Blu-ray Review: A Certain Magical Index: The Movie – The Miracle of Endymion

A Certain Magical Index, and in turn A Certain Scientific Railgun, make the leap from small-screen to big-screen (but in our case the same screen) in this feature length instalment; but is this feature-length outing any good? Well let’s find out in our review of Animatsu Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of A Certain Magical Index: The Movie – The Miracle of Endymion.

Synopsis:

Academy City, a futuristic metropolis populated with super-powered students. As the brightest intellectual minds in the city work to complete the world’s first space elevator – a towering spire capable of taking citizens into the heavens – perpetually unlucky Kamijo and nun-in-training Index befriend a talented street musician named Arisa.

When the beautiful singer lands a big break, her miraculous voice attracts unwanted attention, making the songstress a target for magicians and scholars alike. As the battle between sorcery and science blasts into space, Kamijo, Index, and their allies in Academy City are rocketed to a psychedelic stadium thousands of feet above Japan in a desperate attempt to keep Arisa – and the rest of the world – safe.

Our View:

The worlds of magic and science collide in this feature-length continuation of A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun that sees characters from both the magic and science communities do battle in order to protect an upcoming pop-sensation – with Toma and Index stuck right in the middle of this on-going feud.  It sounds like an interesting setup for a film, and one that could potentially bring out the best in some of the franchises key characters; but alas this is not to be and instead we are treated to a mediocre film that’s over all too quickly.

The story of this film, entitled A Certain Magical Index: The Movie – The Miracle of Endymion, is that three years prior to the events of either TV franchises a spacecraft known as the Orion crash landed on earth without a single fatality. This ‘Miracle’ was dubbed the ‘Miracle of 88’ and the company behind the spacecraft later created an orbital elevator in its place to celebrate those who survived. Three years later this elevator marks as a beacon for Academy City and allows those to travel to space to view the stars – and earth – first hand.

At this point you might be wondering “What has this got to do with the overall story of the film?” well at first nothing; but the importance of the tower – and in turn the events of three years ago – will be revealed during the final stages of the film.  In short the tower is used as a magic array where – if activated – all life in Aademy City will be destroyed and the person that can activate this power is non-other-than the upcoming pop-sensation known as Arisa; a character who Toma and Index encounter during a regular stroll through the city.

After encountering Arisa, and in turn experiencing her street performance, Toma and Index become friends and soon hang out around town with her; but eventually Styil – as well as a few Junior Mages from the English Church – attack them. It’s a relatively short lived battle (or chase if you prefer) that is interrupted with the arrival of robotic tanks that help protect Arisa from the attack of the mages.

The animation and attention to detail during this fight is superb, even more so than the TV Series; but at the same time it’s confusing to understand why Arisa is being targeted from several different groups. As mentioned earlier the reason is because Arisa’s voice can be used to activate the magic array attached to the space tower and as such the English Chruch want to capture her so that she cannot be used; while the robotic tanks (and the people inside of them) have been hired to protect her so that she can continue her performance in the space tower later that week. At the moment this battle takes place though all of this is unknown so the battle, which sees Styil attack Toma, seems random and confusing at best (but it is a nice battle all the same). Only when the battle ends is some context provided.

As I mentioned earlier it’s a battle between the Magic and Scientific communities; but the ‘battles’ part is exaggerated a fair amount as there really isn’t much fighting taking place (three fight scenes at best). Instead the film is more about ‘overcoming’ the curses of the past and converying dialogue to one another; with Arisa being the focal point.

For instance the mastermind behind the space tower magic array has been cursed to live and never age; and he/she believes by using the magic array the curse will be lifted. Shoutaura on the other hand, a new character and a survivor of the spacecraft crash, is unable to understand music since that day; but more so is on a mission to uncover why her father’s death went unaccounted for during the ‘Miracle of 88’.

All of these different ideals, emotions and anger bear to fruition at the end of the film when the plan to use Arisa and activate the magic array begins; at which point both science and magic communities join forces to help stop the threat. It is a fun battle to watch, as it sees pretty much every major character from both series take part, but the end result is underwhelming and borderline stupid – even more so when you see characters in space without any special gear – story being played on. This stupidity continues during the revelation of how the characters, namely Arisa, came to be; which is simply a wish given life that ‘somehow’ saved a plane crash. More magic than science but disappointing all the same.

Extras:

As with most FUNimation authored releases fans are treated to a selection of bonus materials and it is no different here as fans of A Certain Magical Index will find Japanese promotional materials, such as Trailers and TV Spots, as well as commenty featuring the English Dub voice cast.

The highlight for me is the inclusion of the original Japanese promotional materials especially the original trailer and Japanese TV spots, as it gives us a way to see how the film was promoted in its native country,as well as the English Dub commentary for the film.

It’s a nice balance between Japanese promotional and English promotional content with the English Commentary being the ‘icing on the cake’ but at the same time the commentary can prove a little stale with uninformative and vague comments; but its still a nice insight into the work that went into the English variation of the film.

Specs:

Media:  BD 25 x1
Region: B
Running Time:  1:30:03
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) & DolbyTrue HD 2.0 ( Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

The journey of a ‘good film’ is about presenting a story that builds up to its ending with great character development; and here the story was not only muddled but rushed with poor character development. As a result of this the story doesn’t deliver that same impact you may expect from other films. Sure enough the animation and sound quality is good; but without a progressive story and strong characters the film can be a bad experience; which is exactly what we have here.

Ignoring the first ten minutes of the film, which is impossible due to its importance to the story, the story begins with Toma & Index befriending a street performer known as Arisa; however after a short introduction, and confirmation of an Idol role, she is attacked by members of the English Church.

This battle begins a chain of events which see Arisa attacked (and in turn protected) by both science and magic communities to which she is whisked away to the space tower for her performance; a performance which – a certain mysterious character – is using as a decoy to activate magic in space. The Miracle of Endymion had so much potential; but most of it seems to have been wasted on Arisa by having her ‘pointless’ story told – I say pointless as she isn’t even real (what a waste). The only positive is that Index gets a fair amount of screen-time, more so than during A Certain Magical Index II; but her high-pitched English Dub voice can become as tedious as her character.

The presentation of the story within A Certain Magical Index: The Movie – The Miracle of Endymion wasn’t the only aspect of the film I didn’t like as FUNimation have opted to dub the music into English as well. This means scenes featuring Arisa singing on stage (or music being played in the background) are being completely sung in English. Most dubbing companies would leave the Japanese vocal track in place for songs but instead they have been dubbed/sung by the English voice actor.

Naturally you’d have commend FUNimation for going the extra mile but in this case it feels like it hampered the overall enjoyment of the film; but thats just my personal view. It would have been nice to have a ‘English Dub with Japanese Music’ option like Your Name; but alas that is not the case. On the plus side we have strong animation and good sound quality throughout the flm as well as a nice well rounded selection of bonus features including both promotional materials and english-dubbed-commentary.

Overall A Certain Magical Index: The Movie – The Miracle of Endymion is a disappointing feature-length-film to a rather already mediocre series; but the presentation of animation far exceeds what the TV series had to offer. A good looking film wasted on a sub-par story filled with a strong selection of under used characters; but this aside its another solid release of Manga Entertainment UK and will complete your ‘Index’ and ‘Railgun’ collections quite nicely.

Score: review-stars-3

A Certain Magical Index: The Movie – The Miracle of Endymion is now available within the UK as a Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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