A Certain Magical Index is a bit of a mystery to me. I decided to watch it after thoroughly enjoying A Certain Scientific Railgun and hoping for more of the same. At first glance, the two shows have the same textureless, tropey blandness which I found so wonderfully, tolerably, adequate in Scientific Railgun. They share a setting. About half the casts overlap between the shows. They repeat the same relentless themes about friendship and the ganbatte ethos. The same studio produced both with equivalent visuals and music. The fan service comedy is equally disgusting. Sounds like a sure hit, right?
But for some reason, I found Magical Index intensely unlikable. Though it is not the worst anime I have ever seen, I do not exaggerate when I say that it might be my least favorite. To clarify, I don’t exactly mean that I disliked or disfavored it. It isn’t a bad show. Rather, it just gets a big flat zero, a null value. I am trying to think of examples for comparison, but I can’t. And that is precisely my point: Magical Index falls into that category of forgettable “just OK” media that leaves no lasting impact, like a nameless Hallmark Channel movie droning on in the next room while you make dinner. Whereas genuinely bad shows often offer some love-to-hate nonsense to marvel over, Magical Index just is. Why are two shows, with the same source-material writer, the same setting, the same characters, the same themes, the same production company, the same production values, so different?Continue reading “A Certain Magical Index: the problem of competent mediocrity”