To Aru Majutsu no Index III – 02 – We’ll Always Have Avignon

As Stiyl interrogates Lidvia and Biagio in the Tower of London (er, whoever they are), Touma lands in the Rhône River, right by the Pont Saint-Bénézet. Fortunately for him, an ally is on that bridge and jumps in the drink to save him.

That ally is the kind and lovely Itsuwa of the Amakusa Sect, who must change into skimpier clothes when her outfit is soaked by the rescue, leading to a couple of awkward scenes between her and Touma.

What connects Stiyl’s interrogation and Touma and Itsuwa’s advrentures in Avignon are The Right Hand of God, a group of individuals who have apparently successfully purged themselves of most of the original sin inherent in all humans, giving them some angelic powers.

Touma also learns that the Document of C is officially the reason for the demonstrations. Whomever has the relic wields more power than a president with Twitter, able to mold the masses into believing whatever they say, even if there’s no proof to back it up. In this case, they are being told the Academy City is evil and the source of all their ills.

Touma teams up with Itsuwa to locate the geoducts being used to remotely control the relic from the Vatican. In the process we once again witness the unique and charming Amakusa tradition of hiding magic in ordinary everyday objects like bottled water…or underwear.

Itsuwa’s attempts to render a geoduct inoperable are interrupted by a member of the Right Hand of God calling himself Terra of the Left. Despite the earthy name his attacks seem to be wind-based, but Itsuwa dodges and Touma nullifies the strikes with his Imagine Breaker.

Of course, it’s the same age-old problem with Touma: his power is almost strictly defensive; he can hold off Terra but can’t defeat him. Perhaps the addition of Tsuchimikado to Touma and Itsuwa’s ranks will help break the stalemate.

To Aru Majutsu no Index III – 01 (First Impressions) – Misfortune and More Misfortune

Here we are, back in Academy City. I remember most of the faces, as well as most of their connections. There’s yet another threat looming as a large and ominous protest by a religious group takes place all the way in Toulouse, France, and the worlds of magic and science seem to be teetering on the precipice of another nasty conflict.

Seemingly in the middle of it all is Kamijou Touma, he of Imagine Breaker—and eternal misfortune—fame. In less than two days he loses his wallet, gets bitten by Index, gets detention for a debate over bunny girls, gets beaned by a Fukiyose fastball, and then yelled at and attacked with lightning by Biribiri.

And all that turns out to be the least of his problems. An old lady who encounters Index later nabs Touma and takes him somewhere secluded at gunpoint. She’s part of Academy City’s governing board, and seems interested in Touma’s ability should the Orthodox Church be using the protests as a booster to “attack the world”, something to which the city would have to respond.

This old lady is then promptly shot by Tsuchimikado, who then whisks Touma off to France via supersonic jet and skydive, where he and Touma will recover a Roman Orthodox magical item called the Document of Constantine. It’s a good thing Tsuchimikado’s stepsister Maika is cooking for Index, because it doesn’t look like Touma will be home for a while…

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 01

All of Kodaka’s classmates think he’s a delinquent due to his eyes, hair, and their assumptions. Do to their fear of him, he hasn’t been able to make friends. But he isn’t alone; one day he catches a raven-haired girl named Yozoro talking to herself after class. She admits she too can’t make friends, and has settled for imaginary “air friend” named Tomo. Kodaka believes suggests joining a club may help, but Yozoro takes that ball and runs with it, starting a new “friendship club” to essentially help its members make friends. She enlists Kodaka and posts flyers, and they soon have a surprising third member: Sena, the beautiful daughter of the school president who has only doormats, no real friends.

That preview was incredibly misleading; starting right in the middle of this story, while this first official episode starts that story at the beginning. It also features a guy who mostly keeps to himself until an oddly-alluring, eccentric girl starts a club and makes him join with him. If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because it resembles the formula of one of the most popular animes in recent times: Suzumiya Harurhi. We quite liked the melancholy series (both versions) and the Disappearance film is one of our favorites, so it isn’t a bad formula to start from. But the similarities pretty much end there. Rather than deal with time travel, espers, and world-changing powers, this series raises questions about a far more down-to-earth issue: society’s current importance on making friends, and how friends are made.

Millions probably get along just fine without any friends, and our world is built to support them perfectly fine. But that doesn’t stop the rest of society from muttering things under their breath or giving looks of pity or even disgust. Yozoro may say she doesn’t want any friends, but nor does she want those looks, those mutters, or the shame. It was pretty clever to set this in a Catholic school where one could (theoretically) start any club you want as long as you somehow tie it to God’s message (Love Thy Neighbor). It was also clever to immediately make their first neighbor, Sena, somebody very hard for Yozoro to love, but no less in need of real friends. As for Kyon Ryugi Kodaka, he’s there under protest, to observe and likely referee. But some part of him seems to want this club to succeed too.

Rating: 3.5