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A Certain Magical Index Vol. #05 Novel Review

4 min read

A Certain Magical Index Novel 5 CoverA certain VERY unlikely hero!

Creative Staff
Story: Kazuma Kamachi
Art: Kiyotaka Haimura
Translation: Andrew Prowse and Yoshito Hinton

What They Say
August 31. The day Accelerator meets a strange girl in a back alley and he’s sure he’s seen her somewhere before. The day Mikoto Misaka finds herself asked on a date by a very pleasant young man. That same day, Touma Kamijou awakes with an especially unlucky feeling. The reason: he’s just realized he has completely forgotten to do any of his summer homework. Three characters, three stories, and one last day of summer vacation!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
To start us off, it should be mentioned that this volume actually has a pretty interesting structure. After a brief and relatively goofy intro with Kamijou, we jump to the point of view of Accelerator, and then back to Kamijou, then finish up Accelerator’s tale, and finally get one more short story with Kamijou before the epilogue. The result is a rather interesting feel to the book, as it’s more a mixture of interlinking brief stories. And of course, it’s worth noting that the whole book is crammed into the events on August 31 (well, for the most part), the final day of summer break in Academy City, with “time” playing an important factor and coming up frequently.

As for Accelerator’s opening tale that forms the core of the volume, it truly kicks off when the young man meets a small girl. It turns out that this girl wearing nothing but a blanket is called Last Order, and was the final of the Sisters, but has been under-grown and is thus only about 10 years old physically. Though Accelerator of course tries to shrug her off, she sticks to him closely and asks for his help. And though he remains gruff as we get a look at his messed up life, Accelerator eventually decides to help her by going back to the lab she was created at, though of course he does so by storming off and leaving her behind.

After this, we get a fairly standalone chapter in which Mikoto ends up forcing Kamijou on a “date” with her in order to fend off the advances of a boy named Mitsuki Unabara. And though the chapter seems to be a quirky little one in which our hero must deal with this while also trying to complete his homework, things turn dark when it turns out there’s a second Mitsuki. We soon find out that one was actually an imposter who kidnapped the original and was wearing his skin (in a somewhat literal fashion) in order to get close to Kamijou, leading to a fight. What results is a decent though unexceptional battle, and in the aftermath we learn the rather intriguing tidbit that our hero is being targeted because of the power he’s amassed. It actually makes sense considering the ridiculous enemies he has taken down, and the powerful allies he’s gained, so it makes for a pretty neat little development that seems decently aware of the situation the series has created.

Following this, Accelerator’s story progresses as we learn that Last Order is a control unit for the other Sisters. And of course, one of the other researchers has put a virus in her that will lead to an apocalypse situation as they’re all driven into a murderous rampage. Will Accelerator be able to turn his life around and use his powers for good in order to rescue the girl? And when we return to Kamijou, can he both rescue Index from the strange intruder who kidnapped her, as well as finishing his homework in time?!

In Summary
Though this volume may be the most fragmented yet due to its short story style set-up, it ironically comes together quite a bit better than the last book. Ultimately Kamijou’s stories here don’t matter to a huge degree, though they’re still plenty enjoyable and fit well into the overall narrative. The real core of the volume, though, is Accelerator’s story, which is absolutely fascinating. It’s really neat to see a character who was so reprehensible in the past take on the role of lead, and he gains a LOT of depth by doing so. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that taking a closer look at his powers is fascinating in its own right, and the author definitely comes up with some interesting applications. Really, the only big downside (outside of Last Order’s slightly annoying verbal ticks, I suppose) would be that there’s a good bit of overlap between the stories of Kamijou in the first volume and Accelerator here. But ultimately even that feels more like intentional parallels then a blatant rip-off, and the result is still a great story that absolutely manages to develop its own beats as well. By taking a step away and choosing to flesh out the extended cast, this book gives the series the shot in the arm that it needed so desperately after the last entry. Even if the last volume turned you off, be sure to give this one a chance, as it really does manage to turn things around.

Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: N/A
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: November 17th, 2015
MSRP: $14.00