Book Review: A Certain Magical Index Volume 5

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It seems like things are going pretty well again with this batch of books.

As I mentioned before, I recently received most of the books I had ordered from Barnes & Noble, though I still expect one to come soon.

So far, I have been pretty pleased with the books I got since they were fairly enjoyable, and hopefully, the one remaining is just as good as those two.

Today, I will be reviewing that remaining title, which is call A Certain Magical Index Volume 5 by Kazuma Kamachi.

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

Summer vacation is coming to an end and everyone seems to be having a somewhat peaceful life, but neither Touma Kamijou nor Accelerator can seem to catch a break on the last day of the break when one has to deal with two magic users with two different missions and the other finally finds somebody to protect after all the killing he has done.

Now, the two have to deal with their respective problems before Academy City, and even the entire world, is brought into the chaos.

While the Magical Index series has improved a bit from the impressions I got from the first two novels, seeing as the Sisters arc was a little more believable and the Angel Fall arc seemed to have a bit more emotional impact, and the anime adaptations, I cannot really say if things will continue to be good, because continually writing good stories is a difficult task.

Fortunately, I kind of liked this book.

Like the previous one, from the moment I first opened this book, I did not really want to put this book down for practically any reason.

This is how I wish the Magical Index series was from the very beginning, since the first two books seemed to feel like a chore or were dull.

What many people do not seem to realize is that if you cannot pull your reader into the world of your story quickly, you have a very difficult time of creating a story that attracts very many readers.

For example, The Book Thief, which is one of the books I hate quite a bit, did not really get interesting until a few hundred pages into it for a variety of reason, and the fact that it took so many pages to do so was just one of things that made me dislike the title.

Even though Kazuma Kamachi has had similar problems with his writing in the early books in the Magical Index series, the fact that he has managed to really grab my attention within the first few pages the books in row, even one that featured an arc I was not originally fond of, makes me actually want to praise him a bit because he has improved, as writers should over the course of their career.

Of course, the fact that this book does not contain just one, but three different stories, make this an even more amazing accomplishment.

I also liked how the stories really did seem to be intertwined with each other.

Now, things did not seem to merge together at certain points like they did during the Index arc and the manga version of Railgun's Level Upper arc or the Railgun anime adaptation of the Sisters arc, but when I saw these three stories in the Index anime, which do seem to be in somewhat chronological order, even though they did not all premiere one episode after another, I thought that they did not all occur on the same day.

Here, however, it was pretty clear that all three stories occurred on the same day, and not just because of Yen Press's official summary of this book, but most of the stories have an impact on one or more of the others.

For example, when Touma was forced into pretending to be Misaka's boyfriend and exposed her pursuer as an imposter, which ultimately led to a building collapsing, Academy City had issued a Code Orange, which prevented Ao Amai from escaping Academy City with Last Order, and even more so when another magican caused an incident in a restaurant while trying to capture Index, which had Academy City issue a Code Red.

When looking through the anime adaptation of these stories, I noticed that they do mention that Academy City was already at Code Red at the time Accelerator was trying to rescue Last Order, but I did not really know why it was on such high alert, seeing as only the story featuring the imposter was broadcasted before Accelerator's story.

In this book, however, while the story of the second magic user that Touma faces is going on, which is the last story in the book, much like how it was not shown in the anime until the first episode of the second anime adaptation, an Anti-Skill officer asks him if was involved in an incident at a restaurant and talks about possible involvement of a building collapsing, mentioning that Academy City had gone Code Orange and then Code Red due to the incidents.

This makes a whole lot more sense than Academy City suddenly being in Code Red like it was in the first anime adaptation and makes me kind of wish that all three stories were part of the same broadcast, instead of how things actually turned out with the anime.

Speaking of Accelerator, much like when he shows up in the anime, I felt the most excitement whenever the book was focused on him and what he was going through.

While many remember how evil Accelerator seemed to be during the Sisters arc, especially in the versions presented in the Magical Index anime and novels, I actually felt like he was opening up more and shedding the persona he came into the series with, because he seems to express quite a bit of guilt and self-loathing for killing the clones, making me want to actually see how he redeems himself.

Unlike Touma Kamijou, who seems to not be that interesting because we never really knew what he was like before becoming an amnesiac, aside from being the usual kind of protagonist from in the most popular manga, Accelerator seems to have a somewhat sad backstory that kind of contributes to the way he acts when we first meet him, though A Certain Scientific Railgun does seem to show that he was not as ax-crazy as he was during the events of the Sisters arc.

This is why I always seem to prefer following Accelerator and his struggles more than Touma, but maybe that will change as I go further through the novels, as I have heard than Touma does seem to become more interesting once one gets past the content that was animated.

The thing that I liked the most though was that things actually seemed to be funny here.

While the kind of humor found in the pages of this book is not really that different from the usual stuff found in the anime, I actually found things pretty hilarious, such as Index telling her captor that they did not tie her up correctly.

After realizing how much mental stress I have been putting myself through these days, considering that these reviews are not the only thing that requires my eye for detail, it is kind of nice to be able to relax and take a load off.

Outside of those things, I cannot really think of anything else in particular that I really liked.

The fact that this book was able to capture and hold my attention, despite containing three different stories, and that all the stories really did seem like they were connected together, as well as the funny things present, made this book pretty enjoyable.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

First, while Accelerator's story was probably the best of the three stories featured in this book, it did kind of seem to get a little tedious towards its end.

The reason I get this feeling is because during the moments in which Accelerator is trying to rescue her, the book keeps putting in the exact time and seemingly covering Last Order's gibberish, as well as Accelerator struggling against the virus.

While it does add a bit to the tension present in the story, I did not really think that either was very necessary, because it was already obvious that Accelerator was in a race against the clock and the author could have just put down that Last Order was continuing to say gibberish after the first time it occurred, especially since the audience cannot really make heads or tails of what she is saying, so the audience cannot really see what is going on.

As for marking the passing of time, it really would have also helped if, instead of section like heading, the text made a few notes of how much time has passed, since the tension of Accelerator's race against time is interrupted quite a bit by these little section headings.

While Kazuma Kamachi does indeed seem to section off his chapters, since it happens in the previous books, it is not really that necessary all the time and he needs to learn when he can just safely just go on through a chapter without them, despite the fact that the chapters in these books are pretty long.

I also hated how the stories seemed to be interrupted.

While the story involving the imposter was pretty much featured without any interruptions, the story involving the incident that sent Academy City into Code Red and Accelerator's story of trying to rescue Last Order seemed to just stop, especially the latter when things were just getting good.

Now, I realize that Kazuma is trying to establish a timeline of events for the day of August 31st, since he does denote the time in a somewhat 24-hour clock notation, though that could be Yen Press's fault, since I doubt that any country that uses the 24-hour clock use 00:00 to denote both noon and the start of the next day, but when somebody does anthologies like this, the reader wants to be able to go from one story to the next without any confusion.

Here, however, when Accelerator gets to the lab used for the Level 6 Shift project that got frozen, the story involving the imposter started up.

Come on, Kazuma! I wanted to see how Accelerator's story ended, and you decide to start another before before completing it? That is a terrible idea.

If this had been done the proper way, I would have liked it even more than I currently do, though I do not necessarily hate the book.

The thing that disappointed me the most though was the change in Accelerator.

While it was not presented that badly in the pages of this book, I just could not really believe his change of heart entirely.

If I had to say why, it is because Accelerator's backstory prior to the Sisters arc was not really explored.

In the third book, Touma just goes in and does his thing, but Accelerator did not really seem to learn anything or experience anything like a change of heart.

Afterwards, in the pages of this book, Last Order brings up a few instances and claims that Accelerator did not really want to kill the clones because of what he said, thus thinking is he actually good.

However, in Railgun's version of the Sisters arc we get to see that Accelerator did not really want to kill the clones from the very beginning, even showing surprise that the scientists expected him to kill the clones.

By seeing that flashback, Accelerator's actions and change of heart makes complete sense because it is obvious that Accelerator never really wanted to hurt the clones.

Accelerator is supposed to be the second main character in this series after Touma and his change of hearts does not really make much sense, Kazuma! Even though it does make more sense than the anime adaptation, you really should have gone to the drawing board and worked things out better than having to use Railgun to explain what was going through Accelerator's head during his fight with Touma and what Mikoto Misaka went through.

If he had done that, A Certain Magical Index would have been better than it is, though A Certain Scientific Railgun would have sadly not come onto the scene, since some people still think that bridge scene in the Index arc does not need much explanation, despite the fact that it is where Mikoto Misaka first appears in A Certain Magical Index and it was unknown why she and Touma were not on friendly terms.

Still, that does not change the fact that Accelerator's change of heart needs a bit more clarity to be believable, and the fact that Kazuma Kamachi did not think of it until A Certain Scientific Railgun came along did hurt the quality of this story.

Other than those things, I cannot really think of anything else that particularly bugged me, aside from how the stories were ordered, which is not as a big of a deal as I mentioned.

While the book was not that bad, the fact that stories were interrupted and some things could have been eliminated without sacrificing the tension, as well as the fact that Accelerator's change of heart does not make complete sense, hurt the quality of this book quite a bit.

Despite the fact that stories were interrupted, some unnecessary things were present, and Accelerator's change of heart do not make too much sense, though it does make a bit more sense than the anime version, there was enough to like to actually make this worth reading.

I recommend this mainly to fans of A Certain Magical Index, seeing as they do not seem to have too much trouble with things that are not fully explained and Accelerator finally gets a moment to shine.

As for Everyone else, I recommend going through all versions, except for the Index anime adaptation, of the Sisters arc, because things will make a bit more sense that just jumping right into this book.

What are your thoughts on A Certain Magical Index Volume 5? Did you like it or hate it? Did you think Accelerator's change of heart was believable or do you think the flashbacks he had in Railgun's Sisters arc were necessary to see that change of heart? Was there something that you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.