Rushed adaptations are certainly disappointing, to say the least. In To Aru Majutsu no Index III’s case, however, its just perplexing to see the show continue to rush through content at this break neck of a pace. The franchise’s popularity, staying power and anticipation are big reasons for why the show can afford to take its time. Indeed, even this week’s episode, which concludes the Battle Royale arc, features a darn important part of the overall story. Its no surprise, therefore, that the show and the franchise as a whole are all the worse because of how sloppily this particular part of the story is told.
There are plenty of theories amuck around the internet about why exactly Index III is doing what its doing, but the most plausible one hints at a pretty familiar idea. Its something that we’re getting a lot of in the anime industry today, and its something that I think is so incredibly short sighted and foolish that I guess I can’t help but lament at how prevalent its become. We’ve seen it before with shows like Ao no Exorcist, or Shokugeki no Soma. It seems like the people in charge of anime adaptations are always rushing to try and get to a particular “impressive” part of the story that they’re adapting without putting in the necessary work to make the journey memorable.
This rush to get the proverbial “good parts” is so rife with problems and issues, but the core problem here is that there just isn’t a high degree of respect for the source material when you do something like this. The reason franchises like Index became so popular in the first place is because of how much care and effort was put into the initial season when the franchise was debuted.
As anyone even remotely familiar with storytelling will tell you, it takes careful buildup to create those truly memorable moments that stick with you long after the story itself has concluded. The “slow” parts or the so called “not as good bits” are important, because its the things that are setup there, that ultimately resolve into something truly spectacular. And I think the fact that neither the audience nor the creators of fiction seem to have any patience for slow build up these days, is what’s really hurting anime adaptations as a whole. I see it all the time in games anime adaptations (like BlazBlue or Ace Attorney) and now, shockingly we’re starting to see it in both Light Novel and manga adaptations as well. Its scary, and while I could probably elaborate on this topic a fair bit more, I think its worth noting that this is an Index III episode blog, and not a wider look at adaptations as a whole.
The point, I guess, is that Index III’s sixth episode, the conclusion to the Battle Royale arc, lost a lot of its impact because of how much the show skipped over those “boring” bits. It really does feel like the show just jumped straight into two big battle scenes this week without any proper context. Its those two scenes, each featuring a rather major character in the franchise, that are supposed to be the crown jewels of this arc. One is Hamazura vs Mugino, and the other is Accelerator vs Kakine. I won’t bother you too much with what was cut before and in these battles, but I will (as usual) point you to r/anime’s latest episode discussion and Razorhead’s reply thread in particular.
The one thing I will say is that each of these two scenes/battles were big enough and important enough that even I could tell they each needed their own episode. The Hamazura half of the episode, in particular, felt really out of place and extremely choppy. This is supposed to be Hamazura’s big moment. Its the part of the story where, he realizes what he’s doing and switches into his redemptive arc and starts his journey towards being a hero.
There’s even a call back to season 2 and the exchange that he had with Touma, which is cool… However… I just felt like we were missing a lot of backstory here.
The jump from Hamazura disposing bodies, to suddenly wanting to protect this girl, is just too extreme. We aren’t sold on Hamazura’s big change of heart, because honestly, we’ve barely had time to get to know him or see his struggles. We saw him for a brief moment at the start of the arc, and then we saw him run away from that girl in the dress. Finally, We see him now and have half an episode dedicated to his big act of heroism and of fighting off a Level 5.
And its fun, sure, to see Hamazura beat out a level 5 by the skin of his teeth, but I think the anime does a poor job of even remotely making it seem believable. I’ve read the the details from the reddit thread I mentioned earlier, and the big idea here is that Hamazura actually uses Mugino’s arrogance and her very disheveled mental state to basically catch her by surprise and finish her off.
In this episode, that is barely even communicated. Instead, it feels like Hamazura beats Mugino because the story has to have him do that. It actively spits on the idea of Hamazura’s cleverness and the story that’s present in the source material. What we get, instead, is kind of just provides a haphazard depiction of the events themselves, while the show glosesses over the all too important details.
So In essence, as far as the Hamazura part of the episode goes, the show fails on two of its major goals. It fails to provide a satisfying character arc conclusion for Hamazura, because well, he never really gets an arc at all. Secondly, the show also fails to actually create an engaging, tense battle between Mugino and Hamazura. In the novels, there’s lots more beams flying around, and even a melted hand or two before its all said and done.
And that really is the second insult to injury. The fight itself that the anime rushed towards? Its not presented all that well, whether from a story perspective, a pacing perspective or even from an animation perspective. I know I haven’t harped on Index III’s terrible production values as much as I probably should have, but man was it so apparent this week. The Hamazura battle was at points just flat out ugly, and I can’t say anything all too positive here. Its unfortunate, but Hamazura really was the main casualty in this arc’s rushed adaptation.
As for Accelerator? He fared a little better, but not all that much. See, The show jumps straight from Hamazura’s big moment to Accelerator’s battle with Kakine, and that, in turn creates a real weird and harsh change of tone. Hamazura and Accelerator are different characters at very different parts of the Academy City stratosphere. That’s really the point of this arc, of course, which is to show us a level 0 (for real this time) take down a Level 5, and then also have a Level 5 vs 5 battle happen concurrently elsewhere.
In a light novel, you have this natural separation via chapters. Each Chapter can switch perspective and jump to a completely new story. In an anime series? You have a similar separation, except between episodes. Which is why I think both parts of this episode would’ve been served better if they each had an episode and perhaps a week apart from each other.
But anyway, lets get into Accelerator vs Kakine. So Kakine is revealed to be the Plan B to what Academy City and Aleister were doing with regards to Accelerator. Kakine’s big plan is revealed in this episode, and its to to get this thing called Underlining. Underlining, is a surveillance system that Aleister directly taps into and is spread across Academy City’s airwaves. That item that Kakine stole at the beginning of the arc? Its supposed to be a device that taps into that system. Of course, as we learn in this episode, that information is not enough for Kakine to reach Aleister. So he switches to a new plan, take down the only Esper in Academy City that is stronger than him, Accelerator.
Which, incidentally, is why Kakine goes after Last Order, and why he runs into Uiharu. Worth noting, this is Uiharu’s first major scene in Index proper (she’s featured pretty heavily in Railgun of course). Uiharu is a badass here, and I encourage reading up on what she does in the novel, because the anime even skips out on THAT.
As for the Accelerator vs Kakine fight itself? It was good. I enjoyed it, particularly because I enjoyed Accelerator’s whole “villain” banter. Its complete nonsense mind you, but the guy says it with such conviction and confidence, that its hard not to be entertained. Everything from Accelerator basically playing Kakine and keeping all residual damage to a minimum to the berserk out once Yomikawa get stabbed was awesome.
Speaking of which, Yomikawa is another character that people who’ve seen Railgun are probably a lot more familiar with. In any case, its pretty evident that she’s rooting for Accelerator and Last Order to ultimately all live happily ever after. She’s also one of the few people that Accelerator cares for, so its no surprise that he goes berserk when she gets hurt. Of course, Last Order coming in and calming him down, is even cooler, and that whole moment, despite the anime’s best efforts, was more or less in the same spirit as the light novel.
Now I’ve heard that Accelerator actually straight up decimates Kakine by the end (Rather than just shoving him into the ground) and I’ve also heard that the fight itself has a lot more debris and cool stuff happening in it, but well… Whatever. Also the purple/black tornadoes? Those are supposed to just be normal tornadoes, so… Well, J.C Staff and the adaptation team are to blame for that.
In the end, we find out that Accelerator after this arc, is on a new journey of his own. With the specs of his collar now in a USB device, he’s taking the first step towards heading back into the light and potentially being able to live with Last Order and the people he cares about. There’s a long road ahead, but I think Accelerator’s whole arc of slowly clawing his way out of the darkness and finding redemption, is something that at least gets communicated, albeit sloppily.
Which I suppose brings us to the end of this arc, and I guess another overall disappointment. Its been speculated online that this season is just something that the people in charge of the franchise are doing to get to the real good stuff,. the sequel novel to Index called the New Testament: To Aru Majutsu no Index.
Originally, the people in charge actually wanted to just skip to New Testament entirely, ala what Ao No Exorcirst did with its second season. Of course, that wouldn’t have worked because a lot of the setup for New Testament is being set here, in the events of this season. Which doesn’t bode to well for the franchise’s future, because once again, its setup here that’s being rushed through and not being given enough importance.
In the end, I think the idea of Index III being a sort of fan service for the light novel fans is pretty on point. Its animating scenes from the novels, and giving a sort of high light reel of all the major moments. The show and the people behind it are not interested in telling a cohesive and satisfying story, and it really shows. I don’t know what else to say. I like Index as a franchise, and I really love these characters, so I guess I’m stuck with what I’m getting. The few good moments here and there are I guess what keep me going, but I can’t say I’m happy with what we have here.
The Anime Industry is really starting to combust on itself, and its just sad that every week, To Aru Majutsu no Index III seems to hammer that point home. At this point, I’d say the only reason people are watching this show is because of the hard work that the previous two seasons did. Maybe things will improve moving forward, but I guess at this point I’m not holding my breath.
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