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A Certain Magical Index Vol. #21 Light Novel Review

4 min read
I’d say this adds up to perhaps a slightly better volume than last time, but still certainly far from perfect.

Angelic assault

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

What They Say
As war continues to threaten to change the entire planet as they know it, three young boys are each desperately searching for the answers to their troubles in Russia. Hamazura is still looking for any clues to how he might be able to cure his friend’s condition. Accelerator can’t stop until he finds a way to save one helpless girl. And Kamijou won’t give up on returning Index back to normal, no matter who stands in his way!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Continuing on from last time, we once again rejoin our three heroes in Russia, each with their own tale… sort of. Honestly, it’s more accurate to say that Kamijou gets his own story that’s central to the book, Accelerator kind of sort of hangs around the periphery doing his own vaguely related stuff, and Hamazura just sorta gets some halfbaked stuff to do off to the side. Oh, and Stiyl gets to do a thing or two off to the side, but it’s so detached and spaced out that it’s easy to forget he’s even got a part in this volume. Plus we get some bits of Mikoto trying but failing to get involved with the main plot, even.

As the most important one, I’ll cover Kamijou first. You see, after messing around with Lesser a bit more he gets caught up in Fiamma’s plot, and ends up stranded on a giant floating base the villain constructs called the Star of Bethlehem. But that’s not the only issue, as the mastermind also summons the angel Misha Kreutzev/Gabriel, who ends up being the primary focus this time around. And it… sort of works? You see, I do like that all this at least gives the plot a point to rally around, so that it feels like the characters (except Hamazura) are all part of the same story, keeping things from feeling too disjointed like what happened last time. And heck, the angel makes for a solid enough threat to unite around, feeling significantly overwhelmingly strong. However, perhaps as part of an attempt to make the being feel otherworldly and spooky, she just… is more just a plot device than a character in the story, which feels rather shallow. Still, makes for a nice bombastic climax for the book of everyone coming together to take her down.

For Accelerator’s part, his bit is in theory centered on him carrying around the parchment from last time, which is pretty much just a MacGuffin that’s supposedly key to Fiamma’s plans. This largely just means him doing some running around for the first part, but then he at least gets involved in the big fight with Gabriel near the end, which is at least something. And it’s more than I can say for Hamazura, who very much just runs around with his own subplot for the whole book, having nothing to do with everything only to have his issue essentially resolved for him in the end. About the best that I can say there is that at least he’s got a cliffhanger that seems like it could head in a more interesting direction for him next time.

In Summary
For the most part, this volume is a continuation of the last one not only in story but also in flaws, albeit a bit shifted. You see, we still have a fragmented story that flits around far too frequently for its own good, which is unfortunate. This time though, there’s at least a core central plot point to help tie things together, which mitigates that damage at least a bit… but even then, it doesn’t fully tie things together, with Hamazura in particular feeling rather detached. And perhaps because it’s the middle volume in this big climactic arc, it does a much worse job of giving everyone a meaningful story this time around, with Kamijou really being the only one who feels like he has a worthwhile part. In actual execution, I’d say this adds up to perhaps a slightly better volume than last time, but still certainly far from perfect. Still, I suppose there’s at least still hope that the next entry will stick the landing.

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

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: December 17th, 2019
MSRP: $14.00

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