「8月31日（さいごのひ）」 (Hachigatsu Sanjūichinichi (Saigo no Hi))
“August 31st (The Last Day)”
Having been looking forward to this sequel ever since Railgun ended back in March, I must say that this first episode certainly did not fail to meet my expectations. This episode gave me exactly what I was looking forward to seeing again on Touma’s side of the story; nonsensical arguments between Kamijou-san and Index, misguided magicians with pathetic illusions clouding their vision, and yes, even the “Kamijou Choir” that this anime has become infamous for. Lest we not forget the imagery porn that Index and Railgun are also known for, with backgrounds so beautifully drawn and detailed that you would not be at fault if you mistook them for real images at first glance. Even when compared to the stunning art of the first season, it is apparent that Index II has gotten a sizable budget upgrade, with every building and road looking as if it were drawn in detail. Of course, with the first Index anime being a great commercial success and Railgun averaging sales of over 20,000 DVD/BD copies per volume, it’s not difficult to understand why J.C.Staff would pour every bit of its prime resources into this franchise, which some would say comes at a cost to their other projects this season. Surely, the gap in production quality between Index and every other show J.C.Staff is producing this season is pretty jarring. Hell, I’d go so far as to say Index II has the best production value this season with the exception of STAR DRIVER.
Production quality aside, the episode itself was quite enjoyable. I love how Touma always plays the straight man even while surrounded by the most bizarre things, worried more about the fate of his homework when he’s FUKOU DA’d by a maid or being attacked by a magician. Even hearing Touma give his “holier than thou” speeches again was refreshing, I really missed them, although I’m certain many feel differently. While Index doesn’t have nearly as much personality as Touma, I must admit her moe levels are not to be trifled with, as seeing her make that adorable neko face and coercing Touma into buying her food would make any respectable weeaboo have a “hnnng” attack. Even so, Index pales in comparison to our resident Biribiri, Misaka Mikoto, who’s coming fresh off of her own show with totally new levels of deredere. I damn near had a heart attack watching her soften up when Touma was in her face. That level of moe is certainly dangerous, we can’t have anyone suffering a death by moe, now can we? The bondage Index is nothing to play around with either, mind you.
Of course, just like without an ever adorable Index and an electrifyingly moe Mikoto, Index would not be Index without Touma getting attacked by a well intentioned but misguided magician, a role which is filled by Yamisaka Ouma this time. His story, while somewhat generic, is interesting, having gone through the trouble of hunting down Index only to attain one grimoire among 103,000 in order to save the life of the person he loves. Touma, being the saint he is, breaks that screwed up illusion and offers the services of Imagine Breaker to cure Ouma’s loved one. I like how J.C.Staff decided to jump right back into the series with another arc, almost as if the first season never ended. Not only did it accomplish the task of reintroducing Index, Touma, and his Imagine Breaker, but it also flowed well as a continuity. If you were to go straight into Index II from the first season you would feel as if there weren’t a year and a half long wait for this. That said, the episode itself did not take place immediately after the last arc of the first season timeline wise, instead taking place on the same day as Touma’s “date” with Mikoto and Accelerator’s first encounter with Last Order. For those out of the know, J.C.Staff cut the event that this episode covers from the anime in season one to save time for the Hyouka arc, and are now using it as a reintroduction episode. Keep in mind, this can be taken as a good or a bad thing. Good in the sense that it shows J.C.Staff are dedicated to remaining fairly faithful to the source material for this series (unlike some other adaptations) and will go out of their way to animate events when they can, but bad in the sense that this is also taking up time that could be used for sparring more episodes to later arcs this season. While I can see why some people would disapprove of this, personally I have no problem with them using this reintroduction as a means to animate an event that they originally cut , and am glad that they made that decision.
So in general, I’m simply looking forward to more Index. I love the world and premise that the series has set up, and the characters themselves are very interesting and entertaining as well. For me, the main appeal of Index has always been just how unique it is, whether it be the plot itself or the “battle system”, if the powers used in this series can be categorized as such. Never have I seen an anime where the only notable power the main character possesses is the ability to negate supernatural things not of this world with his right hand, and never have I seen an anime that takes science and religion and pits them in direct contest with each other. The first season barely touched upon the science vs. religion aspect of Index, let alone the true overarching plot, and as a novel reader I am very much anticipating seeing the more involved parts of the story animated later on this season. The beautiful visuals, Biribiri, and emotional speeches are just a plus for me when it comes to Index. The true meat of this series lies in the complexity of the story and setting and how crazy things get when science and magic cross paths.