The start of a new school year does little to damper Touma Kamijou’s high level of bad luck.
Touma’s first day back to school at the start of the new term has already gotten to an interesting start thanks to Ouma Yamisaka’s earlier interference, but it’s about to get a whole lot more interesting. Index decides to go to Touma’s school despite not being a student, and she meets the shy and mysterious Hyouka Kazakiri as a result. At the same time, an English Puritan sorceress named Sherry Chromwell breaks into Academy City with the intent of starting a war between the Church and Academy City by attacking Touma, Index, and for some reason Kazakiri. However, it soon becomes clear that Kazakiri is no normal girl. Could she be the secret to Academy City’s imaginary ith District?
A Certain Magical Index has more or less established a bit of a rhythm in its narrative flow by this volume, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While I more or less got what I expected out of the book, those expectations were certainly not for bad things, as you might know if you’ve been following my series of reviews. There’s a moderately understandable villain who is after Touma/his companions that Touma stops, with a bit of humor and a nice helping of drama. Of course, we explore some new elements of both the magical and scientific worlds as well. If this all sounds appealing to you, then you will likely find yourself at least decently satisfied by this volume. However, it’s in the nuances and the details that will really decide just how much you like the book in comparison to its predecessors.
The first major thought that hit me at the beginning of the book was the way that Touma’s memory loss has been handled: extremely well. One major fault a lot of stories have, especially ones targeting the kind of teenage boy demographic of Index, is the unceremonious dropping of plot threads as they are often used only briefly for the purpose of furthering a specific plot element in some way. This is definitely not the case here, as Touma’s memory loss is very much a prevalent detail (although there’s a blur between what he ‘inherently’ knows and what he doesn’t remember). Touma still has the internal struggle of feeling disconnected from others whom he feels truly care for the ‘previous’ Touma, and this continues to provide a bit of quality dramatic irony for readers to experience. I definitely enjoyed the continuing relevance of Touma’s memory loss, and author Kazuma Kamachi’s tendency to continue plot threads like this likely indicates a slightly hidden bigger picture as events continue to unfold.
The primary story of this volume centers around Hyouka Kazakiri, a mysterious student who supposedly hold the key to the ith District of Academy City. A sorceress by the name of Sherry Chromwell (if I were Japanese I imagine I would view this as a very stereotypical British name) breaks into the city on the first day of the new semester of classes with the apparent intent of attacking Touma, Index, and Kazakiri to start a war between the English Puritan Church and Academy City. While her reasons differ from previous foes, the effect her intentions would have on Touma’s gang are very similar. Sherry and Kazakiri definitely make for interesting characters, as there is a bit more beneath the surface than initially meets the eye with both the shy Kazakiri and the aggressively violent Sherry. Sherry’s motivations in particular are interesting not because she wants to start a war (although that’s pretty sweet too) but because of why she wants to start the war, which we learn through Touma’s face-off with her.
A Certain Magical Index is frequently the host of very dramatic dialogue, often between Touma and his various opponents. This definitely holds true in this volume, although I felt at times that some of the conversations bordered a bit more on the melodramatic side of things than I would have liked. In particular, the hidden nature of Kazakiri’s abnormal existence (which links her in the story to the ith District) is a subject for slightly over-the-top moments between Kazakiri and Touma. I wouldn’t call this a particularly major issue as there were plenty of interesting moments as well in Kazakiri’s character arc. However, it definitely led to some cheesy-feeling pages in the book and could have been more effective (in my opinion) with a few minor tweaks in the dialogue at key moments during the conflict.
I’d say overall if there was one strength this volume had over previous entries in the series, it would be the implications at the end. Much of the world building and development in the book indicated to greatly significant details that could be game-changing. This ranged from the concept of the ith district to the manner of the relationship between the English Puritan Church and Academy City’s higher-ups. The beginning of the book felt a bit mired by excessive cheap comedy (we’re talking about a bunch of silly fanservice-y moments here), but the later portions of the book made up for most of these types of earlier complaints for me.
A Certain Magical Index definitely doesn’t disappoint in its sixth volume, although I wouldn’t say it’s quite as good as some of the earlier books. Fans of the series will certainly find appeal in the conflict and battles between Touma and Sherry, and although Kazakiri has some cheesy moments, her character also rounds out the story of the book nicely. I’m really looking forward to when we get to seemingly inevitable point where the plot threads of all the volumes really start to add up.
A Certain Magical Index Vol. 5 was translated into English by Andrew Prowse, originally authored by Kazuma Kamachi, and published by Yen Press on February 23, 2016. A Certain Magical Index was an ongoing series in ASCII’s Dengeki Bunko imprint, and received two anime adaptions by J.C. Staff in Fall 2008 and Fall 2010. Volume 7 will release in North America on May 24th.
We’re Taykobon, your home for reviews of manga and light novels. Be sure to follow us on twitter@taykobon for more updates and to get the latest happenings! We strive to provide timely coverage of manga and light novel releases, for a listing of every review we’ve written you can check here. For more info about Taykobon, please check here. If you’ve read this work or have any questions or comments, we would love the hear from you in the comments below!
*Copy provided for Taykobon by publisher.
If you enjoyed this review, you may like these reviews as well: