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.
As with most two-volume arcs in Index, the second half of this is filled with a lot of action, though there is also some time taken for characterization, particularly of the Royal Family. But yes, fights, fights and more fights. Former allies fight each other, as the Knight Leader and Acqua of the Back face off. Many disparate groups team up, as Touma and Index ally with the English Puritans, Agnes Sanctis’ group, the Amakusa group, the third princess, and even the staff of Buckingham Palace to take down the Second Princess. In the end, she’s defeated by literally weaponizing all of England to fight her, as well as her mother pointing out that all of them are, essentially, trying to do what’s best for Britain, it’s just that Carissa is going about it the wrong way. And, unfortunately, we also get the “there’s always someone better than you” fight, as Fiamma of the Right manages to disable Index in some way, and also seems to have a third arm that is very reminiscent of Touma’s.
Introduced in this volume: Well, we do see Sasha’s other Russian Orthodox ally, Vasilisa, as well as her seeming hunter, Skogssnua. Sasha is no longer possessed by an Angel, and seems to have been picked up by Vento. We’ve seen Fiamma before, though this is the volume where he truly comes forward and shows he’s going to be the next Big Bad. Fans of the Index books will recognize that we see a few cameos of future characters in this book, so technically this is the first we see of Leivinia Birdway, Patricia Birdway, and Mark Space. Chronologically, of course, this takes place right after the events of Book 17. Book 19 takes place back in Academy City, and is taking place at the same time as 17-18. We’re very nearly at the big climax for Index (whether we’ll see New Testament, the sequel, is of course up to the readers buying the series and Yen Press), and everything is clearly heading towards a massive World War – but we aren’t quite there yet.
Possibly my favorite scene in the book is right in the middle (and it gets a big two-page color spread), as all the various factions allied against Carissa all unite in a field for a huge banquet before the final battle. As I said before, we see more cooperation in this book than ever before, and this scene is pure gold for seeing previous enemies just hanging out and eating. They’re being made fun of (Lucia and Angelina), they’re being given a pep talk of sorts (Sherry and Orsola), they’re making stupid maid outfit jokes that Kamachi just can’t let go (the Amakusas), or they’re just eating as much as possible (Index and Agnes). It’s a sweet scene that I suspect we won’t see much of coming up – the action seems to be shifting to Russia. There’s also more Brexit references… or they would be if this hadn’t been written nine years ago. And, since I just picked on Kamachi’s stupid humor, there is one terrific joke that involves Agnes hitting a knight in the groin and the definition of chivalry.
This is the longest Index book to date, and it’s almost all battles. But it’s worth it. Next time we return to Accelerator and Hamazura, who have their own problems.