A Certain Magical Index III
Episode 5

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Certain Magical Index III ?

Episode 5 is the second in what looks to be at least a three-episode arc that focuses on story elements not directly involving Index's normal leading players, but at this point I don't see that as a problem. The Academy City universe has plenty of potentially interesting characters around to sustain itself for a while without its leads, and there's enough going on in the setting that doesn't involve them. Of course, this also brings up the matter of whether Accelerator can be counted among the leads at this point; he is getting his own series in 2019, and he's featured prominently with Touma, Index, and Mikoto in the promotional art. However, he still feels more like an ensemble player than someone who's carrying the story.

As a total random side observation concerning Accelerator, can anyone who's seen Angels of Death watch him and not think of Zack? It's the same seiyuu, the same delivery style, similar attitude, and more or less the same kind of smile. He even has a weird relationship with a much younger girl.

But there's a lot going on in this episode to discuss, and for the first time in a while for this franchise, I find being an anime-only viewer to be a significant disadvantage. Once again we get a new group thrown at us – MEMBER – with no real indication of who they are. All that's made clear in the episode is that they're in opposition to GROUP and include a mix of science-side and magic-using individuals, including an actual adult; from looking at Wikia articles, I know that they're working directly for Aleister “Mr. Upside-Down” Crowley, which seems like a crucial piece of information to somehow reveal in this episode. As haphazard as this franchise can be with its introductions, this one is more awkward than most, especially since most of the group is implied to be out of commission at best by the end of the episode.

That's just one example of how busy this episode gets. One of Etzali's former Aztec magic compatriots, Xochitl, pops up to show why you don't integrate yourself with a grimoire. While she doesn't have more than a “temporary foe” role here, it's my understanding that her backstory is covered in some of the A Certain Scientific Railgun material, so she could show up again depending on what Railgun's third season chooses to adapt. Her battle with Etzali is just one of many super-powered exchanges, as we also get to see a bit of Kakine Teitoku's devastating power. Accelerator gets his fight against a teleporter with a peculiar restriction, one that Accelerator is well-capable of exploiting once he figures it out. Musujime also gets her turn in the good-guy role for a situation that allows her to at least partially redeem herself for her prior villainy; her battle was the most satisfying part of a packed episode, even though it implies that powers will always beat skill in the end.

And that's not even everything. A mercenary army 5,000 strong affiliated with the other ill-defined group BLOCK tries to invade the city but gets cut down by neat-looking drone aircraft. Last Order escape from her handler and encounters Uiharu, who doesn't seem to have a clue about her connection to Mikoto despite the obvious physical resemblance. And ITEM member Frenda seems to have been caught by Kakine and beat into spilling details about ITEM's base of operations. (A lot feels like it's missing there too, since Kinuhita Saiai – the other one Mugino left behind in the previous episode – apparently made it back safely.) The latter point seems the most consequential at the episode's end, with the strong implication that next episode is going to include Kakine attacking ITEM's base.

In other words, this is a packed episode. While it may be too packed for its own good, it doesn't leave any room for viewers to get bored and features some sharp animation in some scenes. If its goal was to embody the frenetic nature of the Index side of the franchise, it certainly accomplishes that. However, I am still rating the episode a notch down simply because of how limited this content's accessibility is to anime-only viewers.

Rating: B

A Certain Magical Index III is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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