To Aru Majutsu no Index II – 13
「使徒十字（クローチェディピエトロ）」 (Shito Juuji (Kurooche Di Pietoro)
“Cross of the Apostle (Croce di Pietro)”
All the jostling between Touma and Stiyl this episode may not have been just to throw Oriana off, as our righteous protagonist (except when it comes to hitting girls) looked like he was purposely prolonging Stiyl’s suffering. It was rather hypocritical, given that Touma was telling Oriana to place more value on other people’s lives. I guess that doesn’t apply to the guy behind him swimming in a pool of his own blood. I try not to dwell on Touma’s preaching tendency since it’s a core part of his character, but he continues to amaze me with how much time he spends trying to get his point across. Granted, my understanding of what actually constitutes a severe wound may not apply to magicians, and Touma was well aware that Stiyl wasn’t in that bad of a state after taking three large icicles to the abdomen and curling over. Regardless, I think it’s fair to say that Stiyl wasn’t looking so hot, and it’d be shame if his final moments were spent listening to Touma try to reason with the big-breasted religious fanatic who put him in his miserable state instead of seeing him try to avenge him. In light of that, it’s good to know that Stiyl’s a good sport about it, cracking a smile when Touma finally knocked her out and thwarted the Roman Catholic Church’s plans by sheer luck.
Now I’m all for moments where protagonists are pinned against the wall and miraculously saved by some unforeseen event, but the sight of the festive fireworks lighting up Academy City’s skies felt like a huge cop-out considering the series we’re dealing with. After all the twists and turns this arc took with its plot feints, wild goose chases, and surprising lack of support from the Anglican Church, it doesn’t sit well with me to learn that Academy City saved itself and that Touma and his crew were just running around the city for the past six episodes. I thought to myself, “Really?”, and it sure didn’t help when Touma was rubbing it in to Lidvia like it was all planned from the very beginning. I’m willing to overlook the cheap humor when Stiyl tripped on a rock in the middle of an airfield, plus how Touma miraculously survived the explosion from Oriana’s trump card attack and mustered up some amazing willpower to stay on his feet — a scene that I just wasn’t feeling the emotions behind — however, I can’t say the same about how this conclusion made all the suspense I felt along the way feel pretty moot.
Much like the Stab Sword’s importance was played up, the lengthy expositions about the Croce di Pietro simply kept me thrilled in my mind in anticipation of something that never happened. It seems like there was never any intention to have its powers enacted in some form and have our heroes overcome it. Instead, we’re simply told about this major catastrophe that will upset the balance of magic and science in the world, only to find out that it was completely prevented in the end like it was a dud. Nothing that was mentioned and highly feared manifested itself on screen in any way whatsoever, and we’re only left with three scuffles with Oriana, who only served as a decoy in the end. The decoy part was like an extra kick while I was down, and seriously felt like the writers were mocking me. To put it into very crude terms, it’s as if I watched a series about a looming alien threat and never saw a single alien. “Croce di Pietro what now?”
I admittedly lost interest in the wrap-up for this arc after that happened, especially in light of how Lidvia turned out to be a much crazier than she originally let on. After the fireworks saved the day, the revelation that Stiyl tagged all the planes felt like another tacked on piece of plot with no prior build-up, and one I just couldn’t be bothered to get hung up on. The only thing I did take away was how ruthless the Anglican Church can be in response to the Roman Catholic Church’s actions, as Laura sent Lidvia flying out of a plane and more or less toyed with her while she plummeted to her death with the Croce di Pietro. In terms of plot, I just hope this means the “crazy bitch” is dead. Given how this arc went, I’ll have to retract my statement about it being nice not having Index as the focus for a change, because the goofy interactions at the hospital quickly reminded me that more screen time for her would’ve made things more enjoyable.
Generally speaking, I always feel this series has great production values, but it tends to suffer from plot progression too dependent on heavy exposition. While it may work well as a light novel since everything’s left up to the imagination anyway, the same can’t be said about overusing it in an anime as far as entertainment is concerned. This is one of the main reasons why I enjoyed Railgun a lot more. In any case, I’m just glad that we’re done with this arc and can start anew with the next one. Hopefully we’ll get to witness the upcoming problem in some form.