Not a Review: To Aru Majutsu no Index

J.C. Staff’s track record for well done light novel adaptations isn’t exactly stellar. Actually, as of late, their track record for anything good at all hasn’t been all the great. Yet, despite a history of failure, I still come back and partake of whatever they have to offer, even if it does turn out to be mind-numbingly generic and boring.

Thankfully, To Aru Majutsu no Index is something of a success. That said, it still manages to be rather flawed, but in the end it’s time well spent. One of the show’s most egregious failings is its pacing–it is at times, absolutely terrible. The show’s opening six episode arc is needlessly time consuming, dwelling for long periods on paragraphs upon paragraphs of boring, needless exposition that just doesn’t work in the context of a 20-minutes-per-week television program. In one of these episodes, there is only about three scenes, one of them focused entirely on one area for a majority of the running time–that’s embarrassingly unprofessional direction. However, this terribly uneven, slow and sloppy pacing fixes itself as the show progresses, and only rears its head every now and again.

Another slight failing of the show is in its writing, which isn’t entirely J.C. Staff’s fault, and more the fault of original light novel author Kamachi Kazuma. There are a number of arcs in which the goal is unclear, and times when the pieces of the story just don’t match up. One other big failing of the writing is that Kamachi is one of those writers who just loves coming up with characters. As a result, we have a bunch of interesting characters but not enough time for all of them. For example, the titular Index is only really instrumental in the show’s terrible opening episodes, and after this is pushed aside for whatever other new character Kamachi has come up with. This lack of restraint is, once again, terribly unprofessional. That said, Kamachi’s plots present some very good and interesting ideas–they’re just handled very amateurishly. Similarly, all his characters are creatively moé, but like I said, they only get a few minutes to shine. A pity, really.

One thing that really helps the show is really stellar production values. Haimura Kiyotaka’s designs are rendered in loving detail frame after frame, and when there is action, it moves very well. There is also great care taken in the background art to present a realistic and deep environment in which these characters inhabit, and the lighting tends to be quite nice, too. And, of course, the great amount of fanservice–both sexual and non-sexual–is pulled of quite well.

To Aru Majutsu no Index isn’t really show I’d recommend to anyone unless they’re already a fan of such things, and in that case they’ve probably watched it already. It was a fine show to watch on a weekly basis, but I probably wouldn’t watch it again.