To Aru Majutsu no Index II 18

A somewhat transitory episode is made nonetheless watchable by some neat interactions as Touma ends up hanging with MISAKA and Last Order while Index bumps into Accelerator. It’s amazing how un-annoying Index sounds when compared to all the self-narrating MISAKAs. The normal-sized MISAKAs also seem to be gaining more in the way of personality, which is nice.

Dialogue styles aside, Accelerator and Last Order have a relationship almost identical to Touma and Index: a big brother protecting the little sister. Only Index has saved Touma’s life on numerous occasions. Now that Accelerator is weaker, Last Order vows to be the one to protect him. I’m not quite sure why she stole goggles and ran off (beyond setting up this episode), but it’s nice to know there are thoughts in her head and not just impulses.

This series is always best when it focuses on Touma and Misaka, and not all of the shallower characters – on both the scientific and magical/religious sides – who really just take up space and time. Since the series is poised to introduce yet more new characters in the magical conflicts ot come, I’m weary that the solid core of characters will get lost in the soup of peripherals and jargon. But I hope I’m wrong, and the new stuff that’s coming will be interesting. Rating: 3.5

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica 7

Because I’d only ever seen the Magical Girl genre parodied or lampooned (most recently in Zetsubo Sensei and Panty & Stocking), I was weary of what this show would be about. But it’s good, serious, dark stuff. Even though Sayaka loves her friend Kyosuke, whom she healed with her wish, she can’t even approach him after learning what the bastard Kyubey has done to her. And her friend Hitomi has decided to stop lying to herself and will confess to Kyosuke unless Sayaka stops her, which she doesn’t; at least not this week.

This is kind of the quid-pro-quo Sakura warned of while talking calmly with Sayaka in her father’s church. She gains a lot more depth this week by revealing her whole family was destroyed by her impulsive wish to net her dad – a “radical” cleric – more followers. After that, she learned that Maho Shojo can’t help anyone but themselves. If they try, people will get hurt, or killed. By the end of the episode, Sayaka seems to be warming up to that idea as well – rather than shouldering her pain and anguish, she lets the magic absorb it so she feels nothing – not even the attacks of her first bona fide witchhunt.

This series keeps getting better. I even decided to watch it before last week’s Index or this week’s Fractale, because I’m so engrossed in the story. I daresay this is my favorite of the season so far. There’s a lot to like: complex conflicts, ridiculously-flawed yet endearing characters, really awesome and often trip-tacular animation, kick-ass battles, and a rippin’ good soundtrack from start to finish. Bottom line, its just plain entertaining, and I can’t wait what new developments next week will bring. Rating: 4