A Certain Magical Index III
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 26 of
Certain Magical Index III ?
The finale (for now?) of the main A Certain Magical Index storyline offers up some sublime scenes that are easily among the most satisfying of this season for the franchise. Sadly, the same can't be said about the episode as a whole. It's nowhere near the disaster that last episode was, and it does bring the World War III arc to a conclusion, but as always there's just too much going on with too many hooks thrown out for the future to be satisfying overall. And that's without even getting into the realm of the truly ridiculous things that happen.
Speaking of which, there are two places where the final episode strained credibility even within the elastic logic of this franchise. One is a continuation of a problem last episode that I should have commented on more in retrospect, which was the poor execution of Fiamma and Touma's conflict. The animation was routinely inconsistent on how far apart they are, with Touma jumping out to make punches and then jumping back to his own pillar with an acumen that is fully super-human. The main offender this time is the considerable length of time Fiamma has to process his thoughts while Touma is jumping in for the finishing punch. Anime in general has always been no stranger to scene decompression, but even by anime standards, this is stretching to preposterous levels. The second scene comes near the end, where Touma seems to redirect the Star of Bethlehem to crash into Misha. It's a neat climactic scene, but given that he needed instructions just to direct it to crash into the Arctic Sea, how could he redirect it that specifically, especially if he didn't have exact coordinates for Misha's position? Or am I just off on what was actually happening in that scene?
On the flip side, the scene with Accelerator and Last Order at the beginning of the episode was one of this series' finest. Seeing a hero's efforts fully come to fruition is always heartwarming, as is finally seeing the adorable Last Order back again, but in this case the moment is also literally transformative for the hero. Accelerator had previously resolved that he didn't need to be a villain anymore, and by completing this task he truly becomes a hero. The shift of his black wings to angelic ones may be a little over-the-top in its symbolism, but it's also a reflection of his change in mindset. What happened when he flew up to the Star remains unclear, but the way he seized control of his circumstances at the end was great. I'm still nowhere near as enthusiastic for his upcoming installment of the franchise as I am for Railgun's, but he's a little more credible now as a focal point character.
Then there's more stuff happening on the side. Shiage demonstrates once again how ruthless he's becoming, and nothing in this episode suggests that he didn't really kill that guy last episode. That scene also all but reassures the reconstitution of ITEM and provides one of the many hooks for future content. Fiamma's ultimate fate, being struck down by Aleister Crowley in person with the strong suggestion that what's inside Touma is part of Crowley's bigger scheme, was another highlight scene, but who are those two at the end who find Fiamma? I feel like I also should recognize the blonde girl who fishes Touma out of the sea at the very end, but I am having trouble placing her. On the more annoying front, Mikoto is finally shown trying to participate but isn't allowed to by Touma, which just reinforces how much she's been neutered in this series.
Overall, the third series of the franchise's core storyline suffers heavily from compacting too much content into a mere 26 episodes, resulting in an awfully busy series that doesn't satisfactory explain or develop anywhere near as much as it should have. It's still entertaining as long as you don't go in with the expectation of understanding much of anything, but both this franchise and this genre are capable of much better.
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