By Kazumi Kamachi and Kiyotaka Haimura. Released in Japan as “To Aru Majutsu no Index” by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Prowse.
It’s hard, as this series goes on, not to feel that we are headed towards a certain point of no return. Indeed, Touma’s job in this book is to try to stop the world from descending into total war, and he only just manages to keep it in check. Both sides, magic and science, are clearly cruising for a bruising, so to speak, and I’m pretty sure that eventually there’s going to be no way to stop everything blowing up. This time around the French city of Avignon is completely destroyed, and though there are attempts to try to say “oh, they’re only knocking people unconscious”, there’s clearly significant innocent casualties. This is not helped by the Roman Cathol… Orthodox Church’s mid control weapon, or the fact that Touma and Accelerator are both used here as the equivalent of nuclear weapons dropped on the enemy. Despite Touma’s best efforts, things are getting worse, not better.
Introduced in this volume: Suama Oyafune, Monaka Oyafume. Terra of the Left also makes his first proper appearance here, though of course it’s also his last. We’re into October now, 3 months after the start of the Index series. Since the last book the Railgun cast has been busy, as most of the Dream Ranker arc has happened, and Saten and Frenda have continued to bond and become good friends. This assumes that you ignore the actual text of Index 14, in which Mikoto sees Uiharu and thinks “oh, that friend of Kuroko’s I don’t know”. On the bright side, in real life, the Index and Railgun mangas have both started, meaning hopefully that continuity will start to match up with them. And don’t worry, Uiharu, I bet you get a big scene soon! We’ve also seen the first Index short story collection come out. These sadly are not licensed by Yen, which is a shame, as sometimes they tie into the plot of the main storyline more than most short story collections. More on that next time. And, most significantly, this is the first volume that has not been made into an anime.
As for this book, Index is completely absent, and it’s Itsuwa who plays the heroine, as you might have guessed from the cover. Aside from the hand towel joke, which has already gotten old (as with almost all jokes the author attempts), I quite like Itsuwa. She’s capable, cute, and clearly meant to contrast with all the girls Touma knows who get angry and hit him at the drop of a hat. When he points out her top has become see-through due to rescuing him from a river, she just blushes and rushes off to change. No surprise that she rapidly became a fan favorite, and we’ll see her back soon. Tsuchimikado is also around in this book, mostly serving as Touma’s backup and deliverer of exposition, although we’ve reached the point in the series where Touma can figure most things out on his own. The plot is, to be honest, slight. Touma is sent to stop a magical maguffin that is causing Roman Orthodox believers to riot and want to destroy Academy City. He does, eventually. The end.
That said, there are important things going on here, not least of which is realizing that Touma’s last name, Kamijou, may be a lot more significant than we had previously expected. Touma’s right hand power, Imagine Breaker, is clearly a giant mystery still, and he hasn’t harnessed most of its power. Terra fo the Left implies that he knew more about it before the memory loss, but I’m not really sure that’s the case. More importantly, thanks to accidentally leaving his cell phone on during a battle, Mikoto also now knows about his memory loss – but not WHEN it happened. Given that she’s been worried lately that he’s been ignoring her, I suspect she thinks he may have forgotten the Sisters arc.
In any case, it looks as if Acqua of the Back, who has proven to be the most reasonable of the antagonists du jour, is up next. Before that, however, we’ll flip back to the Science side, which is having its own chaotic power struggles. Index fans will enjoy this one, although I suspect most of them are looking towards the next volume…