Original Story: Kazuma Kamachi
Art: Yoshiaki Sukeno
Character Design: Kiyotaka Haimura
Translation/ Adaptation: Andrew Prowse/ Chuya Kogino
What They Say:
Touma Kamijou just can’t catch a break. He might live in Academy City, a place full of more super powered students than you can shake a stick at, but his only superpower is his supernatural lack of luck. He wants nothing more than to keep a low profile, but when a girl named Index comes into his life, it gets more complicated and dangerous than ever!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Academy City may seem like an ordinary city for students on the outside, but on the inside, it is actually a development centre for supernatural abilities. They nurture these gifts through a variety of techniques by which by the end of their general curriculum, most will have some minor power. But, of course, there is always an exception to the rule, and this time it is Touma Kamijou. After going through the primary screening process, all he ended with an extraordinary amount of bad luck!
However, that does not stop his strong sense of justice from interfering in problems he does not a hope to understand. When a group of thugs are harassing a young girl, Touma decides to step in, but just ends up getting chased down by them and saved by the same girl. It turns out that she didn’t need any help for she is Mikoto Misaka, one of the strongest electrical ability users in Academy City and she now intends to prove that against him; but, after she shoots her strongest attack, he is largely unharmed. Touma may not have a strong gift, but it is one nonetheless which he calls Imagine Breaker. Unfortunately, it can only nullify powers which are directed at his right hand. So much for luck!
After he gets back home to clean up, Touma’s bad luck strikes again as he sees that his air conditioner has sprung a leak and the entire apartment is flooded. But, he also notices that he left his futon on the balcony, but it can’t be, since it’s soaked on the floor. Upon closer inspection, the lumpy mattress turns out to be a nun named Index. Once he gets her own and feeds her, she explains that she is being chased by people who want the grimoires in her possession. However, instead of taking her seriously, all Touma does is laugh and assumes she is kidding since magic isn’t real. All known abilities are created or enhanced by science and since magic can’t be explained by science, it can’t be real. Or so he assumes – but under Index’s continues insistence, he will soon learn that some things can’t be explained by science.
A Certain Magical Index is an interesting take on a typical underdog story with Touma trying to understand his place in a world of people with strange powers. And yet, all he can do is defend himself which goes against his sense of justice. How can he fight if all he can do is run? While Index does try to open his mind to a world of magic and Mikoto keeps challenging him to duels to find out who is stronger, the story lacks any real connection between the two opposing worlds.
While they do try to explain some of Index’s back story, most of it is glanced over in favour for more action. This makes the story hard to follow, notably when the reader is bombarded by pages without any explanation of what is happening. This is especially true towards the end of the manga when a magus ambushes Touma. They go from one attack sequence, into a few panels of some self deliberation, and then another onslaught. You are not given any time to even ponder what happened, all you see are big splashes of black peppered by numerous Japanese sound effects and their translations under each in parentheses; you can assume that Touma endured the devastation since he is breathing heavily on the next page, but you can’t be sure how or why he survived.
While the premise of the manga is appealing, the execution is flawed. It would have made more sense to establish the characters somehow before leaping into endless barrages of attacks on Touma. They do have intermission pages between the chapters, so why couldn’t they have been used more tactfully instead of plastering them with solid black and the title? True, not much information could have been supplied on such little real estate, but it doesn’t take much to time or effort to supply us with a little background. Maybe they assumed that the readers saw the anime before reading the book, but in this case, that would have spoiled the story and is a poor excuse for poor story telling.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: May 19th, 2015