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A Certain Magical Index Vol. #18 Light Novel Review

4 min read

The UK arc stumbles to a close!

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

What They Say
Index has returned to London on the orders of the English Puritans, only to find herself in the center of a coup-d’etat spearheaded by the Knights! After they seize most of the UK, the entire country is put under martial law while the sorcerers of the Puritan faction continue to resist. As the civil war rages, Touma Kamijou follows Index’s trail to Folkestone where he, unfortunately, runs directly into the mastermind of the coup herself, the second princess Carissa…and God’s Right Seat Acqua?!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This volume acts as a follow-up on last time, and so we leap right on into the action! And what that means… is we actually start by focusing on Acqua/William versus the Knight Leader. Let me just take this opportunity to say, by the way, that it seems silly that the character is referred to consistently solely as “the Knight Leader” throughout the whole entire book despite being fairly significant. The poor guy just can’t seem to get a name, which is just a bit awkward. But anyway, as for the fight itself, it’s okay enough. What it ultimately comes down to is the Knight Leader having ridiculous abilities, while Acqua largely prevails through having a sword with some very specific tricks. It does the job, but it’s just not the best battle because it feels like one of those instances where rather than being clever, a very precise counter just sort of pops up out of nowhere. Oh, and Touma weirdly has a brief scene with one of the girls from New Light. It’s odd as it just sort of happens and then never really goes anywhere, but I guess our hero needed to hang out with a new random girl as always.

The middle part is definitely where the book drags, though. Like, we get an extended sequence of Index, Touma, and princess Vilian sneaking into a subway to mess with the Curtana Original indirectly. In theory this happens, and I guess it technically shakes Carissa’s grasp on her forces, but it just doesn’t feel like a very necessary scene. Even the random fight with a golem made of paper jammed in there feels halfhearted, and it just all comes across like a glob of filler. I’d say the same about when everyone meets up for a party and there’s lots of random discussion of boobs and maid outfits, but based on past precedent the series really does feel it’s important to run through the same tired tropes over and over till they’re driven into the ground.

The real thing I want to discuss, though, is Carissa herself. She’s the central figure this time around, and around half the book goes to the fight with her. While she can be fun enough when she’s going all out, and I appreciate the teamwork shown throughout in battling her, I have two main issues. Firstly, her powers outside of just being super duper strong are just kind of weird in a way that makes the combat feel a touch abstract and odd. You see, the Curtana Original can cut through anything, including dimensions. You would figure at first that would be simple enough, but it’s explained that by cutting through higher dimensions, random 3D junk shapes are left behind. That ends up feeling like more of her main power here, and it just feels weird… especially because I can’t even tell after reading the book if she has control over what shapes she’s making or not. The bigger issue, though… is after all this time of showing how merciless and cruel Carissa is, trying to murder her sister, launching a bloody coup, and even firing missiles at our heroes… we get a, “But she really was trying to do what was right, and is just playing up being a tyrant, so please save her from herself.” You can pull the self-sacrificing “villain,” but the execution here is frankly terrible and rings incredibly hollow.
Oh, and how it ends is kind of weird too, just pulling an, “Now everybody in the nation, work together to beat up Carissa and save her!” that doesn’t feel quite right.

In Summary
With this book, we get the conclusion of the UK arc, and… it’s not great, to be blunt. The fights throughout are mostly okay enough, though not particularly stunning. However, a lot of the volume feels like it’s sort of dragging its feet to buff up the page count. The real killer, though, is that the book goes well out of its way to spend time building up a pretty fun villain… and then completely and utterly ruins her in a way that frankly feels halfhearted and shoddily executed. If the book had at least stuck the landing there and brought things to a solid close that would be one thing, but as things stand, it’s just not that great of an entry in the series.

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

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: February 19th, 2019
MSRP: $14.00

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