A Certain Magical Index III
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 14 of
Certain Magical Index III ?
With this episode, Index wraps up its England arc. For a while there, it actually looked like it was going to conclude in relatively satisfying fashion, but then they had to go and add on the epilogue, reducing some of what happened to a head-scratcher of a plot turn.
With Red Princess serving as the final boss, most of the episode is taken up with the fight to strike her down and end the coup d'etat. This allows all of the players to come together for one grand showdown; Acqua/William is there, Kanzaki is there, Touma and Index are there, and so is Green Princess, who's ineffectual at first but eventually plays a contributing role. Others eventually show up too, including the butler, the Amakusa, and even the Queen. (Sherry and her golem are there too, but they don't actually do anything.) This level of opposition is a testament to the power of Curtana Original in the height of Britain's ruler; those dimensional solids are a real menace, and being able to call in cluster bombs gives her the additional balancing offensive punch.
The whole scenario mostly works because it never comes down to a solo battle. While Touma might land the dramatic finishing blow, he only plays a role in the process and even gets a direct assist from Acqua in the end. Each of the significant players contributes, whether it's Index performing a timely spell redirection, Green Princess setting up combo shots, or the Queen sapping some of the power from Curtana Original by pulling the classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer finale stunt: distribute the power to everyone, making them all temporary heroes. The masses don't ultimately do anything with that power in the anime (I've heard that they are more involved in the original novel), but the fact that they have it and Red Princess doesn't still has an impact.
The one problem with all this is that I'm still unclear on what Red Princess was ultimately trying to accomplish. Blue Princess sort of explained it, but that explanation doesn't make much sense. (Granted, things not making full sense has been par for the course with this installment.) That also brings us to the problematic epilogue. Fiamma of the Right confronting the defeated Red Princess makes sense, but how in the heck did Index end up there in that state without Touma having noticed something? Once again, the anime keeps opening narrative holes.
The one other minor negative is that the battle's staging wasn't the smoothest. It shined in places like Touma's final move, but the transitions around the battlefield were occasionally choppy, and it had a habit of losing characters. As great as it is to have the whole gang assembled, both the battle design and its animation strained the limits of what the J.C. Staff animation team can handle.
On the whole, this was a so-so arc by franchise standards. I look forward to an apparent return to Academy City next episode to deal with the apparent clean-up of earlier messes.
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