This review will cover both seasons of A Certain Magical Index as well a bit of the movie called A Certain Magical Index The Miracle of Endymion.
I have a complex relationship with the Raildex series. Ever since I was introduced to the series from my group of friends my opinion of the RailDex series has been all over the place. On one hand, I really adored certain elements of the series such as Sisters arc in Railgun S and the first arc of Index while I hated such as Touma Gary Sue preachy power-ups speeches and the contrived Silent Party Arc of Railgun S. Needless to say I enjoyed the Raildex for what it is despite its numerous flaws. Now unlike Full Metal Panic, Inazuma Eleven and Legend of The Galactic Heroes I didn’t get excited for Index Season 3 at all mainly because I didn’t like A Certain Magical Index all that much. Apart from the first arc as well arcs that have Accelerator focused I honestly cannot the life of me stand the series mainly because it’s a badly paced action harem that is filled with plot conveniences, asspulls and terrible writing. This was basically my first watch of A Certain Magical Index in a nutshell and it wasn’t a happy experience for me at all. One day when I was out looking for anime to buy a month before season 3 began airing I saw both seasons of A Certain Magical Index in an anime sell. I originally wanted to get Higurashi When They Cry Season 1 but the series was sold out. Rather then waiting for Higurashi to come back in stock in the following I decided to give A Certain Magical Index a second chance by not only buying the series but I also re-watching the series. Now with said did my opinion of A Certain Magical Index changed for the better or for the worse. Let’s find out, shall we?
Academy City is a central point for all scientific environments housing espers capable of displaying incredible super psychic powers. The story follows a level zero esper named Touma_Kamijou who as he was leaving his home comes across a young none named Index hanging outside of his balcony. She says that she’s on a run from dangerous sorcerers who want to use her as a tool where they can access the 1003000 million forbidden magical text that she memorised in her head. Getting dragged into the world of magicians and psychics Touma decides to project Index at all cost even if he will cost him his life. Touma has a unique power called Imagine Breaker which grants him the power to nullify any kind of magic and psychical ability that someone throws at him with on touch.
The story follows a Level 0 esper named Touma who always seemed to have bad luck thanks to his right hand. His right hand has the ability to nullify any esper ability that they throw at him.
Before I talk the things I don’t like about let’s talk about things that liked and that is first 6. Right out the gate, the first six episodes aka the first arc contained a lot of top-tier storytelling as despite being simple on paper it’s very well executed thanks to its great story elements that were well thought out especially at the end.
The second and final thing that I liked about Index was the arcs that featured Accelerator. Not only these arcs were nicely paced but it was nicely well written as after the sister’s arc he goes a series of redemption arcs where despite being evil in nature he tries to make all the bad things he has previously done. I honestly had fun watching these arcs more than watching any arc that involved Touma.
Unfortunately the show slowly starts to show it’s ugly true tensions which I will talk about in a bit but for now, am going to talk about the things I don’t like about Index because there is a lot of them that ultimately plague the series.
The first problem that I had with Index it that the show literally throws every sci-fi plot device element possible including insanity completely scientific explanations, evil organizations, church conspiracy, religious holy artefacts and cloning experiments and guess what’s? This show absolutely sucks at explaining all of these plot points to the viewer and it’s doesn’t help that 80% of the dialogue is dedicated to explanation and drowning on and on with overally completed explanations for just about everything. What makes this worse is how sometimes these plot elements only show up for one time like angel or golems while others never show up all. Case in point the vampires stuff in the second arc of Index. This lack of explanations towards really hurts the worldbuilding in Index as it show tries to make Academy City this epic city that is filled with life and mystery but it ultimately failed and as a result, your left with a world that is quite frankly empty in execution.
Along with the show messy execution is only made of how bad the direction in this series is. For example, in episode 14 of the second season, Touma wanted to use a bathroom. Instead of knocking through the door this incompetent dumbass bares in the bathroom where he sees a naked girl showering. Instead of dumbass saying sorry like a normal for entering in the bathroom without knocking this dumbass just stands there and acts all shocked like a fool as he stares a naked girl. To add insult to injury he does it again with the second door only this time Touma gets head bitten by Index. That scene alone from episode 14 of S2 really highlights how shit the comedy is as well general direction as the shit comedy could have easily been avoided.
The second worst thing about A Certain Magical Index is the pacing. Now because the majority of the arcs are only 6 to 2 episodes long you can expect theses arcs to rushed as hell as the series does a poor job what is happening on screen seemed theses plot elements seemed to mostly pop up from nowhere without any building or even tension. The only arcs that didn’t suffer from the rushed pacing were arcs that featured Accelerator as those arcs were nicely paced where the series its time of explaining what is happening in a set arc that features Accelerator. Yes, he did appear in the Sisters and Academy City Invasion Arcs but least he was kickass in those arcs and he wasn’t a bore compared to the lifeless overpowered Gary Sue Touma.
After Season 1 the only thing I was looking forward was the Accelerator arcs because they were nicely written and unpredictable compared to the arcs that feature Touma.
Before I talk about the worst thing about the series I’m going to quickly talk about the movie because it sucks as it just seemed to follow every bad anime movie plot based on a popular anime series imaginable.
Yes, the movie may have production values and all but it’s ultimately matter when you have aboustly no substance to back it up.
Now if you thought the unexplained stuff and pacing were bad you ain’t seen nothing because the problem that is going to talk about now killed the series for me and that problem is that A Certain Magical Index is a harem series disguised as a sci-fi battle anime.
Words cannot describe of how pissed I when I was done watching both seasons of Index that I literally found the show true intentions as all this time I was watching a badly directed harem series that has doesn’t have much substance at all.
>> What are you talking about me this show ain’t a harem at all.
Well, let me explain.
After the first arc was over aka episode the series seemed to feature set arc girl that was meant to be on Touma side the problem is apart from Misaka where she had some character development every single girl is literally a plot device for the narrative for each arc plus Touma was always the one that protects set girl from danger for each arc where the girls for each don’t do much to defend themselves. Not only that but the show throws in every harem cliche you have ever seen such as the innocent guy entering in bathrooms without knocking while a set girl is naked and the girl punches/kicks the guy for breaching it. It was that point where I lose all hope for A Certain Magical Index because the series went from being intriguing sci-fi anime that devolved into this shameful harem sci-fi action feast that doesn’t respect the viewers time.
Overall the story of A Certain Magical Index is at best-wasted potential and at worst it’s one of the lousiest stories I have ever seen.
If there were two words to describe the charterers in A Certain Magical Index is wasted potential. Apart from two characters the characters in Index are a bunch of bland stereotypes who barely developed in the narrative.
Am not kidding when I say this but Touma is one of my most hated male anime protagonists I have ever seen. Seriously this guy is not only bland to the absolute core but also an overpowered Gary Sue who loves to give out these stupid and forced justice speeches.
The chararter Index is not much better as despite being decent in the first 6 episodes she just this annoying little brat who barely does anything apart bite Touma head for a living.
Thankfully we have Misaka who is by far the best thing to come out from this lacklustre character cast. She may appear as this generic tomboy at first however unlike most other anime tomboys she has a very good reason of why she acts the way she does. She has a reputation of being one of the strongest espers of Academy City in such a young age. It makes perfect sense of why she wanted to act though to keep her reputation intact. This alone really add so much dept to her chararter and it really makes her presence in the anime much more memorable. On top all that she has one of the most original backstories I have seen while and while it was better executed in Railgun S but it’s was still nicely executed here.
As much as a adore Misaka I feel like she highlights how bad the characterisation in the series is because she along with Accelerator are great characters while the other characters are interesting as rocks.
The best example of this is a character named Kuroko aka Misaka’s roommate and best friend. I really enjoyed her in Railgun as she was this badass girl who is capable of talking down criminals using her esper ability teleportation. Kuroko had some good characters in Railgun S1. She may have this unhealthy crush of Misaka but other than that she was a character that I enjoyed in Railgun.
Index on the other hand despite coming out a year before the season 1 took everything that I liked about her character and turned her into an unfunny, annoying and one-dimensional brat where the only thing that she does other than plot reason is to be an obsessive creepy lover for Misaka.
The final character that I want to talk about is Accelerator. I really liked him. He starts off as this ruthless psychotic villain who is willing to kill thousands of Misaka clones just he can surpass level 5. The interesting thing about Accelerator as a chararter is how the show slowly tries to make him a decent human being later on after the sister’s arc we see him actually see him trying to attempt redemption with all the bad things that he has done. He also starts caring for someone where he is willing to look after and protect a young girl named Misaka Last Order. He’s is by far the second best thing about this entire show.
Overall despite having two good supporting the characters in A Certain Magical Index was lacklustre and poorly executed.
While the plot and characters were an epic failure the visuals were pretty good. A Certain Magical Index is like a beautiful fireworks display of explosives colours. The background scenery has this shining electrifying urban colour palette that goes a fantastic job of capturing the life of Academia City. The characters designs were pretty cool for the most part as they all look clean and appealing to look at
The animation in Index is pretty great stuff especially coming from J.C Staff who well knows of making well animated in the series. There was a lot of fulfilment movement when the characters are fighting.
The only problem I had with the visuals is how some of the female characters look pretty similar to each other as many of the female characters seemed to have loli facial structure even though some of the characters in the series are older.
Compared to the soundtrack of Railgun the soundtrack in Index is okay. While there were a few good tracks in the show that fit the show very fell many of the tracks were not that memorable let alone with the show at times.
All the opening themes Index were pretty good and memorable in their own ways especially opening 3 No buts!” by Mami Kawada which is one of my favourite anime openings of all time.
The ending themes on the other are just okay and not that memorable in my eyes.
Now for sub vs dub.
The sub is pretty good for what it is as all the Seiyuus did a pretty good with the roles that they were given.
The dub is very good and I consider to be Funimation better dubs. It is very well acted and the dialogue for the dub was nicely handled. My favourite performances in the dub were Austin Tindle as Accelerator, Brittney Karbowski as Misaka and Micah_Solusod as Touma. Overall very good dub.
A Certain Magical Index is a mess. While it did have some strong aspects that were enjoyable such as Misaka, the Accelerator arcs and production values.
However, the shows negatives, unfortunately, outweigh the positives. The story was a terribly written mess that exposes itself as a shitty harem. The pacing was bad, the poor used side characters and the main characters like Touma and Index were awful.
Even though I don’t like this show I still recommend it to people who want to watch a fun sci-fi anime that has some interesting things in it. Just don’t buy into the hype from people about this series as it will only disappoint you greatly if you’re an experienced anime fan such as myself.
Final Score 4.5/10