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A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 14 (light novel) Kindle Edition
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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Imagine my surprise then, when I saw the cover art for this book and it looked nothing like what the anime was supposed to be. Itsuwa is on the cover, a girl that hasn't appeared for a while in the books and I know she doesn't show up again in the anime after the frozen ships story. Tsuchimikado is there too, and although he shows up in the anime finale, he's not a main star, so why on earth is he on the cover?
The answer is simple: This story is not in the anime. It is completely skipped over, and that's a pity because this might be my favorite book in the series so far.
The Magic and Science Worlds--basically The Roman Church and Academy City--are at each others' throats. After the brazen attack on Academy City by Vento of the Front in the last story, tensions are at an all-time high. Everyone can sense that a war is coming, but no one knows what can be done to stop it, our hero Kamijou included. All he can do is clench his fist in frustration, something he's gotten really good at it seems.
For some reason, people around the world are rioting in the streets against Academy City, only making this worse between the factions. Kami thinks this is odd, and he's not the only one. A member from The Board shows up and tells Kami that she suspects The Church did something to mess up the gears in people's heads, and she wants Kami and his strange right hand to put a stop to it in hopes that it will avert war. Next thing Kami knows, he and Tsuchimikado are off to France in hopes of finding whatever it is that has driven people to this point. Kami ends up running into Itsuwa--the shy cute girl from Amakusa who is always offering him a hot towel--who is also there trying to find out what's going on. Together, they run into Terra of the Left, another of God's Right Seat, and have to work together the put a stop to his plans.
Truth be told, I can see why the anime skipped this. It's a prelude battle to the prelude story for the prelude to WWIII. That's a lot of preludes, and in the grand scheme of things, the only thing it really accomplishes is introducing--and immediately taking out--Terra of the Left. None of the pieces on the board are really shifted, no grand revelations are made, and with over half the cast not in the story, it's easy to see why it was skipped from a practical standpoint.
But holy cow, I would have taken this story over the finale that we got in the anime. Let me run down some good highlights real quick (minor spoilers)
Index is mentioned, and THAT IS IT! I've made no secret in my other reviews that I do not like Index as a character. Her complete absence--not even a phone conversation--from this story is a huge relief. No stupid biting, not spoiled brat antics, no "I'm smarter than you Touma, so excuse me while I do something completely idiotic because I don't know how the modern world works" scenes.
Itsuwa is a normal girl. What I mean is she doesn't bite Touma, she doesn't try to fry him, she doesn't scream at him, she doesn't put herself in compromising positions, she doens't yell at him for something she did. Nothing like pretty much every other girl in the series up to this point. Does she end up in a fanservice shot? Yes, just look at the cover, but she doesn't freak out and immediately inflict violence. She is a break from what is, frankly, becoming a tired joke in this series. She might be my new favorite character, tied with Mikoto and Sister Misaka.
We finally find out if Lidvia survived her little plane crash from a few volumes ago.
Academy City may seem like it's on the back foot when it comes to the war that is coming, seeing as it's just a city and The Church spans nations, but it is not a pushover. We get to see what happens when Academy City decides to pull out the big guns, and suddenly it's pretty clear that this isn't going to be a one-sided fight like The Church seems to think.
Terra of the Left gives us our first real hints that Kami's Imagine Breaker isn't just some weird power he has. There's more to it, but then if you recall what happened to Kami when his arm was cut off, you've been aware of this for a long time.
This also ties into the next point, and that is that someone has finally started to realize that Kami has been lying all these months about his memory. I'm looking forward to seeing if this person is going to pursue this lead, and what she'll do when she finds out that Kami has no memories beyond a few months back.
We get to see exactly what type of work Academy City has Accelerator doing, but we also get to see that he is not the heartless monster so many people--himself included--thinks he is. He plays it off as something a true villain would do, but deep down we all know that Last Order is slowly changing him for the better.
The only downside to this book is the opening few chapters, mainly the ones dealing with Kami. They are little more than an excuse to have him getting into awkward positions with Fukiyose--she lifts her leg too high when throwing something so Kami sees her panties--and teacher Oyafune. Seriously, who opens a door and sees a woman naked, slams it shut, and then tries to OPEN IT AGAIN FIVE SECONDS LATER?! No one gets dressed that fast, Kami!
Like I said, this insistence Kazuma Kamachi to put Kami in these stupid fan-service little adventures is starting to wear thin, and they've gotten to the point where they are unwelcome distractions to the story. My advice would be to just skip to Chapter 1-7, when Kami meets up with Mikoto (it's on page 25). The only thing you need to know is that Miss Oyafune is related to a member on The Board. This is where the story actually starts.
Bottom Line: The war is coming. Neither side is going to take the events of this book laying down, and it sounds like our next villain isn't going to be someone even Touma Kamijou will be able to take down. In fact, the only person who I think can go toe to toe with our new foe is Kanzaki, someone I have missed for quiet a while now. I think the next book will deal with the same stuff the anime finale did, and once that's out of the way, we're going to get into new stuff. And if it's anything like this book was, you can bet I'm looking forward to it. Just...maybe cut out the "Oops, sorry, Mr. Kamijou is too stupid to understand common sense and forgot to knock" fan service stuff?