has shaped them and continues to have an influence over their lives even as they try to find their own paths. The song and the visuals that go with it capture that, as well as the relationships these characters have formed. It really works and there’s a reason it ended up on my list of favourite OP’s for the year.
However, while the world and characters are being fleshed out there is a trade off. If you are after continuous bouts with Titans you may find season 3 a little bit of a disappointment. For me though, they more than made up for the lack of number of Titans early on by the sheer grotesqueness of the titan they fight just after the mid-season. And of course, by the end of the season we are back to many titans.
Still, the greatest accomplishment of season 3 is that it finally made me appreciate Eren as a character rather than merely tolerating him. As a shouting protagonist type, one of my least favourites, Eren has always been a sore point for me with Attack on Titan. While I joked early on in this season that gagging Eren helped immensely, when the gag came off, I found that Eren had finally moved forward as a character. Sure, there are still some stupid moments with him, such as his fist-fight with Jean, but Eren managed whole moments of character introspective later in the season without a single shouted line and with thoughts that I felt I could relate to and understand.This was quite the break through moment for him.
There are negatives of course. As I mentioned, there are less fight sequences this time around and so there are a lot of scenes of people standing or sitting around talking. There’s also a lot of characters from the political groups and military that you probably won’t be all that attached to getting a lot of screen time. And some of these moments could have been trimmed a little, though mostly I enjoyed it. The other thing of course is that we are still unfinished so now we’re back to waiting yet again.
Attack on Titan really does like to keep us waiting.
Overall though, I’d definitely recommend continuing with season three if you made it through one and two. In my view, this was the best Titan has offered us so far and I’m looking forward to see where they go from here.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.