Book Review: A Certain Magical Index Volume 15

May 23, 2018

A Certain Magical Index Volume 15 cover

I hope everyone is having a good week, even if it is just more of the daily grind.

Aside from an outage that occurred recently, things have been going fairly well, as I can still do what I like.

A while back, I had preordered quite a few titles, many of which came at different of the year, and the last time I was expecting arrive this month has finally arrived, which means that it is time to get things done.

Today, I will be reviewing that book, which is called, A Certain Magical Index Volume 15 by Kazuma Kamachi.

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

While the citizens of Academy City are going about their day, things start to stir in the underworld, as the one of five mysterious groups underworld has decided to go after a member of Academy City's General Board of Directors, and a clash breaks out among the groups that may lead to fights involving three of the seven level 5 espers.

Even though A Certain Magical Index is not necessarily a favorite of mine, things have not been a complete waste of time, outside certain events, which makes it easier for me to use it to fill in the gaps in Railgun, but that does not mean that every installment is too great.

And after reading this volume, I can say that I liked it, though not as much as would have wanted.

From the moment that I opened up this book and started reading, I felt like I was able to have a breath of fresh air.

One of my biggest problems with A Certain Magical Index, regardless of whether one talks about the anime or these novels, is that Touma Kamijou tends to be a boring protagonist and things seem to go too slowly in a series that has a pacing that is without a doubt quicker than Spice & Wolf, not to mention the action can be just as uneventful, due to how often his victories come out because of luck.

While things have improved a bit, now that I got outside of the content covered by J.C. staff's two anime adaptations, which only have two arcs total that are worth seeing, it is still not quite to the point where I can say Index deserves to be called the masterpiece that many of its loyal fans think it is, as I can really get my interest piqued too much until things happen, whereas the cast of Railgun actually seems to be fun and interesting enough that I can forgive slower starts.

In this volume, the breath of fresh air I got was from not having to suffer through another volume with Touma, because started off and focused on things dealing with Academy City's underworld and their residents, thereby opening up the possibility of actually get some interesting characters to follow.

If this story started off with Touma Kamijou, I would have been annoyed because the book does not divulge anything about his Imagine Breaker, as well as made sure that this would have gotten a worse ranking in my book than it did, due to how it would have give me further reason to believe this series is more of The Adventures of Touma and Friends.

Thankfully, Kazuma chose to start things off with something other than Touma's daily life, and that makes me want to give him some applause for giving me this breath of fresh air.

Hopefully, Kazuma can provide more stories that focus on other characters or start to improve Touma's character, but seeing as Kazuma is only human and this series features a character I cannot completely root for yet, I can definitely see this going downhill before Yen Press gets into the sequel series.

I also liked how people could play off what Accelerator was doing and take his actions in account.

Even though Accelerator is no Touma, as many of his fights are interesting and does not rely upon only one thing to pull a win out of his hat, one of the things that seem to be relatively annoying is that things tend to feel like Accelerator will out top, unlike Mikoto Misaka, who has to put up a struggle to get her victory, which means that the only ones having any fun are those that like seeing Accelerator go out on a rampage, as opposed to any great fights, such as those against Hound Dog's Kihara or the fight with Touma in Railgun's Sisters Arc.

However, in this volume, once Accelerator accomplished his goal, the group he and Tuschimikado found out too late that one of their enemies took advantage of things, and even hoped that Accelerator accomplished his goal.

One of the things a great work fiction has is moments in the protagonist has successes, inner turmoil, and failures of oversight.

While I would not consider this something as amazing as Yu Yu Hakusho's Chapter Black saga, which took place in volumes 13 through 17 of the manga, where neither side really did things as expected and plans had to be revised, due to new info, it was still nice to see that things did not go as easily and Accelerator realized that he had ultimately been played, thereby helping me to get some enjoyment out of this book.

If this was the end of everything, I would have been disappointed, because much of what is so great series usually comes out when Accelerator does have the spotlight, and that would have made it so that I would be even less interested in seeing what Accelerator is up to than A Certain Scientific Accelerator did.

Thankfully, Kazuma Kamachi remembered that Accelerator needed some sort of challenge, and decided to have it so that Accelerator's movements did not mess things up too much.

Hopefully, Kazuma does not make things so that Accelerator comes out on top all the time, because I really want to be given more reason to follow Accelerator than just feeling more excited by noticing his presence, as that would mean that there is still some level of quality to be found, but I would not be surprised if things got worse from here.

Another thing that I liked was how the past of some characters were explored.

Something that I never really got about this series was how it was supposed to have good enough world building to the point where it is supposed to be the best of the many series that make up the Raildex universe, yet all I mostly see and learn about is countries other than Academy City and the various forms of magic, while things like Anti skill and Judgment and the workings of the underworld that was brought up in the Sisters arc were all so mysterious, and even some characters, with some of these things being discussed in Railgun, which made it so that I could never really immerse myself in the world or say that this kind of world is a world that I would like to live in.

However, in this book, as it focuses on things going on between groups whose existences are supposed to be hidden, such as ITEM, I got to learn a few things, like the difference with the two peace keeping groups in Academy City, and even learned of how one of ITEM's members got their ability.

Now when this character, Saiai, appeared in Railgun, I was not really wondering too much of how she got her ability of having such a strong defense, as espers are fairly common in Academy City and Misaka did need the kind of challenge that ITEM gave her, not mention things ended up being better presented in Railgun, but in this book, it is revealed by Teitoku that the scientists to optimize the personal realities of some espers, through Accelerator's calculations, Saiai got her strong defense capabilities.

Yes, this not is some amazing revelation, considering that Accelerator has been the center of many of Academy City's experiments, but it still surprised me because I did not really think that Saiai's defense was really that similar to Accelerator's, especially seeing as there are many variations of the same abilities presented in both A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun, such as how Kuroko could only move herself and what she touches, while Musujime did not have that problem.

This has me wondering if there are more people out there that went through these kinds of experiments, as well as what they had gained, and makes me much more interested in reading more of this series than just the knowledge that Touma's Imagine Breaker might be the one trick wonder it seemed to be for much of the series.

If these kinds things came up more often than just once in a blue moon, I probably would have been able to say that this series was almost deserving of the praises it gets, but because it took 15 volumes to start exploring more of Academy City and there are only seven volumes left, and I am not sure if Yen Press will release New Testament, just like they did not release any side stories, I can only say that I am glad that this moment finally came and give Kazuma a barely passing grade.

Hopefully, Kazuma Kamachi can explore more of Academy City, without relying on Railgun to provide those details, as I would rather be singing the praises of a series that is actually good, as opposed to people who go with the flow of claiming that this is the superior series, but I would not be surprised if that does not happen, seeing as this book could not pass with flying colors.

The thing that I liked the most this book though was how well it set the stage for an upcoming arc.

As many of the true fans of A Certain Magical Index, as well as the others who decided to follow this series for other reasons, will acknowledge, there are quite a hints that Aleister is up to something, even in the midst of an impending world war, but everything is left as a mystery that never seems to go anywhere, except possibly that Aleister is planning everything that is currently happening, and I get my hopes up to find out what is going to happen, thereby giving me some bit of disappointment.

However, in this volume, after Accelerator and the other members of GROUP deal with BLOCK, MEMBER, and SCHOOL, Tsuchimikado shows the members of GROUP what is contained in Aleister's information network, something new comes up throught the word DRAGON, that was kept separate from what we learned about in this volume, and the book ends off like the members of GROUP were about to start something new.

According to a page on the Magical Index wiki, there is an arc involving this DAGON that precedes the much anticipated Wold War III arc that had been hinted all the back in the thirteenth book, and it come up, as well as seeing how things ended, I wanted to go out and get the next book right now to find out what this DRAGON is, even though I know that I probably will not find out until next year, as Yen Press has not consistently been releasing five volumes a year.

If things had not ended like they did, I would have been disappointed, because each installment of a series is supposed to get me excited for future volumes, and I would not have gotten that.

Thankfully, Kazuma Kamachi did not disappoint me nearly as much in the earlier volumes, and that makes me want to give him another good round of applause.

Hopefully, he can keep this up until the end, because I do not want to start berating Kazuma for lousy reads again, but I am ready to do so, as he is nowhere near the level of quality that I would expect to see from some of my favorite creators from Japan.

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

Because I was able to get a breath of fresh air, by not having to follow Touma, things were explored and there were interesting reveals, Accelerator had some kind of challenge, and the final pages got me excited to look forward to something that is to come, this was a fairly decent read.

Although I did like the book, there are some issues.

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

First, I had troubles getting myself invested in the book.

While this is not a new issue for the series, many of the recent volumes that have been released here have been able to capture attention quickly and made me want to read this from beginning to end, which suggested that this series might be heading in a good direction.

Here, however, when I got started reading the book, I could not get myself invested in until I was roughly a third of the way through the book.

When readers read, regardless of whether they are avid readers or casual readers, they want to be swept up into the world of the book, as book are supposed help people leave our world for a brief moment, and how quickly a reader can be sucked is a big factor in determining whether a book is indeed or not, because it can help the reader overlook the small stuff.

If they cannot be sucked in quickly enough, the reader cannot really feel satisfied with the work, which was the exact feeling I got here.

The reason this book failed in this aspect was that things did not come off as interesting.

Towards the beginning, Tsuchimikado goes after somebody known to help people in the underworld organize groups and get equipment then goes over to Last Order getting charged and finally having Accelerator's group try to go after somebody targeting a Academy City's General Board of directors, which should have been interesting, but felt like nothing more than a low-grade action flick or spy thriller.

Really, Kazuma? Is this anyway to start a book?

Seeing as this book is not really considered a literary masterpiece, it can get some slack in a few area, but a book's beginning is a very important part of a book, and beginnings that are supposed to be exciting because of all the potential action that might crop up need to be delivering that excitement, but Kazuma Kamachi really fails in this area.

Readers should have to wait until they reach the one third or halfway marks to have their interests piqued because they want that escape, and when that happens, they are going to be angry enough to consider getting any more of their books.

If Kazuma and his editors worked on this book a bit more, the beginning of this book could have been something that could have been considered a passable beginning, and that is something that I am sure the fans of this series would want to see.

Unfortunately, Kazuma and the gang decided to release this poor excuse for the beginning, and it ended up hurting my enjoyment quite a bit.

Hopefully, things will get in the future volumes, but I am certainly not willing to wait until the 22nd volume for that to happen, since I cannot give every series my complete attention.

The second thing that bothered me, and was a much bigger disappointment, was the big fight between Teitoku and Accelerator.

Seeing as Teitoku and Accelerator are the strongest in Academy City, I was really looking forward to see how this fight would play, especially from what I read about this fight, but I felt completely bored.

One of the reason I enjoy following Accelerator in this series is that, like Mikoto Misaka and Shirai Kuroko, his fights are actually entertaining to watch or read, as there is actual tension and challenge.

However, when I read through this fight that should have been a moment that was amazing as Accelerator's fight with Touma and Kihara, the latter of which used Accelerator's ability against him, I did not really see that magnificent fight that I was hoping for, because I did not truly feel any tension, aside from how much damage that these two were going to possibly cause, nor did I feel any excitement, much like the action scenes that took place earlier in volume.

Seriously! I cannot even consider this an Accelerator fight, and the fact that the volume ends with this fight, I just could not really immerse myself as much as I would have liked, and it hurt my enjoyment much more.

If Kazuma worked on this a bit more, and possibly gave Teitoku more of a personality than just being a knockoff of Accelerator, I might have been able to find some enjoyment.

Unfortunately, Kazuma let me down, which makes just want to wish Kazuma better luck next time, while hoping that he does not annoy me enough to make me want to drop this series.

Hopefully, the fights can become more interesting in future installments, because that is one of the reasons this series is supposed to be even remotely interesting, but I do not see much hope for this series right now.

Thankfully, those things were the only things that really bothered me, so I can at least leave room for the possibility that this series could surprise.

While there were only two problems, the fact that they both hurt my enjoyment by making things that should have been interesting come off as dull kept this from being one of the greatest books in the series.

Despite the fact that there were things to like, the negatives, both of which hurt my enjoyment, to the point where I can only say that this was good enough to kill time.

I mainly recommend this to fans of A Certain Magical Index, as they will like this the most, though the action may not be entirely exciting.

As for everyone else, I do not think that I can recommend this to anyone not familiar with the series, but you are certainly free to give it a try.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or, if you want to check out the book for yourself, buy a copy of the reviewed title from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so that I can find more worthwhile reads for you guys.

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