Posted by psgels on 22 August 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews

To Aru Majutsu no Index and Kagaku no Railgun. They’re both two series that I dropped very quickly when they first aired, though for completely different reasons. Railgun to me was genuinely annoying; I really don’t want to watch anything more of that. Index however… yeah. I dropped it because I had no idea what it was trying to be. “You want an interesting setting? Well, we’re too busy with action right now.” “You want action? Well, here are some long dialogues full of exposition.” “You want dialogues? Screw that! Here are some cute girls to annoy you!” It feels like all of those parts tried to cockblock each other.

Still, I have to admit: this series is based on some neat ideas, in which people can either have naturally born powers, or have to learn them as magic. The creators seemed to have put a lot of attention in coming up with interesting scenarios and backgrounds, so in another one of those “why not”-moments I gave this show a second chance. Overall, it’s a series that definitely has its moments, but as a standalone series I wouldn’t recommend it unless the upcoming second season really gets significantly better.

The series consists out of a number of different arcs, often completely unrelated, in which Touma (the lead character) saves a bunch of people (often cute girls). These arcs really vary from surprisingly good to completely pointless, and they can all be pretty much seen as separate entities. The worst for me were the Deep Blood and the Imaginary Number arcs. Both felt too forced, featured the worst characters of the series and felt completely pointless in the end. My personal favourite was the Angel Fall arc, because it’s that arc in which we actually learn the most about the lead character, Touma. I really liked what that arc added to his character.

The main weakness of Index isn’t the fact that all of these arcs are unrelated. In fact, this way the series can neatly show different kinds of aspects in its setting, explore its own magic system and show what its world looks like. No, my main problem with this series is that it’s so caught up in its own exposition that it often forgets its character.

So because of this, half the cast in Index is just a collection of walking plot devices. The creators are just so focused on progressing the story, and explaining the details behind the stories of the different arcs that they often forget the characterization, and half of the scenes that are allocated to fleshing out the characters have no idea how to do this so instead they just focus on the cute girls of the series and have them participate in really annoying antics. Granted though, the scenes that don’t involve action, tension, exposition or any of the cute teenaged girls are well written, and actually quite charming.

This show really does have some very neatly animated action scenes. You can also really see that the creators tried to spice those up to make them more than just a bunch of people zapping their powers at each other until one goes down: the battles here require some crazy tactics, and they really force the lead characters (the good guys, anyway) to think on their feet. I do have a big beef with them, though.

This is another one of those series in which characters can really have extreme powers: there are a ton of people walking around that can kill someone in the blink of a second, and the series itself reminds us of that very often. This brings along an extra layer of suspense of disbelief however, which is something that this series can’t live up to. I mean, it’s great that the series is trying to build up this atmosphere of serious business and all, but when Touma just keeps jumping into certain death situations, only to miraculously survive due to sheer luck that he couldn’t possibly have foreseen, it really destroys the tension a bit. I mean, the sheer amount of ludicrous saves in this series was just too much for my standards.

Apart from that though… it’s entertaining. There were a few episodes in which I really edged to just stop watching this series, but they were overshadowed by the episodes that did manage to keep my attention. I like this show for getting completely crazy at times with its ideas and scenarios, while I dislike it for having too much moe and one-dimensional characters. If the second season can use the build up that this season provided, I can easily see it get better. But it really needs to do something about these characters…

Storytelling: 8/10 – Interesting script, knows how to create tension.
Characters: 6/10 – Too many walking plot devices and annoying teenaged girls.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Very neat animation, especially during the action scenes. Nice soundtrack too.
Setting: 8/10 – Interesting concepts and ideas. Don’t go here for realism, though.

Night Head Genesis
Hunter X Hunter

13 Responses

  1. Anca says:

    I rather liked Index. Well, 82% in your ratings system, so not that far off.

    I liked their endless exposition because it made the whole thing seem more realistic. Powers like that need to be explained a lot to not demand too much suspension of disbelief.

    The way they contrasted magic with science magic is based on attitudes people in the real world really do keep. In fact, it was exactly the way certain corners of the occult community (the corners that take themselves very, very seriously) clash with the easy-going everything-goes PSI types.

    Railgun annoyed me a good deal because it lacked these interesting parts.

    I personally loved the alchemist battle – magic where you shout what should happen and that stuff happens – word based – and you have to get incredibly creative and exact in your phrasing is one of my action kinks.

  2. Scorcher says:

    I loved this show…
    I think you were too unfair with the characters score… I mean, the females are annoying, but I think Touma is a great lead…
    Also the exposition is something they could not avoid, because the setting in the light novels is so complicated that without proper explanation nobody could follow the story…
    As for the second season, I´m guessing its going to be a lot better, If it animates volumes 7 to 14 of the novels…those are great arcs…

  3. Hogart says:

    You’re right. It was too chaotic and a bit caught up in it’s hubris. I think if they dropped the exposition, focused only on the major arcs, and relied more on characters and teamwork than saving-throw plots, this would be a very good series. But at least it tried to not be boring or too insulting, unlike Railgun.

  4. mds says:

    yeah,agree with you,I loved that Russian angel arc :D simply because it’s very funny at the beginning and ended up breathtaking…
    Well, in my opinion the score for setting is a bit higher…since they used so many references and huge attention to details :p

  5. Scorcher says:

    Forgot to say…I don´t think that there are pointless arcs in the show…
    Deep Blood had that awesome fighting scene…where Touma scared the crap out of that alchemist…
    And Imaginary Numbers is important for the rest of the story…(Fuse=Kazakiri, im looking at you)…
    But its like you said, first season was mainly used for building up, but sadly not even with a second season we will have a conclusion, because the plot is huge, there are 21 novels and it keeps going…season one only covered the first 6 volumes, and 2nd season will hopefully cover until volume 14…

  6. Suzuku says:

    Let me start off by saying that Index, as a light novel, is one of my favorite series. It’s very unique in that it takes multiple religious and scientific theories and incorporates them all into a story without seeming half-assed. For example, I’ve never read a story that has used Aleister Crowley, English occultist, as a bases for the story and incorporates his theories into it nearly flawlessly. Crowley’s theory about magicks, the science and art of changing through one’s own will, and the esper’s “Personal Reality” which gives them their powers is just one example of many.

    Now, as an anime, I had some problems with it. As you said, the anime really was very chaotic in that it hopped from action, to long dialog, to fanservice in the span of a couple minuets without allowing us to get a very good feel for the characters. This is in contrast with the novels where many of the conversations give us a better idea of who the characters are and the transitions between exposition, comedy, and action come much more smoothly. Of course, this can be attributed to the fact that the anime had only a limited amount of time to fit 6 volumes worth of content in it. That said, I have a gripe with how the anime staff decided to cut some rather important explanations from the story and other small things that would make understanding where the characters’ abilities come from easier. Since I read the novels it’s no problem for me, but for anime only watchers I’m sure some were confused.

    Those gripes aside, I enjoyed the anime very much. The art and animation was top notch for the most part and the story was still enjoyable overall, despite the cuts in some areas. Season 2, going by the trailer and common sense, will cover up to volume 13. Slight spoilers, but season 2 will have far more involvement in what goes on outside of Academy City and many more characters will be introduced. The concept of Touma saving people (still cute girls) will still be there but it will have more to do with the magic side of the story as opposed to season 1 which was more grounded in the science side, which honestly isn’t as interesting as the magic side.

    Also, most recent novels (17-21) have been truly epic and I don’t want to say too much as to not spoil, but let’s just say things get very hectic and the delicate balance between the magic and science sides finally break. Hell, even before that, things really get truly interesting starting from volume 13 when God’s Right Seat finally gets involved in the story and Accelerator starts becoming active in the underground of Academy City.

  7. AKI says:

    Great! Finally, psgels, you have made a review for Index.

  8. AuroraFlame says:

    Sometimes it seems like they were trying to make the character development fail on purpose, with giving the main character permanent amnesia after just introducing him. Then that alchemist arc… was completely pointless when the motivation of the villain was revealed. And the angel thing…. ugh.

    The quality of this show is way too dependent on how good season 2 is. It was all build-up. They introduced people and concepts but they’re still at square one.

  9. Ichiban Faggot says:

    77.5 for this turd and 72.5 for Geass. Yeah..good joke:|

  10. Solaris says:

    Index has a very complicated scenario to deal with. The war between magic and science is something that need a proper buildup and can’t be taken for good without explanation. Adding explanation is easy on a novel where you haven’t to deal with timescreen at all. As a rather huge amount of explanation hinders the comprehension and linearity of the plot, Index has been divided into arcs focusing on one of the two main sides, magic or science and the explanation is being divided among those. As the readings goes on all of the pieces of this complicated settings go in place, for the showdown when the war between opposite factions will break in. So, whoever is looking for a tieup in the chain of events, you just have to read it all for the meta-plot to gain sense. Moreover hints and infos are being realased little by little, and details you passed on could be developed in later arcs of the story. See spoiler down here*.

    If you just take out explanation you’d gain something similar to railgun. Thus being entertaining, Railgun missed all of that setting that made Index deep and well developed. In Railgun you only del with science side. At least you have a hint of what scientist are tring to do on their side, but the feeling is that Railgun was too much light harted if compared to Index, thanks to a huge portion of the settings being cut down for good!

    Index anime was hindered under the weight of its own setting. All of the explanation segments were miss placed and put in the middel of combat, where they were in the way of action scene fuidity. Really they chose the worst timing to make explanation. Moreover they chose to make up with silly slapstick commedy to tone down drama, but resulted in flatting out chars that are really nice to begin with. It didn’t help that chars are build up in their arc of competence. Kuroko, the annoying and schiecking Mikoto’s kouhai, is nothing more than a side char for fun till volume 8 of the novel. There you read how good of a char she is. Every char, with the exception of Touma, and later of Accelerator, are important for only their arc. Index too is nothing than a fun char unless in the very first arc. The fact she names the all serie is very missleading.

    *One of this is Hyouka: She’s introduced in the immaginary number arc and, while that being an apparently bland arc, it reveals one of the main themes of Index. Science and Magic target is the same, that is to create with different means a superior being. And Hyouka’s the first attempt at that. Just wait for Vol 13 and see what i mean. (it hopefully will be included in the 2nd season).

  11. jak321 says:

    well it give me great joy to see that so many people like this series … its often under-rated and solaris having read the light novel i know what u mean :D .. also waiting for the god of magic to appear in the anime its gonna be awesome

  12. Solaris says:

    @Jak321. I could only read the novel @ Baka Tsuki, as my japanese isn’t good enough to read them raw :(. So i actually know the facts till about vol 13 and anime season 1.
    I am afraid we’ll have to wait till season 4 to see war breaking in!
    I long to see Railgun arc with the sister before that.

    @Ichiban Faggot. Joke? Could it be cause Geass is your average mecha story with so many good premises wasted in a trainwrek-ish finale compared to Index that has much more complexity and ideas Geas would take 5 season to develop and throw in the toilet after that.

    @Suzuku. Thank you for your review. Crowley’s theory as a basis for index setup is something people didn’t recognize at start and what makes this novel really outstanding.

    Here’s the wiki article about Crowley. Just notice how much terms Index brought from that.

  13. I totally feel you about railgun, that crap was just too annoying, I deleted the file after about 8 minutes of watching the first episode. Personally I think just 98% of anime is just the same ol same old, mixied with full of crap that only is marketable to self hating male otakus (i.e. the male lead always being beat up by women, or being unable to do simple things like have a decent relation ship with a woman. . .you know the whole *oh my god I touched her hand/body/hair/eyes meeting blah blah blah, I must act all shy* bullshit most of tha tjust gets in the way of a good story. . .or rather is put inplace to also distract the viewrs that the story isnt any good by adding *tension* which in normal human interaction, would be rediculous, hell even Planest had this crap and that was a GOOD show!

    Ive pretty much stopped watching anime, except for shows that have a decent story, with normal human interactions and great characters, I swear there are only like 2 shows every other season that come out that have this and last for 26 or more eps.

    I mean its gotten to the point where creators have to do something like kaiba (having abstract designs) to actually make something MATURE because its *cartoony* therefore not all that serious.

    Im just glad that Ive stopped watching anime for the most part Ill only watch like an episode of either one piece or some other show that is good like katanagatari.

    I just have more time to enjoy life with normal human beings, not be *f0rced* to immerse myself in a culture of self hatred that is 99.9% of anime/manga

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  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:36 AM)
    @Masky: lots of game designers aspire for realism. Now this can be done for cosmetic purposes like face textures and lighting, practical with physic engines and movement, or contextual like believable character reactions and dialogue. Now some games thrive in being ridiculous and fantastic, but some want to create a realistic setting to further the emotional impact. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:32 AM)
    @ratsgnoF: and happy Thanksgiving to you as well.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:43 PM)
    Anyway seriously though, I’d say it does actually make sense in context xD Since none of monsters are actually that threatening.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:42 PM)
    .-. I have no words, mainly because whenever anyone uses word “Realism” in context of video game, I want to say rude words xD
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:40 PM)
    I think he gave it a passing glance and felt it wasn’t his thing, I remember he also felt that he thought the idea of sparing the monsters wasn’t believable or realistic given that he felt if you were realistically placed in that situation yourself, the real thing to do would be to fight back out of fear.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:37 PM)
    Did he actually play the game though? I mean, did he actually discover it himself or did he just heard the spoilers?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:35 PM)
    I had a talk with a friend about undertale and he wasn’t a fan, he prefers other types of rpgs, the choice element also made him uncomfortable and that he felt the game was too punishing.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:34 PM)
    @Kaiser: Puzzle elements, outside of sparing everyone, seem to be mainly just parodying video game puzzles. Like, only place where you actually have to solve actual puzzles is in Hotland, before that pretty much every puzzle is automatically solved, really easy or has some silly twist to it. Like the puzzle you can skip by pressing a switch in tree trunk. Can’t say I’m too fond of puzzles either, but I liked how game was making fun of them
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:32 PM)
    Speaking of awful sense of humor and things that dorks like, just wanted to say that turns out I was right about Jitsu wa watashi wa in that main couple does get together before chapter 100(forgot what exactly, some where in 80-90 range I think). But they are such huge dorks that they do everything ridiculously slowly because they are that embarrassed, so they have had like just one date(in chapter 100). Not that I expect anyone to remember what the heck I’m talking about xD
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:32 PM)
    The battle system grew on me a bit, but I didn’t like the puzzle elements it offered, the actual gameplay looked kind of dull also. Some of the characters were likeable enough, Papyrus, Asogore, the flower guy being my favourite though the plot didn’t really get interesting until the end.

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