Tuesday, 4 July 2017

MT Series Scan: Magical Index 4

I am a SLOW binge-watcher (and reader). Two hours is about my limit, after which I need processing time. I also enjoy watching online reviewers, and reactions to things that I’ve previously watched, so why not take the time during a slow binge to chronicle my own reactions and speculations?

Today we’re looking at A Certain Magical Index (Disc 4) along with some extras. I decided to watch this universe chronologically, and I want to see the threads into their September with “Index II”, hence the additions.

As we left off, Toma had pledged to defend Mikoto, since people were taking notice of “The Kamijo Forces”, and didn’t like whatever he and his friends were getting up to. Also, Toma hadn’t finished his summer homework, and school was going to start back up.


*Magical Index II, Disc 1*


Index II #1: The Last Day, August 31


Stream of Consciousness:
-People have fun as Toma does his homework. ESP Card experiment? Exposition of “Imagine Breaker” with flashbacks, clarifying this is just after Episode 18. Index shouts at him, messes everything up, Hungry Index sucks. (Second OP, it includes Misaka and Accelerator... with a crutch?! Heavy beat in background. Railgun characters (no Saten, aw), Index characters, religion. Music hits it’s stride, Index and Toma. I guess it’s okay? Might grow on me too.)
-Annoying self-righteous Index is annoying. CrossbowGuy uses magic, blows open the apartment, Toma’d gone for food. (So Index is KINDA useful.) Food dumped all over him. CrossBowGuy's fast. Toma wants his homework fixed, “feeling a little bit violent”, heh. CrossBowGuy grabs Index. Invisible? Aisa’s outside. Sphinx is useful? No, goes for a fishhead. (Very Index of the cat.) BowGuy has picture of HospitalGirl. (He wants the magic to heal her?) Index is untying ropes (some points to her).
-Toma runs into Mikoto. Why the run, he loses it on her. She gets flustered so he runs off again. (Mikoto looks jerkish here.) Index identifies Azusa Yumi bow while trying to phone. (Index, you’re DOING something!!) BowGuy’s in mortal danger from this? “Baopiaozi.” He didn’t become a magician for this, Index says it was love, but a grimoire is not the way. Toma stops the spell. BowGuy fires at them, Toma’s turn for a speech.
-BowGuy collapses, even one text was too much. Gave up on life three times now. Sphinx scratches him to consciousness, Toma’s hand could obliterate the curse, maybe. Big Cry. (ED: Toma’s hand to jazzy colours. Then some Mikoto and Index and montage. I guess it’s okay.) Then Kanzaki versus sea knights?? Tsu remarks on who they are. (I do like how he plays both sides.) NEXT: Conspiracy outside the City, with Index gone.

Thoughts and Theories:
 I suppose if you want an introduction to the characters and the universe, that episode gets the job done. Yet I feel like the only reason it was set here in continuity was so that Toma could mention the Mikoto promise (and to maybe see her so soon after those events)... otherwise it could go anywhere. (Alternately, does Misaka get colder towards Toma after whatever the coming Accelerator stuff is, so this showed a better relationship between them??) Anyway, there’s a good chance we never see BowGuy again, he didn’t even get a name. Onwards into the final “Index” arc.


*Magical Index Disc 4*


19 Last Order


Stream of Consciousness:
-Aug 31, right after midnight. OP. (Yeah the OP grows on you. I prefer it to the Index II one.) Accelerator buys drinks. People try to challenge him, since he was beaten by Kamijo, but his powers are the same. “What about me has changed?” He can reflect away noise too, whoa. Small girl is tiny “Misaka Misaka” narrating?! (Misa will do for me.) Only wearing that blanket?! Serial #20001?!? Her codename is ‘title drop’. Accelerator’s not in 304? Or 307 (that was a bit funny).
-Apartment’s blown open?? He tells Misa it’s not safe with him, but she has no one else. (This narrative is WEIRD. But I guess I can see why a manga might be based on this guy, we’re finally seeing layers.) Hah, hoping for a domestic Accelerator to surprise her. His body has no pigmentation, he reflects away UV Rays? Accelerator sees “Amai Ao” drive away.
-Misa does share in the Misaka Net. “Without you, we wouldn’t have been given souls.” She also claims he didn’t want to do the experiment (easier to see that in “Railgun”). Reasoning: what was the point in speaking to the Misakas? Flashbacks. Conclusion, Accel desires to make contact, but the words were also abusive, like he wanted her to give up. (I like the reasoning.) He goes to leave, she collapses, he still leaves.
-Still Accel! (I did not expect a redemption arc here.) Accel goes to the lab, his ID is still good for 90 days. Yoshikawa, going over data isn’t that fun. He wants to borrow conditioning equipment, she’d noticed bugs in the Misaka personalities. (Retroactively somewhat due to Shinobu?) “Virus” of “Last Order”, Misa was an extra unit, the “control tower” for all Misakas. Her escape was an attempt to prevent being overwritten by illegal code seven days earlier??
-At midnight, a virus will run through the Misaka Net. “Intriguing. Who?” Amai Ao, an original “Radio Noise” Project researcher. How can they stop this?? There is something Accel can do: either find Amai, or secure Misa and incubate her. Choice? Given he’s bigger on destruction? He picks Misa. NEXT: Desperate measures, Accel finds Misa but Amai finds him.

Thoughts and Theories:
 That was all Accelerator. No Touma at all. I’m flabbergasted. It looks like next episode is more of the same, and the previous “Index” episode was only tangentially related (via Mikoto). Part of me feels like this story is becoming aimless, why are we wandering so far afield from magic, but part of me feels like this is awesome character development. Except seriously, everyone BUT Index gets treatment this way. (She’s annoying, contains books, and likes to eat, that’s it.) And yet, I adore when villains are redeemed, or at least are the heroes of their own stories.
 I guess what I’m saying is, this is a great story, but why is it in the middle of “Index”’s story?? So it packs more punch than exposition when Accel talks about it later? Except I don’t know why he’d seek out Toma, the guy who messed up his life. (Aside from “protagonist reason”.) So if those two characters won’t talk, how does this hook back into the main plot? All I can guess is Mikoto’s about to be pulled in too. Guess we’ll see.


20 Virus Code


Stream of Consciousness:
-Toma lampshades how he won’t appear. OP. Accelerator used to have a name, five character total. Escalation history, from being hit, to taking on the army. Misa was taken by a man in a lab coat. City security code is red, no one in or out, yet Amai’s in debt. Amai’s in his car, worried Misa will die before the virus activates.
-Accel in the way of the car, vector change to stop. Kid’s got electrodes on, “brain cell” operation, can he fix her there? No way. Yoshikawa’s coming. (Starting to wonder if Amai’s actually the bad guy here. Beneficial virus?) Misa repeats “Misa”. Code’s preparing to execute, even though they should have had four hours. Ten minutes to create the command, so kill her first. (UHHHH.)
-Reverse the bioelectricity? He’s got the pre-infection personality data. Next step after his mastering “reflection” is “controlling”. Throws the phone away. All he has to do is erase any excess - but Doc thought that not enough? Pre-Infection data, code count 357081. Says delete, she says resist. Yeah, what else IS he erasing? Aside from her memories of him?
-Amai has a gun, Accel’s doing electron microscope precision work, he can’t reflect. WTF, boom. (Okay, Amai’s the bad guy.) DAMN. And Misa’s still in an Error mode. Wait, no, cancel due to illegal process. Now he’s gonna kill Misa too?! ACCEL’S ALIVE? He reflected the bullet in his skull? O.o (That can’t feel good.) “Lip service” but it’s not right for Misa to get killed. He’s down. (All his energy was used in the speech?) Amai makes generalizations, fires gun again. But it’s Yoshikawa shooting HIM, daaaaamn.
-She gets Misa, admits she couldn’t shoot Amai anywhere vital. A soft decision, cruel in this state? She says Frog-Face doctor might save Accel, he’s nicknamed “Heaven Canceller” ooooooh. Yoshikawa wanted to be a teacher. Huuuuh, another speech. He’ll die alone, she won’t let him take a kid. Both have guns, another gunshot. ... She’s alive, but was shot by the heart. Accel manipulated her blood flow, even unconscious. Daaaaaaamn again! Accel’s verbal and computational abilities are affected. But 10,000 brains can offset one person’s skills? The higher-ups did remove the lab. Help Accel? “He can do it if he just tries.” NEW ED. (Pairs of people, lyrical, flowing. Again montage, to rainbow.) NEXT: Sorcerers snuck in, many characters, including transfer student (side ponytail girl? Index?).

Thoughts and Theories:
 Oookay. Redemption arc then. One that was hard to do from anyone else’s perspective. Totally something I’d do as well, with my “villain” characters. I only wish I could understand how it fits in. I mean, this gunplay is pretty heavy duty stuff, tonally at odds with most of what came beforehand. So maybe that’s the idea, “Index” is shifting darker? (I mean sure, Toma lost an arm, but this?) Granted, I suppose this is the best place for the anime to place it, before the season end, but after the reintroduction of all the other magic and science characters. Will Accel play a part in the season end then? Somehow, I can’t see it (isn’t this ALL Sept 1st?), yet that makes this a loose end.
 In brief, I liked this, but it puzzles me. Also, it hasn’t escaped my attention that it’s the male characters who seem to have the most soul searching (female characters propping them up). Oh well, something a bit more traditional in terms of a plot is coming up next. How does a single day of school startup go so awry? Let’s find out.


21 Counter Stop


Stream of Consciousness:
-Sept 1st, Index will be alone while Toma’s at school. (Also, his apartment got cleaned up REAL FAST from BowGuy trashing it. What was the point of all that destruction?) Index doesn’t know how to make her own lunch?! OP. (Wait, was Index always next to him in the class OP? Oh, she was.) Biribiri runs past, more reference to yesterday’s boyfriend thing. Toma feels like a transfer student. Komoe’s feet don’t reach the brakes. ^^
-AIM Diffusion field papers (An Involuntary Movement, huh, like body heat - guess that’s what affects sorcery?). If an esper could read such fields. (Hello ITEM reference.) Tsu is being helped by a teleporter who isn’t Kuroko? It’s upside-down director guy. “Sherry Cromwell”, member of Necessarius, needs to be brought down. (Ahh, this is why condition is Red for Accel tonight.) Tsu will deal, Director references “Imaginary Number School District’s Five Elemental Control Method”.
-Transfer student. Index and Sphinx. No, she’s not the transfer student, go home. (Heh, nice misdirect.) Transfer student is Aisa. (Pfffft, okay then.) Index seeks food vouchers, but there’s no buttons. Hyoka, sidetail girl, also a transfer student. Of course Toma bursts in as they’re changing. CHOMP. (Well, they’ve done worse fan service.)
-Index has info, including golden ratio. They’re fighting over Hyoka? Cat into boobs. Komoe didn’t see him at the ceremonies. (Pfft, okay a girl attracting AIM field’s kinda funny.) “He doesn’t listen to anything I say”, well maybe it’s because you mostly say self-absorbed things, Index?! (Grrr, clue in.) Toma cares enough to be mad. Aisa’s suspicious, Hyoka’s name was from her last school, except no one had seen her, she’s known as ‘title drop’, and is key to learning more about Five-Element Agency. Toma’s heard of that? They control from shadows? Hyoka had her own class/lab for her ability. Be careful.
-I forgot AntiSkill woman (Yomikawa) taught (apparently honours students). Two intruders to the City, but are there really two? Kuroko’s looking at a dark skinned blonde? Uses her signature moves, but Blonde wrote something. Makes a golem. Railgun. Escaped, monologues while making more “Golem Ellis”? Eyes. Ew. NEXT: Battle in the underground with “Sherry”, and Hyoka in new clothes.

Thoughts and Theories:
 Something I came across while looking at timelines, apparently Aisa’s powers have been sealed by the Church, I don’t think that was ever made clear. But I guess it’s why she’s a main character too now. In fact, all the mains are being showcased as we ramp up, and that makes sense. This new Hyoka Kazakiri is interesting (is she really Sherry in disguise, maybe?), while the other “Sherry” is creepy with her “Ellis”. So her and Ellis are obviously who got into the city, but I’m not convinced of the Sherry connection yet.
Pretty sure Toma will try to save Hyoka though. We’ll see AntiSkill too. No idea what to make of the “Five Element Agency” (is Stigyl’s fire a member of the FEA?).


22 Golem


Stream of Consciousness:
-Index is full? (Call the media.) To arcade. Aisa calls, bad reception. (Eyeroll.) Bunny girls?? Cosplay photos, ah. He didn’t just walk in on them! Yay! The curtain falls, okaaaay. (He didn’t... Index, you’re a moron. He’d see those photos anyway.) A voice in their heads? Ohh, his hand blocked it. Telepathy. There’s a terrorist, they’ll be sealing off the mall. As Eyeball Ellis sees them. Index is useful! (That needs to stop being a surprise.)
-People are sealed in. Index says this is her job, not Toma's?? They take each other out. Index and Railgun finally meet. “Did he come to your rescue without asking too” heh. Kuroko colour commentary. She’s teleporting people out (but can’t with Toma). Pointless rivalry! (Like why teleport Misaka out AT ALL? She was with Kuroko, could have been sent out at ANY TIME.) Which leaves Toma with Hyouka. AntiSkill grenade blows themselves up. x.x
-Hmm, “Imagine Breaker” recognized, not with the Key to FEA now. Earth is her power, and she IS Sherry, with English Puritan Church, trying to start a war. Kazakiri’s back (Toma BUY A CLUE, she's connected). She’s knocked out, errr, her body is a shell and she’s a glowing prism, UHHMMM. She doesn’t even know what she is?? She runs toward the golem, figures. x.x Why did you smack her AWAY and not GRAB HER? As Kuroko has others to teleport.
-Komoe gets through. Hyoko (wait, that’s a different subtitling of her name... I'd better stick with Kazakiri) never appeared on video feeds. AIM Field connection. If all data describing “human” comes together, is there a “person”? From overlapping AIM Fields?! (I think Sorcery is a better explanation.) She existed before as a “ghost”. Komoe tests his resolve, hangs up. Kazakiri reforms. Sherry says Kazakiri’s not human, to survive that damage. “You’re like Ellis”, a golem. Index flashbacks, well, that’s good. Toma jumps in at the last moment. NEXT: Battle to save Kazakiri, including some work by Index outside.

Thoughts and Theories:
 Did not call Kazakiri as being the Golem. I will say they won’t defeat Sherry here, only Ellis (and the chalk?) since the alert level actually rises to Red during Accel’s arc. Or maybe they defeat her but she sets something in motion (within Kazakiri?). Kazakiri is apparently the key to FiveElementsA... or rather, not her, since she took on the appearance of someone unseen. (If it IS her, science been grooming her behind the scenes for a while.)
 Oh wait. Toma has no offensive weapons, Sherry knows about his Breaker, and AntiSkill’s not cut out for sorcery. Kazakiri’s likely going to need to do her “Counter Stop” (or channel it from the real person?) since Sherry’s not backing down otherwise. Also, Tsu hasn’t shown up yet, so he could be out with Index, acting cagey for an action break. I bet the fight will take most of the next episode.


23 Friends


Stream of Consciousness:
-Now her name’s spelled Hyoka. Golem crumble was delayed. Sherry writes fast. Toma brought AntiSkill? “Help my friend.” Bullets aren’t doing much. Sherry writes in air and invokes four quarters of Heaven? All part of Toma's plan, heh. Ooooh, if she touches him, her own existence might cancel, good point... he’ll be back. Nice slide. “I have no need to run away.” Punches. She can’t sustain two at once, but? An escape tunnel? (I called something!) Toma’s overlooking something. (She’ll pull Kazakiri down?) Ohhh, it was Index the whole time. x.x Right, that’d start a war. 
-Outfit pins. London style forms. Index silly fears, Mikoto makes a good point. Index causes Mikoto to have silly thoughts. x.x Sphinx is off and Mikoto doesn’t do cats well. Toma notes Index not a resident (what about her fake ID for the beach, not good enough for AntiSkill?). He's going to go underground. (Wait, is Kazakiri the one who teleported with Tsu before?) She says she’ll be a decoy, as she’s a “monster”. Oooh, he almost touched her. She’s down. Flashes back. Finds her own ID in her bag?
-Ephemeral city. Where people change forms based on their AIM fields. Cute. Wait, it’s based on her looking at them? (Mainspring?) Can’t touch them, until Index. (Her robes?) In half a day, got all the firsts, including friends. Giant hand. Index gets serious, Kabbalah? She can also control Ellis, disrupt the spell. “Spell intercept.” (Thank goodness.) Self repair every three seconds? Safety pin what now? She's almost knocked out, he’s no longer under remote control. Punching blue sparkles. NEXT: Flashpoint. Tsu and Kazakiri and Toma running.

Thoughts and Theories:
 It’s a different way of having the characters come together. Where “Railgun” tried to pull everybody and their parents together at the end, here we seem to be left with the core characters (plus Kazakiri, who we’re meant to love in less than a day, yet not Magnus or Kanzaki). The stakes are high (Church war over assassination), but the battle is more individual. I DO feel like this is going to change things? As if the Series ends here, not because everyone wins, but because everything’s different after a small victory.
 For "different", maybe Kazakiri won’t survive... particularly if she’s not the real one... or maybe she’ll be okay, but the “Imaginary Number” district gets blown wide open to the public. Incidentally, the “Anime Only” from “Railgun S” about Febrie’s “Ghost” power converting AIM fields into virtual matter? That’s not far off from this stuff, Kazakiri formed from AIM fields. (Maybe someone did their homework.) OH. In fact THAT’S where I’ve seen her triangular prism before, back in “Railgun”, the warped baby angel of death. Continuity! Maybe these “beings” are not meant to be around at all.
 Specific episode predictions? Well, Toma will get out to the Index battle (but not until the second half of the ep, Kuroko can’t teleport him). No idea what that safety pin thing was supposed to do, but it will be relevant. They’ll need to nail Sherry, perhaps that’s Tsu’s job. And Upside-Down Director will probably have a foreboding speech to someone, as elsewhere, Toma’s just happy Index is okay. (This is starting to feel like pointless speculation.)


24 Imaginary Number School District


Stream of Consciousness:
-It’s not Toma narrating, it’s Kazakiri! As Toma runs after her in the tunnels, of course. (Should have called that.) OP. Rubble falls, Sherry’s with Toma. (Ellis can be flesh and blood?) “Science and magic are equally balanced” claim. Isn’t it strange, us knowing how when espers use magic, it hurts them? (Yeah, hm, how DOES science know about the magic?) Twenty years ago, tried to do fusion. Ellis was an esper?! She taught him spells, ow. Then Knights killed him. “Remain segregated”, I can buy this, but why give him the speech NOW?
-Toma, “We’re not talking about the same thing”, for sure. Ohh, she doesn’t want a war, just a situation that gets close, so everyone backs off. She’s set up lots of circles and doesn’t want pity. ^_^ He remembers something Index said about position, yaaay! Identifies a magic circle out of place, oooh, smack. She insists on a flashpoint, it’s like it was 20 years ago, Toma says don’t attack people over that. (Toma seems a bit naive. Oh, Sherry agrees with me. Uh, I don’t want to kill everyone though, so I don't agree with her.)
-Toma Insight: Her conviction isn’t multifaceted, it’s about her wanting not to lose Ellis. He (esper school) and Index (magic church) are symbolic, hmmm, don’t separate them either. Sherry really wants to be stopped? This is when she gave up remote access, okay then. Hyoka acrobatics, digital nature shown to Index. (Index probably won’t run.) Golem can’t control his regeneration. Kazakiri’s kinda badass.
-Toma in for the win (natch, but how did he get there and find them so fast). Crumbling. (No, it’s not over. Also, duck maybe? ... oh, it really is over. Uh.) Mikoto’s back. (Uh, Toma? Call someone about Sherry? Maybe?) Haha, Kuroko thinks Mikoto’s responsible. So, Kazakiri and Toma on construction equipment. Losing Index. (He’ll probably say no one has to know, and Index won’t care.) She’s STILL crying. Feelings make her human (but he can’t touch her, rough). “This isn’t normal, is it” ... it is for this City.
-UpsideDownGuy with Tsu. Closer to the Key now. The “Imaginary” district is an AIM diffusion field?? And he’s the one who gave it consciousness? (So Kazakiri's a school district?) No, it’s power in a different phase from humanity. Now given life creates an Angel. (Uhhhh.) Others like her imply there’s “artificial heaven”. (I agree Aleister Crowley is not sane. Though him then not having an opinion on this heaven is interesting.) “This incident has gradually started to send the world off the rails” (so I got that right).
-HAhahaha, progress in that he wasn’t in hospital this arc. (But Accel was, soooo.) Heh, gets smacked on the head for being oblivious. (At least it’s not Index biting.) Index’s skirt is weird, Hyoka’s psychic energy body is phasing, unstable, since Toma’s hand exists... she has to go back. “It’s not like I’m dying.” (That is a nicer departure, should have realized that.) ED plays.
-Spinning maid WHY? Aisa with her magic wand again, heh. Tsu’s still on the job, Accel is in hospital with Misa (should have called that) and AntiSkill woman is in charge of him. Stupid shower scene, oh that’s a TERRIBLE last shot. Wait, post-credits shot, ArchBishop “Laura Stuart” calling Toma the “manager” of the grimoires. Oh, final FINAL shot Index being stupid about food. UGH. But typical (non-funny to me) humour. >.<

Thoughts and Theories:
 Boy, “Railgun” and “Index” are like night and day in finales, but that makes sense when you consider “Railgun” makes up it’s (anime only) conclusions while “Index” follows the manga (I presume). Toma HAS shown growth here (more than merely not being in hospital), with understanding magic, as seen in his dispelling Sherry’s circle. Index KINDA has, in that she's becoming useful, but she's still so self-absorbed that it's hard to buy the "she's so friendly" vibe at the end.
 I DID call Aleister’s random speech. I did NOT call Kazakiri fading away for a while (but should have). In the end, the series is wrapped up, but feels... unfinished. In a sense, ALL of “Index” was about setting up the world (science v magic) and the main characters (boy do I hate some of them, while others like Tsu are very layered)... which is what allows for spinoffs. Like “Railgun” or like the “Accelerator” manga, which I can totally see now, but wouldn’t have understood partway through.
 Thing is, Mini-Misaka is a loose end. The “Kamijo Forces” is a loose end. The destruction of “Tree Diagram” feels like a loose end. Even bizarre spinning maid-girl is a loose end, as in what point did she serve, ever. But here we'll end, as it’s a new school year, and Toma and Index are in a sort of truce, and I grant it does make for a sensible stopping point.

 Would I recommend the series? Yeah, it has a lot going for it, and “Railgun” showed that revisionist history can iron out some of the bugs. Of course, I’m biased towards the concept (aside from the religious angle, which I knew little about). I’m going to take a break before Series II though.


***
That’s seven episodes, so we’re overdue to finish this post. As a parting shot, I happened to look up “Index Abridged”. There is “A Certain Magical Index Abridged Ep 1” (two episodes, not that great) ; “Index’d Ep 01” (a reimagining more than anything, five episodes with extras, meh) ; and “Indexed: Episode 1” (the funniest but that’s the only ep). There’s also “A Certain Abridged Railgun: Episode 1” (only ep, some funny jokes but also unnecessary racial and gender slurs).

BONUS: Movie, The Miracle of Endymion.

I watched it with my wife (the one who bought it for me) on July 2. We both quite enjoyed it. I particularly like using song to bridge the gap between magic and science. I suspect revisionist history lampshading with “has that always been there”. I wish they wouldn’t keep jamming fanservice in. She remarked on how there were a lot of characters to keep straight (which is a good point, there’s a lot of new ones in addition to the regulars, plus Accelerator from out of nowhere is a doubletake) and it wasn’t clear why Toma was hush-hush about magic (yeah, there could’ve been a line there).
 The twist, when it happens, is VERY nicely set up without being obvious. (Incidentally, the power went out while we were watching, due to a thunderstorm. My computer switched to battery. Power came on with the singing at the end, after Toma’s phone was dead. Weird.) Oh Saten and her baseball bat. Ok, really done now. ^_^

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your own thoughts below.

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