Book Review: A Certain Magical Index Volume 14

A Certain Magical Index Volume 14 cover

I hope you all have been having a good week, even if it has been spent dealing with the monotony of the daily grind.

Aside from things getting thrown off schedule, such as the constant rescheduling of the final volumes of Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, things have been going fairly well and I can still do. The things I enjoy doing.

Recently, the first of the final two titles I was expecting to get this month arrived, and it is time to get the book out of the way, before things get out of hand.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called A Certain Magical Index Volume 14 by Kazuma Kamachi.

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

After the events surrounding the Vento's invasion came to a close, things seem to have finally become peaceful, as the residents can continue going about their day.

However, the rest of the world has started to uprisings and people are turning against Academy City, and while this does not seem like something with a simple solution, a member of the Board of Directors goes to make contact with Touma, wanting things to be resolved without the blood shed that would otherwise take place.

While I have made it pretty clear that I am not particularly fond of this series, though not enough to consider worse than Accelerator's own manga, things have been a bit more interesting in these novels, but I know very well that it would not remain that.

And after reading this, I must say that I kind of liked this book.

From the moment that I opened and started reading this book, I found myself so engrossed in it that I did not want to stopping reading for any reason.

Back when I first started reading this, I had a really hard time getting invested in what was going, because the flow of Kazuma Kamachi's writing did not pull me in and many the events I found my annoyed with in the anime adaptations from J.C Staff came off as dull here, except for volumes 3, which was the best version of Index's Sisters arc, and 4.

However, ever since the events of the last of the only two or so good arcs from Index 2 were covered finished up in the recent releases from Yen Press, things have started to become quite a bit interesting, as the writing has greatly improved to the point where I did not find myself bored out of my mind, like I did back in the first two volumes.

One of the most important things that a great work needs to have is the ability to draw people in, and while there are many ways to do this in writing, depending on the genre, the thing that really helps draw in the audience is if the words found in the pages of the book flow so well together that the reader cannot help but to drawn into the world, regardless of what was happening, and Kazuma Kamachi was able to finally bring this to the table in his work.

If Kazuma had not been able to deliver in this capacity, I would have been mad enough to stop following this series, even if it sometimes explains things that do not make sense A Certain Scientific Railgun, because that would mean that I wasted my time on something that is supposed to be the superior series, instead of a spin off that is superior, yet should not have been needed.

Fortunately, Kazuma Kamachi delivered something decent for once, and that makes me feel like giving him a bit more applause, especially since this content actually new to me, unlike the previous 13 volumes.

I also liked how I did not really feel lost too much while reading this book.

Back when I first delved into this series, which was after FUNimation made the first anime on iTunes, I had troubles getting into things because I saw that Touma was trying to help Mikoto Misaka near the beginning and she attacks for what he did, but I had no idea of why or why he was scared her.

Even though his fear towards Misaka did make a bit more sense in the first book, I still kind of felt lost about the whole thing because there seemed to be something missing and it was only resolved in the first volume of Railgun's manga, which kind of ruined my enjoyment of that volume, along how tedious things felt.

Seeing how this book takes place after the final events shown the second Magical Index anime, I was kind of worried that I would be facing the same problem, as Yen Press decided to not published the side story that took place before this, which the afterword eludes had been published before this volume, because Kazuma Kamachi does not have that strong of a record in my book.

Surprisingly though, I did not feel like I was missing anything while I read this book.

This is what I really wanted to see from the series that is considered the parent series of the Raildex universe when I first started reading the novels, and Kazuma was finally able to deliver.

If Kazuma had written this in a way that I absolutely needed to read the side story that Yen Press decided to ignore, like how I needed to read the Railgun manga to fully understand the events in the first Index novel, I would have been very angry at Kazuma for doing something that no reader should have to deal with, as well as Yen Press for deciding to only release the mainline novels, whereas they published pretty much every installment of Spice & Wolf.

Thankfully, that did not happen, so I can give Kazuma Kamachi another good round applause for a job well done.

Hopefully, he can keep this up in future installments, because the series finally seems to be on the right trek to becoming great, though I am not too if it will be able to upset my current ranking of the Raildex universe series.

Another thing that I kind of liked about this book was how I was able to get a few actual laughs of it.

While the humor found in this book was not that unique, when compared to the rest of the series, or even anime and manga general, things were at least executed well enough that they seemed to be genuinely funny.

One of the things that I kind of do not like about A Certain Magical Index is how the comedic moments just scream that they are too much like slapstick and come off as something that the audience has seem numerous times, while only being able generate a bit of a chuckle at best.

Now, some of you guys might be surprised to hear this, since I do not usually knock down the comedic moments too much, as I do generally let things like the slapstick found in anime off the hook, but the humor is part of what gives a series its charm, unlike the awkward moments in American sitcoms that need laugh tracks to seem funny, and if there is no humor, things tend to feel a little lifeless.

In this book, Kazuma Kamachi might still be relying on the same old tricks, but things like the baseball incident towards the beginning and Misaka becoming mad at Touma because he has her mother's number ended up being just as funny as Kuroko Shirai is in the Railgun manga.

If the humor were not as good as it was here, I would have been very angry, as this series is finally starting to stand out more than just when certain events take place, and I would rather sing a work's praises than wish it shot in the sun or coming off so badly that the creators should not come out without scratch.

Fortunately, the humor ended up being funny, and helped to make it easier for me to enjoy reading this book.

There were two things that I liked the most though.

First, the Interludes did not feel like they were unneeded to the point where there were too many.

Back in the 12th book, which started off the last of the only two arcs I enjoyed in the second anime adaptation, I was annoyed with how many of the interludes felt out-of-place and prevented flow of the book from having a nice, consistent flow and contributed to why I considered it to be such a terrible book, in spite of the fact that start of an arc that I was interested in.

Here, however, the interludes actually felt like they belonged and made me want to continue reading this book, as I was led to believe that there was quite a bit going on and this was the start of something much bigger.

Readers, regardless of the kind of work that they are interested in, want and need reasons to continue reading a book, because that helps them become invested in a work, and Kazuma Kamachi delivered that in this volume.

If the interludes felt as pointless as they were back in the 12th book, I would have been even more disappointed in Kazuma and started shaking my head, while wondering why people want a third season of the Index anime so badly, because it would have made all of Kazuma Kamachi's improvements so far look like nothing more than a joke.

Luckily, that did not happen, which makes me want to give Kazuma another good round of applause.

The second thing that really caught my attention was that Touma's Imagine Breaker was revealed to not be all that powerful.

Other than the poor writing, which has plagued quite a few works in this series already, the thing that I really hated about this series was how Touma Kamijou practically won every fight through dumb luck and the use of his all-mighty Imagine Breaker, though I was already aware that it had some weaknesses, which made things feel less believable, especially to somebody like me, who has only one good arm to fight with.

Because of this, I viewed Index to be lesser series, as Touma does not seem to be able to strategize as well as Misaka and the fights proved to be rather uninteresting.

However, now that it is revealed that Imagine Breaker is not as powerful as I was led to believe, and that it is seemingly incomplete, I am actually interested in continuing on with this series, because Kazuma Kamachi seemed to realize that Touma needed to have some challenge other than having to fight Accelerator while already heavily injured and has also decided to explore Imagine Breaker.

If Imagine Breaker were left as it was, I would have dropped this series sooner or later, because the fights would eventually become just as dull as they are in the anime and there would be things about Touma that would be left unanswered.

Thankfully, that did not occur here, and I feel like giving Kazuma bit more applause.

Hopefully, Imagine Breaker continues to explored throughout the rest this series, because I do need to have some other reason to continue following this than just making sure I get explanations for things I see in Railgun, but seeing as Kazuma Kamachi is human and has failed to impress quite a few times, I would not be surprised if things go down the drain after this.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that stood out as much as what I already talked about.

Because my interest was captured quickly and held right up to the end, by having a writing style that actually pulled me in, I did not feel like I needed to read the preceding side story novel or watch the final episodes of the second anime adaptation, there were things to laugh about, Imagine Breaker's status as a hack was removed, and the Interludes actually made me more interested in reading the book, this book was a pretty decent read.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, only one thing really bothered me.

There were quite a few punctuation errors.

Now, some of you guys might be laughing this off, seeing as my writing is not exactly perfect, and thinking that I should not be one to talk, but this is still something that needs to be discussed.

One of the reasons great books flow well from beginning to end is that there are few, if any, moments where the wrong punctuation is used, which makes it easy for readers to immerse themselves.

However, when punctuation is not placed correctly, things do not seem to flow as smoothly as they would have, and can make it so that a reader cannot become immersed too well, and there were quite a few instances of that occurring in this book.

As much as I want to blame this on Kazuma Kamachi and his editors over in Japan though, the real blame belongs with Yen Press because they commissioned the translation found this book and it seems like there was no proofreading done at all prior to the publication of this, though it was mainly relegated to comma usage.

While it was not exactly hard for me read through this, there are people are not as used to reading through things like them, and if Yen Press actually took the time to proofread the translation more than once, this book would have been so much better and might have been considered to be one of the best books that they released.

Unfortunately, Yen Press was more concerned about getting this out on time, and made me wonder if I was really reading things correctly.

Hopefully, things like this do not happen again any time, because readers want to see that everyone involved in producing did their job well, and really showed they put effort into it.

Thankfully, that was the only thing that really bothered me, so I can end things here, instead of having to rip into the book any further.

While there was only one issue, it was not bad enough to hurt the quality of the book too badly, though it did make it seem like Yen Press did not proofread things too carefully.

Considering that there was quite a bit to like and the only problem was not something that really caused damage, this was definitely worth reading.

I mainly recommend this to fans of A Certain Magical Index, as they will will be able to enjoy this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but it would be best to at least either watch both anime adaptations of Magical Index or read the previous volumes first, so that one could get the full enjoyment of this book.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider either supporting me on Patreon or buy the reviewed title from Book Depository, who offers free shipping countries around, so that I can continue following this series and possibly find more worthwhile reads for you guys.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.