Title: Toaru Majutsu no Index
TV Series; Episodes 24
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Harem
Produced: J.C. Staff
How do you mess up mixing magic, science fiction, action and women? The answer is quite elementary my dear reader. You coat it all in a veneer of convoluted mythology that tries to make sense of itself every once in a while. Then have the gall to rewrite the rules of the world whenever you deem necessary to make a ‘not-so-interesting’ plot point slightly more confusing. While watching Toaru Majutsu no Index I felt that I, as a viewer, was quite stupid for not understanding exactly what was going on, even though a character on screen had explained for a good five minutes what the situation was. An easy solution to these problems would be to scrap all the superfluous magitech and physics mumbo jumbo and just focus on building a world that’s intuitive to understand.
Instead the show seems fixated on firing information at the viewer at rapid pace. Much of the problem lies in the show trying to delineate between two factions, Magic and Science. It goes on to explain the differences between the two but not in a meaningful way. Mostly because the characters, which serve as foundations for each of their respective sides, often have their objectives shrouded in vagueness and their allegiances flip flopping between both groups. It blurs the divide the series tries so hard to define.
Surprisingly the structure of the plot is quite simple. The story follows Kamijou Touma, a rather insignificant high school student with a rather significant power. His right arm can negate any ability, be it magic or genetic. The series documents his adventures as he goes around helping various young women because of his selfless and heroic personality. He unwittingly adds each of them to the roster of his harem, which at times looks more like middle school classroom. It’s a tried and true, if somewhat tired, formula that plagues most light novel adaptations. The linearity of such a plot structure helps give the show some direction in the fugue of its mythology.
Most of the characters are flat as their chests. It’s a simple statement that sums up the level of development of the cast. This can be directly attributed to the problems with the story. Most of the dialogue is used to explain what is going on rather than act as a vehicle for character growth. Even the leads, who have substantial screen time, spit out the same one liners throughout the entirety of the show’s length. How many times will Touma tell me that he wants to fix a situation just because it ‘seems’ wrong?
The one shining star in the entire constellations of negatives is the production. There is a great use of color thats helps separate out different arcs by color scheme. It gives each segment a strong sense of personality and theme. In addition, the fluidity of the animation and the action sequences never dip in quality and deliver some excellent set pieces, such as a giant clay golem rampaging through an underground mall. Even though the show is about five years old, the polish on the art lets it hold up by today’s standards.
Aurally, Toaru Majutsu no Index is just as pleasant. Both opening themes by Kawada Mami are fantatsic. Her strong voice accompanies the mass of synths to weave some incredibly catchy tunes. IKU succeeds with the closing themes as well, painting some strong ballads. The only sore spot in the sound would be Yuka Iguchi’s performance as the title character Index. Her voice doesn’t have much depth and seems to be constantly stuck in an annoying whine.
Toaru Majutsu no Index could have been a good series. Hell, it could have been a great series if it just showed some focus. If it had left the fat on the cutting room floor, some more room could have been made for the characters and the actual story itself. At the end of the day what left is a flaccid cast drowning in an overwritten story.