A Certain Magical Index III
Episodes 1-3

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Certain Magical Index III ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Certain Magical Index III ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
Certain Magical Index III ?

Despite the seven year time gap since the last series finished, this is absolutely not a jumping-on point for new fans. Episode one does begin with a brief recap of previous events, but detailed familiarity with what's come before in the main series (and perhaps the spinoff A Certain Scientific Railgun series) is expected. So here are some of the highlights that are most relevant to these first three episodes and the direction the story seems to be going:

  • Touma suffers from amnesia due to his contact with Dragon Breath while freeing Index from the controls put on her by the Anglican Church. Outside of Heaven Canceller (aka the frog doctor), almost no one knows about this, not even those closest to Touma.
  • Though Touma had spats with Level 5 electromaster Mikoto Mikasa before, he became most deeply involved in her affairs during the Sisters arc, where Mikoto must contend with a vast number of clones of herself created to be level-raising fodder for the Level 5 Accelerator. (This was shown in episodes 10-14 of the first series and gets explored in much greater detail in A Certain Scientific Railgun S.) This arc has many lasting ramifications, including Mikoto taking a romantic interest in Touma (though she won't admit it!), her surviving clones occasionally popping up in later stories, and Accelerator continuing to make appearances, including getting roped into working for Academy City directly at the end of the second season.
  • Kuroko, a Level 4 teleporter, is a member of the student police force Judgment. She is Mikoto's roommate at Tokiwadai Middle School and has a powerful but one-sided romantic interest in Mikoto. Uihara, who attends another school and has a trivial Level 1 power, is one of her Judgment coworkers. Both were featured in episodes 6 and 7 of the second series (an incident that left Kuroko wheelchair-bound for a time) and have much more extensive roles in the A Certain Scientific Railgun series.
  • The Amakusa Catholic Church is an organization of warriors native to Japan whose members meld their Catholic beliefs with Shintoism and Buddhism. Thanks to Touma's involvement with them in an incident concerning the decoder Orsola Aquinas and an organization of Catholic battle nuns, they are back to being led by the saint Kaori Kanzaki, who separated from them for a time and are now allied with the Anglican Church. They worked alongside Touma and Index during the incident in Italy with the ice ships.
  • Itsuwa was one of the crowd of Amakusa during the Orsola incident but later went on to have a more significant role in the matter with the ice fleet (episodes 14-16 of the second series). She seemed to be crushing on Touma at the time but he was oblivious.
  • Seiri Fukiyose, whom Touma briefly speaks with in episode 1 of this series, is his class's resident health nut and was one of the steering committee members for the Daihasei Festival (episodes 8-13 of the second series). She dragged Touma around a lot before inadvertently being struck down by Oriana Thompson's Shorthand spell during the Stab Sword incident, whose goal was to use magic to put Academy City under the domain of the Roman Catholic Church. She was saved from likely death by Touma's Imagine Breaker.
  • The September 30 incident, whose main events are covered in episodes 19-22 of the second series, was a culmination of the magic/science conflicts to date. Vento of the Right Seat of God (an elite body of empowered individuals affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church but possessing their own goals) attacked the city. While Touma and allies tried to deal with her, Accelerator fought his own battles against his mentor. Index and Last Order (the younger final clone of Mikoto) played key roles, as did Hyouka, the girl created within the AIM diffusion field.
  • Mikoto's mother Misuzu (who first appeared in the Daihasei arc) played a significant role in the aftermath, detailed in episodes 23-24. The picture of her and Touma together on Touma's phone, as seen in one scene of episode 1 of this series, comes from Touma helping to protect her, as she was being targeted for advocating pulling children out of Academy City due to the rising tensions with the Roman Catholic Church. Touma was instrumental in causing her to reconsider withdrawing Mikoto, unbeknownst to her.

All of that sets up the tensions present in these episodes. War is looming as the Roman Catholic Church is once again scheming to magically influence people, with the protests in France against science-based Academy City being a visible effect of that influence. The Right Seat of God is also back, with Touma fighting the new Terra of the Left while the fire sorcerer Stiyl learns more about the Right Seat of God's members; in yet another example of the franchise's creative religious hodgepodge, its members are trying to attain a status akin to angels or even godhood by purging themselves of original sin or some such nonsense. Acqua of the Back also shows up again (he's the one who carted off Vento at the end of the September 30 Incident), this time to finish off Terra for straying from what passes for a moral path.

In other words, the plot is every bit as complex and messy as ever. One of the two most significant events in these episodes is actually Touma again working with Itsuwa in France. The opener suggests that she'll be a regular from now on, firmly putting yet another girl in his orbit. The other is Mikoto overhearing Terra of the Left's conversation with Touma about how he's suffering from amnesia. Seeing how she interacts with him the next time she meets should be interesting, as she's clearly thrown by the revelation.

All the typical traits of the series are back in earnest too. The main seasons have always had light doses of fanservice and a fixation on female characters' chests, and that continues with Itsuwa getting the show's umpteenth incarnation of the “see-through shirt soaking” gimmick in episode 2, the cleavage-baring backup outfit she wears in episodes 2 and 3, and Mikoto's shower scene to end episode 3. We get a little taste of the franchise's flashy action scenes in episode one before they return more prominently in episodes 2 and 3. Character designs remain consistent, and artistic merits in general have improved markedly; I watched some episodes of the first season again, and the visual step up is pretty dramatic. The one place it underperforms is with its opening theme, which doesn't compare well to previous openers for the franchise.

A Certain Magical Index was a trend-setter for the supernatural action anime that have come out over the past decade, and these three episodes affirm that it hasn't lost its touch. While I'm not familiar with how closely or how well it adapts its source material (I've only read the first volume of the source novels), I can't imagine it being an overall disappointment to established fans for any other reason yet.

Rating: B+

A Certain Magical Index III is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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