Book Review: A Certain Magical Index Volume 3

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Well, this is turning out to be surprising.

After the disappointment with the batch of books I got last month, where two thirds of the books were disappointing either because of the publisher or the author, I have been impressed with the batch of books I got this time around.

However, now that out of the four books I got, the only two that remain are from a publisher who seemed to be too lazy to do a decent release, though I will give them credit that they did not ruin all of their releases that I got last month.

Today, I will cover the first of the two remaining books, which is A Certain Magical Index Volume 3 by Kazuma Kamachi.

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

After the incident at the Misawa Cram school had been resolved, Touma can finally have a moment's rest.

However, when he comes into contact with somebody that resembles Mikoto Misaka and finds her dead, he becomes entrenched in one of the experiments carried out by Academy City's darkness that will ultimately lead him to meeting the strongest of Academy City's seven Level 5 espers, as well as prevent another Level 5 from making an irreversible choice.

Man, I have been looking forward to reading this book, though it is not because the last book in the series was any good, which thankfully was not because of Yen Press slacking off.

If had to say why, it is because the first book, as tedious at it was, proved to be much more enjoyable than the anime, and I wanted to see if that would hold true for the events this book covers.

After reading this, I liked it quite a bit.

From the moment I actually started reading it, I did not really want to put this book down for any reason, though I had to to fulfill my needs and the needs of my church. This is because, unlike the last two books of the series, things did not really seem to be tedious, or even felt like a chore, despite the fact that there were some moments that it did seem to move rather slowly.

This is what I expecting from the series for so long, but I never really had this much excitement from the previous works. If every volume were like this, I would definitely see why some people tend to favor the Index portion of the Raildex universe.

Unfortunately, what I get here is not exactly the same kind of experience that I get from series like the Railgun portion of the Raildex universe, or even Pandora Hearts, which recently ended its run it Japan, and if what I have heard is true, I probably will not ever see it until I get to the stuff after Accelerator's scuffle with Hound Dogs in the novels, which most likely will not happen until 2017, seeing as Amazon lists a release date of November 17th for the fifth book and February 2016 for the sixth book, thereby showing a pattern of only releasing five books a year, which is a much better release schedule than Detective Conan (Case Closed) and supposedly Hayate the Combat Butler get from Viz, since the former only sees 3-4 new volumes every year and the latter only reported sees 1-2 new volumes every year.

Still, that does not change the fact that Kazuma has improved from the time that he had written the abomination that was the previous book and the tedious chore that was the first book.

I also liked how things made a lot more sense here than in the anime adaptation.

One of the reasons I really disliked the Magical Index anime was because the Sisters Arc had quite a few problems, such as lack of any emotional feels, Accelerator's change of heart not making sense, and characters that were badly injured were seemingly fine the next time I saw them.

Here, however, I do not notice any of the major problems that I had with the anime adaptation, though that does not mean that the version of the Sisters Arc present here is a masterpiece. For example, when Touma confronts Misaka after reading the report, I could somewhat feel the despair that she was experiencing, though I still did not really understand too well of why she was feeling the way she did, and I somewhat wanted Touma to succeed in the fight that I knew he would engage in.

If the anime adaptation were anywhere close to how it is presented here, it would not have been the disappointment that it is, compared to Railgun's Sisters Arc.

Unfortunately, the people behind the anime adaptation did not do that and just made something that seems inferior, even to how the events are shown here.

The thing that I liked the most though was that Touma's fight with Accelerator was much more believable here than it was in either the anime adaptation or manga version of the Railgun portion of the Raildex universe.

Almost every time I went through this arc, seeing as I watched it when I saw the Index anime, read it through the Railgun manga, and watched it through the Railgun S anime, I noticed that Touma has almost no trouble against Accelerator, and it did not really make too much sense, since he had a little skirmish with Misaka prior to him confronting Accelerator, though things did seem much more enjoyable viewing Railgun's version of this arc.

However, in this book, Touma seems to have a bit of trouble in the fight because the damage he had sustained from Misaka's attacks really took it out of him, and made it harder for him to move.

This is how I was expecting this battle to occur, since the skirmish on the bridge that is featured in all of the versions of this arc take place before the fight with Accelerator and he did lose consciousness before telling Misaka what he was planning to do.

While the Railgun version of the arc was pretty close to being perfect, it would have really been that much more enjoyable to see Touma struggle due to damage he received from both Misaka and Accelerator, though that would be pretty difficult to accomplish.

Still, it is nice that there is something that is done better than what was presented in the Railgun version of this arc.

Outside of those things, I cannot really think of anything else that I liked without repeating myself.

The fact that the book did not feel as tedious or uninteresting as the last two books were and that things made more sense than the anime adaptation did, as well as the fact that there were somethings that made more sense than they did in Railgun's manga and anime version of the Sisters Arc, made this pretty enjoyable.

Although I did like the book, there are some issues. However, aside from some very minor stuff, there is only one thing that really bothered me that ends up hurting things during two particular points in the story.

As much as I like the version of the Sisters Arc presented here more than the version present in the Magical Index anime, things did not really make too much sense.

Yes, Mikoto Misaka's connection to the whole thing was made much more clear here than it was in the anime, with some hints or Misaka herself outright saying that she went and shutdown numerous facilities, but I still could not really get a good grasp of what she was really going through.

If I had to say why, it is because the story was focused way too much on Touma and the Misaka clones, but like the Tree Diagram Remanent Arc, the focus should have been on Mikoto Misaka herself and how she ended up deciding to sacrifice her life.

Yes, Touma is currently the main character of A Certain Magical Index, especially since Accelerator does not become more prominent until Last Order shows up, and he is the one to resolve things in all of the versions of this arc, but that does not change the fact that it is practically never made clear here how Misaka got involved to begin with, because I doubt that a girl would become experience as much despair as Misaka felt immediately after finding out what she did, otherwise she would not have had those papers that Touma had found.

Fortunately, this is all answered in Railgun's version of the Sisters Arc, which occurs in volumes 4-7 of the manga, or A Certain Scientific Railgun S episodes 2-16, where Misaka decides to involved in the investigation of money cards, meets her clones and watches helplessly as two of them die before her eyes.

Still, that does not mean that I can excuse the fact that there are still things that do not make too much sense when the Index portion of the Raildex universe is supposed to be the parent series.

Not only does having very little focus on Misaka make it so that things make less sense, but it also takes away from what emotional impact could have been in there.

For example, when Mikoto Misaka tries to think of a way to have things end how Touma wanted and ends up asking Misaka 10032, who is badly injured, for help, I could not really feel the desperation in her voice that I wanted to. After all, she knew that even though she was a Level 5 esper that she did not stand much of a chance against Accelerator.

Again, this arc really hinges on what Misaka has experienced and what she is feeling, but because we only have the spotlight shining on Touma and the Misaka clones, it kind of lessens the emotional impact of this scene.

And again, A Certain Scientific Railgun really tends to deliver in this aspect, because I can actually feel her despair when she asks Misaka 10032 for help, as she is not only aware that she cannot compete against Accelerator, due to the fact that we actually see her fight him prior to Touma confronting Accelerator, and the struggles she went through by rushing in head first to stop the experiment, as well as finding out that new research facilities popped up quickly to replace them, but she also realized that she cannot do everything on her own.

Comparing the two versions of this arc, it is really easy to see why Railgun's Sisters Arc is better than Magical Index's Sisters Arc, and it seems from my own searches that I am not in the minority on this one, but I think that a true masterpiece of this arc would come from trying to merge the two versions into one, like A Certain Scientific Railgun S tried to do.

Other than that, I cannot really think of anything else that I particularly hated about this book.

While there was not too much to hate about the book, the fact that the story focused more on Touma and the Misaka clones more than Mikoto Misaka did kind of take away the possibility of this being absolutely perfect.

Considering that the only real flaw was the fact that there was not enough focus on Misaka, this was definitely worth reading. I recommend this mainly to fans of A Certain Magical Index, seeing as they would be the ones that would enjoy this the most, even though there was quite a bit to like. As for everyone else, this may be worth giving a shot, but A Certain Scientific Railgun's Sisters Arc is going to be a much better experience overall.

What are your thoughts on A Certain Magical Index Volume 3? Did you like it or hate it? If you hated or are kind of in between, did you think that A Certain Scientific Railgun delivered a much better experience, like I did, or did that not even change your mind? Was there something that you liked or hated the went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.