Toaru Majutsu no Index, or A Certain Magical Index, is an anime adapted by animation studio J.C.Staff from a series of light novels written by Kamachi Kazuma.

It tells the story of the adventure of an unfortunate young boy named Kamijou Touma who live in the Academy City. What is Academy City? Well it’s a very modern state-of-the-art city that dedicated itself in the scientific studies of technology, and also esper, superpower individuals (like mutants in X-men). Kamijou Touma however has a little problem. He is considered to be among the lowest level esper in the city, and as a side effect of his power, troubles happen to him daily. Things get “better” for him however, when he meet a young nun named Index. And that she is on the run from other magicians who want her brain (yes magician, not zombie). Why her brain? Because there are 103.000 forbidden magical grimoires locked in her memories. Thus, even more troubles come to Kamijou Touma’s life as Science and Magic faces off.

As a note, this review is just the 1st season of the anime. Not including the 2nd season, or the movie, or the novels, or the spin-offs.

Animation

The animation is standard fare. Animation Studio J.C.Staff has done a good job in animating this series. Nothing is outstanding or beyond expectation here, but at the same time the animation quality is very much passable, especially when it comes to the special effects like lightning spark or flame or plasma animation.

Art

The design of the characters is good. The clothing designs of the magician characters are impractically cool. The ones worn by the people in Academy City however… are surprisingly more “normal” when compared to those magicians. Most the cloth worn in Academy City is uniforms. From school uniform, to scientist lab uniform, to soldiers uniform. Understandable when considering the setting, but their design became a little mundane when compared it to the magician side.

What is reaaally good about this anime, is the Academy City itself. Like what was previously said, it’s a very modern state-of-the-art city, however, even though the design is certainly urban, it is not too overly sci-fi. Its like a good mishmash combination of the future and present. You can really see the beauty of it in the second ending animation of this anime.

indexrev1

Story

Seeing the premise of the story, like what I describe In the summary in this review, you can think of an epic battle between magician vs esper (imagine X-Men vs Voldemort). BUT.. this anime is not like that. Which makes it a little disappointing. The story has potential to be something more, yet it doesn’t use it to its maximum. Fortunately its still a good adventure story however, with characters that are interesting to watch and with a sometimes unique the development of the story.

One of the highlight of the story are the antagonists. This series has antagonist with many awesome powers. It feels satisfying watching Touma, considered to be just a guy with a really weak level esper power, facing someone with such a game breaking power, and winning against them. These powers ranged from an esper with power to redirect and reflect ANYTHING thrown at him, to a magician with the power to make anything he said into reality. Kamijou TouMAN will punch them in the face and lecture them in the end.

However, that lecture thing can be something bothering. The characters talks alot. Which I think is understandable because it is originally from a novel, but when that is turn into animated form like here, it looks strange and awkwardly ruining the flow of the situation. The character development is also another weak point. The main protagonist Touma, although quite a cool protagonist, is a bit boring. He is an unlucky, snarky, goodhearted boy who like to help people. And that is pretty much what he is from the start of this anime to the end. Although that attitude makes him become a catalyst or reason for some other characters to develop them self, Kamijou himself doesn’t really developed far beyond that. Index herself, although is good at first because she drives the first story arc, gets more and more sidelined as the story progress because the plot introduce more and more characters. Isn’t she in the title there?

Sound

The music that was used for the background is nice, but most of them are forgettable. Background music in my opinion can be used to make viewers more immerse in the moment. However, even though the music can be heard (and that it is a nice music and fit the scene) most of them are too easy to ignore. One exception though is a BGM that titled Imagine Breaker. Easily one of the coolest BGM here because it compliment the scene it appears in with a badass rhythm combining epic build up with techno sound.

The opening of the anime is passable. Both of the openings nicely fit with the series. J-pop with some techno sprinkled in the music, fitting with the modern sci-fi setting of Academy City. The first OP has a more mystical feels into it, while the second has more heart pumping tone. The first ending is quiet mellow and give a sort of country side feeling, a good contrast to the OP. The second ending however, is the best out of all the song. There is still a bit of mellow tone, but there is more upbeat feeling into it, and again, when combine with the beautiful background of Academy City makes it even better.

indexrev2

My Overall Opinion

Plus:
– Very cool and nice design of the setting
– The display and concept of the powers and abilities are fun to watch, especially with the antagonists
– Interesting and engaging story development
Minus:
– The development of the characters can be quiet sloppy
– Characters can be too talkative at times, ruining the flow of the scene
– The concept was not developed to its full potential

Should you try this?
Why not