A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 13

By Kazumi Kamachi and Kiyotaka Haimura. Released in Japan as “To Aru Majutsu no Index” by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Prowse.

Last time I bemoaned my dislike of the author trying to be funny, which he does every once in a while. Fortunately, this book is the sequel to Book 12, which had all the funny stuff front-loaded, and so it is content to be a giant series of fights, showing off Touma’s stubborn drive to help people, Accelerator realizing that no, anti-hero doesn’t quite fit yet, he’s still a villain, and Crowley using people as unwitting pawns to such an extent that he’s actually called out on it at the end. In short, it’s doing the things I like to read A Certain Magical Index for, and therefore I would argue it’s an excellent volume. It also features a significant role for Index, who contrasts with Accelerator so much that it boggles the mind that their paths keep intersecting. Still waiting for her to be useless and annoying, that must be anime-only, I swear.

Introduced in this volume: Acqua of the Back, Terra of the Left (voice only). Compared to the ranting, deeply broken Vento of the Front, whose hatred and fury at anything related to science has literally been weaponized by the Catholic… geh, by the Orthodox Church, Acqua looks to be fairly sensible and calm. Of course, he still threatens Touma with death, but honestly, Touma can be a bit overbearing. And frankly, Acqua was right, Vento can’t just say “wait, I was wrong all along” and switch sides the way so many other opponents Touma’s dealt with have done. In terms of chronology, we’re directly after the events in Book 12, and the two read as a two-book set. Uiharu is slightly less out of character here at least, in her one scene before she collapses like most of the population in the city.

We also see Hyouka Kazakiri as well, and honestly it’s been so look since the 6th book I won’t blame anyone who had forgotten her. Sadly, she’s mostly used as a walking plot device, and I have a sneaking suspicion will continue to be irrelevant after this book is finished. Presumable she and Index are out having burgers and Cokes whenever the focus is not on them. The really important plot here, though, is Accelerator, who gets his first real spotlight since his “rehabilitation” in the 5th book. It wasn’t much of a rehabilitation, to be honest, and those who like their heroes and villains to be black and white won’t like this book at all. Most of his victims are mooks who also seem to be happy to kill innocent civilians if it serves them, but it’s the WAY Accelerator kills them – in one case punching a woman’s jaw off and then crushing her in a hydraulic press – that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Not that I think it’s bad – it’s exactly what the author wants to do, showing us how much of Accelerator’s goodwill is entirely tied to Last Order, and when she’s not around or captured, god help everyone. I will leave the mysterious black Angel Wings he sprouts before sending Kihara into the sky like a rocket for a later date.

If you have been reading Index, this is a good one – no surprise given it’s an odd number. Good fights, Index gets to actually do things using the magic the narrative keeps insisting she doesn’t have, Touma gets to alternately talk and punch a villain down to size, and the frog-faced Doctor draws a line in the sand – and also shows us how close he really is to the heart of Academy City. And next time we take another European field trip, this time to France, and finally see why fandom loves Itsuwa so much.

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