Hey all, Counterfett here with your weekly dose of anime madness. After watching 'A Certain Scientific Railgun,' which I ended up loving despite a startling lack of actual railguns, I went back and watched 'A Certain Magical Index,' the original series from which Railgun was a spin off.
A Certain Magical Index is the story of Kamijo Toma, a student in Academy City, and his fateful meeting with a young (looking) nun named Index, who has 103,000 forbidden magical grimoires memorized as part of the English Puritan Church's war on sorcerors. He becomes her protector after a few harrowing battles against both foes and (unkown) allies, and sets off on an adventure amidst the underground war between science and magic.
- Wider array of stories. Whereas 'Railgun' focused on a pretty narrow strory arc for its entire first season, 'Index has at least 4 distinct story arcs. One of which is the 'Sisters' arc, which is really the best story in the franchise. While less time is spent on each event than with the equivalent in Railgun, you definitely are not up against the same thing every episode.
- Self discovery. There's a major change that the main protagonist, Toma, goes through early in the series, that affect his development through until the end. Without spoiling, he goes from being a relatively normal, whiny underachiever to a brave, if uncertain, hero. And it's done in a way that you hardly notice the change.
- Necessarius. On first blush, the different factions in 'Index' can be a bit difficult to fathom. That said, the 'Church of Neccessary Evil' has some pretty fun characters, like Stiyl Magnus and Kaori Kanzaki.
- Railgun! Yup, Misaka Mikoto's series spun off from this, so she's in it quite a bit. She's portrayed in a more adversarial fashion in this series (she's Toma's only combat in the first episode), but I see that as being that 'Index' is from Toma's perspective.
- Everybody loves Toma. Seriously. Remember how I complained about Ayato from Rah'Xephon getting too much play? Well Toma makes that guy look like the comic book dude from The Simpsons. Almost every girl in the show is into this kid. Just off the top of my head, this includes: Index, Mikoto, Komoe, Aisa, 9969 Misaka Sisters, even that holographic girl. And I have my doubts about Kaori (edit: Strike that, after seeing season two, you can just put Kaori on that list, there's no doubts). Only a few ladies seem immune, namely Kuroko (for obvious reasons) and Misaka 20001.
- Where did _____ go? Some cool characters simply disappear from the story. Stiyl vanishes for the last half. Kaori is gone for the whole middle. Even Railgun comes and goes. While in some ways this makes the show more realistic (I don't see all of my friends every day either), it's weird for an ensemble show. Particularly since all of the people named are in the opening sequence!
- Wait, you're important? After being a sort of background character for the whole show, one of Toma's buddies becomes named and important to the story. And the other...doesn't. It's just odd.
- Subplots AWAAAAY! Oh man. There are so many subplots that just trail off here that it makes my head hurt to write about it. There are spin offs, a second season, and a movie to address a good deal of it, but really.