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Sep 10

Anime Review – A Certain Magical Index The Movie

Punching bitches solves everything.

Fans of the “A Certain” universe have probably been enjoying the continuing adventures of Misaka Mikoto in Railgun S these past few months (or at least were until this filler arc that’s currently airing), but the absence of Touma and Index, the pair whom started the franchise, was very much noticeable. Well, worry no more, as the Index movie The Miracle of Endymion has finally been released and subbed, so was their big screen debut worth the wait, or should they just stick to TV shows?

As you might expect or fear for a random movie such as this, the plot is pretty throwaway and isolated from the main storyline. While the events of Magical Index and Scientific Railgun played out, in the background a corporation were busy building a tower that pierced the heavens, and as this movie begins construction on that “space elevator” was finally reaching completion and ready to be opened to the public. “But Sean, shouldn’t it have been fairly noticeable throughout the show they were building such a monolithic building?” Weeeelll…

How could you *not* notice it, gaaaawwwwd?

Yeah, it was always there, just… conveniently off-screen…

With that plothole “fixed”, the movie could get back to focusing on its actual plot. Our plucky heroes bump into street singer Arisa, the girl who’ll be singing at the opening of said space elevator. Except there’s more to it than meets the eye, as her songs have an almost miraculous quality, bringing good fortune to those around her even in perilous situations. That saint-esque power makes her the target of both the science and magic factions of Academy City, and its the battle to control her that makes up the first two-thirds of the movie, with Touma treading his usual line somewhere in the middle.

Sadly what that all boils down to is little more than an excuse to wheel out near enough the entire cast of Index and Railgun into one narrative, regardless of how meaningless or nonsensical their inclusion may be. An example? Well, the Railgun cast are only there because Misaka knows Arisa. Somehow. It’s never explained at all, which makes even less sense after the movie ends. Add in appearances from the sisters, Last Order, Accelerator, Komoe, Tsuchmikado, Kongo, Stiyl, Kaori, and you’ve got pretty much everyone from the show’s history, bar Railgun S additions like ITEM and Mental Out.

As for the new characters? Arisa is decent enough, but never developed at all until the very end of the movie where… well, again I won’t spoil. Shutara, leader of one of Academy City’s various peace keeping units (not Judgement or Anti-Skill though) flip-flops throughout the plot as she comes to terms with her rejections of music and miracles, and the hand that life dealt her.

Saten (right) actually appears in the Index side of things for once, too.

Funnily though, the girl with the most development and whom you emphasise most with is the villain. Ladylee Tangleroad (you can’t make this stuff up), the seemingly gothic lolita behind the space elevator and other events that took place prior to the movie is, unsurprisingly, the only one who knows the towers true purpose. Cursed with immortality (somehow, its never explained) and living for thousands of years has driven her just the slightest bit crazy, and the events of this movie sure as heck don’t help with that.

In fact, that’s one of the biggest faults of the movie. It just kinda… ends. Very little is resolved or addressed. Questions you made over the course of the film are left untouched, and I don’t mean that in a “make your own answers” way. Completely illogical events are waved off as “well, that’s just how Academy City is”. Except long-term A Certain fans, ergo the people watching this film, will know that’s just utter rubbish. And this is before we even get to other hilarities like how somebody could jump out of a space shuttle with no suit on, move around and be fine, and then survive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

spaaaaaaaaaaaaaace

So what purpose does this exactly serve then. Is it a way to welcome new fans into the series? No, as anybody without prior knowledge is going to be lost in a sea of references and cast firing off weird and wonderful abilities with no explanation. Is it to further character development? Again, no. The only character with anywhere to go is Ladylee, and looking into it apparently she’s never appeared since. All the rest of the cast are just there. So ultimately, this movie is just a quick cash-in, an excuse to put everyone into one flimsy as hell plot and make their money off fans of the show, with none of the charm or intrigue the original shows ooze.

One thing you can’t criticise the show on though, is the visuals. As you’d hope for an animated movie, it looks damn fine. There’s action scenes aplenty, and while it’s not as visceral as other shows, the battles still flow well and are entertaining to watch, even if a lot of the logic behind them has seemingly vanished (along with any sense of danger, which considering that the ending takes place in space, is impressive…). The music too, which as you probably guessed plays a key role thanks to Arisa, is all top-notch, great songs with the music always adding to the experience. For people who prefer all style, no substance then, this is a riot.

For those who do give a damn about plot and character development though, well, there’s only so much the audio and visuals can make up for, and ultimately, this movie just feels like a misfire. It has all the pieces, it makes all the motions, but there’s no soul, no reason to care, and as I mentioned, the ending just happens. If I wasn’t so spoiler conscious I’d completely rip into it, but needless to say, its bad. Nothing progresses, nobody develops and somehow I bet the miracle tower will return to being off-screen for all eternity.

Basically, unless you’re already invested into this universe, there’s no reason to watch this whatsoever. A disappointment, all in all, for something that could’ve done so much more with what it had…