Blu-ray Review: A Certain Magical Index – Season 1
09/09/2015 Leave a comment
The phrase “Better late than never” applies with A Certain Magical Index; as after years of waiting the series has finally arrived on UK Shores; but was it worth the wait and more importantly what can we expect from this Blu-ray release of the series? Find out in our Blu-ray Review of A Certain Magical Index – Season 1.
Kamijo is a student in Academy City, where people use science to develop supernatural abilities. He’s got a lot of heart, which is lucky for a young nun named Index. She’s on the run from a sorcery society that covets the astonishing library of magical knowledge in her memory. When Index stumbles into Kamijo’s life, he becomes her faithful friend and protector.
Kamijo may be the weakest kid in Academy City, but he’s got something else going for him: the Imagine Breaker, an unexplainable power stored in his right hand that negates the powers of others. But when scientists and sorcerers attack from all sides, it’s Kamijo’s loyalty that will be his greatest weapon in the fight to keep Index safe.
A Certain Magical Index should’ve been known as A Certain Disappearing Index as other than the opening episodes she hardly makes an appearance in this – mostly entertaining but rather disappointing – anime adaptation of a popular manga series. It’s a great story, has a variety of characters and lots of entertaining merits and yet I still somehow find myself disappointed by the overall presentation and progression. It’s been a long wait and yet somehow it wasn’t worth it. Don’t get me wrong; A Certain Magical Index certainly has its positive aspects but it just wasn’t as great as I was led to believe; but that’s just my personal take on it.
It all begins when Toma Kamijo, an Esper student living within the scientific city of Academy City, encounters a mysterious young girl known as Index who proclaims that she has 103,000 magical books, known as the grimoires, stored in her brain and that an evil society of mages are trying to track her down so that they can use them. It’s an informative and comical situation that lays down the foundations of what you may assume to expect from this series; but in actuality it doesn’t. The pretense is that these mages are trying to use the knowledge within the grimoires when in actuality these mages, who go by the names of Stiyl and Kaori, are actually trying to capture Index so that they can save her life. I won’t spoil the details; but within these six episodes it we see fist-fights between multiple characters, magical abilities being used and long-dreary-narrative sequences being played out in order to explain whats going on. The end result however is an interesting one; as it sees Toma losing all memories of past events in his life.
It’s here where the series, in a sense, starts all over again; as with no recollection of past events Toma reintroduces everyone he meets via narrative thoughts, but that’s not the issue at hand here. The issue is that the ‘Index’ aspect of the show starts to fade out from the main screen and in turn we see Toma doing investigative work on another school as Stiyl believes that the person running it, known as Aleister Crowley, is attempting to do shady things with Magic and Science. Index may take a back-seat for most of this arc, but she does somehow find herself in the clutches of Aleister’s hands – but despite the ‘questionable’ motives Aleister is actually here to help index; even if he is a bit late. This entire story arc is pointless and even though it shows some ‘potential brutal’ scenes the only purpose it served was to introduce a new ‘reoccuring’ character into the series; but much like Index she is quickly forgotten about in the episodes that follow.
Ironically at this point we are only ten episodes in; and with the ‘Magical’ segment out of the way the storyline takes a unique turn and tends to focus more on the ‘scientific’ side of things; which is slightly unexpected. The whole purpose of this series, in my eyes at least, is to share adventures of Kamijo and Index and her magical situations and yet somehow at this mid-way point we found ourselves watching a scenario which sees 20,000 Misaka clones conducting an experiment with the Esper known as Accelator. The idea is to create a level 6 Esper with Accelator killing 20,000 clones of the level 5 esper Misaka; however the ‘original’ Misaka is against this and, with some help from Kamijo, ends up putting a stop to it. It’s a great storyline, and leads to some rather amusing scenarios, but at the same time it feels like this is a story which should have belonged in A Certain Scientific Railgun; as it does revolve around Misaka after all.
Hate it or love it; it’s a great story arc and it opens up the door later on to another handful of episodes which see Accelator coming to terms with his ‘humane’ side by helping an ‘unknown’ version of Misaka; a little girl variation. Once again Index and magical abilities make no such appearance but it does wrap-up storyline elements left off in earlier episodes. If you were hoping for more magic filled content on your episodes the remaining half of this season should cover you just nicely; but once again don’t expect much appearance from Index – as it’s all about Toma. The first of these story arcs sees a magical ability known as Angel Fall activated which in turn alters everyone’s appearance; it’s an amusing situation but it quickly becomes creepy and – as a result – totally ruins the respect of this series. The ending to this arc is also short-lived; but it does at least see some magical force being used on screen. The last story arc of this first season however is abit more explosive and it manages to drag in all characters from the entire series for one last showdown with a mage that wants to set the world down a path of destruction; and, for once, we actually get to see Index stand by herself and fight.
That’s pretty much a short-break down of the episodic content found within this first season of A Certain Magical Index; but in reality it tends to follow a rinse and repeat pattern. Basically each story arc, which is adapted from the original manga, lasts for around four to five episodes and it sees a situation overcome solely by Toma and his right hand – which of course wields the Imagine Breaker; a force that can nullify any type of Esper or Magical ability. The series starts off by selling Index as the main character but in actuality its more about Toma protecting things he cares about; even if it he doesn’t know it – and as a result we hardly see any screen time of index or magical abilities being used; that is until towards the end which by then is all but too late.
If you were hoping to find a wide-selection of Supplementary content related to A Certain Magical Index then you will no doubt be disappointed; as other than the inclusion of four English cast commentaries and an original American trailer the only bonus content are the four different text less songs used throughout the show.
- Episode 3 English Cast Commentary with Monica Rial (Index), Micah Solusod (Toma) and Jad Saxton (Komoe)
- Episode 6 English Cast Commentary with Zach Bolton (ADR Director), Rob McCollum (Stiyl), and Cole Brown (Frog Doctor)
- Episode 14 English Cast Commentary with Micah Solusod (Toma), Brittney Karbowski (Misaka), and Austin Tindle (Accelerator)
- Episode 23 English Cast Commenty with Monica Rial (Index), Stephanie Young (Sherry) and Alexis Tipton (Hyoka)
- Textless Opening Songs
- Textless Closing Songs
- US Trailer
In retrospect it’s another English orientated barebones styled release, with the exception of English Cast Commentary; however that being said the Cast Commentary is exceptionally boring and uninformative, especially the Episode 14 commentary which sees long instalments of silence. Usually I like listening to commentary tracks to hear what the actors thought of the show or its characters but in these audio commentaries theres hardly anything worthwhile mentioning. The exception to this is on the episode 6 commentary which sees Cole Brown explain how he got his first voice acting job; but other than that they are rather pointless and not worth your time.
Media: BD50 x3
Running Time: 3:09:36 (Disc 1) 3:33:18 (Disc 2), 2:45:51 (Disc 3)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) & Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps
A Certain Magical Index is a fun but slightly deceptive series; it leads you in thinking its about magic, the grimoires and a mysterious girl known as Index when in actuality its – for the time being at least –about a boy named Toma Kamijo that likes to help out people in need; regardless of whether they are Magican or Esper. A lot of ground is covered in this series, both in fictional religious figures and scientific advances – as it does end up covering the first five volumes of the manga – and as such the progression is fast paced and hardly leaves you anytime to breath.
In esense this is the positive aspect of A Certain Magical Index; it never slows down and quickly swifts from one story arc to the next without having the need for ridiculous filler or boring sub-plots; and as such we get in and out of the action rather quickly. As much praise as I can give it, despite the fact I wanted more storyline elements that see Index on screen, the biggest disappointment comes from the presentation of the English Dub; which is surprising considering this is a FUNimation produced dub.
If you dive straight into the English Dub you might feel its adequate to the situations taking place on screen; but as soon as you change to the Japanese track you’ll notice a world of difference – and I’m not referring to the language barrier. There seems to be more life, passion and enthuiasim in the Japanese track than there is in the English Dub; sure Micah Solusod provides some good vocals during the series, especially during action sequences, but for the most part it feels disconnected to whats happening on screen and a little lack-luster as if they didn’t want to be there. If you do intend on watching it subtitled then you’ll be glad to hear that multiple dialogue sequences between characters (such as two people talking at once) are separated and broken up into two different lines; thus making it easier to read and easier to follow the conversation on screen; however due to the relatively complex storyline revolving religious figures some sequences can become difficult to follow if you aren’t paying attention.
Overall A Certain Magical Index is a fun show filled with a solid mixture of entertainment and this Blu-ray presentation is everything you could have hoped for; a fact which truly shines during the fast-paced action sequences seen around mid-way through the series. My only real quarrel is the lack of Index and Magic on-screen as well as the dreary English Dub – but this is just a personal observation rather than a solid fact; as some may find it has adequate screen time of Magic and the comical un-able-to-wield-magic bearing Index. All in all it’s another solid release from Animatsu Entertainment; both in presentation and production, and it’s definately worth adding to your collection.
A Certain Magical Index – Season 1 will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 14th September 2015.