A Certain Magical Index III
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 24 of
Certain Magical Index III ?
This episode accomplishes something that precious few episodes have managed before: it actually makes sense. Truly a historic moment for A Certain Magical Index III.
Snark aside, the last part of the confrontation between Touma and Fiamma at the end of the episode is the scene that this series has been desperately needing, and it's ironic that it comes in the form of moralizing exposition by Touma in response to a villain's diatribe, which is usually the weakest content in the series. It this case, he postulates that everything Fiamma is doing is driven by the fear that he doesn't have the power he needs for his own version of saving the world. His abilities react to the level of threat that he's facing, so in order to have power on a global-saving scale, he has to generate a threat on the level of a major war. That's a somewhat interesting angle, though it might have been more interesting if he was clearer about exactly what "saving the world" means to him. It's partly an ego trip on the level of becoming a god, and I'm assuming that allusion to him becoming the next Jesus was intended. (Calling the whole scenario Star of Bethlehem" makes a lot more sense with that context.)
Then things get weird as Touma borrows a few lessons from Ichigo in Bleach, with the strong implication that some other force is inside him that's truly behind Imagine Breaker. At the very least, this allows him to replace the right arm that Fiamma severs and claims for himself, but I couldn't help being reminded of the scene where Ichigo almost loses control in his climactic confrontation with Byakuya. Similar twists have been deployed in other anime throughout the years, so it's hardly a novel concept, just not one I expected from this series. Still, it would explain at least some of Touma's unfathomable sturdiness and prominent standing. The musical score also does a wonderful job of keeping the scene from getting too cheesy, and powering through with heavily dramatic strains was definitely the right call.
Touma's not the only one getting major dramatic time, either. The episode opens with Hamazura being confronted once again by a half-crazed Mugino (who goes berserk when she tries the Ability Crystals). I've been leery of how much he's being relied on for heroics given his lack of abilities, but this time it worked; he may have been more impressive in handling Mugino than ever before. Not pulling the trigger and instead trying to reclaim the villain is absolutely a standard anime move that's no stranger to Index, but this time it carried just the right weight to be satisfying, once again thanks to the musical score. As powerful as she is, Mugino is a broken character in more than one way, and this is the first time she seems even slightly sympathetic. His effort was all the more convincing because he pushed just the right buttons by forcing her into a situation where her pride will take over. I'm now quite curious to see where this goes.
Some lesser scenes went by, too. Tail Girl hooks up with Misha, Accelerator finally seems to have a plan for Last Order, and Stiyl is still trying to stay alive against Index, while Mikoto's sacking of an armored unit is entirely skipped over in favor of a short scene at the end where she talks one of the Sisters into piloting a VTOL to take them up to where the real action is happening. Not sure what that has to do with the whole nuclear weapon thing from last episode, but whatever. Enough of the rest of the episode worked (and sounded great in the process) to make this one of the high points of the season so far.
A Certain Magical Index III is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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