Greetings! Railgunfan75 here. A Certain Magical Index was one of my first anime series. The concept of science and magic at odds in a technological advanced city just spoke to the science nerd in me. I loved the idea behind the story and the characters. I was sucked into the universe of Academy City, The Church, espers, and magic wielders. I found one of my favorite characters in anime in MIkoto Misaka and her spinoff series is one of my all time favorites. Of all of the series set in that universe, I have always admitted that A Certain Magical Index while good is certainly flawed. It lacks a certain punch that Railgun and even Accelerator had. I will defend the series but I also will be the first to say that it is by no means the best series even of it’s own universe. I will certainly say that I had mixed feelings while watching Index III. I had read some exciting things about what was to come from the novel readers and was really excited for it’s return. I had read glimpses of some great events and new characters to come. And while they met some of those of expectations, it also fell flat in others. I am going to start the positives from the series.
A spoiler warning is in effect for some of the content below.
One positive thing that I can say is that there were some great new characters introduced in Index III. Misaka Worst was probably my favorite addition to the franchise. It was great to see someone who was not afraid to give Accelerator crap. She also kind of served as a nice measuring stick for where Accelerator’s character was at that point as you could clearly see that he had softened. I never imagined that Accelerator would be keeping someone else in line. She also puts Accelerator to shame in terms of her craziness and I really liked it. I thought that was cool. Lessar in the second half of the series was also a ton of fun and a great character to play off of the straight man Touma.
There were also some great moments during the series as well. There are two sequences that I remember quite well. The first was the heartbreaking scene with Misaka and Touma in episode 9 where you see Misaka start to lay out her feelings for Touma as he is slowly trudging his way to battle after getting seriously hurt. This was after she had discovered that Touma had amnesia which was another sad moment. I respected Touma’s determination to finish the fight and Misaka finally being honest with herself. It was great to see the two have an honest conversation with each other. The scene in itself was absolutely gorgeous in terms of the animation and melancholic in terms of the mood. Especially considering that Touma wasn’t really realizing what she was saying at the time- he was basically in auto pilot mode. Knowing that he was in no shape to give a proper response was tough to watch. It was short and sweet and worth the wait to get to that point. While I feel that Touma is an average protagonist, the interactions and dynamic between him and Misaka are one of the highlights of the series. It was great to see some developments with that story arc.
The second scene which was worth the price of admission was Accelerator/Touma Round 2. And while it was not as grand as their first fight back in season 1, it was still an awesome sequence and an important one. It turned out to be a key character moment for Accelerator as he not only gets to confront one of his major failures but also come to realize that he can be a hero in his own way. It was cool that his anger really stemmed from the fact that he didn’t have the answers at the time to save Last Order. For all of his power, he was really powerless at the time. I found it interesting that his inability to help someone was the source of his anger at the time. It really showed how much he had changed as a character at that point. While shorter in terms of time than I would have expected or hoped (It was only a third of the episode), it was a scene which was spectacular to watch and one of the moments which stuck with me from the series.
One other thing that I can’t criticize about the series is that from an animation standpoint it looked pretty awesome. One of the high points of the Index franchise has always been it’s animation. Even season 1 holds up pretty well but season 3 looked amazing. I was happy to see that they made the environments and characters look as cool as they always did. The characters designs are nice and clean and the environments looked gorgeous. The fight and action scenes looked great as well. They certainly nailed capturing the atmosphere of the scene- just look at the images from the two scenes I described above. The Misaka scene presented in darker and muted colors but not so dark that they were distracting. The Accelerator/Touma fights visuals added the dark and perilous atmosphere where you really got the sense of anger that was being expressed in that scene. It was clear that the artists took care with the animation- the series looks pretty damn nice.
I would have to say that the biggest disappointment with Index III is simply with how it approached it’s narrative especially in the 1st half. Index was always a series which would resolve it’s stories within a few episodes but they cranked up the pace to another level. There were plenty of awesome story concepts during the season that were just not given justice. The stories in themselves are certainly quite entertaining but the lack of exposition and setup in many case just make many of the arcs tough to watch. Characters will show up out of nowhere with no explanation as to why or in some cases who they are. The sad thing is that there are a lot of great elements to this season and series but the breakneck pace of the story is a sizable downside. The story just leaves you with more questions than answers and wanting more. After reading discussions online, I know that this problem was a problem on the production level and not with the source material itself which in itself adds to the frustration concerning this issue. The answers are there they were just not included in the adaptation of the material. In seasons 1 and 2, enough information was given to understand and appreciate the story, here they failed at doing that. That saddens me quite a bit. This compounds an issue that Index has compared to it’s spinoffs- the narrative structure is not effective in conveying the stories. It does slow it’s pace in the second half but even then the story presented could have used a few more episodes.
This approach causes other issues with Index III, too many characters, not enough time to explore the characters, and poor world building. In most cases the characters just are throwaways there to advance the story. It was hard to care for many of the new characters established in Index III as there simply wasn’t enough time to even explore who they were. I loved Misaka Worst for example but she just shows up with no lead in or any sort of background on her. We get a few lines of dialogue explaining where she came from and her purpose but they could have done more than that. That was disappointing as you could have a seen and the end of the previous episode at least teasing her appearance but we don’t get that. The side characters are always what carried Index. Touma while not a bad character was never strong enough to carry the story on his own. The arcs where Accelerator was the central focus were certainly stronger. For Index you need to care about the side characters and despise the enemies for the narrative to work and it just doesn’t work here.
These were some underlying issues with seasons 1 and 2 but those flaws were masked pretty well in those seasons. Such flaws are really apparent in Index III. I think one of the core reasons that Railgun has been incredibly successful and is the better series is that the characters and the world are given time to grow. You come to like the new heroes, hate the new villains, and just get so much more knowledge of the inner workings of Academy City. Those things were certainly lacking in Index III. The series was clearly tailored to those who have already read the novels and knew what what happening. Even in the longest story arc of the season, the final arc of the season it was still tough to keep track of the moving pieces and the arc was the longest that Index had ever had. It honestly could have been it’s own season. I haven’t gotten to the material that season 3 covered yet and because of that it was sadly confusing.
Index III was really a mixed bag for me. There were certainly memorable moments and cool stories which kept me interested until the end. Unfortunately, the issues with previous seasons of Index are compounded and take center stage with Index III. Is is a trash series? Absolutely not. Is is up to the standard of Railgun or even Accelerator? Sadly it is not. It is a season with a ton of potential and does some things well. Unfortunately it is dragged down by too many plot points and characters and too little time exploring them. While I don’t feel that it is irredeemable, I also will acknowledge that it was disappointing. It is a shame that this is the case as I really love the franchise and it is sad to a mediocre entry in the franchise.
So those are my thoughts on Index Season III. What did you think of the series? Please comment down below or on Twitter (@Railgunfan75). I would love to hear from you! So until next time, this is railgunfan75 signing off. Stay safe, stay respectful, and stay geeky my friends!