Book Review: A Certain Magical Index Volume 12

August 23, 2017

A Certain Magical Index Volume 12 cover

I hope that everyone is doing well, and getting plans set
aside for the upcoming weekend.

Things have been going fairly well here, as things are not
as bothersome as they have been, and I can still do what I enjoy doing.

Recently, the last of the titles that I preordered for this
month from Amazon arrived, and it is that means it is time to get busy.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called A Certain Magical
Index Volume 12
by Kazuma Kamachi.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier
post
, I will not go over it again.

It is just another ordinary day in Academy City, though
students are getting a half day to get their uniforms switched out if
necessary, and everyone, except Touma and a few others, are enjoying the day of
relaxation.

However, after Last Order provokes one of her fellow Misaka clones,
Accelerator goes to search for her and becomes entangled in something that might
cause quite a bit of chaos when a familiar face reappears in front of him, and
another threat starts making their presence known by wreaking havoc of their
own.

I was rather unimpressed with this volume.

While many should know that I am not as big of a fan of A
Certain Magical Index
as I am of Railgun, I have not hated the books as much
as I did the anime, especially now that I am getting to the end of what was
covered towards the end of the second
season
, and I was even glad that the novels did a few things right, such as
explaining Misaka and Touma's relationship better around the time that the
bridge scene in first
book
occurred, even if it still does not make as much sense as it did when
the events of the first
volume
of A Certain Scientific Railgun, or how Mikoto Misaka's involvement
made more sense and Touma first fight wih Accelerator was much more believeable
in the third
book
.

However, just because many things have been done right in
the past, that does not mean that I would give the writer or creator a pass on
anything they do, even if fans of this series acknowledge that this might
actually be the first volume where this series becomes any good, since somebody
did tell me once that the first 11 books were not as good as the rest of the
series.

Fortunately, there were a few things that I did like about
this book, so I do not need to jump right into what I hated, which I would
prefer not to do, even though I have done it more than once now.

This book gave me quite few laughs.

Once of the best things that I enjoyed about the second of
the two adaptations that this series received was how Misaka 10032 reacted to
Last Order and took out a gun and begins to chase her around, which ended up
making it one of the best moments in the second season anime, and those events
played out this volume as well.

However, I found the whole thing here to be much funnier
because Misaka 10032 was not only overreacting to Last Order's childish
behaviors but she also rationalized it by saying it was appropriate judgment
based on logic and declares she has decided to revolt, whereas all the anime
did was show the initial reaction and then skip right to the point where Touma
meets Misaka 10032 in the mall.

Now, I am well aware that we, as human beings, are not
exactly rational creatures, and is talked about in a post that I linked to in
my review of Spice & Wolf Volume 14, and that
means that the solution to our problems is not always rational, but seeing the
irrationality in Misaka 10032's behavior and her trying to justify it really
gave me a good reason to laugh, especially with how more of the chase prior to Misaka
10032's meeting with Touma.

If things had played out exactly as how they had occurred in
the anime adaption, I would have been kind of disappointed, but enough to make
me absolutely hate it, as it was one of the few things that made the second
season of the anime worth watching.

Thankfully, a few more things were added in and it really
helped to illustrate why this moment in the series was so great.

Of course, the hilarious stuff did not end there, but that
still ended being the highlight of the comedic moments, as it stood out much
more than the anime did to the point where I feel like giving Kazuma Kamachi a
major amount applause.

Hopefully, this kind of humor will remain in the series once
the stuff from the second season of the anime concludes, because that is the
only way that my opinion of the series could change, and even give me more
reason to follow this series than just because there are some events not
explained in A Certain Scientific Railgun, which are, ironically, rare
occurrences, though it is a spinoff of this series.

Then again, it did take a while for this series to become
even remotely interesting to me and Kazuma is only human, so things could go
downhill again after the Academy City Invasion concludes, which is what I expect
to happen but hope to be proven wrong.

I also liked how yet another person that could challenge
Accelerator appeared in the series.

Even though this volume is the original source for much of
the latter half of the second season, so those that have seen the anime already
know who I am talking about, it was still quite refreshing to see somebody
other than Touma lay the smackdown on Accelerator.

Throughout much of this series, regardless of whether you
focus on the anime or the novels, Accelerator has been presented as this
unstoppable monster, which does make his rampages very enjoyable, I do not
really see how Accelerator would be such a good character to follow around when
his victories are pretty much as guaranteed as Touma Kamijou's, except for when
Touma faced off against Accelerator in the third book, and I am saying this
while admitting that I am a fan of Accelerator.

This series is already considered to be garbage by a lot of
people, but even Accelerator had as little depth as Touma, then I do not see
how I would even find this series much more interesting when he takes the
spotlight, and losing to only one person would make him a truly uninteresting
character.

However, when the researcher who was around when Accelerator
discovered his power appeared on the scene, along with the rest of the Hound
Dog, things became as exciting as, if not more than, I expected them to be by
having Accelerator not only dealing with the limitations that he has had since
the events of the fifth
book
but also had damage dealt to him by the said researcher.

The espers in Academy City supposedly have people monitoring
them, as mentioned in this volume, and that means that they should have a good
idea of how to neutralize those abilities, and, thankfully, Kazuma Kamachi
remembered this obvious fact.

If Kazuma had Accelerator come out of this unscathed, I
would have been much more disappointed with this book than I am because it
would have made it look like one of the researchers that dealt with Accelerator
before had not done his homework and made it that much more difficult to root
for Accelerator, as much as his fans would like to do, not to mention make
Accelerator's involvement in the Academy City Invasion arc less exciting.

However, because Accelerator did not seem to be as overpowered
as he usually is, I ended up being very interested what is going on enough to
the point where I wanted to go out and get the next volume right now.

Unfortunately for me, I must wait for it to be release, just
like everyone else, which will not happen until November, according to the product page on Amazon, so I will just have
to put up with the wait to find out what Accelerator is going to do next.

Still, Kazuma does deserve to get some praise for doing
something right in a series that many, including myself, think is that great,
and so I will give him a good round of applause.

Now, if only Touma's victories stop feeling luck-based and
start feeling deserved, because that is the only way that this series can ever
become any good.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this volume
ended.

While I am still tired of the events in this series being
stretched out more than they need to be, especially because Kazuma has been
unable to make things as interesting in this series as Isuna Hasekura did in Spice
& Wolf
, I still expect to see some kind of ending that would get me
interested in the events to come and Kazuma deliver that quite well.

Now, his track record has not improved dramatically enough
for me to say that I am glad that I am following his work, but he was somehow
able to succeed in making me interested in reading the rest of the Daihasei
Festival, by explicitly eluding to the danger that is to come at the end of the
9th
book
, which kind of surprised me as I was not expecting Kazuma to do
something that many readers expect to see, though I do not think that I would
have liked the book if I had not gotten volumes 9 and 10
at the same time because it seems to be a bit weak reading through it now.

Here, however, things ended in a much better way than they
did back in the Daihasei Festival arc.

Towards the end of the book, the new threat to Academy City
begins their rampage and then uses a radio lying around to contact Aleister and
tells him that she plans to eradicate the city and everything and everyone in
it, which intrigues Aleister enough to start acting himself, while mocking the
terrorist's actions.

This way of ending the book not only ended better because
there was obviously more to come, with Accelerator wanting to rescue Last Order
again, which helps to show that he is becoming less of monster, and another
threat out there, shows something happening on both fronts, as opposed to
explicitly saying that there is more to come by saying that there is danger out
there.

Readers are some of the smartest people out there, because
we have access to a lot more information out there than those who only pay
attention to television and movies and books and other written mediums can go
much more in depth than any video can, and we do not like it when we are told
something that should be obvious. We want to pick things apart and figure them
out for ourselves because we use our minds a lot, but when the writer says that
there is more to come, by explicitly reminding us of danger, instead of showing
what is going on, the work ends up feeling rather unimpressive.

In fact, if Kazuma had not written the book like this, and
did the same thing he did back in the 9th book, I would have been
disappointed enough to not even continue on with this series beyond the end of
arc, as Kazuma Kamachi would have ended up making this series seem to be just
as terrible as J.C. Staff's anime adaptations.

Thankfully, he realized that readers were not dumb people
and was able to deliver and ending that might just be impressive, whereas the last
two-part storyline ended was only impressive upon first reading, which makes me
feel like giving Kazuma a good round of applause.

Hopefully, things will start ending better after this part,
otherwise I will be putting this series in the same garbage can that I would
put the first
book
of Sword Art Online in, so that I do not need to be reminded of
how terrible this series was.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else
thar I particularly liked, at least that could not be shoehorned in with what I
already talked about.

Because I could get some laughs, especially from scenes that
I was already familiar with, Accelerator did not come off as all-powerful, and
therefore dull, because somebody other than Touma managed to hurt him, while
putting up a decent fight, and this volume ended much better than the last book
that began a two-parter by letting the reader see that there was more going on,
this was a fairly decent read.

Although I liked a few things about the book, there are some
issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about,
such as typos, only two things bothered me, one of which contributes to why one
of them is an issue and brings up its own frustrations.

First, I just could not really get into this book until it
was more than half way through.

Whenever I read a book, I want to be pulled right into the
world and become engrossed enough in the work that I do not want to stop
reading for any reason, which is something that any avid reader would want to
get from a book or series, regardless of whether they just discovered it or
not.

However, when I read this book, I did not get that feeling
that I just had to read this book until Hound Dog took Last Order and
Accelerator got beat up by Amata Kihara.

Really, Kazuma? Do you think that this is great writing? My
own writing may not be perfect, as many of my readers should be able to notice
many of the typos and mistakes I make, and I notice it as well, but I do know
for sure that the most important thing is to grab the audience's attention
quickly and maintain it from beginning to end, because that makes it easier for
the readers to be able to overlook the most minor of problems.

Unfortunately, Kazuma forgot that over the course of the
twelve volumes, and it makes him look like a joke.

If I had to say why this problem exists, there are two
reasons.

First, nothing happens for much of the book and things just
felt dull.

When I opened this book, I saw that I was being given a
little glimpse into the everyday lives of some characters that have appeared in
the series, and thought that I would be able to put up with it, since a great
story will not necessarily begin the main plot right away.

However, instead of being introduced to the real plot after
getting to know what is happening to the characters, the book just goes through
and covers at entire day without anything happening.

Now, even though I was fine with this kind of thing
happening in Spice & Wolf, as it did happen quite a bit, it is
unbearable here because practically none of the characters were interesting and
Kazuma cannot seem to write about the mundane moments of life in a way that it
still ends up being interesting, which is what Isuna Hasekura was able to do
quite often.

Yes, I do understand that Kazuma Kamachi was trying to
create something without any conflict, so that the readers could have a break
from all of the nonstop action, but that does not mean it is a good idea.

In order to pull this off, not only do the mundane events of
life need to come off as interesting, but the characters need to be interesting
as well.

For example, in Spice & Wolf, Lawrence and Holo
seemed to be fairly interesting characters and had some great conversations to
the point where I did not care one bit whether they did anything or not, but
what made the side stories so engaging was that Isuna was able to consistently
write things in a way that I found myself interested in what was going on.

Sadly, Kazuma failed to bring any of that to the table
because things just did not seem to be interesting and almost none of the
characters, including those whom I actually like, ever get fleshed out in this
series because of the huge cast.

Spice & Wolf and many of the other great series
that I know do not have such a large cast, and, as a result, get enough time to
be fleshed out enough to appear to be human, yet many of the series with a
large cast lack this kind of depth, with Yu Yu Hakusho and a few others
being the only possible exception, and this time to taken to flesh them out
helps to make the characters seem to be that much more interesting.

This is why I find A Certain Scientific Railgun to be
the superior portion of the Raildex universe, other than things being explained
better, because I actually feel like I am getting to know each of the four main
characters over the course of the series, whereas the character here feel kind
of flat.

At this point, people might be complaining and saying that
Magical Index at least does world building better than Railgun, but a world can
still be built up enough to be interesting without having so many characters,
as Isuna Hasekura was able demonstrate quite well in Spice & Wolf,
with how realistic the world felt, even though there were only two characters
that consistently appeared in every installment.

If Kazuma had actually taken time to flesh out each of the
characters that he introduced in this series, beyond being the stereotypical
characters that many of them are, I would have been as happy to read through
these kinds of events as I would have reading the side stories of Spice
& Wolf
.

However, because he tried to write about average life in
Academy City without interesting characters or making the mundane seem
interesting, I just could not really get into the groove of things.

The second and biggest reason that it was hard for me to
get, and is the thing that I hated most about this book, was that there were
too many interludes.

An Interlude or two might be a nice thing to have in a book,
as it gives the reader a break from the monotony of the plot, but having too
many of them can both ruin the flow of the whole book and make it harder to get
into.

In the case of this book, it causes both of these problems
exactly.

When I read a book, I want to go from chapter to chapter
while a consistent enough flow is maintained so that I can keep myself
engrossed in what is going on, and is something that any avid reader would want
to see from any work of fiction.

Here, however, Kazuma breaks this flow up by having every
chapter has an interlude, most of which go off to somewhere else in the world
of the series.

By having such a constant shifting of perspectives, it makes
things too difficult for me to follow along or even get interested, which
irritates me more than being glad to see what my favorite characters are up to.

Readers want to be able to follow along very carefully and
the way to do that is by having a clear focus in the writing, which translates
out to limiting the perspectives, and is a reason why smaller casts are more
enjoyable than large owns, but Kazuma thinks I, and other readers, care to see
what everyone is up to, and, hopefully, get some enjoyment out of the more poorly
executed moments of humor.

When the volume starts up its first actual chapter, we are
following Touma around and watching his relatively dull life that Kazuma think
that we will find hilarious, then goes off to Accelerator and Last Order,
before switching over to London, where Stiyl interrupts Laura's bath and starts
up the next chapter back in Academy City with two characters from Railgun, then
back to Touma, then back to Accelerator, and so on for each of the five
chapters, with only the fifth being even remotely interesting.

Seriously, Kazuma! If you plan to deliver something like
this, and make the readers confused by it, I would have outright demanded that
ASCII Media Works to cancel this series and send all 20+ volumes, including the
New Testament books, of this series down to the deepest part of the Mariana
Trench where it belongs, because this is not something works well in prose.

Lights novels might still have illustrations, but the story
is mainly told through words and that means that the things that are expected
out of a great book are also expected from a light novel, and that means that
this constant shifting needs to go, as well as many of the interludes.

I do not care about Kanzaki or anybody else enough to want
to ever see them again, and I am trying to read a book. Stop getting in my, and
every other reader's, way, Kazuma, because this is what causes readers, like me,
to stop caring about anything a writer produces, which means that cannot afford
anything.

If the only interludes were that that were still in Academy
City, or all but the one featuring Vento of the Front, and the whole book
itself focus on characters in Academy City, it would have been much easier to
enjoy this book, and I might have ended up liking it quite a bit.

Unfortunately, Kazuma did this and ending up making one of
the problems with this book even worse, which makes me lose any respect I had
for him outside of the Railgun portion of the universe, and lessens my interest
in the next installment.

Thankfully, nothing else bothered me, and I can at least put
this behind me for a few months.

While there was not a whole lot wrong with this book, the
issues that did rear their heads, such as too many interludes and difficulties
in becoming interested in the work, caused enough damage to take this book from
okay to garbage.

Despite the fact that there were a few things to like, the
negatives were badly enough to make this a waste of time.

I recommend this only to fans of A Certain Magical Index,
as they would be the only ones able to put up with everything wrong with this
book, and they will be able to enjoy getting a few laughs.

As for everyone else, I would recommend avoiding it like the
plague, but if you really want to read this, skip all interludes, except the
fifth one, and anything that does not have either Misaka, a Misaka clone, Last
Order, or Accelerator, as everything else is utterly pointless and it will cut
out most of the stuff that was not great.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please
consider supporting me on Patreon
or, if you dare, buy either the next volume from the link provided earlier or
the reviewed title from either Amazon or The
Book Despository
, so that I can finish the rest of the Academy City
Invasion arc and find some more worthwhile reads for you guys.

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