Anime Review: A Certain Magical Index Season 2 Collection (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 02.09.2017

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A Certain Magical Index Season 2 Collection (UK Rating: 15)

Manga Entertainment is delivering a double whammy of anime goodness this month. With the second season of both Index and Railgun hitting on the same day. The Index franchise started off as a series of light novels by Kazuma Kamachi, a particularly prolific writer who has turned a series of books into its own world, with side characters receiving their own spin-offs. This series is the second season of the anime adaptation of the original story and sees Touma and Index continue their story. This complete second season contains all 24 episodes and is out now.

This is not one of those anime that can be picked up without watching the first season. There's a vast world here with considerable back-story to the characters and established lore. Set in a world where super-powered Espers are commonplace, as are powerful Mages; the two factions are constantly at odds, Science and Magic each vying for supremacy. Set in a town dedicated to science, known as Academy City, Espers grow and train in schools and are ranked based on their ability, zero to five. Protagonist, Touma Kamijou, is a level zero, but despite this has an absurdly powerful and unique power - his right hand is able to completely nullify anything it touches. In a world of magical, psychic, and even divine powers, he houses something of a Deus Ex Machina ability, able to wipe out any ability, although it has the small side effect of inflicting Touma with constant bad luck.

Over the course of the first season, Touma is paired up with a young girl who is a nun from the Church of England, whose name is Index. Index has stored within her memory 103,000 Grimoires that make her a constant target for Mages seeking the knowledge of these forbidden books. Touma and Index end up living together and the extended cast is expanded to include plenty of friends from both the Magical and Scientific communities… plenty of which return here, but doubtless the most important is Mikoto Misaka, a Level 5 Esper codenamed Railgun who has not only one of the best back-stories but one of the best story arcs in the series, so much so that she received her own spin-off, A Certain Scientific Railgun, the second season of which Cubed3 recently reviewed.


 
This new season picks up its adaptation of the novels with Book 7 and adapts many of the short stories found within into a bunch of short story arcs over the first half of the season, as opposed to telling one overarching story. These include a war between religious factions, a small arc that focuses more on the stars of Railgun, as pervy teleporter Kuroko Shirai is dragged into the secret war her beloved Mikoto has been fighting. There's a huge a clash between the rival factions of Science and Magic once again as a Magician sneaks into the city during a huge sports festival. Touma and Index win a trip to Italy and find themselves embroiled in yet another religious war. Each of these stories helps, at least, to continue the world-building of the war between Magic and Science, while also containing enough scenes to tease what's coming towards the end of the season.

While the individual stories are so-so, the real strength of the show is the characters. It's refreshing to see an anime hero like Touma, not a whiny vegetarian male, but instead the sort of man that when the chips are down isn't afraid to uppercut a little loli nun in the face. Misaka is a fantastic bad-ass female character with a hidden girly soft side and the twisted weapon of Accelerator is an instant fan favourite. The extended cast, though, is filled with the same archetype over and over; the sympathetic villains with either a tragic past or a somewhat relatable motivation. It's an overused Shonen archetype that becomes terribly tiresome.

This complete collection combines Funimation's previous releases together, so it brings with it both the English and Japanese dubs, along with a bunch of extras. There's the usual clean opening/closing, with some break-out tracks here - there's a reason they were available on rhythm games like Taiko and Mai Mai across Japan - along with episode commentaries from the English cast. This is another release where although the Japanese voice actors put on some absolutely stellar and memorable performances, the English is also quite enjoyable, thanks to some of the best in English voice acting in attendance, including the superb Monica Rial. It's surprising to realise that this series is now almost seven years old as, despite the odd moment, it looks great for its age, with rich colours and some solid animation, combined with the original character designs.

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

This second season of Index suffers from many of the same problems as the first, such as too many short stories that seem to be continuing to develop the world instead of giving the audience a big overarching plot to get their teeth into. The series manages, at least, to deliver stories that balance seriousness and comedy with aplomb. It's a pity the majority of the show couldn't live up to the finale of the series - the strength of the final, though, can be attributed to the major part that the Railgun characters play, and that's indicative of the series as a whole. All in all, it's an enjoyable set of stories but they can't live up to their counterparts in Railgun.

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