To Aru Majutsu no Index

By bluemist on February 6th, 2010

To Aru Majutsu no Index

Too short, too much. That would be my initial impression of this series. Well I do have to commend the light novel author for trying to convey a world where supernatural powers exist, and either through religion or science, humans can take advantage of such power. Although I am unable to read them, I have a certain feeling that the anime based on those light novels didn’t give the concept enough justice, but at least it tried. To Aru Majutsu no Index is an anime has surprisingly great animation and presentation, but a bit hampered by trying to rush stories too fast with its limited time on air.

Trying to summarize the story is quite easy though, so let me start. The main setting here would be Academy City, a highly technological city where most residents are students. Many of those students go to certain schools where they are taught to unleash their psychic powers through scientific means. The male lead is Touma Kamijyo, a Level 0 guy (psychic powers are ranked from 0-5, 5 being the highest) who considers himself to be terribly unlucky in so many things. He’s only a Level 0 on paper, but his right hand has the incredibly mysterious power of negating or disabling ANY kind of supernatural power, regardless of it being psychic or magical. So we go to the other side of things, as non-psychic humans are able to harness their powers through magic. Religion is the theme of the magical side. Index Librorum Prohibitorum, our main heroine, is a nun coming from a certain Necessarius Church. Index is in possession of 103,000 forbidden magical texts in her brain which have been deemed dangerous to read. And so as Touma and Index meet, we are hurled into a world where science and religion clash with each other.

It’s incredibly high-concept. It has the construct of a shounen anime where our lead is the relative underdog but his power-negating power is a freaking hax. Unfortunately though, whether it be the science side or the religious side, each story arc in this 24-episode anime is not explained as well as I had hoped. The anime keeps throwing keywords at you about magical spells, scientific terms and whatnot, without much explanation on what is happening. It zips through each story at lightning pace without looking back whether they have lost some viewers who just don’t get it. I am one of them, and as much as I wanted to learn more about the concepts of their world, I just end up ignoring those seemingly confusing details and just focus on the characters and whatever happens to them.

That said though, it’s such a waste, because I think it had the potential to be quite an awesome anime, especially considering the visuals. The animation in To Aru Majutsu no Index is incredibly good. Okay, it may sound boring to watch the main guy just punch his way through every fight because his right arm negates any supernatural power, but you will be surprised to see how well-done the action scenes are. Coupled with the music, each scene is intense and very entertaining. Well, the best stuff actually happens early on halfway through the series, but that’s not to say that the second half isn’t equally watchable. At the very least, if you survived the first half considering the lack of weight in the story as I had mentioned, you should already be comfortable with the setup by then.

Our main heroine Index actually gets sidetracked quite early in the series to focus on many other characters in the succeeding story arcs. Those characters are equally interesting, although they do suffer not being fleshed out much because of lack of screentime, and they are quite a handful too. Religion makes up most of the episodes in this anime. Frankly though, those magicians in the religion side aren’t as interesting, except for maybe Aisa Himegami (a miko who kills vampires). The science characters are great though, starting with Mikoto Misaka, a powerful Level 5 tsundere-chara harnessing electric power. She would actually be the main character in a sidestory anime called To Aru Kagaku no Railgun, and that would focus much on the science side. Her partner and rabid fangirl Kuroko Shirai (Level 4 teleporter) is too cute and has a distinct voice. Accelerator (Level 5 vector telekinesis) is also a quite interesting antagonist who eventually became a hero in one of the later stories. Lastly, the Misaka clones collectively called Sisters (there are tens of thousands of them) shows how ambitious the science side is, although one of the magical spells featured in a later story (a worldwide spell that switched the appearance of all people) is quite interesting in itself.

With those examples, you can see that To Aru Majutsu no Index tries to be interesting. Whether it would be more interesting if they explained the concepts better, or had more episodes to flesh things out, I’m not sure. At least when trying to ignore the details I either misunderstood or missed, and focused on enjoying the well-animated action scenes and wonderful characters, I still felt entertained by this anime. I would give this anime a slight thumbs up as a recommended watch, mostly because the ending certainly paves the way for a sequel series in the future, and also because the currently-running Railgun sidestory anime is a bit better so far in every way. Taken on its own though, To Aru Majutsu no Index is still watchable, although average at best.


Posted By: Nopy On: February 07, 2010 At: 3:55 am

I found it pretty average too, but I didn’t like how they left the ending so open. Sure, it makes room for a sequel, but I’d rather just have them finish it.

Posted By: TJ On: February 07, 2010 At: 2:58 pm

Yeah, Index was pretty average overall. I had better expectations for Railgun, but unfortunately that series is slowing down with fillers just like how Index bogged itself with all of the science/magic/hero speeches.

Posted By: bluemist On: February 07, 2010 At: 11:00 pm

Well it’s based on a light novel series and they merely covered about 6 out of 21, and it’s still running.

Yeah but I like (some of) the fillers so far. I tend to enjoy the characters rather than the stories in Railgun.

Posted By: Wavehawk On: February 08, 2010 At: 2:50 pm

Advice on Railgun: Watch Ep.1-12 and have fun. Forget the rest. Railgun exists for fun. Try analyzing and you’ll just get depressed at the failure to launch.

The Author has GREAT ideas for his stories but fails to deliver. It’s kind of like how the best Star Wars movies weren’t directed by George Lucas.

Posted By: Gibber On: February 11, 2010 At: 6:54 am

Touma was too preachy imo, I also felt that it had a lot of potential and I’m hoping that the next season, which should exist since there’s still so much source material left, will do much better. Index was also pretty annoying and useless lol.

Posted By: Wavehawk On: February 13, 2010 At: 9:57 pm

@Gibber: Most of us catholics would find Index annoying. :p