The Beginner’s Guide to Anime, No. 124 – A Certain Magical Index

A Certain Magical Index 1

People sometimes mention the “right hand of God” when talking about religion. This week’s anime covers a series which features both religion and a rather powerful right hand, albeit a human one.

A Certain Magical Index began as a series of novels by author Kazuma Kamachi, running between 2004 and 2010, with a sequel starting the following year. The first anime series was released in in 2008, with a second series in 2010 and a film in 2013. It is notable for not just being a successful series in its own right, but also for producing an equally successful spin-off, A Certain Scientific Railgun, which has also had two TV series of the same length as the original. However, this article will concentrate just on Index.

A Certain Magical Index is set in the futuristic Academy City, a town full of schools, many of which are dedicated to developing the human mind. Espers for example exist and many of the students are training to enhance their mental powers. Kamijo Toma however is a Level 0 esper, with seemingly no powers at all with the exception of one: his right hand has the ability to stop any incoming attacks. This is very useful when coming into fights with other espers, such as the prestigious Level 5 esper Misaka Mikoto, who can control electricity. Other than this however, Toma’s life is just one long string of bad luck.

His luck gets even worse when he wakes up one day to find a young girl dangling from balcony of his flat. The girl in question is a nun from the English Puritan Church, who claims her name is Index Librorum Prohibitorum. She has been trained to remember 103,000 forbidden texts (grimoires) and is being chased because of her knowledge. Toma eventually agrees to hide her, but when he comes home from taking a remedial class he is horrified to discover Index covered in blood, after being the victim of an attack from someone claiming to be a sorcerer.

The attacker, Stiyl Magnus, can control fire using magic, but Toma’s right hand allows him to defeat Stiyl. Toma takes Index to his teacher, the child-like Komoe Tsukuyomi, for her to be healed. However, he meets another sorcerer, sword-wielding Kanzaki Kaori, who tells Toma that she and Stiyl need to wipe Index’s memory because her knowledge of all the grimoires takes up so much of her brain that she needs her mind wiping of all other things once a year. Toma calculates that this is not needed and manages to prevent Index’s memory from vanishing, but at the same time he loses his.

The rest of the series follows Toma as he looks after Index without her noticing that his memory has gone, while also encountering more sorcerers who want to use the information that Index has, as well as the more scientific residents of Academy City who have their own problems. Toma finds himself having to deal with spells gone wrong, clones, alchemists and golems, proving that his bad luck is only getting worse.

A Certain Magical Index is a series which has its ups and downs. On the plus side the action sequences are very good. There is plenty of magical goings on to keep you entertained. Sometimes the action can be a bit gruesome: one scene for example sees one of the characters having their skin shed off their body.

Although it has to be said that the actual plot does at times seem to be lacking and sometimes you might find yourself drifting off. Also, while the original Japanese voice acting is good there are problems with the English-language dub, chiefly the fact that the actress doing the voice of Index is (as they usually always are) an American who makes no attempt to do an English accent despite Index coming from England.

The main aspect however of this series is that not only is it successful in terms of the original novels and the anime adaptation, but it went on to produce a spin-off which has been just as successful. A Certain Scientific Railgun concentrates on Misaka Mikoto and her exploits, but this is a series of another article.

The first series of A Certain Magical Index is released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Animatsu.