Episode 24 – Armed Group (Skill-Out) – 武装集団 (スキルアウト) (Busou Shuudan (Sukiru-Auto))
It looks like JC Staff decided to tailor this series to the light novel readers until the end. Because of that, it’s still a bit difficult to figure out exactly what is going on, or to be more precise, specifically what certain things actually mean. Then again, for a final episode, this episode itself was rather odd. I’m still not quite sure what the “higher ups” that they’re fighting against exactly entails, and not to mention, the whole plot with Mikoto’s mother (Misuzu) reeks of foreshadowing of things to come. The very fact that she was targeted definitely means something is afoot, as to what that is though, this season of the anime doesn’t really say. The fight sequences in this episode were actually rather nice and well executed for the most part, with Accelerator taking up a gun for the very first time (which was a surprising, yet welcomed change). Overall, for a finale, this episode didn’t really bring the closure you would normally expect. It was done that way intentionally though, paving the way for what seems like will be a season three.
As I already mentioned earlier, the fight scene here was actually relatively well done. The parties involved in the fight actually fought their fights with not only their fists, but in a more calculated, well thought out manner. Of course, there was the occasional randomly charging in without a second thought, courtesy of Accelerator, but even he acted rationally and pulled out a gun when he was at a disadvantage. The rather straight-to-the-point, yet reasonably thought out, battles in the beginning of the episode were definitely a refreshing change from the usual “Touma punch = win!” equation we’re so used to seeing in this season of the anime.
The odd thing about this episode was how it managed to cram in it’s serious moments with Accelerator and the skill out fight, yet at the same time throw in some absurdly goofy moments with Misuzu, which killed a lot of the momentum that the first few scenes had built up in the episode. Surprisingly, though, things turned out rather interesting with the whole notion that the higher ups “refuse to let their resources leave the city”, whereas resources are the espers themselves. In particular, since Misuzu was targeted for trying to leave with her Level 5 railgun daughter (and the higher ups tried to get her killed for it), obviously something much bigger in scale is amiss in the background that we aren’t quite aware of yet.
The fact that Accelerator is in a group that is trying to uncover what is exactly going on was a rather intriguing little twist that I hadn’t expected here, and is a nice change from the typically ambiguous role that Accelerator has been playing up until now. If you couple all of this with how Touma is starting to become more entangled with what is going on as well (hints being the chats he’s had with Tsuchimikado over the past few episodes). Either ways, there are some rather strong hints at more things to come with this episode, which is a rather weird way to end a season (though it’s also blatantly hinting at a season three).
Overall Enjoyment: 3.9/5
The first season to the To Aru Majutsu no Index franchise was actually a relatively decent series. Nothing revolutionary, mind you, but it had some solid stories and occasional intriguing world building. It did have some pacing issues (especially with Touma’s monologues), but overall it was a enjoyable watch. Unfortunately I can’t say nearly as much for this second season here, which definitely was a flawed adaptation in my eyes.
The most important aspect here, the story, was really weak at times. There were some extremely poorly thought out moments that literally had me facepalming (I won’t ever forget the stupidity that is the Daihasesai incident), and overall each arc repeatedly had some rather weak climaxes. To compound on that, the villains for most of the arcs really outright sucked, with almost all of them feeling rather small and unimportant. Even Vento, who seemed like a rather influential character, felt like a pushover in the fights we watched with her involved. Not to mention, Touma has the tendency of going back into his monologue mode at times, which kills the buildup an episode may have had up till that point. Pacing for this series was all over the place too, where sometimes things happen so fast that there isn’t much time to let the full impact of the moment sink in.
The animation and art also went downhill extremely fast, with some huge notable gaps in quality within the first few episodes. It’s rather obvious that JC staff thought that good production values wouldn’t be needed for a popular series like this, which would explain the rather mediocre animation. To be perfectly honest, if there had been more of a budget to put into the fight scenes and stuff here, the conflicts in this series would have been significantly more interesting. The lack of good animation and action sequences, though, made a good majority of the fights leaving a rather weak impression. Music also was a bit on the mediocre side, with nothing terribly notable I can think of.
The biggest reason to keep watching this show would definitely be the characters, for the most part at least. The characters are admittingly rather generic and stereotypical at times, yet it’s the diverse cast that probably draws in the most people to this show, from the tsundere Mikoto Misaka, to the obsessive Kuroko, to the preachy Touma, to the often helpless Index, and of course, the ever so crazy Accelerator. The dynamics between the cast does keep things interesting at times, though I’ll also admit that this season had it’s fair share of stupid, fanservicey (yet sometimes entertaining) moments.
Overall, I can’t recommend this series in good faith over the first season of this show. If you do finish the first season and enjoyed the characters, though, this second season would turn out a lot more enjoyable for you. The big flaw to this show was how it was tailored to the light novel readers for this show, so if you didn’t read the light novels, a lot of the small details would fly right over your head. Mind you, I didn’t read all the light novels, so I experienced this firsthand as well. The fact that JC Staff decided to take the easy way out and tailor this to the light novel readers also means that they could skip over a lot of the small, yet important, details that would make the story make more sense. I certainly would’ve appreciated it for particular arcs. Overall, a decent series, but definitely could use some more structured focus on both story, small details, and less random fanservice that kills momentum.
Overall Enjoyment: 7.3/10
Screenshots are later in the post.