A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 22

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

If this is to be the final novel of Index released in North America (something still up in the air at the moment), it’s a good way to go out, despite the fact that it also ends up killing off its main character. Still, I suspect precisely no fans believed he was dead at the time, and they certainly don’t now that we’ve had New Testament 1-23 and are starting a 3rd light novel sequence. As with the previous two books, this is a big ol’ action sequence, complete with a battle on a slowly crumbling cathedral made up of cathedrals. This time around, though, we do get more of the themes Kamachi wants in the main story, as Touma points out that writing the world off as being too evil and reformatting it is a foolishly naive thing to do, Hamazura discovers that – surprise! – Academy City’s ‘ranking’ system is fixed, and Accelerator sings out loud and sings out strong. There’s even time for some “new” characters.

Appearing on the cover are Accelerator and Misaka Worst, who ironically get the least to do in this book. New characters: Klans Tzarskij, the Russian Patriarch. “New” characters: Silvia and Ollerus, who show up at the end, both of whom the Japanese readers met in the unlicensed 2nd Short Story volume. In terms of Timeline, we end on Halloween night, which means that it’s been a little over four months since Index and Touma first met. Busy months, to be sure. There’s actually something of an attempt to show off everyone trying to save the world: Agnes’ nuns are around, Kaori swings her sword, etc. That said, in terms of action this is still very much a three-person book, with an assist from Mikoto, who gets to stop a nuke going off but for the most part is reduced to trying to save Touma and having him abandon her because he still has more saving to do.

Hamazura’s battle against Mugino ends a lot cleaner than I’d expected, mainly as Mugino is already sort of half-broken and exhausted. He appeals to the good old days when they were ITEM, and asks to reform the team (minus Frenda, who is dead, but at least he mentions apologizing at her grave for killing her). Also, it turns out his girlfriend may be the most important person in all of Academy City, as she has the potential power to move quirks… erm, sorry, skills… from one person to another. I admit I am not overly fond of Hamazura torturing (offscreen) an Academy City soldier for blackmail info he needs, but then I hate “torture works!” scenes. Accelerator manages to combine magic and science and save Last Order, though he almost breaks himself doing it, and he once again reaffirms the idea of family that’s hovered around him.

As for Touma, well, he’s there to yell at the bad guy and punch the bad guy, and he does both of those – even when the bad guy is an angel. It looks like he got through to Fiamma, though we’ll need to see more books to figure out if it stuck. Did he die? Well, no, look at the covers for New Testament 1-23. Is he dead for now? Yes. It makes for a slightly bittersweet ending to the whole arc, which otherwise is relatively happy. I’m going to assume that the first volume of New Testament will be another “Touma-light” volume, which is much easier now that there’s two other main heroes – or antiheroes. As for whether we’ll see it, that’s up to Yen Press and Dengeki Bunko. I hope we do someday.

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