「刺突抗剣（スタブソード）」 (Shitotsu Kouken (Sutabu Soodo))
“Thrusting Anti-Sword (Stab Sword)”
After punching so many girls in the face lately, Touma finally gets a taste of his own medicine care of one pissed off Misaka Mikoto. Next to Tsuchimikado’s scuffle with Oriana, that ended up being one of the highlights of this episode too. The rest of it bounced back and forth between Touma and Stiyl’s pursuit and Himegami’s talks with Komoe, both of which didn’t really result in anything. In addition, those two focuses seemed to work against each other from a pacing standpoint. As soon as the suspense was picking up from being hot on Oriana’s trail, the pace slowed to a crawl with Komoe talking to Himegami about inviting Touma to the Night Parade. While I did appreciate the focus on fleshing out Himegami’s interest in Touma more, it didn’t seem like a very good time to do so. On screen, it felt like it dragged out longer than it needed to too, making me anxious to see things shift back to Touma and Stiyl. Once they finally did, I couldn’t help but notice how most of the suspense was built up by a lengthy exposition on how they absolutely can not allow Oriana to escape the proximity of Tsuchimikado’s Rihashijin spell, along with some pretty upbeat pursuit music, only for it to be tossed aside in a mere instantly when she decided to go after Tsuchimikado. I gather that comes from retaining most of the dialogue from the light novels, but question whether all of it is necessary when there’s stuff actually happening that we can see.
However, where that did work well was when that suspense carried over to Tsuchimikado’s fight with Oriana, which came with cheeky sorcery name introductions of Fallere825 and Basis104 to set the tone. The fight itself seemed rather lopsided since Tsuchimikado can’t really use his magic without risking killing himself in the process, but he did surprise me with the way he charged fearlessly through Oriana’s attacks, exchanged a few blows, pounced on her suggestive position, and grabbed her leg to do who knows what. Go Tsuchimikado go. You animal. It wasn’t all for naught though, as he did have a moment to look cool when he dispelled Oriana’s barrier and made a bluff about calling in Kaori to do some quick clean up. The bluff itself I found rather amusing, because the idea had actually crossed my mind last episode about how she could join the mission now that the threat of the Stab Sword is gone. I had actually written in my impressions as well, but ended up removing it because the title of this episode seemed to suggest otherwise. Talk about getting misled by the writers, as I still don’t see any reason this episode was titled “Stab Sword”.
Ultimately, the big shocker this week was Oriana causing Himegami to more or less explode when she mistook the cross that suppresses her Deep Blood vampire killer abilities as indication that she’s a member of Necessarius. While I’ll forgo asking why Oriana didn’t try such a direct and seemingly impossible to avoid attack on Touma or Tsuchimikado (short of that it wasn’t up in her spell casting rotation yet), it still kind of irks me how Stiyl and Touma had time to talk about what they should and shouldn’t be doing in that situation. Himegami is still alive after all, so can someone please help the poor girl bleeding to death on the sidewalk, even if it’s just carrying her to the hospital or calling for an ambulance? What’s more, Stiyl even had time to spare to lecture Touma a bit and encourage him to chase down Oriana. Messed up priorities aside, I was surprised to see Komoe keep it relatively together, and even recall the spell that Index showed her way back, which looks like it’ll be what ends up saving Himegami. That is, if Stiyl manages to pull off the spell properly (…a relatively safe bet that he will).
Lastly, I don’t tend to dwell on dips in production quality all that much, but these recent episodes have left me wondering exactly what J.C. Staff is doing. If you compare them to their work in the first few episodes where they wanted to make an immediate splash, the difference is pretty staggering. Most of my qualms are with the character designs themselves, which include the faces that look noticeably off in a lot of the scenes. Character proportions aren’t any better, as everyone looks like they’re losing weight so quickly that Index has absolutely nothing to worry about. Hopefully this is only a temporarily thing, rather than the new acceptable standard going forward.
* Due to all the static panning shots that likely shaved production time, I did manage to piece together seven full-length images though. They’re images 08, 10, 17, 22, 27, 31, and 34 for those interested.