A Certain Magical Index III
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Certain Magical Index III ?
As expected, the fight between Kanzaki and Acqua of the Rear dominates this episode. But I didn't expect that the climax of the battle would come near the halfway point instead of at the end, allowing a full nine minutes to wrap up the arc and set up the next. It's curious pacing, although it does allow for one of the series' nastier teases yet.
But first, the fight. As the preview suggested, even a Saint like Kanzaki struggles against Acqua of the Rear, and Kanzaki eventually figures out that he's drawing power from more than just being a Saint. This leads to some good but not outstanding exchanges that involve Kanzaki getting beat up until she finally decides that getting backup from the Amakusa is the best way to do things after all. Naturally, Touma appears on the scene just in time to thwart Acqua's attack and allow the Amakusa's Saint Breaker to work. Seeing this come down to a team effort rather than Touma just striking down Acqua with his fist made for a more satisfying victory. The flashback as he gets taken out is too short to explain how he ended up that way, but it does at least hint that he probably wasn't a bad guy at heart before he got fanatically twisted along the way.
Some of the episode's other content was just as interesting. Mikoto does interact with Touma as he's heading toward the fight, practically pleading with him to allow her to help. The outcome makes sense in a storytelling regard – aside from Touma, the franchise has been restrictive about allowing its science-side and magic-side elements to mingle – and I honestly would have been surprised if Touma had accepted the help, but it's still disappointing. The franchise seems to be implying that it's alright for Mikoto and Kanzaki to ask for help but not for Touma, and it's hard not to see the double standard. At least Touma's amnesia is more out in the open.
Later scenes have a mix of lighter and heavier flavors. Itsuwa once again offers the bedridden Touma a towel in a chuckle-worthy moment (this was her big thing during Touma's first visit to Italy in the second season), and Tsuchimikado once again gets to mess with Kanzaki by trying to trick her into a fanservice situation; Kanzaki's helplessness when her sexuality comes up is also a little amusing (especially given the not-so-modest way she normally dresses), and that sequence provides the big tease I mentioned when it doesn't fully show Kanzaki in that outfit.
The other important revelation is that the Pope doesn't just hold that position in name; he's also pretty magically potent, enough to make the final remaining member of the Right Seat of God work for it when the Pope tries to stop him from going on a rampage in England. (I'm a little fuzzy on why he actually wanted to stop Fiamma of the Right, though.) Looks like Vento's going to be back in the action too, though not necessarily in concert with her brethren. The final scene with Aleister also suggests more strongly that Touma is a key player in whatever he's scheming rather than a wild card.
Overall, this episode represents a bounce back from last episode's low point.
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