To Aru Majutsu no Index II – 16
「刻限のロザリオ」 (Kokugen no Rozario)
“Rosary of Appointed Time”
For an episode that went the distance by cutting out both the opening and ending sequences, the conclusion to this arc came off like a season finale of sorts, except when it came to the actual content. Much like this series is known for, the big threat was explained yet never got remotely off the ground, as Touma settled everything with his right hand like he always does. After Biagio dropped enough clues about removing the targeting restriction of the Queen of the Adriatic Sea for Orsola to figure out his true motive of wiping Academy City and science off the face of the Earth, I was anticipating the Rosary of Appointed Time “plan” to be set into motion. Unfortunately for me, the preparation weren’t even complete and Biagio resorted to blowing up the entire fleet and going out with a bang to rid the Roman Catholic Church of their enemies instead. There may have been a big global threat, but in reality this was just a rescue operation to save Agnese. Any sense of danger was all an illusion in my mind, which was quickly shattered when it became clear it none of it would come close to fruition.
Ultimately, that’s my biggest gripe with these series — we’re told what to be afraid of and never see any of it. While this mirrors religion in a lot of ways and is rather befitting of this fictional story, it makes the problems that the characters encounter feel somewhat unsubstantial. It’s as if they’re constantly preparing for an apocalypse and beating down anyone and everyone who attempts to bring it about. A lot the excitement is lost when all I’m watching are preventative countermeasures, even when we have a huge fleet of magical ships out to shift the balance of power in the world. For once, I’d like to see an apocalypse begin and the characters’ dumbfounded on what they’re supposed to do, before finding a way to overcome the problem. If all the excess exposition was removed from this arc, we’d be left with a psychotic power-hungry bishop kidnapping Agnese, and Touma and co. rushing to rescue her. Gigantic crosses were thrown left and right and Touma had a field day with his right hand, but in the end our hero was set on punching out Biagio regardless of what his intentions were. The Queen’s Fleet? That was just a change of scenary.
There were some positives to take away from this arc though, such as how it was much more straightforward than the previous one. The last thing I wanted to find out is that Biagio’s plan to destroy Academy City was just a fake-out like the Stab Sword. There was only a little bit of that this time, in the sense that the self-destruct made made all the explanations behind the Rosary of Appointed Time moot, but nothing I had to take the time to wrapping my understanding around that would have never happened. Instead, I spent two episodes understanding something that was going to happen but never got the chance to. It probably sounds crazy when the end result is the same, except I feel a lot better when I didn’t have to take in twice as much. I’m fine with the exposition to drive the story. I just feel cheated when I’m given it in double doses using sneaky storytelling methods.
Anyway, I still enjoy this series despite these little qualms I have with it, which is why the foreshadowing of the next arc from the Pope (Kimura Masafumi) and a member of “God’s Right Seat” (Kami no Useki) Vento (Hiramatsu Akiko) already has my interest piqued. With Touma being placed under investigation and eliminated if deemed a threat, I don’t see any way the actual problem won’t be front and center when the series revolves around him. What’s more, the next arc features new characters to change things up too. That’s a big plus for me since the character interactions are a lot more appealing to me than the subplots themselves. This includes Kaori considering Tsuchimiya’s fallen angel maid outfit to thank Touma for helping Amakusa, Agnese joining the good guys, and more Accelerator, Uiharu, and the happy couple next time. Touma’s Italian vacation may have been cut short, but a certain Level 5 is eagerly awaiting his return and I want to see what sort of punishment she has in store for him.
Random thought: Do they have satellite cellphones in their world? That’s some crazy reception range that Touma and Index had on their phones.