A Certain Magical Index III
Episodes 18-19

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 18 of
Certain Magical Index III ?

How would you rate episode 19 of
Certain Magical Index III ?

War has effectively been declared on Academy City, the three protagonists have all converged in Russia, and things are starting to get messy.

That's about as succinct a description of these episodes as you can get, but it's also quite accurate. Episode 18 opens with Russia blaming Academy City for everything that's wrong in the world, then issuing an unreasonable ultimatum, most likely at Fiamma of the Right's urging. The threat of using ICBMs seems way over the top, and Russia suddenly being dragged into the picture as an aggressor gives the impression of skipped background information, but both of those have been par for the course for this side of the franchise. Still, it's not at all hard to understand how other world powers would find the very existence of Academy City provocative, with its advanced tech and heavy concentration of superhuman individuals, and it's not like Academy City wouldn't have the tech to shoot those missiles down.

As interesting as these implications are, the focus remains more on what's happening in Russia. Each of the three male leads is there with a female companion, though in one case it's not the usual suspect. Touma is instead accompanied by Lessar, the tailed girl from New Light (the sorceresses who got Red Princess her sword during the Great Britain arc), who's apparently there on assignment and fully intent on trying to seduce Touma to their cause. Given her apparent age, this could have been eyebrow-raising if it was taken seriously, but it's also being directed at one of the densest protagonists in anime, who's previously proven oblivious to the charms of every female character. Lessar having no clue that she doesn't stand a chance is faintly amusing. She doesn't actually do much effective in either of these episodes (although summoning one of the boats was a neat trick), so whether or not she has the power to actually be helpful to Touma is unclear.

Meanwhile, Hanazawa is still trying to get by with Takitsubo. The situations he finds himself in continue to be the most ridiculous. He's facing an escalation when the village around him is threatened by armored military vehicles, but the way things have been going for him, I'm sure he'll find some way out of that. Accelerator also arrives on the scene with an ill Last Order in tow and gets to encounter magical power in a foe for the first time; with Touma and the members of GROUP so deeply-entrenched in both the magic and science realms, it's easy to forget that most characters on the science side have largely been kept isolated from the magical shenanigans.

Of the battle scenarios forming for the three protagonists, Accelerator's is easy the most involving and dynamic. Fiamma of the Right is giving Touma, Lessar, and a new ally plenty of trouble with his big displays of power, and Hanazawa's predicament is just eye-rolling, but sending the new killer Mikoto clone after Accelerator makes for an intriguing and dicey encounter. Seeing a Mikoto in full-on rage mode, complete with using nails instead of coins for her signature railgun shot, presents a psychological challenge for Accelerator that I felt was handled pretty well. Though Accelerator has long been a popular character, this is one of the rare times in the franchise that I've actually found him compelling myself. In deciding what to do about Mikasa Worst, his perpetually pissed-off attitude serves him well.

The other development of note in these two episodes is the implementation of a solid new closer that emphasizes what's happening in Russia. And I haven't even brought up the whole other conflict involving the nuns and Kanzaki battling or Vento showing up again, this time as a nominal ally. So much is going on in this ever-chaotic story, but at least this time the turn of events seems more coherent.

Rating: B

A Certain Magical Index III is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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