As tensions between the world of magic and Academy City continues to rise, Touma Kamijou and his hand of negation must face off against both esper and magician in order to protect the lives of those around him. Of course, he is not alone in his fight; whether by his side or out of sight, allies and enemies both old and new will enter the fray to help him.
Toaru Majutsu no Index II continues the story of action and comedy, as the scale of Touma and his allies' battle grows ever larger. A conflict is slowly brewing on the horizon, and magic and science will cross paths once again in the war to come.
Before I begin my review, let me share with you a little story
I once went to the "Women Are Neglecting Kitchens Society" ( Yes, I do know that abbreviates to W.A.N.K.S) Don't worry, all they do is tell "Women and Kitchen" jokes to each other. Anyways, the committee was proposing "Kamijou Touma" as their society's mascot. Bear in mind I did not watch any episodes of "Toaru Majutsu no Index" at all so I had to ask, "Who the heck is Touma??"
My membership got instantly revoked.
So after watching the first season, I still did not understand why is Touma is treated like a hero for
the W.A.N.K.S. But after venturing into the second season during the great "Nuns vs Touma's Right Fist" war, I finally understood them..
"Your story wasn't that entertaining" says Misaka expressing her boredom.
Oh, and providing commentary for this review today is Misaka Clone #10032
So let's begin the review shall we?
As I've mentioned before, I've continuously watched from the first season into the second season, thus I could significantly notice several changes between the two season.
Once again the story revolves around Kamijou Touma and his RIGHT FIST. Note I do not say RIGHT HAND to avoid any sexual innuendos. Once again, Touma lack of discrimination for women causes him to go out of his way to save any "damsel in distress" nor does he care about holding back when he "rearranging their faces" Along with index and a few other companions, he is again dragged into solving the problems between the two dominating church factions in the story out of his sense of altruism. I can absolutely say you will get hooked onto each episode, there is almost no such thing as "fillers" (Eventhough once in a while I would like that since the story is moving at such an incredible momentum) I did not read the light novels thus in no way am I comparing the anime to it.
The character design improved significantly from the previous season. Combat sequence are getting more serious effects. I love the new opening now and I've seen tons of spoof and parodies made about it in NND. This is one of the few openings I would actually listen to instead of skipping. And who doesn't like the sound effect when Touma uses his RIGHT FIST to dispel magic or espers ability?
Characters! More development here for Touma's character. And when I say more development, I mean his HAREM is developing! However I felt like they were neglecting Index once again.. Poor Index... Other supporting characters such as Misaka, Accelerator and Kuroko do appear to further compliment the story. Misaka and her tsudere-ness reaches a higher level! The sad part about this anime is that as new characters are being introduced, the older ones which had their own arc are being left by the sidelines.
"I did get to appear momentarily in one of the episodes..." says Misaka proudly.
NO!!! DONT SPOIL THE SHOW FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN'T WATCHED!! Now go make me a sammich!
"I decline..." says Misaka while looking at the other direction.
Anyways, as blasphemous as it is, I did enjoy the whole religion versus science theme. Ok, so technically all religions are not represented so to correct it, it would actually be a war between the Christian Crusaders and Science. And wow, these Christian Crusaders made Taliban Terrorist looks like wimps, eventhough in reality the existence of espers and magic isn't really acknowledge. Now the reason I wouldn't give the enjoyment value of this anime to the maximun score is because the whole Touma tries to reason a girl, girl rejects Touma's reasoning, Touma's crush girl's illusion a.k.a her face, girl defects and becomes his ally, is getting old pretty quick. Sure thats a nice way to add girls to your harem instead of the typical dating sim of buying flowers and chocolates and raising flags every single moment, why not just falcon punch her?? Now, in no way am I or Touma are sexist here.
"Touma isn't sexist as he indiscriminately punches anyone in the face, male or female" Misaka adds to strengthen the argument.
Well said. So to put it easily, if you're the type who fancies superpowers and ability users, this would be a good anime for you to watch. Be sure to watch the first season though. And what is a harem anime without a couple of fanservice?? Yes we do have some to satisfy you fetish! For all you lolicon, Miko fetish, and Nun fetish! Not to mention a lot of tsunderes to go around (10,000+ to be exact)
And do not take the religion aspect of this story too seriously, in no way it is connected to reality. This is a fictional world. Otherwise, how else would they be able to acquire magic make up?? What? You didn't notice they were wearing magic make up?? Whenever Touma punches his enemies' face with his RIGHT FIST, their faces becomes slightly uglier thus their magic make up was dispelled by Touma's RIGHT FIST..
"I do not understand your jokes.." says Misaka showing her confusion
Well how about this? Touma lost his right arm when he was a kid so Chuck Norris gave him his right arm since Chuck Norris has the ability to regenerate any of his body part. Thus explains why Touma's RIGHT FIST is supremely incredible!
"Who is this Chucku Norrissu of which you speak?" Misaka asked in further confusion.
The second season of To Aru Majutsu no Index continues from where the first season left off. Based on the popular Light Novel series, the story takes place in Academy City: a City where 80% of the population are students trained to develop superhuman powers through scientific methods. These students are known as “Espers”. But outside this city exists a religious fraction that can use Magic to counter Esper abilities. This fraction strongly detests the Science side and the two sides have been plotting each others destruction. Kamijyo Touma, the protagonist of this story, possesses a right hand that will negate all magic and esper
powers (as well as his own luck) and has been dragged into their plots against each other.
Now I'll be the first to admit that the To Aru Majutsu no Index series has been less than brilliant but I still found the first series enjoyable. Pretty much every arc would have roughly the same shell: Touma meets a nice girl who is a victim of a horrible plot. Touma then finds out about said horrible plot. Touma confronts the antagonist behind the plot. Said antagonist gives a typical “Good intention but wrong method” excuse before Touma gives an idealistic speech and punches him in the face. Rinse and repeat. Not that I didn't enjoy it the first few times but it does get old and fast. Even so, the first season did make up for it by filling up that shell with some creative stuff and I was still intrigued with the dark mystery behind the Magic and Science sides. I also fell in love with the comedy and the character interactions which were just priceless.
All of that is mostly done away with in this new instalment. Any creativity the previous arcs had is thrown out the window leaving behind that empty shell I've grown to hate, with the only difference being that Touma is now punching girls instead of guys. I think the biggest problem is with the exposition. For example in the second arc, they pretty much throw you into the deep end of plots between churches and a whole load of techno-babble and if you can't make sense out of it in the first five seconds, well then good luck because they won't dally around. The comedy is sorely lacking in creativity as well. Let me give you an example of how that contrasts with the first season. At the beginning of one arc in the first season, Touma (who has amnesia) stumbles upon a very oddly dressed little girl. Touma being Genre Savvy enough to realise that anyone who dresses that strangely is someone he must know, decides to greet the girl. Except the girl in question immediately considers Touma an enemy just for greeting her and holds him at knife point. It's not that he wasn't exactly wrong in his deduction. It's just that he's an incredibly unlucky guy. In this season that type of comedy was mostly replaced with an insufferable amount of Accidental Pervert moments only two of which had any sort of creativity to them. There were some funny moments here and there but nothing like the first season and without that comedy the series loses much of its charm.
And now that you're left with that empty shell you have the opportunity of realising just how ridiculously irritating Touma can be with his annoying speeches. In one arc, I noticed that when Styl was taken down by the antagonist if you actually notice, the pool of blood coming from Styl gets slowly bigger and bigger whilst Touma spends some precious time preaching to the antagonist about how wrong she is. Not only that but one problem is that anyone who knows even a little about how to argue would know just how terrible his debating skills are. It mostly just consists of throwing a lot of general idealistic principles. And that's not even the worst thing about his speeches. No, the worst thing is that it's only ever so far been used to break down incredibly weak motives. This was particularly egregious when the second to last antagonist Touma faces gives what has to be the most retarded antagonist's motive I've ever heard, not just in the To Aru series but in anime generally.
Oh and don't count on Index to become more important in this series like I did. She doesn't. Oh she serves as a good plot device in certain key moments but that's about as far as it gets. She's far more important in the first season, even when I thought she was being shafted. I wonder why they even call it “Magical Index” anymore.
That said it's not all bad. The series picks up in the last quarter and that would be mostly due to the introduction of Accelerator as a more central figure. A much more interesting character that provides a more cynical route for all those already irritated with Touma. But even then the last quarter had its flaws so it's nowhere near enough for me to overlook the poor quality of a whole three-quarter of this season. The soundtrack is at least as brilliant as it's always been (something I think is largely underrated) with each piece always providing the perfect atmosphere. The animation though has become a lot more inconsistent this season. It's great in many places but in others I notice a lot of odd and jerky movements and the inconstancy has been a notable pain for me throughout the entire season.
Overall it's only because I'm a fan of the series that I'm not giving it an even lower rating. But even though the second season was a bitter disappointment, I still look forward to the third season (which although hasn't been announced yet is still a forgone conclusion). I’ve been promised by several Light Novel readers that the story really does get much better after this. Pushing aside the obvious problem that it would have to take 48 episodes to finally pick up, if season three does reach my expectations then I will simply consider this season a part of the story that bridges the gap between season one and three. So in conclusion, if you’re a fan of this series and you’re willing to watch 24 episodes of mostly mediocre stuff, all for the sake of understanding season three when it finally picks up then go for it, but make sure to lower your expectations. If you’re not a fan and you’re not in the least bit curious about what happens (even though you’re reading a review of it) then don’t bother.
A Certain Magical Index should really be renamed, and I have the perfect title: A Certain Frustrating Show. I don't think I've ever actually been so frustrated with a show quite like this before, not because it's bad, but because it's good, and very enjoyable - but for some bizarre reason, the show never uses its latent potential to become something truly outstanding.
Let me get one thing out of the way first: Index II is a significant step-up from the first series, the first episode was actually better than nearly every single moment of the original series (minus
Accelerator's little mini-arc) and actually got me looking forward to a show that I thought would only be marginally better than its prequel, instead, what I got was a series that involves a lot of evil Roman Catholics who are more extreme than most actual religious extremists, a lot of idealistic speeches and a lot of women being punched in the face.
Another thing I should get out of the way, if you're an easily offended religious person (specifically, a Roman Catholic) or a fairly hardcore feminist who believes that all men are "pigs", then this probably isn't the show for you, seeing as, more than likely, you may be offended by the shows content at some point.
Having said that, I don't think the show is actually trying to be offensive, it's just unfortunate that certain aspects of the show - which I'll cover later on - can be misconstrued as either racist or misogynistic depending on your beliefs. If you're able to get past these issues, then there's a good chance that you may be able to enjoy the show despite its faults.
Now that I've covered the obligatory "If you're easily offended, don't watch it" section, I should probably move onto the reason you're (probably) still reading this review, that is, the part in which I'm actually reviewing.
Index II continues to follow the misadventures of everyone's favorite unfortunate protagonist, Kamijou Touma, and his exploits as he tries to deal with the looming threat of the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church and...the Roman Catholic Church, because apparently, the Roman Catholic Church seems to have nothing better to do with their time than try to take over Academy City - occasionally they mix things up a bit by not going after Academy City itself, but generally speaking, the Roman Catholics serve as the main antagonists for the most part.
They also happen to make some pretty poor antagonists at that, usually guided by poor motivations and weak reasons which are broken down by Touma's equally weak idealistic speeches which serve as a constant reminder that, despite having his occasionally cool moments in Index (and to a much greater extent, Railgun): Kamijou Touma is an idealistic buffoon, whose only redeeming feature is that he happens to have one of the most overpowered abilities in the history of fiction.
However, poor antagonists aside, the most infuriating aspect of Index II's story is its own inability to capitalise on the clear potential that it actually has here, I'm not joking when I say that the potential for a really outstanding story is absolutely huge here. The story has a lot of really good ideas that, frustratingly, are hardly ever capitalised on for the majority of the run time - we still for example, don't actually know what Imagine Breaker is, all we know is that Touma's only redeeming feature is able to negate any supernatural ability that is thrown at him - magical or otherwise. No explanation is given as to why it is he has this power, what its full potential actually is, or why it's capable of negating supernatural abilities in the first place - it becomes clear in one of the later arcs that there is clearly a lot more to Imagine Breaker than meets the eye, (although this statement is kind of redundant, seeing as it was obvious) but that's about it.
Index too doesn't seem to serve any more importance than she did last season, in fact, there are several people who have argued that she was actually more important in the first season, even though there are arcs in which she doesn't actually appear at all. The MAL synopsis for this show is actually very misleading; if there are any of you who think that Index will serve a greater role in Index II then think again, she won't, and you'll be left feeling very disappointed. She's still just as annoying as ever mind you, so there are some definite pro's to this particular con of the story.
There are plenty of other occasions when the story fails to capitalise on its potential too, for instance, why doesn't it introduce any other saints besides Kanzaki Kaori? Surely the Church of England has other magicians it can send besides Stiyl, right? Just what exactly are Aleister's plans? Are there any other interesting Espers besides Misaka and Accelerator? Who exactly are the other Level 5 Espers anyway? (although Railgun S has already partially answered that question for me) There are a lot of other questions that I'd really love to ask, because this show still hasn't answered them, although I'm fairly sure that when Index III comes out, (it's a question of when, not if) I'll be getting my answers - in fact, I'm starting to think that Index II decided to purposely dodge any questions I may have purely for the purpose of getting me excited for the inevitable third season - and if that was the case, it succeeded.
Another issue with the story is the woman punching, personally, I wasn't as bothered by this as some people may actually be, but I can certainly understand why it can be seen as an issue. Nearly every arc (with a few notable exceptions) revolves around Touma punching the antagonist - in this case, the main female villain of the arc - in the face, and potentially rearranging it whilst he's doing so; I'm fairly sure that Index II's intention wasn't actually to be misogynistic, in the same way I think it's just using the Roman Catholic Church because of the various pieces of Christian symbolism it can use rather than being racist about it.
It's not all bad though, the last two arcs are actually really good and really enjoyable, for a few notable reasons, one of which being that they actually serve to progress the story and in a very notable way. The final two arcs are huge indications that something really big is coming, and make a large change to the sometimes filler-like feel of certain arcs (the Daihaseisai arc feeling like it was just dragging on, especially towards the end). Another reason is that Accelerator ends up becoming the main character for a time, which is a nice change of pace when compared to Touma. Everyone's favorite psychopathic anti-hero with a heart serves as a much more interesting main protagonist (which is why his little arc in the original series was by far the best thing about it), not to mention, he gets the good villain too, with his main enemy serving as a much more interesting, well motivated antagonist in comparison to Touma's villains.
Another notable aspect of Index II's story is that this time, it doesn't bombard you with lots of terminology, which was a huge problem of the original series, instead, any new terminology is actually explained and, more importantly, serves as relevant information to the plot - even if in some cases, it's arc limited. This makes it much easier to sort out plot details in your head, but it never feels like it's just spoon-feeding you either, which is nice.
The final thing about the story is, that, well, it actually goes somewhere...eventually. The original series never went anywhere with its plot, despite hinting that it clearly could, and whilst it takes a while for Index II to go somewhere, when it does eventually move, there are significant leaps in progress in comparison to the original.
Animation is also better than the original series, attacks look cooler and pack more of a punch in terms of visual clarity, the series animates rather well and it's obvious that Index II is getting the best part of the budget that I didn't know J.C Staff actually had.
It's not perfect however, there are some times when the animation becomes quite choppy and inconsistent, with the occasional off-model appearing every now and again, as well as some static images appearing here and there too. These are minor gripes however, as for the most part, Index II is generally rather good to watch and look at, especially when characters are bringing out their most powerful spells or Esper ability.
Similar to the first series, the OST doesn't really have that many notable tracks to go with it, although there a couple of tracks worth mentioning, probably because the show likes to play them a lot - Kyuuketsu Koroshi is a nice track that brings an atmosphere that wouldn't be out of place in a good detective show, Gensou Koroshi is essentially Touma's illusion breaking theme song, Nichijou provides some amusement when it's covering the daily lives of the characters. It's not a bad mix of tracks, although there are definitely better OST's out there.
Opening and ending themes fare similarly to the previous series, with the one notable exception being the second opening, See VisionS, which is the series best opening by a long stretch and, funnily enough, becomes the shows opening theme when the story actually decides to become interesting.
Voice acting is pretty strong too, now that I actually understand why it is that the various Misaka's speak like they do, I now actually think that it was a pretty clever choice as opposed to an annoying inclusion that actually does makes a lot of sense in context. Despite his character, Atsushi Abe is actually very good as Touma, and there are often plenty of times that his performance is able to sell the character despite the stupidity of his speeches (were it not for the fact that what he's saying is rather stupid, Abe puts so much effort into the role that he's capable of fooling you into thinking that what he's saying is worth listening to). Rina Satou still delivers well on Misaka - I'm inclined to like her more now seeing as I actually liked Railgun. Satomi Arai is actually pretty funny whenever she screams "Onee-Sama" as Kuroko, Rina Hidaka is fairly adorable as Last Order now that I understand more about the character...the list goes on.
There are a few notable performances in the voice acting as well, although, for different reasons. Rie Kugimiya does her trademark squeal as Sister Agnese, whether this is a good thing or not is entirely up to you, I personally didn't mind it. My man Keiji Fujiwara is a great addition to the cast as Accelerator's villain, Kihara, bringing a sadistic, cynical performance that totally fits with an arc revolving around Accelerator. Yuka Iguchi is...well, she's Yuka Iguchi, I didn't like her in the original series and honestly, my opinion of her hasn't changed all that much either.
Once again though, the best actor in the show is by far Nobuhiko Okamoto as Accelerator, he's able to pull off every scream, every insult, every single psychopathic laugh with amazing sincerity, all whilst being able to bring emotional depth to a character who, for all intents and purposes, you should probably hate and would do whatever it takes to avoid if you saw him on the street. It's Okamoto's performance when Accelerator's not screaming that really sells it, his world weary voice and seemingly apathetic attitude showing that, underneath the psychopath, is a very lonely and unloved boy who's just trying to get by and find people that he can actually get along with - which is probably why he goes so far to help Last Order and why they play off each other really well.
The characters of Index are a group of people who you will share a mixed relationship with, on the one hand, there are characters who are actually rather good, Accelerator being the most obvious example followed by Misaka, as well as characters who you will probably really dislike. I'll make this clear now, if you didn't like Index in the first series, forget about liking her here, she hasn't changed, she's still annoying and the moments when she bites Touma are not funny. The show does actually have some cool characters like Stiyl and Tsuchimikado, but they're never usually on screen long enough for you to actually say "Yeah, these guys are actually really good characters." and that's actually a recurring issue with a lot of the characters in Index, there are definitely some cool characters here, but that's all they are: cool. You won't see any characters of any noticeable depth unless they're either main characters, or you watched Railgun and got to see Misaka's life fleshed out more. It's that irritating issue of when a show has too many characters, and doesn't know what to do with them, so you're left with two-dimensional to one-dimensional characters.
Then there are the antagonists, a completely mixed bag of characters who range from decent (i.e Kihara) to pretty lacklustre (i.e most of Touma's villains) - Biagio Busoni I should add, is a total waste of Emperor Wakamoto's voice, in fact, if it turns out that they end up going up against God in Index III, Wakamoto should play God, that would be an appropriate role for him (for God I mean, 'cause he doesn't even come close to Emperor Wakamoto after all).
The most polarising character however, is Kamijou Touma himself. The main problem with Touma is that, well, he's a buffoon, an idealistic one at that, spouting out his ideals whenever his altruism gets him caught up in the final fight of the arc. Although, there is something there that doesn't make me totally dislike him - and I'm not just referring to his ability either. Kamijou Touma is a genuinely nice guy who goes to great lengths to ensure that everyone, be they friend or enemy regardless, turns out better for it, his altruism truly knows no bounds. Whilst I can't necessarily vouch for his brilliance as a character, he certainly does have some admirable traits about him, and if someone bothered to fix his idealistic speeches and terrible debating skills, I'd probably be saying I like the guy.
With all this being said though, Index II is an immensely enjoyable show. I managed to get through it in two days and I'm really looking forward to Index III (from what I know, the light novels are supposed to get really good once all the filler style stuff is out of the way), and flaws aside, when Index II is going at full swing, it's actually a hard show to fault - despite its issues, Index II has a considerably high entertainment factor. The comedy is actually legitimately funny and gets past cheap gags that were never really funny to begin with such as Index biting Touma, the action sequences are very good and are great to watch, and similar to the last season, the arc like structure allows you to pretty much watch the show at your leisure without feeling too bad about not watching for a bit. There's a lot going for Index II.
I should also point out that, Index II is not a bad show, it's actually a good show - and it's fantastic in comparison to the first season. It's just a shame that, despite all its pros in comparison to the first series, its many cons, such as the frustrating inability to actually capitalise and fully exploit the good ideas that it actually has, prevent it from being truly outstanding, which is a really frustrating issue indeed. I'll just hope for now that, when Index III is confirmed, I'll finally be able to enjoy To Aru Majutsu no Index at its best and that I'll finally be able to say "It's totally worth watching the first two seasons for."
Until that point however, it really will just be A Certain Frustrating Show.
Some people hate sequels, saying it will never be as good as the original. Some people love them more, saying that they're just glad that there's more. I try to stay at a neutral stance, but I admit that I was still looking forward for this second season of Index (third if you count Railgun). I liked the first season; it had good characters and good story arcs. Railgun was a nice change to Index. How can putting the two together be bad? I had high hopes. Had. I don't know, but somehow, it happened. I mean, it was really really bad.
The story. What can
I say? I just didn't really like them. Most of it has to do with the characters, which I will elaborate later on. The story arcs didn't lead to anything big in the end. There was no big climax or anything; they just left an ambiguous ending, sequelbating. The arcs seemed to be half religion half science. I would be okay with that if the two were actually mixed together but they were kept apart. It was more like it was half Index and half Railgun. At the end of each episode, they say that when magic and science cross, the story begins. That's the problem; they never crossed. Characters from their respective shows didn't really mix with the other either, and that was kind of disappointing. One of my biggest qualms with this show is how each arc ended. Some of the most unoriginal endings ever written. I can break it down. 1. Touma is the last man standing 2. He gives some terrible speech about care and love and other unimportant stuff and 3. He punches a woman in the face. How anti-climactic is that? You'd expect an epic ending with something magic or science related used against the enemy, but all you get is a punch in the face.
The characters. They have changed so much, and not in a good way. Touma seems even more self-righteous than usual. Index seems even more useless than usual too. She was very annoying, one of the most annoying characters in the series. You know, I didn't laugh the first time she bit Touma on the head, so why would I find the 46th time funny? Why are all the characters pandering to the fans? Who thought this was a good idea. I don't want to see every single female character wanting Touma little head (except for Index who wants his bigger one on his shoulders). They turned so many of them into tsunderes when they clearly weren't that in the previous season. Why? One is enough (well, one is too much, actually). Mixed in with these terrible story arcs, I've grown to hate these characters that I used to like. Oh, and there's fanservice. Some of the stupidest fanservice I have ever seen. In many shows, you have the panty shot, which is understandable because the camera just happened to be at an angle to see it, but it index, the characters strip down for you! Terrible.
The art is very generic. The animation is average, I guess. Pretty much the same as the first season and Railgun, so I don't really have complaints about it. The music was really boring. It's some very generic music. I didn't really like the OPs and EDs either, but the first OP was alright. There seems to have been very poor artistic direction. Any art is just drained to almost nothing, and art is something that I crave. Oh well.
Overall, I pulled nearly no enjoyment from this show at all. I absolutely hated the characters and story arcs. Very little logic was used, like that grenade in one of the later episodes that exploded in a small room and did barely any damage to the room and not even injuring anyone in the room. Logic was not on the menu for this show. J.C. Staff took something I really enjoyed and turned it into this ugly, disfigured beast that I found nauseating. I really hope they stop there and stop ruining it further. I can't say I have high hopes for that.
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