Ah, the long awaited sequel to Toaru Majutsu no Index finally came, and it was well received. For fans of the first season- you are in for a great ride... ending with the promise of a sequel (well, if they don't have one, I may have to commit seppuku, because they set it up for one soooooo well). Some of the main complaints about the first season- "Oh, they just go from one girl to the next, never really progressing the story line," "they just ignore so many awesome characters," etc. - are fairly well adressed. Anyways, on to the actual review....
Story : 9/10
Near the beginning of the season, I began to fear for this season because of an increased amount of ecchiness, which was not needed by any means. However, as the season progressed, they kept on track with the story and this problem began to resolve. As things develop, you begin to see where this season is going, and that there will be another season. This, however, is ok, because the way they set it up, what is going to happening the next season follows quite well... it even follows quite well from the end of the first season. As the lines are drawn, you can see where individual characters are going, and it seems... right that they go where they do.
Being a JCStaff series that basically drained all resources that they had, you would expect good animation. Well, that is what you get. Great character designs, cool attacks, and smooth motion in an action heavy series. You get the picture.
The series already started out with a large set of strong voice actors, but they managed to add a few more big names, Kugimiya Rie in particular, to the cast. Along with some catchy OPs and EDs, a good sound track and a lot of fitting music, the sound could only get slightly better.
This series has a large number of really great characters. A lot of the characters are well developed and fairly likable as well. Unfortunately, certain awesome characters (biribiri and Accelarator) don't really get the screen time they deserve. The last arc or two begins to correct this at the very least. Also, a lot of the characters that got their own arcs in the first season, for better or worse, are more or less ignored with little to no screen-time.
Anyways: Overall: 8.5/10
If you enjoyed the first series- rejoice! There will be even more to come. If you thought the first season was good but fell short somewhere along the line (probably somewhere in the teens, episode wise), I would say give this series a try as well. Either way, I look forward, happily, to S3.
Right, it's confession time for me. If you have been reading my reviews than you may have noticed that I tend to rip the anime a new one. There is a reason for this though and it has to do with the fact that I can't turn my brain off when watching anime. I can't ignore the stupid shown in the anime and this is a problem as most anime are very stupid indeed.
In this case I'm not talking about a 90 pound girl catching a multi-ton cruise missile and throwing it back. Yes, it is stupid but it is a stupid that I'll allow. It's anime. Things like this are normal here and I'm pretty much fine with it. It annoys me to be sure but I will not rant about it.
So, having explained this lets rip into this anime shall we? Just a heads up: There will most probably be spoilers. The more I hate an anime the more spoilers there will be.
ART: From the same people who brought us A certain scientic railgun and it shows. The same effort went into the production of this series and it looks pretty darn good.
SOUND: This has the same quality as the art in that it is well taken care of. Voice actors have fun and do an excellent job of it.
CHARACTERS: Main character is Toma. He considers himself a nobody and he kind of is. There is very little special about him excepts that his right hand is able to neutralize any power it touches
Index is a young girl who has a very special skill. She can memorize anything that she reads. As such her head contains the knowledge of every single magical grimoire ever written..
STORY: Toma is an average student who has an esper potential of 0. In a city where people are judged on their esper level this means that he is pretty much screwed. To further complicate his life he suddenly finds a young girl outside his room. She is Index and in her head she holds the combined knowledge of 103000 forbidden magical books. Not sure what to do with her he wonders if he should give her the proper authorities but then her keepers appear. Toma quickly realizes that these people do not care for Index in the least and decides to protect her. Unfortunately he is up against powerful mages but he has an ace up his sleeve: His right hand has the power to cancel any magic it touches.
RANT: Meh. Just read my rant in the first season. It hasn't really changed since then. This season continues where the previous one ended. It means that Toma punches more people in the face to prove that he is right and that they are wrong.
Consider this a review of all 4 Toaru seasons that are out so far. I’m not willing to make different reviews around the same setting.
The Toaru trilogy is a typical shonen adventure with a nice presentation. It doesn’t fair much next to the higher ups such as One Piece or Full Metal Alchemist but at least has a nice way to show everything… half of the time.
The story feels great on paper but plays out quite average on screen, to the point it doesn’t really stand out in any special way. There is a world where magic and science are at war and there is a lot of technobabbling offered in an attempt to make all that seem plausible, but by the end of the day it is nothing more than some teenagers fighting with superpowers. Despite the variety in themes and special abilities but, seriously, the scriptwriter hardly tried to offer anything more than the basics. Some love how the author put a lot of work in order to explain the various magical and scientific powers that many characters possess, but it’s not like that makes the actual story any more creditable. It is still to the most part improbable physics canceled with a broken power. As in all shonen, they are talking a lot during battles and the context of whatever they say is not deep philosophy or the fringe science of superpowers. It is just typical speeches around superficial morality, and macho one-liners.
Here is a breakdown of what is out so far.
- Toaru 1 had little to no overall plot amongst its story arcs. Some excuse it as the introduction to the setting and the cast but story-wise it is still pretty much a disjoined series of almost stand-alone missions.
- Railgun 1 was just a storyless spin-off just for kicks, done to please the Misaka fans / Index haters. It is considered far more enjoyable that Toaru 1 but still has zero story to tell.
- Toaru 2 does a much better job at having a better overall plot but then again the transition from one segment to another happens in a rushed and poor way that confuses anyone not aware of the novels. Plus, it leaves most of the older characters as background decoration and ends openly at a point that is almost a major cliffhanger. There is a lot more to show in a, supposed, upcoming Toaru 3 series.
- Railgun 2 is too improving in terms of plot and characterization and it’s currently considered to be the best season yet. It still spends a lot of time in cute girls doing cute things though.
In a similar fashion, the characters is a colorful bunch of stereotypes that take their sweet time to develop and even then it is not done in any significant way. Most are in fact only given some attention when they are introduced before being thrown in the background.
- The most prominent example of this is the lead girl Index, whose name is even in the title of the anime. Although she is supposed to be the key character in the war because of her hidden knowledge, she is offered some immersion and drama before she becomes nothing but a platonic lover to the lead character. Not only that, but as the girls who like the lead male keep increasing, her role becomes even less and less important to the show in general. Some say this is good because she is very annoying and the less air-time she gets, the better the show is. If that is the case, she was a very bad choice for a lead character to begin with.
- The lead male Touma, ain’t exactly any better. He is the stereotypical shonen protagonist, predictably owning a broken power with which he uses it to protect his loved ones and save chicks. Make a check on the list of clichés at how he also keeps shouting morality speeches all the time. He always does the exact same thing; cancels the powers of his opponent, lash out a monologue about how wrong he or she is, do a punch to the face and then goes to heal in the hospital.
- The support characters seem to have even less importance in the plot. Each arc usually ends with Touma saving one girl and adding it to his personal harem, which gets more and more nudity as the episodes go on. Most girls are treated as nothing but harem material, existing in the show just to play it tsundere to Touma and cook stuff just for the heck of it. They otherwise hardly develop or matter. Hell, the show goes as far as to clone them in order for more mass produced zero- depth girls to frown over Touma.
- The only villain most care about is this psychotic guy named Accelerator, but even he seems like a crazy dude and nothing more. Big deal.
- Mikasa is the favorite character for most to the point she got her own side story. She is an ok character whose charisma could not be shown while she was overshadowed by that boring Touma’s hax skills.
Rather high budget with various ups and downs throughout the anime. The animation is rather fluent animation, there is a nice color palette, and catchy BMG. All that still can’t change the feeling of watching completely generic looking characters and eventually forgettable songs.
Action scenes are very good if all you want is fancy lights and big explosions but they are otherwise following a very standard and repetitive formula that makes them uninteresting in the long run. You know the drill, they macho talk, the lead gets trashed, they macho talk, the lead gets up full of resolve to protect his friends, they macho talk, the lead wins. Thank you very much; I am watching this since Hokuto no Ken came out. And I ensure you Hokuto has far more exciting action, despite being downright clichéd as heck.
Sadly, one of the biggest hooks ends up being the fan service. It was low-toned on Toaru 1 but gets rather overboard on Toaru 2. The Railgun seasons opt for more moe appeal but they follow the same principle of degrading the females into mostly eye candy than respectful characters. That is plain distasteful; instead of developing the characters, they turned them to softporn material. But then again that is the only way to maintain the intrest of the audience around people you don’t plan to develop.
I sure wasn’t amused much with it. Most who like it out there is because of its fan service and interesting concepts that are not really looked into; meaning they like it for the most superficial reasons. There are definitely far better shonen than this one, with far better handling of their stories and characters. A good time waster if you are still new and a shonen fan but nothing great in the longrun. Generic characters doing generic things with poor reasoning and cheap plot twists may indeed be entertaining for many but you will eventually get tired of seeing the exact same stuff repeating all the time.
If you expect a lemon twist to your average soda, Toaru is just tab water in a fancy glass.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (very good for its caliber)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (nice blend of magic with science)
Animation 1/2 (too many ups and downs)
Visual Effects 2/2 (flashy)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (good but not great because of shonen BS)
Music Themes 2/4 (average pop stuff)
Sound Effects 2/3 (flashy but not great)
STORY SECTION: 3/10
General Scenario 1/2 (all over the place)
Pacing 1/2 (too many ups and downs)
Complexity 1/2 (most character side stories are neglected)
Plausibility 0/2 (the author did his work but it is still very superficial)
Conclusion 0/2 (none; the story is incomplete)
CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 1/2 (mostly defined by quirks and ecchi)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic)
Development 1/2 (some, but too basic)
Catharsis 0/2 (none; the story is incomplete)
VALUE SECTION: 4/10
Historical Value 1/3 (not much; it is pop corn material)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low; not much interesting cast or plot)
Memorability 2/4 (standard shonen with a nice presentation)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 0/1 (looks generic)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (barely looked into)
Characters 2/4 (typical shonen fare)
I don't get all the people saying this season was worse than the first. That season started off moderately good with Index's arc (3.5/5) only to get somewhat worse in Himegami's actually pointless arc (3/5), later followed by the body-swapping arc which was nothing special (3+/5) and a nearly terrible four-episode arc to wrap it up about an overly trashy character I don't give half a fuck about, Kazakiri Hyouka (2.5--/5). Basically the only great things about that season were the Misaka/MISAKA's/Accelerator arc in the middle (4-/5) and the little two-ep installment introducing Last Order and developing Accelerator (4/5). Namely, seven episodes.
What about Season Two? I guess I'll make my point more easily by rating each of the arcs first:
Orsola Arc (1-5) -> 3.5-/5
Kuroko/Misaka Arc (6-7) -> 4/5
Daihasesai Arc (8-13) -> 3.5/5
Italy Arc (14-16) -> 3/5
Accelerator Arc (17-22) -> 4++/5
More Accelerator/Setting Up Arc (23-24) -> 3.5+/5
All around this was much more decent for me and the high points of the show lasted longer. Now, let's start by saying Index II shares many of the flaws Index already had, story-wise.
Big flaw #1: the sides of magic and science are barely in contact with each other except for Touma acting as a bridge. What I mean by this is that the show seems to deliberately avoid that the characters get involved in a world that's not properly theirs whereas this would start making everything much more interesting. Since almost all arcs about magicians have them sneaking into Academy City there's really no excuse to keep the resident espers and defense forces from kicking some ass. During many of these arcs I've seen so many wasted chances to get characters like Misaka or Kuroko into the fights with magicians that my head hurts.
Index seems stubbornly determined to divide its story in disconnected arcs concerning either of these sides. Season 3 hints at solving this problem somewhat, but given the path the series has chosen up until now I'm not getting extremely hopeful.
Big flaw #2: the way the anime presents the ''serious'' side of the story, particularly from the magicians' side. This is actually very related to my first point, but there's more to it. I guess it won't come off as a surprise for me to say this, but the exposition of the plot from which the arcs develop is deeply flawed.
The reason is that instead of getting the groups to act and fight in a more compelling way - that is, with major objectives, like a full-scale attack or the execution of a well-known character - we're being constantly introduced to some new magicians and a key person or people who are looking for some kind of strong, magically imbued artifact/spell to make their ulterior plans come to fruition. Be it a library of 103,000 forbidden grimoires, a vampire killer (wtf), a digital noise lump, the Book of the Law, the Stab Sword, the Cross of Saint Peter, the Queen of the Adriatic Sea or the goddamn makeup of Ronald McDonald. You name it. The thing is that the arcs mostly follow this basic structure, thus making them eventually dull and repetitive. It doesn't help to find Touma's constant preaching in every single one of them, as well as pointless enemy melodrama and so on so forth.
Now then, what has Index II done better? Well, for starters, a remarkable cohesion among the arcs can now be observed, albeit the show keeps lacking an unique, overarching storyline to unify all its elements. But it is an improvement nonetheless because I can finally see some proper connection for the stories. Secondly, the separate arcs, as standalones, are generally better. Characterisation is stronger (as well as interaction), comedy is better integrated, the intentions and members of the factions are more clearly stated and the fights are more plentiful and pleasant to watch. Characters like Index who were extremely passive and useless in the first season (funny fact for a titular character) get some chances to actively participate in the plot and even when their role is more passive their importance is considerably better noted.
Individually, the first arc works well as a reintroduction to the franchise: it includes the different churches, the usual conflicts for dominance, the already known characters from the magicians' side and a generous amount of slick action. The following mini-arc is different from the norm in its presentation and development and provides wonderful fights while reminding the most interesting plotline of the espers' side and keeping the cheesiness to a minimum. The third arc is pretty long and combines well the cute comedy with the serious business, but feels a bit drawn out at places and yet again fails to mix the characters from the two worlds in the same battlefield. The fourth is the least memorable arc and it could've easily been removed with not much being lost. The fifth is absolutely amazing and it gathers pretty much everything I love about the show, its shortcomings being - as always - the lame melodrama and preaching from the MC, but since the arc is all around so much more enjoyable these things are also easier to forgive. Finally the last two eps leave the path open to a promising third season that should easily outdo the former ones if only they play it out cleverly enough.
As in the original Index, the animation is simply gorgeous. With stylish character designs, detailed backgrounds, a careful use of shading and lights, fluid movements and flashy special effects, the show is just a treat to behold. The budget is clearly huge and it's been put to good use. No complaints at all here, really.
As for the soundtrack, I don't really walk away with much of an impression of it. Just like before, it has been used nicely to fit the respective scenes but beyond that it is easily forgettable. The opening themes are good enough but fall short compared to those of the first season. Voice acting is generally great, my personal favorite having to be the agressive, rash, troubled, severely twisted tone of Accelerator.
Characters are as always a mixed bag of sorts. There are great ones, okay ones, bearable ones and finally those who are pointless, useless or downright annoying. The good things about the second season regarding these are:
-Pointless characters like Himegami or Kazakiri get MUCH LESS screentime. Instead of dedicating whole arcs for their lackluster personas, their presence is almost anecdotal and I can't thank them enough for that as they now substract way less enjoyment from the experience.
-Characters I didn't really care about (or nearly disliked) in the first season, like Tsuchimikado or Kuroko, got more (and better used) airtime in this season, enabling them to augment their uh, ''likability'' and even develop. Tsuchimikado was little else than a pimp wannabe in my mind before but the arcs where he acted proved him totally different, and Kuroko mostly left aside her annoying ''Onee-sama'' antics to make good use of his teleport powers in fights and deliver some of the only non-cheesy lines/preaching in this series. Others like Styil didn't change my mind this much but also got significantly more watchable.
-Index is slightly less useless. Slightly.
-Touma, our archetypal male lead, keeps his hardly healthy mix of kickass fighter and dense preacher. While I deeply detest the second part, the guy has enough good points to make me unable to dislike him.
-Last but definitely not least, those who are for me the best characters by far got much more screentime and, again, more development. The sweet contrasts between Misaka's natural badassery and her extreme shyness/childish behavior are charming enough to make me melt, and I only regret she didn't get enough chances to fight during Index II. Accelerator is the show's major kickass without a shade of doubt and it's again the antithesis of his old sadistic vein and his present attachment/fatherly love towards Last Order that works so well in him (it's worth mentioning that any scene he's in seems 100x less cheesy than those of Touma). And then there's Last Order who is the embodiment of adorableness and one of the only (arguably) moe characters I can digest with pleasure.
Only shortcomings about characters in comparison with Season 1 are the outrageous passivity of Kanzaki in the plot and the fact there are still plenty of new uninteresting characters (like the Roman Church sisters) popping up everywhere.
Overall I just don't see how this season is inferior in any way to the first since it marks for me a big step from being merely ''good'' towards great, without quite getting there yet. The plot is somewhat more consistent, the individual arcs have also improved, there are more and better fights, the comedy/school slapstick aspect was much more enjoyable and the characters more likeable as a whole. Seriously, from where I stand I can safely say ''screw Index I for Index II is here to take the cake''.
I am posting this general review across :
1. to aru majutsu no index 1 and 2
2. to aru kagaku no railgun
This is one of my favorite series. I havnt read any books, as I normally dont, so I cant comment on how it justifies the transition from book form to animation form. Quite frankly I dont care either.
This series is probably so good because of its setting and its characters. The story isnt that wonderful because half of the time, I dont really get the "religious" stuff they talk about. Even if I was religious (which i used to be), I wouldnt fully understand what they are talking about sometimes.
The setting is in a big city, which is... I think basically a big school and dorm that is at the peak of scientific progress. So, you have cleaning robots that go around, wind mills, etc. There are students in the city that have powers that were indouwed upon them somehow. They have potential to have a certain power (teleportation for example), and this city brings out that potential. They use the powers through imagination/projection of thoughts. Mixed among all the science/technology, you have religious groups from there and around the world that seem to clash there often. Railgun is basically a close up on the daily lives of the girls. kuroko shirai, misaka mikoto (biri biri as touma calls her (or her power name: railgun, since she can control electricity, she can launch objects electromagnetically/ or w/e) for example. Touma and index are the main highlights of the regular series.
I like the setting (city) that things take place in. Its a great view. Some people like old timy settings with horses and carages. Some like settings with villages, or small towns, etc. I like settings with technology around. That falls in line with the things i like. I may be talking a lot about what "I" like, but you can judge whether you are like me or not, and whether you will like such a thing.
What really makes this series shine though... is the CHARACTERS. One of my favorite characters of all time is Shirai Kuroko. She is either lesbian or bisexual... or something like that lol. but she is hallarious. Her personality is amazing. The voice actor for her is my favorite voice-to-character match up. I like misaka a lot too, but everybody likes her lol, so ill just say one reason why i like her. She wears shorts under her skirt. so when she is violent and kicks something or wind blows or w/e, you dont see her panties. personally i think its amazingly cute and awesome. Its not only unique, but it shows a certain depth to her personality. The way the characters in this anime play off of each other is great too. Index is somehow not annoying. She is not like the little sister that constantly annoys big brother, and makes you wana say "shut the fuck up you stupid whiney bitch." Of course touma isnt her brother, but hopefully you get my point. No characters in this anime make me want to punch the computer screen. At least not the ones you see often.
For the morals. I suppose it supports the whole "keep your spirits up and do your best" motto that most other animes support, but its not so bad. I hardly notice it, since im absorbed in the characters. This anime puts science and religion together. It doesnt really offend or support either side, so I dont think you should shy away from it if your either atheist or religious (chrisitianity mainly).
My verdict in the end: The story is a bit lacking in explaination, so you dont really "get" what is happening all the time (although there may be some out there that do), BUT!!! since the characters are so wonderful, it makes the story aspect less relevant. an explaination of what i mean: The characters themselves, when going through a crisis in the city, (by the way: there is a lot of action), dont really understand why things are crap all the time either. They just know that perhaps their friend is in trouble, and they are going to go save them... or the city is about to get pulvarized by a giant religious spell, and they need to do w/e to stop it. You get enough of whats going on to get by, and then you watch how the characters deal with the problems and each other along the way. Its an enjoyable ride. The story overall isnt completely incomprehensible. Its just hard to explain I guess.
If anyone cares to add a comment in relation to my points, whether you agree or disagree, or perhaps its not a matter of agreement, but just a different perspective, please leave a comment, so that others can get some various information on this series.
Peace yall :)