Book Review: A Certain Magical Index Volume 16

August 22, 2018

A Certain Magical Index Volume 16

I hope that everyone has been having a good week, while getting ready to for the upcoming weekend.

Things are going pretty well here, as I can still do what I like.

Recently, another couple of titles I had been expecting this month have arrived, and it is time get on top of things.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called A Certain Magical Index Volume 16 by Kazuma Kamachi.

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

After the big Invasion of Academy City, God's Right Seat is unable to stay completely at rest, as one of their own has decided to go after Touma Kamijou, and the members of the so-called Kamijou faction must figure out a way to beat this foe, before anyone gets hurt.

While the previous installment was not that great, I am still willing to give this series enough of a chance to see if it can get back up to snuff, before everyone is left wondering whether or not Yen Press will bring over New Testament.

And after reading this, I must say that I liked it a lot.

From the moment I opened up this volume and started reading it, I found my self so engrossed with it that I did not want to stop reading for any reason.

One of the most important things that a work of fiction needs to do, regardless of genre, medium, and target demographic, is that it needs to pull the reader into the world of the work, as the consumer want to have the ability to escape reality for just a simple moment.

In the previous book, Kazuma Kamachi had quite a bit of troubles delivering on this, because the beginning felt quite dull, even though things were obvious going to start happening, as I saw things that should have grabbed my attention way before I reach got through a third of the way through, which had me disappointed.

However, in this book, the things that I expected to be interesting, though I have very little knowledge of what is to come in A Certain Magical Index, aside from a rematch between Accelerator and Touma, actually seemed interesting and Kazuma's writing also seemed to pull me into the story more, enough so that I might be having second thoughts of ignoring the upcoming third anime adaptation, even though I will likely be busy then taking a class to improve my coding skills.

This is the kind of beginning that I, and possibly the real fans of Magical Index, wanted to see, and Kazuma Kamachi delivered.

If Kazuma Kamachi had put this much effort into things much earlier, I would have been able to see how this series could be considered as great as many people believe it to be, and that would have pulled even more people into the fandom.

Hopefully, the last five or so volumes left in this series, not counting the New Testament novels, will be able to start off just as well as this one did, because I am sure that there are many people out there that want to see this series go out with a bang, but seeing as Kazuma is only human and how these book are not always consistently great, I would not be surprised if I become disappointed enough to drop this series and stick with the Railgun portion of the Raildex universe.

I also liked how there seemed to be a presence of some strategy during the fights.

One of the things that really turned me off about A Certain Magical Index when I first became acquainted with through the anime, aside from how ridiculous the Sisters Arc was, in comparison to how things went down in the third book and even the vastly superior Railgun version of the same arc, was how many of the victories seemed to rely too much on luck, especially when Touma Kamijou was involved.

Now some of you guys are probably complaining, saying that Misaka and Accelerator get many of their victories in fights from the luck of the draw, considering how Accelerator was pretty much overpowered before the events of volume 5, but Misaka and Accelerator tend to think more during their fights and even utilize their bodies and abilities to the fullest, sometimes thinking of new or ingenious ways to use their powers to win, whereas Touma relies on fighting with only one hand and does not seem to efficiently in one armed combat, which is something that I should be quite familiar with due to my daily life.

Here, however, not only do I get treated to an incident that Touma does not really take much part in, aside from being beaten by an enemy who knows his ability and being the target, but I see characters putting some thought into things and being able to bring down the big bad of the book, by trying to spot their weakness and taking advantage of it.

This is how to make interesting fights and now that I am seeing it in the Index portion of the Raildex, and not one involving either Misaka or Accelerator, it looks like Kazuma Kamachi has finally realized why the Touma fights were so horrible, in comparison to the fights that are seen in A Certain Scientific Railgun or when Accelerator has the spotlight.

If strategy was more obviously involved in the fights in this series like it was here, I would have been more than happy to embrace the Raildex universe as a whole, though I would still go on ignoring series like A Certain Scientific Accelerator, as I would be able to praise this series more often.

Hopefully, things like this will come about in the future, where I expect to learn more about Touma's Imagine Breaker, as the series cannot continues showing fights that are won based only on luck, but seeing as how Kazuma has only had a good track record when Touma is hardly involved, if at all, I would not be surprised if it starts to look like lucky victories are the only things that Kazuma could do.

Another thing that I liked was how there seemed to be a much greater emotional impact.

While the Index novels have not been particularly as bad as the anime adaptations, a thing that had been kind of a let down in A Certain Magical Index was how there was not put the emotions that a scene needed to have, which was mainly caused by things that I did not feel like I was missing something, like how I could not truly understand where Misaka was coming from in the Sisters arc, which downplayed her pleas to the Misaka clones for help through Misaka 10032, and because that I could not really feel like I was fully invested in the series.

Here, however, I could feel each of those emotions quite well, like how Touma's words to Kaori Kanzaki in the first volume seemed to stick with her and how Misaka tried pleading with Touma to let her help him, just like how he tried to help her bring an end to the Level 6 Shift Project.

Even though Misaka's moments felt the most powerful out of all them, and not just because I tend to prefer her as a protagonist over Touma Kamijou, though I will not deny that my bias might have some part to play in this, the fact that these moments and getting a sense of how these characters was still quite enjoyable.

If Kazuma Kamachi had put in this much effort to bring out the necessary emotional feels of what was being experienced into the series from the beginning, I would have been able to enjoy this series more, thereby giving me a reason to follow it other than to fill in the gaps in Railgun.

Hopefully, there will be more moments like this as the series goes on, as I hear that there is an Index arc that is supposed to blow Railgun's Sisters arc out the water of every level imaginable, but because the events of the previous book fell short of what I was expecting, I would not be surprised if I experience more disappointment.

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

One the most important aspects of a work fiction, aside from how it starts, is how the work ends, because that has an impact on how well the audience accepts things.

While ending in standalone works are supposed to provide closure and giving a satisfying send off, an installment of a series like this is supposed to give readers an incentive to continue on with the series, as the creators and the publishers or other entities releasing the work to the masses are hoping to be able to make money as they can, and if the reader does not get that incentive to continue on, they will not spend any more of their money.

When I finished reading this book and saw so many interesting things, like how the news was received in the Vatican and that God's Right Seat is planning other moves to make, other than continuing to hunt down Touma, and seeing that other groups were progressing with their own plans, that I want to go out get the next volume right now, even though I have already preordered it.

This series may not be the greatest in my eyes, but seeing how Kazuma Kamachi has been consistency ending things in a way that piques my interest, I am happy to see that this series is definitely headed in a good direction.

If things had not ended like this, I would have been really disappointed, because Kazuma has finally been showing that he is a somewhat competent writer, and by giving me no reason to check out more of the series, he would have gone back down a peg.

Thankfully, Kazuma was at least able to end things well, and that makes me want to give him a ground round of applause.

Hopefully, endings like this will continue to crop up as the series goes on, because I would rather see a work of fiction succeed in the world, but because Kazuma has had a few problems in the past, especially before he wrote the Academy City Invasion arc, I would not be surprised if things take a turn for the worst.

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 talked about already.

Because my interest was captured quickly and held right up to end the end, thanks to the fact that the things that were supposed to be interesting were interesting, the fights had some strategy, instead of relying entirely on luck, I could actually feel what the characters were going through, unlike earlier moments in the series, and the ending had my interest piqued enough that I want to read the next volume right now, this was a fairly 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, which were the interludes.

While reading this book, I was having a good time and enjoying myself, which is something that every reader, regardless of whether they reader casually or are avid readers, want to experience, there seemed to be things that were interrupting the story and trying to present a different story, as if it were important to understand what was going, and those moments each occurred whenever an interlude reared it's ugly head.

An interlude is supposed to give a reader a small break, while still being relevant to the story, and these kinds of Interludes are things that readers can enjoy.

However, whenever these Interludes came up, I found myself confused, because I was being taken down memory lane when I did not even ask for it.

Now, some of you guys out there might be saying that these Interludes are important, because it fleshes out Acqua of the Back, the big bad of this story, and helps us understand him, but Acqua was supposed to be a mysterious character, just like Vento was when she invaded Academy City, and I felt much more engaged with this book when I was left wondering who this guy was and why he wants to go after Touma personally, and I was hoping that I would learn about these things as the book and the series progressed.

However, Kazuma thought that it would be a good idea to reveal Acqua's backstory before the characters themselves had a good grasp of who he was, and made it hard for me to really be able to follow along with the real storyline, which was that of somebody coming back to Academy City for Touma's right arm.

Seriously, Kazuma? I may not have the best writing ability out there, but is this really the right way to present things?

If there were moments in which Acqua was reflect on things, and we, as the audience saw that he was about to reflect on things, I may have been able to let this slide, but because this actually interrupts the flow of the book and is not really that important for me, or anyone else, to know, I just cannot do that.

This is probably why Kazuma Kamachi will never make it onto the same pedestal as Isuna Hasekura, because he keeps making dumb mistakes like this, and the editors and the other staff responsible for helping to make sure this series gets into the hands of readers like me let him off the hook.

After all, if the people at ASCII Media Works, who is ultimately responsible for publishing this series, did their job, they would have had these Interludes removed, so that things would flow smoothly, and I would have been able to just let this book get away with the flaws that nobody would really care about.

Unfortunately, these Interludes were put into the book, and really hurt my ability to enjoy it.

Hopefully, Interludes like these will cease to exist in the future installments to come, but seeing as Kazuma Kamachi is now probably as big as a name in Japan as John Grisham is here, I would not be surprised if things like this continue to exist.

Thankfully, this was the only thing that really bothered me, so I can leave Kazuma Kamachi and the other people responsible for bringing A Certain Magical Index to the world some dignity.

While there was only one thing that was really bothersome to be found, the issue was the kind of issue a reader should not have to deal with, and it ended up knocking the book down a few pegs.

Despite the fact that there was one thing that annoyed me, there was enough to like that this book was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of A Certain Magical Index and Kazuma Kamachi, as they will like this the most, though I strongly encourage you to skip the interludes at all costs.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but with all the mentions of past events in the series, it would be best to read the previous installments in the series first.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider donating as little as $1/month to me on Patreon, or, if you would like to check out the reviewed title for yourself, buy a copy of A Certain Magical Index Volume 16 from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so that I can continue following this series and possibly find more worthwhile reads for you guys to check out.

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