English Dub Review: A Certain Magical Index “Super-espers”

Man, that Kakine is a real Number Two.

OVERVIEW (SPOILERS)

The remaining members of ITEM get a surprise visit from Kakine and the rest of SCHOOL, who have come to eliminate one member, Takitsubo, because of her ability to track people. Word gets to Hamazura to come get her out of harm, but by the time he gets there, Kakine has already beaten everyone. Things get worse when Takitsubo takes something called an Ability Crystal, which briefly increases an Esper’s power, but at great physical cost. SCHOOL figures this’ll do the job for them, so they exit, but Mugino still wants her track them while she kills Frenda for betraying them. Hamazura tries going to Aiho Yomikawa, a member of the city’s police, to get Takitsubo shelter, but are stopped by a blood soaked and blood thirsty Mugino.

Aiho takes Takitsubo while Mugino chases Hamazura through the city. In her crazed state, she uses her ability, a high energy beam that can melt objects (and has a somewhat scientific explanation we’re not going to get into right now), which he can only run from. Miraculously, he manages to blind her right eye when she stabs him in the ear with a screwdriver, shoots her a bunch, and punches her in the face when she gets up from those.

Meanwhile, Kakine threatens Last Order to lure out Accelerator, who Kakine thinks he can beat and become the first ranked Esper. With his own ability, Dark Matter, Kakine gains angel like wings made of material that doesn’t exist…somehow, and uses this to screw with physics. Specifically, he tries taking advantage of Accelerator’s ability, vector manipulation, to attack him through vectors Accelerator isn’t aware of. It doesn’t take long for Accelerator to figure out what the Dark Matter is really made up of, however, and Kakine is swiftly beaten. Before Accelerator can finish him off, Aiho, his guardian, arrives to talk him down, but Kakine uses that moment to stab her. Seeing this, Accelerator goes berserk and pushes him deep into the ground before punching him over and over. The only thing that gets him to calm down is the arrival of Last Order.

In the aftermath, every other Dark Side organization that fought in this arc besides GROUP is disbanded, but Tsuchimikado uses the Tweezers to find there is one more that hasn’t been seen: Team DRAGON.

OUR TAKE

Having not read the novels, I can’t say for sure how this was handled in the original source material, but further research and accounts from people who HAVE read them seems to indicate this was a complete botched adaptation job. I expected something like this might happen, given the sheer amount of plot needed to be adapted this season, but this turned out to be an absolute mess. Besides some very clear cut corners on the animation side of things, it turns out a narration about the exact purpose of each organization was cut, which probably had a hand in how confused I was about the nature of the ITEM and MEMBER teams. The plot and balance of subplots has been all over the place in these past three episodes, which made it very easy for me to get lost very fast. Keep in mind I watch these episodes at least three times before I put my thoughts to paper, on top of having prior experience with the first two seasons, but the point of these reviews is for people who should only have to watch these once to get a handle on the essential things like “who the hell are these people” or “what are they doing” or “why should I care”.

I can’t speak for what this might have been in the light novels, but the purpose of this arc that I could gleam from these episodes was to expand on the shadier side of this city and those who either oppose its leadership or begrudgingly work for it. The main thing each group had in common was trying to find answers and purpose to their place in its plans and how they each fit into that. BLOCK, the group made of non-powered people, wanted to know how programs prioritizing Espers impacted people they cared about. MEMBER, who is apparently the group that answers to the head of the city, Aleister Crowley, simply wanted to work within those plans. SCHOOL, the group being led by the silver medal Esper, Kakine, wanted to get Aleister’s attention, and so on.

Trying to piece together a coherent theme from this arc was hard enough, but it was not helped by the dub cast, who were considerably bad this time. I get it, all the veterans got the main spots and this arc is about a bunch of supporting characters and they gotta fill that out with everyone else who’s available, but as such, everyone just sounds off. I’m actually really glad we won’t be seeing most of these characters in this story for a long time, if at all, because this was torture. Austin Tindle, Clifford Chapin, and Daman Mills, (Accelerator, Hamazura, and Kakine, respectively) pull practically the rest of the cast’s weight, which is not an understatement.

Next time, we get back to Toma’s adventures as he faces the third member of The Right Seat of God. And maybe someday he’ll catch up to Tsuchimikado for most appearances this season.

Score
5/10

David Kaldor

Green Lynx (David Kaldor): Aimless 20-something given a paid outlet for his thoughts on cartoons. Fears being boring slightly more than being outright disliked.

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