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Aphrael ([personal profile] silverthunder) wrote2014-03-10 12:59 pm

To Aru Majutsu no Index and other stuff

Random update, and I'll get the dull stuff out of the way first.

My sister emailed and apologized to me for the things she said. I'll be honest, I'd already forgiven her. I love my family a lot, even if I don't feel like I fit in well. I was thinking about emailing her, but I didn't know what to say. I didn't feel like I owed her an apology, so it felt like I'd be fishing for one from her. So I decided to wait and see what happened, and apparently that was the right way to do it. Anyway, the time between when she sent the original emails and when she sent the apology was about a month. It's the longest fight I have had with one of my sisters, but I don't feel like it created a gap between us. I'm known for holding grudges, but this time I wasn't really angry - mostly just sad. I was really happy to hear from her.

Cody and I started watching a series called To Aru Majutsu no Index (A Certain Magical Index), which is pretty decent at six episodes in. The world and setting are interesting and I found the storyline compelling. The main character is sympathetic enough that I want to continue watching to see what happens with him, although some of the secondary characters don't have me convinced yet. I've noticed a couple of issues with pacing and exposition, but that's mostly due to the sheer volume of knowledge you need to take in about this world and the powers and curious things going on. Most of the episodes I've watched have managed this without too much awkwardness, with one very, very glaring exception.

So, up to episode four, we've been getting some pieces of knowledge tossed at us in a more or less natural fashion. Things the main character already knows about - espers and the advanced technology in his city - are given to us through action (the scene with the "Railgun" girl at the beginning) or casual conversations between characters. The side the main character doesn't know about (magic) is explained to him through more-or-less natural seeming conversation and explainations, so it doesn't feel like it drags. We get more pieces as the action kicks in in episode two, and I'm thinking "okay, this is a LOT to take in, and some of it is kind of confusing, but it's not overwhelming and it doesn't feel forced".

Episode four happens, and that asssessment goes completely out the door.

I mean, I know we HAVE to get this info, and it has to be soon because I'm assuming lots of plot happens in the remaining twenty episodes and this arc needs to be dealt with before it can, but does it have to be in this way? So we have Touma, who we more or less sympathize with at this point, being faced with someone who until this point we've been thinking of as antagonistic, although there's been a hint or two that the two baddies are kind of morally grey, and they get a few minutes of action before - NOPE. These two characters are going to sit in one place, barely shifting position, and chit-chat about plot stuff.


Like I said, it's important to know that Index needs to have her memory wiped once a year (or at least that our morally grey "villains" believe this), but timing and pacing and tension really seriously MATTER when deciding how this information should be conveyed to a viewer. She roughs him up a bit, and then after a few heated words are exchanged, she just blurts out her angsty life story? The lack of tension was so awful and so obvious that not only did I not feel any sympathy for this character (and I wanted to feel sympathy for her, because damn, that does suck), but I started to get annoyed with her. I'm still vaguely annoyed with both her and her buddy, and a lot of it is because of that poorly-handled info dump.

I keep thinking to myself, why didn't they split this out a bit? This didn't have to be all revealed in one big session. Kanzaki has no reason to open up to Touma and tell him anything, and given that she and Style have evidently being doing this for years, she's got to be a little hardened up over it. The first run-in could've had some roughing up, the reveal of the "we have to delete her memory after one year or she'll die" bombshell, and then they get interrupted and Touma escapes. This gives time for some introspection, the audience gets a little space to process the new info, we could have some tiny scene with Index where Touma contemplates/angsts/whatever while bonding a bit, and then Kanzaki reappears and we get the rest of the info. By this point he's had some time to come back with "there must have been something you could do" and she can get sick of his ignorant bullshit (what do you know, you've known her for like a day, we're her best friends, damnit) and finally snap and reveal the angsty stuff in the heat of battle, red-faced and fired up, beat the crap out of him, and the series proceeds as per normal.

It feels like something like this (I'm not an expert or anything, I'm sure it could be polished up and done a lot nicer) would have held way more tension, made a lot more sense, and given me more feeling towards this new person - and, by extension, her partner-in-crime as well.

Anyway, aside from that episode, the series has been pretty okay. I'm enjoying it, anyway, and I'm kind of excited about the fact that it's got a lot of episodes (and I've heard that the side story to this one, which is also two seasons long, is actually better). Here's hoping we don't see any more awkward episodes like that one, though.

As usual, here are the opening and ending videos for the first half of season one if anyone's curious about this series:


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