Academy City, Japan, is at the forefront of science. Besides being 30 years ahead of the world technologically, more than three-fourths of this peculiar city's population consists of students developing their psychic abilities as espers in various institutions. Among these students is Touma Kamijou, a high school boy with the lowest psychic rank of zero, but with a mysterious power no scientist can understand: "Imagine Breaker," which allows him to negate other supernatural abilities.
This, however, doesn't affect Kamijou's life in the least as he plays his role as a regular teenager; that is, until he meets the strange Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a young girl who has memorized the entirety of the forbidden grimoires, and now a dangerous organization is hunting Index down. With several magicians looking to harm the girl, Kamijou will defend his new companion at all costs as he discovers a strange new realm of the supernatural.
Toaru Majutsu no Index is the anime adaption of a series of light novels created in the year 2004 by Kazuma Kamachi, illustrated by Kiyotaka Haimura, and published by ASCII Media Works. The anime produced by J.C. Staff aired in Japan from October of 2008 to March of 2009 and used the first six light novels as the source material. It was later licensed by Funimation for release in North America and has since produced a second season, Toaru Majutsu no Index II, and an animated movie, Toaru Majutsu no Index: Endymion no Kiseki.
*to those who are too lazy to read and just want a quick summary, skip to the final paragraph*
One of the greatest battles that mankind has ever witnessed is the battle between science and religion, a battle that is still being fought today. So just imagine, what will happen if people with supernatural abilities existed and both these sides got hold of people whose special abilities that are nothing short of miraculous? So how exactly does this relate to To Aru Majutsu no Index? Well I suppose a short summary of the story is in order.
Now To Aru Majutsu no Index (which I would just
refer to now as Majutsu no Index) is set in a world where both science and magic coexist. Kamijou Touma, you regular high school kid lives within a place called Academy City, the so called “utopia of science” as well as an utopia for a new type of people known as ESPers, people who can have supernatural abilities by controlling the laws of science. Kamijou Touma, being a student in the Academy City, has a strange power called “Imagine Breaker”, a skill which allows him to dispel anything magical or is a product of ESPer powers. On the other hand, there is Index Prohibitorum Librorum (or Index for short), a nun who has the superhuman ability to remember virtually anything and has memorized in her mind 103,000 grimoires concerning magic that is prohibited by the church or is otherwise just far too dangerous to be used. One day, Touma found a starving Index hanging in his balcony after being chased by mysterious men, begging him for food. This is where the story starts as Touma finds himself in the middle of all the problems concerned with letting a walking manual for destruction live in his house.
Now, you gotta admit, the idea of science and magic clashing against each other is a pretty freaking good concept, and a good concept always mean a good anime right? Well, Majutsu no Index had pretty much everything that a good anime has: a good concept, interesting premises, and a recipe for romance. Unfortunately, it failed to use its full potential as an anime because of certain mistakes made by the producers of this anime.
So let’s start off with the story. As I’ve said, Majutsu no index is set on interesting premises yet it failed to fully utilize all of its hidden potential. You see, one of the biggest problems here is, or the lack thereof, of a main antagonist because what happened is that the anime was split into two sides : the magic side and the science side.
The magic side is the side concerned with magic aspect of the anime. The plots concerning this side usually just revolves around people who are relentlessly trying to kidnap Index to learn the secrets in her head and wreak havoc upon the earth, those who want to save Index from her perfect memory, which they claim would kill her if they don’t brainwash her every year since she would remember every detail she sees and ultimately overload her brain, and the church which is responsible for pretty much all of Index’s problems. And obviously, it’s Touma’s job to protect Index which he usually does by talking and punching the said magicians into submission. Though that way of solving things isn’t really all that bad, what really makes the magic side so terrible is that it’s quite episodic when it comes to plot. The plot from one arc to another just doesn’t add up and that makes it quite terrible: the fact that it has no continuality.
The science side on the other hand, is a heck lot more interesting in terms of plot than the magic side. It revolves around the concept of leveling up ESPers. You see, the thing with ESPers is that they are ranked using levels, starting from level 0 (which is by the way, Touma’s level) and above. This is done in order to measure how strong an ESPer is with level 0 being weakest, virtually having no powers, and those with higher levels having stronger powers. The current highest level ESPers have been able to attain is level 5, a title which seven different people in Academy City hold. The story focuses on two of these level 5 ESPers, namely Misaka Mikoto, who was the ability to control electricity and is a friend to Touma, and The Accelerator, who can control and redirect vectors at will. What happened is that Academy City decided to create the first level 6 ESPer, and there are only two ways to do it: Either have a level 5 ESPer kill roughly 128 other level 5 ESPers, or to have a level 5 ESPer kill 20,000 level 3 ESPers. Seeing as they only have seven level 5 ESPers, they opted for the other method: have a level 5 ESPer, namely The Accelerator, kill 20,000 level 3 ESPers. Now the question is where do they get 20,000 level 3 ESPers?
If you haven’t noticed by now, yes, I am biased towards the science side of the story but there is a good reason for that. As I’ve said, what this series lacks is the presence of a main antagonist, and what the science side gives is just that, along with a solid plot. On the other hand, the magic side is, as I’ve mentioned, quite episodic in nature, jumping around from one antagonist to the other and having no clear goal as to where it would lead the story next after one conflict is solved. This is one of the biggest downfalls of Majutsu no Index and is one of the main reasons as to why it fails to live up to its potential. Another problem with this anime is that the magic and science side of the story almost never crosses each other, despite the fact that they should be two sides of the same coin. This is especially annoying from time to time because it causes quite a few plotholes in the story.
Another one of the problems with Majutsu no Index lies in its characters. I’m not saying that they are bad, it’s just that they are so cliché it hurts. We have Kamijou Touma, who’s definition of unlucky is seeing naked chicks and getting “in touch” with the ladies (gee, I haven’t seen that before), Index, who is your regular hyperactive loli, Misaka, nicknamed biribiri, who is your run-of-the-mill tsundere, and others who would take too long to mention. But of course, that isn’t the real problem, as cliché characters can still be interesting despite the fact that they are, well, cliché.
The real problem is that the makers of the anime desperately try to make Touma, the main character, look badass when in fact, he’s not. And for the sake of doing this, they pretty much confine most of the other characters to the sidelines. This becomes very apparent during the latter half of the show, when pretty much every problem ends up being solved when Touma punches the antagonist in the face.
But of course, not all of the characters are bad. Take Accelerator for example. Aside from being the main antagonist for the majority of the science side plotline, he is also the one of the few characters that received a noticeable amount of character development. As the story introduced him as an evil psycho who is willing to kill tens of thousands to gain power, he was later shown to have a softer side who cares for others more than he seems .Other than him, most of the other anime characters just receive minimal amounts of development, maybe aside for one more character though discussing her here could spoil the story.
So far, the only redeeming feature Majutsu no Index has is in its animation and music. The Art was just the way I like it, clean, smooth, and shiny just like most of the newer animes today, though there are times when the movements seem a little bit choppy but this is barely noticeable and doesn’t really affect the overall experience of watching this anime. The music on the other hand is just plain freaking awesome. The first and second openings, both J-pop songs, where sung by Kawada Mami which are in my opinion, just perfect for the theme of the anime: fast-paced and somehow had a futuristic tune to it.
So overall I’d have to say that To Aru Majutsu no Index is more or less an average anime. It’s an anime with a good concept and interesting premises, it just happened to have been unable to fully utilize its full potential. Still though, that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad anime. It does have moments where it shines and shows some pretty amazing scenes. Unfortunately, it couldn’t maintain that level of goodness throughout which becomes one of its downfalls. So this isn’t really something that I would personally recommend, but if you’re stuck with nothing to watch, or maybe you’re one those who have a liking for shounen animes with a little bit of romance here and there then why not give this a shot. Who knows, you might come to like it more than I did.
So to provide a quick summary, here are a list of pros and cons:
+ It has a good concept: Science against Magic
+The openings, both sung by Kawada Mami, were awesome J-pop songs
+The art was clean and smooth
+The Science side of the story had a good plotline
+The Accelerator is just a badass antagonist
-The anime was unable to use its full potential and due to half of the story, the magic side, being terrible
-The makers of the anime were trying too hard to make the protagonist of the story, Touma, look badass despite the fact that he was not
-The animation can get a little choppy at times, though this isn’t too noticeable
-The characters are quite cliché
~First and foremost, thanks for reading my review. If you have any comments regarding my review or just want to have a discussion, then leave a comment at my page. I will greatly appreciate it. =)~
"Then would you accompany me to the depth of hell?" - Index
"When magic and science crosses path, what will happen?" is how I would have liked to start this review. However the answer to that would have simply be "nothing" since, although both sides exists in the same place, there were hardly any interaction between them. So instead, I will begin by asking Index what she meant by accompanying her to the depth of hell. She was hardly present for half the show and during the rare occasions when she is in an episode, she gets sidelined and become a minor character with absolutely no
impact to the story (beside biting Touma on the head).
So what happened to those 103,000 magical texts? With the exception of the first few episodes and the last episode or two, where Index as a character actually matters to the plot, there is practically zero reference to the 103,000 magical texts for 80% of the show. Granted the production studio (J.C. Staff) wanted to follow the novel as closely as possible (and they did a very good job at it), it is understandable for the abrupt ending to the story thus far. But it still makes no sense for the story’s centerpiece to be dangling here and there with no sense of purpose in the various story arcs.
If one were to ignore the problems mentioned above, then the overall production quality of Toaru Majutsu no Index is actually quite good. Decent animation from J.C. Staff (though sometimes the distant shots seem lacking in detail) plus a great cast of seiyu make this anime a pleasant watch to those who don’t really mind a poor storyline. Don’t get me wrong though, the mini arcs throughout the show which introduces and help create character developments are great in themselves. However, once the dust settles, it always makes me wonder what happen to the story that was suppose to center around Index.
Character-wise, most were introduced to compliment the particular story arc (with the exception of the main protagonists). Afterward, they will tend to “fade” to the back sometimes making a few seconds appearance here and there with no significance. In terms of character development, not much observable changes occurred for the male protagonist and Index which can be attributed to the faithful following of the novel (since there wasn’t that much matter to talk about at the time of the anime production). On the other hand the co-heroine/main protagonist, Mikoto, of the Railgun series (a spinoff of Toaru Majutsu no Index) did show considerable character growth which makes her shine like a bright star among the group of relatively static characters.
Those familiar with Shana will instantly ring a bell in their head as they watch the first OP of this series. If the OP does not make you go "OMG, this sounds similar to Shana’s OP!", then perhaps watching the daily interaction between Index and Touma will help ring some bells. To be more precise, one can even replace Index with Shana and voila, you have yourself Shakugan no Shana III. The point I am trying to make here is the similarities between the two anime.
1. From the same production company.
2. At least one of their OP theme is sang by the same singer (Kawada Mami).
3. Shana = Index, Yuji = Touma.
So what am I trying to say here? It means that if you enjoy watching Shakugan no Shana, feel free to give this anime a try. The magician (magic) vs esper (science) theme advertised by Toaru Majutsu no Index does have its selling points, but I just think it desperately need a sequel to really link the various bits and pieces together. I enjoyed the mini arcs (whether they are filler or not), those irrelevant mini stories were very entertaining and they help keep my mind off Index. But once I start thinking deeper into the character ties and relationships, there is just something missing about the purpose of Index. Perhaps a hopeful sequel will fill in the missing puzzles, but as things stand right now the story really hurts the show.
To Aru Majutsu no Index (or TAMI for short) is the very definition of a generic anime. Theres nothing good here but its not necessarily bad. Some characters are likeable and entertaining but that makes up such a small percentage of the enormous cast that its just not worth it. TAMI is about a guy named Touma who lives in a city thats entire purpose is being a school for Espers (see: Psychics) although nobody actually reads minds and its more they all have a certain power. So nobody is psychic at all. Touma discovers a young girl hanging on his balcony whos a magician
being chased and he helps her. They become friends and have adventures. Thats TAMI in a nutshell, they tried having some main story throughout the whole thing but nothing important was revealed and the series couldnt keep a story arc going past 3 episodes. And thats where this show really falls to mediocrity. By constantly changing the focus of the story to some new threat and introducing 1-4 new characters every 3-5 episodes you lose the whole point of this series.
The characters themselves are just so two dimensional and uninteresting that you dont care for their story at all. Not to mention they all have to have some gimmick to distinguish them from another character.
As far as genre goes TAMI is a shonen type action show but thats being too generous in my opinion. TAMI's action scenes never go past 1-3 actions before they have to talk for 90% of the fight about something that wont even matter once the conflict is resolved, and all the main character ever does is punch people.
TAMI isnt necessarily bad but its just so plain that you find yourself wondering why you're even bothering with it? It tries to be funny but always throws the same gags at you that you just dont care for them. I think theres some wasted potential here and thats a shame because I really wanted to like this show
To Aru Majutsu no Index is an action, comedy set in a modern (or perhaps slightly futuristic) city called Academy City. The entire city is basically composed of several schools that teach the usage of Esper; a scientific kind of magic.
The story revolves around the protagonist Kamijou Touma, as he is caught between tensions and events involving conflicts between Magic and Esper (science). While the first few episodes were quite promising, hinting at a huge power struggle between two sides, with Touma being in the center of attention, the rest was quite the letdown. There wasn't any deep story. The main plot simply gets
shoved into the background and To Aru Majutsu no Index becomes a somewhat repetitive, episodic 2/3 episode-per-plot anime. Despite the great entrance leading to an episodic series, however, I admit it was still enjoyable to watch. The plots are simple, but watching Kamijou Touma go through each challenge in his way was entertaining.
The art and sound are definitely the strongest points of To Aru Majutsu no Index. The art is simply amazing. Movements and actions flow smoothly, showing just how many panels the creators drew to create each episode. CG effects are wonderfully done; with the sun shining brightly and casting beams of light on Academy City. The opening songs fit the action theme of To Aru Majutsu no Index very well, and the relaxing ending songs tone down viewers' excitement after watching the episodes.
Characters were great and unique in terms of personality, but development was stagnant. Each character had a unique personality that you can identify and tag them with. Touma is a carefree, friendly guy who's always there to help out his friends, while Index is mischievous and spoiled on the outside, deep down she cares much about everyone around her. However, without much character development, they pretty much stay the same throughout the 24 episodes of To Aru Majutsu no Index. But overall, I think this can be overlooked, as once you become attached to them, development won't degrade the characters' uniqueness.
Overall, I enjoyed watching To Aru Majutsu no Index on a weekly basis. It was a good anime overall, despite the lack of a concrete central plot. Just watching how Touma deals with situations and interact with those around him is purely enjoyable. Definitely give To Aru Majutsu no Index a try!
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