To Aru Majutsu no Index II – 23
“Before War Breaks Out”
Other than the conclusion to the Fuze Kazakiri at the very beginning, this episode felt like a precursor to an all-out war between science and magic. It also came off as the calm before the storm with Touma inadvertently unhooking Himegami’s bra and eating sukiyaki with all this classmates, which was a little odd considering that next week is the finale. It’s as if the producers aren’t concerned about wrapping up this sequel and are content with bridging arcs in expectation of a third season. The opening scene between Touma and Hyouka with IKU’S “Pray ~Inori” insert song probably should’ve been included at the end the previous episode for added effect, while Accelerator getting “recruited” into an underground organization called GROUP serving as the actual start to this next arc.
The episode title itself was more telling than the actual events that took place, as questions surrounding GROUP quickly became the primarily focus. Familiar faces popped up in the Aztec magician still posing as Unabara Mitsuki, i.e. Etzali (Kishio Daisuke), whom Touma defeated back in episode eighteen of season one, as well as Musujime Awaki (Sakurai Harumi), whom Accelerator left in a bloody mess back in episode seven of this season. What came as a surprise was Tsuchimikado’s involvement, as I don’t recall it ever being explicitly stated that he’s been blackmailed into doing the Board of Directors’ bidding. In any case, that is the purpose of GROUP, who’s been ordered to handle internal affairs by taking out Skill-Out’s leader Komaba Ritoku (Miyake Kenta).
From what I gather, the finale will quickly conclude around stopping Academy City’s armed group of Level 0′s, whom viewers of Railgun will probably remember from the arc on Mii and Big Spider. Suffice to say, not quite the direction I was anticipating after hearing Acqua’s talk with fellow member of God’s Right Seat, Terra of the Left (Ootsuka Houchuu), followed by Heaven Canceller’s disagreement over Aleister’s actions. Misleading episode titles are nothing new to Index, but those two scenes did have me eagerly looking forward to the outbreak of war between Academy City and the Roman Catholic Church that never came about. Judging from the progression here, I am somewhat optimistic about getting a glimpse of that next time though. It would be the farthest thing from a conclusive ending, but it would fulfill it’s purpose of building up demand for a third season.
With so much going on story-wise, the lighthearted stuff was a refreshing change of pace as usual, particularly when Seiri’s talking about front-clasp bras as if they’re a deterrent to unhooking them. (More like an ambitious adventure.) I also loved seeing Index’s beastly appetite when it comes to meat, and Tsuchikimado’s priceless reaction to Touma’s new-found determination to learn English. Touma sure has his priorities right. Why fight in a war when you can be a mediator instead! (Granted, he wasn’t even considering that.) Anyway, I still can’t shake the feeling that the series is slated to conclude at a huge crossroad, but I’ll reserve judgement about how it’s done when I actually see it.