Monday, 18 October 2010

To Aru Majutsu no Index II - Episode 2

The first episode of To Aru Majutsu no Index II certainly hit the spot for me, seemingly learning from the more heavily-criticised issues with the first season and delivering a neat, well-placed story which was more or less self-contained.

However, with a more full-on and complicated story arc beginning I suppose this was only ever going to be a short-lived state of affairs for the series, and low and behold this episode is packed to the rafters with loads of exposition and dialogue to set up said story.  Effectively and boiled down as simply as possible, this arc focuses on a magical book known as Liber Al vel Legis - a tome that is indecipherable even to a walking library such as Index.  Indeed, only one person can translate the book - a Roman Catholic sister named Orsola Acquinas, who worryingly has gone missing at the same time as Liber Al vel Legis.  This sets the scene for a face off between the Roman Catholic church and the Amakusa, a group with what seems to be a rather more diverse religious doctrine - not to mention a far less strict dress code by the look of it.

While I really have no idea how (or rather why) Index and Touma are involved in all this given the former's inability to decipher that all-important book, of course they are both dragged into this whole mess by Steyr, seemingly at the behest of Archbishop Laura Stewart, and Touma being what he is manages to accidentally run into Orsola before even knowing who or what she is.  Throw in some more nuns and a dollop of fan service complete with Index biting Touma on a few occasions, and you pretty much have this episode all wrapped up.

While I'm willing to forgive this series an episode of wall-to-wall exposition, there's something that just didn't quite feel satisfactory about the way it was done.  Aside from the fact that some things were mentioned pointlessly two or three times (we heard you the first time guys!), the way the whole thing unfurled didn't really do a lot to build up any tension or set the pulse racing, and even the kidnapping of Orsola (which surely should have been a huge deal) was allowed to drift by as something of an "oh well, we'll worry about that next episode" moment.  This really isn't the way to build interest in a plot, and drifting off into comedy and fan service after that juncture doesn't exactly help either.  Thus, a lot of the good work of episode one has been undone pretty rapidly here, but then again To Aru Majutsu no Index has always been about enjoying the good episodes and story arcs and just bearing up to the not-so hot ones with a sigh of resignation.  So, all together now everyone...


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