By Kazumi Kamachi and Kiyotaka Haimura. Released in Japan as “Shinyaku To Aru Majutsu no Index” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Alice Prowse.
I will admit, the moment I saw that the new series of Index books had been licensed, my first thought was “oh, is the anime announcement coming soon?”. It’s been almost four years since A Certain Magical Index 22 came out. While sales figures are never easy to come by these days, word on the street was that it was not exactly one of Yen’s best sellers. But it *is* one of Dengeki Bunko’s best sellers, and a “flagship” title for the company. And there did seem to be some genuine excitement (and hopefully enough sales to justify the cost) of the massive 2000-page Index omnibus that came out earlier this year. So sure, let’s go. We’re jumping back into Index, featuring our favorite ditzy nun, tsundere electro girl, and schlub with a magic hand. Some bad news to report, though, as none of those three feature heavily in this book. This first volume of NT (New Testament) is about the other two male protagonists.
The return of Index also means the return of the “let’s try to keep track of things” paragraph. Introduced in this book: Fremea Seivelun, Kuroyoru Umidori. Also, though we briefly saw Leivinia Birdway in Book 18 of Index, this is her entrance to the story proper – on the 2nd to last page. This book takes place on Guy Fawkes’ Day, the 5th of November, and one week after World War III. Touma has been declared missing presumed dead. From a brief cameo we see of Index, she’s not taking it well. The Railgun manga has not gotten to this point yet. Its most recent arc is a flashback, and the most recent current arc takes place around Vol. 16 of the first series. In Japan, this came out on March 10, 2011, only five months after the “final” volume of Index. The Railgun manga had just released Book 6, so the Sisters arc. And the Index anime was just about to wrap up Season 2.
World War III is over, and peace supposedly reigns over Academy City. Of course, you know that’s not going to last. Much to the irritation of Accelerator, his attempt to stop all the “darkness” of the City can’t even make it work for one week before a new group of eccentrics is trying to use him to help cause chaos. As for Hamazura, all he wants to do is go on dates with his cute girlfriend. Sadly, his cute girlfriend comes with the other two remaining members of ITEM, who are both sadists, so instead he gets chased around the worst slums of the city by goons… and runs into an old friend of his from the gang, Hanzou. Hanzou is watching over a little girl, Fremea Seivelun, whose last name is the same as ITEM’s now-murdered member Frenda. Yup, it’s her little sister. And while Fremea may just be a Level 0, it seems everybody and their brother wants to murder her.
For the most part this “new season” of the Index series plays it pretty safe, as the entire volume is essentially a massive action movie. It’s along the lines of Lethal Weapon, though Accelerator and Hamazura are not exactly wisecracking jokers. The *real* goal of the Freshman, the latest oddly-named group, seems to be having Accelerator and Hamazura, who previously barely interacted, team up with each other to get revenge on the city for killing Fremea. Their leader is a type we’ve seen before, the smug teenager who has really awesome powers derived from scientists experimenting on children, but they turn out to not be QUITE as awesome as Accelerator’s powers. And yes, surprise surprise, Touma is not dead, and shows up at the very end to save the day, stop the villain, and get kicked in the balls, in that order.
If you’ve never read Index, for God’s sake, don’t start now. But if you’re an Index fan, put away that Baka-Tsuki PDF and go buy this.