Book Review: A Certain Magical Index Volume 1

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With the things that I got before Christmas out of the way, I finally focus on the rest of the things that I got for Christmas.

Of course, to keep myself from burning out on one series, since I did get the final eight volumes of one series using the Barnes & Noble credit I got, I will cover the books that I got in print format before continuing on the with eBooks, which is a grand total of four.

Today, I will do just that by reviewing the first of those four, which is called A Certain Magical Index Volume 1 by Kazuma Kamachi.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post and it works well enough for a synopsis for this book too, I will skip the summary portion of the review.

As many who have been following me know, I am not much of a fan of the Magical Index portion of the Raildex universe, mainly because the anime adaptations of the series do not get me really excited about anything.

However, that does not mean that I am not willing to give it another chance, so I decided to get this book.

Now that I have had the chance to read the source, I will say that I somewhat liked this book.

While it does not really change my opinion of Touma Kamijou being the worst protagonist ever, I really liked how many of the things that he went through actually felt like it was serious. If I had to take a guess why, I think that it was because I could understand his situation better.

Not only could I understand his situation much better, but also his wins really did seem to be just a matter of luck. Now, this could be because this book only goes through the events from episode 1 up through roughly 18 and a quarter minutes of episode 6 of the first.

Of course, I do have to acknowledge that he did at least think things through in the novel, whereas he appeared to blindly charge head first in the anime adaptations.

Another thing that I really liked was that this was actually a decent start to the series. Unlike Sword Art Online’s first novel, things did not really seem that rush. In Sword Art Online, there really was not anything that made me want to continue on with the story, because outside of the fact that I could not really see what Kirito was like, there was nothing that told me there would be more, nor were there any mysteries. Here, however, I actually feel like that this is just the start of Touma’s adventures and I would like to see more of them. This is what I wish a few series were like.

Unfortunately, some of the series I have come across recently are not really meant to be a series because the book that started it all felt like it was complete on its own.

The thing that I liked the most though was references to things that happened in A Certain Scientific Railgun. Yes, A Certain Magical Index is the parent story of the Raildex universe, but I have seen people say that Kazuma has a bad habit of making almost everything that is set in the Raildex universe canon, such as the movie that FUNimation announced will be screened in a few theaters, but the fact that they were mentioned here makes me think that things like the fight that happened in episode 4 of the first Railgun anime were always considered canon, and not just declared canon by the author.

Not only did the references make it seem like some of the events of A Certain Scientific Railgun were always canon but it also showed that Misaka and Touma really did know each other prior to the incident on the bridge. In the anime, I could not really understand why Touma was afraid of Misaka when it appeared to be the first time that they met, though I will acknowledge the fact that Misaka attacking him also did not make much sense either. Here, however, being told that Touma had previous dealings with Misaka did make his fear understandable, even though there is one little problem that exists in both the novel and anime that I will bring up later.

The fact that I could understand things better in the novel, such as why Touma was scared of Misaka when they were on the bridge, and that there were some references to things that happened in A Certain Scientific Railgun, which suggested that those events were always considered canon, made this book fairly enjoyable.

Although I ended up liking the novel a bit more than the anime, there are some issues.

Fortunately, only two things really bugged me.

First, even though the scene where Touma and Misaka were on the bridge did make more sense in the novel than the anime, I still could not see why Misaka was angry with him, much like I did not understand why she was angry with him in the anime. In fact, even if a boy and girl did not have anything but terrible experiences in the past, I doubt that a girl would just take to physically attacking the boy immediately. True, I may be thinking this because of the fact that the previous generations have been drilling into heads of my generation the assumptions that females are pretty much always the innocent victims, whenever the situation does not involve an elderly person or a child, the only two groups that are widely acknowledged as vulnerable and does not distinguish by gender, but I try to at least fix things when I have to deal with a person that I have had troubles with and know that I cannot stop associating with them.

Thankfully, the first volume of the Railgun manga, answers this question. As should be obvious from my review of that volume, Misaka had every intention of talking to those thugs because it was going help gain information on the Level Upper, and because Touma had stepped in, her plans ended up being somewhat ruined. I would probably be mad as well if somebody stepped in unnecessarily like Touma did, though I will acknowledge that I do not have the mental or physical capabilities of dealing with every situation out there.

The thing that I hated the most though was that it took quite a bit of time to actually catch my interest. Now, I will admit that it did take me some time to even get around to reading this, because when I got it, I was out-of-town and then left the book behind when I went out-of-town again a few days after returning home, but that had nothing to do with the book itself. If I had to say why, I think it was because much of the book itself felt like a chore to get through. I need to be dragged into a story within the first few pages, but this book literally gave me no reason to read more than one part of a chapter, if not an entire chapter, in just one sitting. Honestly, I cannot see how this series can even be considered be better than A Certain Scientific Railgun, whose first volume disappointed me because I read it after the later volumes and watching the anime, when I do not even feel like reading without stopping for any reason like I do with the Railgun manga.

Luckily, it was not as bad as The Book Thief, which had a narrator that would deviate from the story for some unknown reason and did not even become interesting until a few hundred pages into the book.

Even though there was a problem that was common in both the anime and novel, the thing that really ruined my enjoyment was the fact that I could not be immediately drawn into story like I wanted.

Seeing as the book only had one major problem, this was definitely worth reading. I recommend this to everyone, except those that hate the Raildex universe as whole, because the novel was not as bad as the anime, even though I still think Railgun is much better than Magical Index.

What are your thoughts on A Certain Magical Index Volume 1? Did you like it or hate it? If you liked it and watched the anime prior to reading this, were you a fan of the anime too, or did you hate the anime with passion, like I do? Was there anything you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.