Genre(s): Magic, Sci-fi, Shonen, Comedy, Action
Age-Appropriateness: 15+ (Violence, gore, Suggestive themes, mild language)
Platforms: Hulu, Crunchyroll, Funimation
TheAwersome Rating: 5.7 / 10 (Too much in a bad way)
Premise: Academy City, Japan, is at the forefront of science. Besides being 30 years ahead of the world technologically, more than three-fourths of this peculiar city’s population consists of students developing their psychic abilities as espers in various institutions. Among these students is Touma Kamijou, a high school boy with the lowest psychic rank of zero, but with a mysterious power no scientist can understand: “Imagine Breaker,” which allows him to negate other supernatural abilities.
This doesn’t affect Kamijou’s life in the least as he plays his role as a regular teenager; that is, until he meets the strange Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a young girl who has memorized the entirety of the forbidden grimoires, and now a dangerous organization is hunting Index down. With several magicians looking to harm the girl, Kamijou will defend his new companion at all costs as he discovers a strange new realm of the supernatural.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: I want you to take a moment and make a list of all the reasons most people (who have seen anime) don’t like anime. Chances are that list includes some of the following:
- Random unnecessary “whoops, protag saw the girl naked” scenes
- Overly complicated and complex superpowers
- Bland blank-slate protagonists
- Annoyingly sexualized character designs/outfits
- A reliance on character tropes (e.g. Tsundere, little sister type, etc.)
- Girls that look 9 years old but are actually adults (or 100+ year old deities)
- Unrealistic changes of heart and forgiveness of villains
- Long dialogue/monologues during fight scenes
- Deus-ex machina powerups
- Protagonists who will risk absolutely everything for a stranger they met that day
- Overly complicated plots that get riddled with holes
Well guess what? A Certain Magical Index is guilty of that entire list up there. Yup. Every one of those sins. I’ll add something that isn’t frequently on the list of why people don’t like anime, but is one for me: Despite having all the above flaws, it’s still got some neat world-building and dumpster fires can sometimes pique morbid curiosity, so I continue to subject myself to this heaping pile of mid-2000’s flavored “Anime for the sake of Anime” garbage. This honestly feels like it was written by somebody who has only experienced story-telling and human interaction via video games and anime, but hasn’t actually read or seen anything outside of that.
People use tropes because they are convenient, easy, and probably because they’ve seen them a lot. Not necessarily because they’re good. It’s the same thing with spices and seasonings on food. I like garlic, butter, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, etc., but I like those things ON. FOOD. When people make these cookie-cutter “fill it with tropes until we have enough episodes” anime like this, they usually lack any real substance or characters to get attached to. It’s the culinary equivalent of sitting down to a dinner whose entrée is a nice clarified butter with Pink Himalayan salt, fresh pressed garlic, and some thyme. Give me the dang meal, not just the spices and seasonings you walnut faced buffoon.
TLDR: Every anime sin is committed here in a show that feels like it was Frankensteined together out of everything kids in the early 2000s said they liked about anime.
Another beef I have with this is that we don’t get to KNOW any characters. Like, literally none of them, past a precursory trope label. Our protagonist jumps from mini-arc to mini-arc so quickly that we hardly get to wrap our heads around each mini-story, get acquainted with any of the newly introduced characters, or see how it plays into any larger plot. There is such an over-abundance of using “Cool-sounding English names” for abilities, organization names, etc., which really don’t sound cool if you actually speak English.
Unfortunately for me, I have this masochistic need to finish things. Which means watching the full series and its spinoffs, which are listed out for you here chronological order: A Certain Scientific Railgun, A Certain Magical Index II, A Certain Scientific Railgun S, then the movie “The Miracle of Endymion”, then A Certain Magical Index III, A Certain Scientific Accelerator, and then finally the currently airing A Certain Scientific Railgun T. I’ve heard that I’ve passed the worst of it, and that better be true, dang it. At least it puts some crap on my review lists so that all my current 8.0+ ratings look like they actually mean something.