Set in a city of not only scientifically advanced superhuman students, but in a world where magic is also real. Kamijyo Touma's right hand, the Imagine Breaker, will negate all magic, psychic, or divine powers, as well as his own luck. One day he finds a young girl hanging on his balcony railing. She turns out to be a nun from the Church of England, and her mind has been implanted with the Index Librorum Prohibitorum—all the magical texts the Church has removed from circulation.
STORY: story of To Aru Majutsu no Index is long and complex. While at first it will look like every volume is a completely different story with little to no relations to another, later on all plot threads will slowly be put together and you will be surprised just how far into the future the writer planned certain plot threads.
Also, expect a lot of Scientific Exposition and Religious (especially Christian) symbolism.
ART: with this being a Light Novel, there is not much to say about the art tough most of illustrations are pleasant to the eye.
CHARACTERS: there are many characters in TAMNI, ranging from overpowered Espers
and Mages to weak so called "Level 0's", most of them being unique from one another.
There are three main characters in the story:
Kamijou Touma - THE main character of the story. While being labeled a "Level 0", his power is Negation of other supernatural powers with his right hands... tough as the story goes on it becomes more and more obvious that there is more to the power that meets the eye.
Kamijou Touma himself is an unlucky guy who always ends up being dragged into some kind of mess concerning the Dark Side of various factions and being a true Hero (tough he never will admit to be anything more but a common person) he always chooses to help the good guys.
For many characters, especially later on in the story, he is the ideal that inspires them. They see him as a hero and inspired by his deeds, they gain unfaltering wish to fight against what is not right and for former villains, he is the list at the end of the tunnel on their road to redemption.
And thats his main role in the story: not to be a developing character with inner fights (that is left for others) but to be the ideal hero.
Accelerator - the most powerful Esper in the world. His power is the ability to control all kinds of vectors.
He starts as a villain early on, with more then 10 000 deaths on his hands. After his conflict with Kamijou Touma, the story of his redemption starts.
While being a mass murderer, Accelerator believes that "Pieces of shit that fell into the Dark Side" should fight only one another and never try to mix the innocent people into their games. So when he meets a girl that is target of many darksiders, he becomes her personal guardian and falls further and further into the dark side where he pleases us by giving evil villains their due.
However a question remains: can a villain protect an innocent life that is targeted by so much evil in the world?
Hamazura Shiage - while Accelerator is the strongest Esper, Shiage is a "Level 0". At beginning he is a member of a Level 0 group called Skill Out, a group that seeks to protect other 0's from Espers... and at the same time bully the Espers. As such, from the very beginning he is a dark-sider.
When Kamijou Touma beats him up, he leaves the Skill Out and becomes a grunt worker for ITEM, a dark side 4-member organization that uses illegal methods for good of the Academy City... or more exactly, for the good of their greedy and immoral leaders. There, he helps get rid of corpses and such.
But like Accelerator, he also will find someone that he wants to protect. And soon he will become an enemy of the Academy City. Can a powerless person like him protect himself, the girl he loves... as well as his friends... from the evil of the world they belong to... an evil that has powerful technology and Espers that would make armed soldiers shiver in fear?
SETTING: the story happens in a world similar to ours... with some exceptions.
First, in Japan there is a place called Academy City. That city is part of Tokyo and it is around 20 years ahead in technology. Their technology will never cease to amaze you, especially since it is nicely explained how it works.
It is also a place where people with supernatural powers called Espers are created, raised and researched. There are many different powers and you will always look forward to seeing those Espers in battle.
However, there is a dark side to this organization... brutal experiments over children, immoral scientists, mass murders, Soviet-like secret organization... all existing in shadows of people who just seek to lead a normal life... and that dark side threatens to make many victims world-wide...
Second, Magic exists and the world is mainly ruled by Religious organizations that act behind the scenes. Unlike the Academy City, these factions follow religious ideas rather then scientific and the spells the mages use are filled with religious symbolism. As a Christian myself I am amazed at how well the writer researched religion and how well he made it all work in this story.
There are hundreds of magical organizations but three are the main ones:
Anglican Purist Church or more exactly Necessarius - their main goal is witch-hunt and control of mages throughout the world. For most of the story, Kamijou Touma is their ally.
Like Academy City, they have a dark side which is mainly felt through their leader and some of their actions. While they were not villains through TAMNI, there is a high possibility they will be in TAMNI's sequel: TAMNI: New Testament.
Roman Catholic Church - most powerful organization in the world, claiming to have 2 billion followers.
But that size is also their greatest enemy and their primary goal is to hold Status quo in the world and use all means necessary to not let the Catholic power plummet. And because of that desperation, the dark side is powerful here and thus Kamijou Touma finds himself to be their enemy in most cases, weakenign their dark side little by little.
God's Right Seat - part of the Roman Catholic Church's dark side... and teh faction that actually leads the Roman Catholic Church.
It consists of four members, every of them wielding power of one of God's Archangel's (Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel and Michael).
Their main goal tough is not to protect Catholic Church but to sit right to the God... which means to become equal to him. Their leader will do anything for that goal, even if it means sacrificing millions of lives...
ENJOYMENT: TAMNI is definitely an enjoying read. It has everything you may want: action, Slice of Life, comedy, moral questioning, great characters, intriguing storyline, well built world... if you give this a try, there is really a great chance you will enjoy it.
This was one of the first light novels I read, which is why I was able to finish it in the first place. I don't really remember the details since I read a while ago, so I'll speak mostly of my impression.
The first 13 volumes of this novel are pretty dull (well, except for sister's arc). The author sets up a magnificent stage where magicians and higher technology coexist, but emphasizes only the magic part until about volume 16 for whatever reason. I'm fine with him writing about what interests him, but personally I find the science side to be much more interesting. He
also invented some of the most creative physic powers I've seen. However, all these have greatly gone in waste due to immature writing and a lack of a central plot. He manages to turn everything around at around volume 16 and really sets up an epic final battle, but that happened too late.
Other than its wasted potential, I'd like to address 2 additional problems with this novel. Firstly, the author likes to tell many different stories simultaneously, which I call immature writing. The problem with this becomes particularly conspicuous during the later quarter of the novel where 4 or 5 groups of people are trying to do things at different places at similar times. The author simply writes a few pages for a group, and immediately jumps to the story of another group which, for the most part, were unrelated. These mini side-stories do tie up in the end, but I easily lost track of the characters, what was happening, why they were trying to do what they're doing,... etc., and is in general a big minus that only dilutes my interest.
Secondly, the author creates a massive dichotomy between magic and science, where the magicians earn everything through hard work while the espers were just gifted. However he never truly develops this theme in depth. He sort of just told you, "here's something to think about..." and left it like that. In addition, the power of the MC pretty much defies any meaning he does manage to squeeze in, because it is just way too OP and out of place for the setting of this novel. I mean, almost every battle the MC was involved in boils down to he shit talking a bunch of crap, then he punches the villain. This in and of itself is a rather boring pattern for fights, not to mention how most of MC's shit talking was very idealistic.
Finally, if you're thinking of reading this because you saw the anime, expect shit art. don't even.
Overall, this story was interesting but too much potential wasted. I give this a 7/10.
*There may be some minor spoilers that do not affect the reading experience*
To Aru Majutsu no Index is a fairly typical shounen series - The main character is a rather bland 'hero because it's the right thing to do' archetype, there is very little killing of villains, lots of random female characters and ecchi scenes... the list goes on. But what is it that sets TAMnI apart from the rest of these mediocre shounen titles? The answer to that question is - complexity. The depth of both the plot and the characters are a lot more than what it initially seems like. I'll explain it
a little more in the individual sections.
The basic premise of TAMnI is the battle between Science and Religion... Just that in this case, the religion side can use Magic while the Science side has Espers. There is a lot of Christian symbolism and scientific explanations. Each arc can be classified as either a science arc or a religion arc (of which the former is usually more interesting). The story takes a fairly long time to really pick up, since it only gets really good from volume 3 (The Sisters Arc, to be specific). The foresight of the author is quite commendable – small, seemingly insignificant details turn up later to affect the story in a big way.
No complaints about the art. It does its job and conveys what it wants to fairly well.
This is the true strength of TAMnI. Though one may be annoyed that enemies are never killed off and are just 'converted to the good side', one must also admit that TAMnI does an amazing job of it. Redemption is a fairly common character trait in this novel, but that actually adds to the enjoyment value rather than anything else.
TAMnI has three protagonists:
- Kamijou Touma: The main protagonist, the one who everything revolves around. Touma is the first protagonist to be introduced and is usually mixed up in every event in one way or another. He is technically an esper without powers (Level 0), but in reality, he has a power that negates all other powers, while bringing him extremely bad luck in the process. He is a 'true hero' who often jumps into dangerous situations for the sake of others. Though he is quite bland and is always surrounded by girls, he is a fairly likable character who you can't help but like.
- Accelerator: The strongest Esper. Accelerator is initially introduced as a villain, but over time, he chooses the path of redemption and chooses to go over to the good side... though his methods remain violent. He is by far the most interesting character in the series and also the one who develops the most. He is often depicted as a 'reluctant hero' or even as an 'antihero', since he is the only main character who has no qualms about killing.
- Hamazura Shiage: The random delinquent. Hamazura is the last protagonist to be introduced and his introduction as a protagonist comes very late in the series. Like Touma, Hamazura is a Level 0... Just that he doesn't have any power at all. Hamazura is yet another 'reluctant hero', though most of his actions are for self-gain. Among the three protagonists, he is usually the one who faces the most overwhelming odds. He is probably the most likable of the trio, since he is the easiest one to relate to.
-Misaka Mikoto: Easily the most popular character of the series (Popular enough to get her own series), Misaka, known as the Railgun, is one of the strongest espers in Academy City. She is a tomboy who follows the tsundere archetype, which may seem pretty common, but the execution sets her apart from the rest. She often gets into fights with Touma, since he’s the only one who can keep up with her. Despite being prideful, she will go out of her way to help her friends. She isn't one of the main protagonists, but most of the science arcs deal with her in one way or another.
One issue with TAMnI is the rather erratic pace. For every enjoyable (usually Science) arc, there is a relatively boring (usually Religion/magic) counterpart. While even the slower arcs have a particular standard, they never reach the level of the Science arcs. Accelerator’s arcs are always amazing though.
Overall, TAMnI is an interesting series with surprising depth for a shounen series. While it’s sequel (New Testament) doesn’t really live upto this one, it remains one of the best Light Novels I’ve read.
Have you ever seen a cute girl in your favorite anime trip, falling to the ground unharmed but embarrassed, and felt the overwhelming desire to help her up? Congratulations, you've just encountered a dojikko. Let's take a closer look at this adorable anime archetype.