The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Toaru Majutsu no Index II

Title: Toaru Majutsu no Index II aka A Certain Magical Index II
Genre: Action
Company: J.C. Staff
Format: 24 episodes
Date: 8 Oct 2010 – 1 Apr 2011

Synopsis: Index, the powerful young nun from the Church of England, is still living together with Touma, a Level-0 ranked psychic whose right hand has the ability to negate all forms of magical, psychic and divine power. Aside from the extraordinary situations he regularly gets dragged into, Touma struggles with the daily problems of any average high school student: finding the time to finish his homework and study for upcoming tests. Just when things can’t get any worse, a formidable foe has set foot on Academy City, and is on his way to kidnap Index and utilize the powers archived within her memory. Thus, a new chapter begins as Touma encounters new enemies with powers that blur the boundary that separates science and magic.

The Highlights
Main cast: Same as the first season; almost everyone fits into certain moe archetypes, including the villains.
Action sequences: A visual improvement from the first season but still banal and unengaging.
Story arcs: Follow a common pattern involving a standard conclusion and plentiful tropes.
Theme: Contrived and pretentious; it’s always been about moe and fanservice.
My advice: Just stick with Railgun instead.

I’ve never liked the shounen genre. More often than not, any shounen anime will involve an overly-idealistic or angsty male lead, plentiful fanservice and disregard towards good storytelling in favor of sleek action scenes. Toaru Majutsu no Index embodies the essence of this genre by featuring a male lead of similar traits, visually appealing fight scenes and overall solid production values. Toaru Majutsu no Index II simply resumes from where the first season left off, and every aspect of it – especially the characters and the narrative style – pretty much remains the same. But like many second-season shows out there, it exhibits a common bad habit of copypasting the major flaws of the first outing as well.

Using the ‘demarcation problem’ as a theme is not a terrible idea per se; it can make a series riveting if used wisely. But the main problem with Index II concerning this is the pretentiousness in using it to simply sound intelligent. Like the first season, the dialogue is littered with windy scientific and religious psychobabble that is full of bewildering technical terms – most of which takes place right in the middle of fights between the good guys and the baddies. In short, they’re just painting a facade over what the show really wants to emphasize: cheap fanservice and ways to make power-ups look cool. As for the narrative, it’s quite apparent that every story arc follows a master formula: there’s always the doomsday device that has fallen into the wrong hands for some ludicrous reason, the typical “right cause, wrong action” villains and deus ex machina resolutions to close the book on the most difficult predicaments without the need for any kind of sacrifice on the good guys’ end.

Similar to the first season, the biggest problem with Index II is its run-of-the-mill cast. Almost every moe stereotype can be found here – with lead characters Misaka and Index being textbook instances of a tsundere and a moeblob respectively – and the fray now includes a Kugimiya-loli archetype with a questionable choice of outfit. Worse, the show’s new batch of baddies can be classified under two kinds of stereotypes: one is the sympathetic kind with a scarred past and a flimsy reason to destroy everything, and the other is the power-hungry, psychopathic kind who just wants to destroy everything. However, the character that sticks out like a sore thumb the most is none other than the male protagonist Touma himself, who continues to survive the most mortal wounds, give preachy sermons to the bad guys about moral codes, and solve every problem with his right fist.

Index II is nothing more than just a carbon-copy of the first season. Despite having new faces and some visual improvements, the show has long stagnated because of its formulaic approach to its narrative style and the debut of yet another fresh batch of cookie-cutter individuals. Every story arc has also become predictable: since history has shown that arcs more or less end with Touma punching the villain in the face, there’s no sense of suspense or point in expecting any cleverness. It’s a letdown to see the Index franchise revert to its old ways when the related spinoff right before it, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun, showed how things could’ve been much better.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: AC

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