A Certain Magical Index III
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 15 of
Certain Magical Index III ?
One conclusion I've come to while doing the episode reviews for this series is that the franchise's Wikia page is a massive boon to anyone following the franchise, whether you're anime-only or a novel/manga reader. If not for that, I'd need a score card to keep track of all these characters, and even then it might not be enough. The character in question this time around is the ridiculously but also fittingly-named Stephanie Gorgeouspalace, a blonde assassin, who wears a camouflage outfit with a fur collar. She's introduced talking to some bigwig about assassinating Accelerator, with the explanation that she's friends with Chimitsu Sunazara. If you only vaguely recognize that name, he's the sniper affiliated with SCHOOL who tried to assassinate the old woman back in episode 4, then provided sniping for the attack on ITEM's base in episode 6 before ultra-Kinuhita sent rockets his way. Looks like he's alive but comatose afterward, but now Stephanie wants revenge on all of Academy City. Her introduction scene shows she's capable and ruthless, so it's safe to say that she will contribute to things getting messy in Academy City once again.
With Touma headed to Russia, this return to Academy City is also a return to focus on GROUP and the city's dark side. Stephanie's arrival on the scene isn't the only follow-through on the arc covering episodes 4-6; we also get a status update on Xóchitl (the girl who had been merged with a grimoire) and the surviving members of ITEM who aren't Mugino. This means that Hamazura is back in the picture, this time mostly running around with Kinuhita, who's flaking out on an attempt to make a new team out of the remnants of ITEM, BLOCK, SCHOOL, and MEMBER. Accelerator also gets a trio of opportunities to play the villain card, GROUP continues its mostly-futile quest to find out about DRAGON, and everyone seems to be aiming to take out a group called Spark Signal, a terrorist outfit somehow connected to DRAGON. In other words, the series is still actively throwing around partly-converging plot threads.
The focus on the dark side of Academy City means that things get dark, like a terrorist threatening to shoot a little kid or a young woman who's supposedly been used as a punching bag. (There's an implication that she may be someone important, though the scene also plays out like a random rescue.) There are a handful of bloody deaths too, but the episode does find time for a lighter side. Tsuchimikado's maid sister makes her first appearance in a while, discussions arise about the merits of maid and bunny girl outfits, and some teasing about panty flashes happen, giving us brief moments of fanservice.
Overall, there's still a lot of story happening, with a large amount of information crammed into one episode. At least this time there's room for further character development, such as firming up Hamazura's eventual status as a co-protagonist and more starkly portraying where Accelerator stands; for all his attitude, he clearly doesn't want to think of himself as heroic, and the way he handles his phone conversation with Last Order reinforces that he isn't just tolerating her. That's good, because the series is facing much stiffer competition on Fridays now, so it needs to be upping its game.
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