Attack of the Side Characters! …Also Index | Weekly Anime Redux
And now the side characters get some development… exceeept in Index. They decided to be different.
No, but really. Even Golden Kamuy got in on this. It was bizarre how all these shows decided to pull this, all that the same time. But no less engaging.
This show may not actually count since every arc is about one side character or another. But still, this week was all about a problem faced by none other than Futaba. Which is something I actually really liked. The skeptic was now faced with one of these problems, as the show had been building to, up to this point. Albeit rather quietly. If nothing else, I do like how this sort of rounds Futaba out as an individual. She’s not just “the brainiac who helps Sakuta with his problems.” She’s her own person with her own problems and such.
What’s more, Mai’s back in the fore (kinda) and gets a lot more time to bounce off of Sakuta. As always, their banter is delightful, and the flirting is adorable. They’re such dorks about it whenever they’re not being playful and it also makes them that much more endearing. Sakuta’s face after Mai kissed him on the cheek in the previous episode was one thing. His reaction after the almost-kiss in this episode was just priceless.
As to the plot I mentioned, it’s really interesting, the idea that this Adolescence Syndrome is even capable of creating time loops and duplicates of people. And I definitely wanna see how they resolve this one. Futaba is obviously a source of a lot of misquotes of famous scientists to explain away some of the magical stuff happening through vague, pseudo-scientific means. But I’m fairly certain these misquotes are intentional because the show knows she’s wrong. I look forward to seeing where this goes and what exactly the problem is that’s causing her little episode. Suffice it to say this episode is definitely Super Effective.
And now the spotlight’s on Sayaka. Well, we all knew she was jealous, but I gotta say, having gotten more information on her and time with her, I get it. And I really, really enjoyed this episode as a result of learning all this. Sayaka is a character who is very much a danger zone for this show. So getting an episode like this that peeks into her past and explores her inner monologue is one of the best moves they could’ve made. It humanizes her, sure. We had very little reason, until now, to identify her as anything but “the jealous one.” Her reasons were vaguely implied, before, but now we know in detail and she’s much more rounded as a character.
There’s an edge of tragedy to her, of course. And while not particularly justified, her attitude is understandable. It even comes from a place of similar insecurity as just about every other character in this series. And it once again harks back to the show’s whole theme of loneliness. It’s also kind of interesting how Sayaka’s arc is actually one I think it’s more common to see in a romantic lead. She had her heart utterly broken, earlier in life and decided to not let anyone get close, only to almost immediately fall in love again. And it wasn’t just that her heart was broken. It made her think that she was wrong for having felt the way she did at all. And… in general it was just great for her character and handled in a way I can honestly say is among the World’s Finest.
And that’s without bothering to mention Touko or Yuu, whose relationship takes something of a back seat, this time. That being said, the interactions we do get between them feel like very natural progressions of their relationship, whatever that winds up being. And the episode also does a lot to develop the relationship between Touko and Sayaka. Though Touko may not have honestly realized it as this development was largely one-sided and internalized on Sayaka’s part, keeping with last week’s theme of words not spoken. But it culminated in a moment at the end that I think was quite nice.
Well. That happened sooner than expected. She already lost her colors again, huh? Well, whatever. In any event, this episode largely focused on Kurumi – the energetic one with the glasses. Now that the show’s settling into its rhythm, I think we’re starting to see a bit more of the theme at work, dealing largely with passions and what drives us as individuals. Yuito had the problem finding his passion for drawing again, for one reason or another. Kurumi’s different in that she has no idea what it is she wants with her life, which makes it difficult for her to really focus on anything. This is especially driven home by her having an older sister who’s good at just about anything she tries and is a particularly driven individual. That said, there are two things about this episode that really work well, in that respect.
Chigusa’s vitriolic friendship with Kurumi is the highlight, of course. Their whole love-hate thing is fun and cute and Chigusa’s good at pressing the right buttons to make her feel better. He’s the first person to pick up on her troubles, as well. And even eavesdrops on a conversation she’s having because of this. That or he just happened to be there when she was talking about him. But I’m inclined to think the former. Either way, he actually has pretty much the same idea that Hitomi does. Which brings me to Hitomi, actually.
Hitomi’s role in the episode wasn’t diminished at all. If anything, this might actually be the most active she’s been. She goes out of her way to try to help Kurumi twice and has a few key interactions that slowly further her relationship to Yuito. All of this is to say she’s slowly getting over her personal issues and, as a result, she winds up enriching the lives of those around her in a way that only she really can. Sure, Kohaku could do it. And, to her credit, she has been helping. But Hitomi’s the one who needs to do this. It works really well, overall. I’d say it’s a really Super Effective episode for the show.
Leave it to Index to start a show off with a premise that seems like it’s going to be just a fanservice episode, and then throw plot at it in the final act. And I mean the actual kind, not the other kind. So it turns out that Acqua guy from the end of the previous season wasn’t kidding about that warning. He meant it when he said told Touma to stay out of things. So Itsuwa’s been assigned as a live-in bodyguard until the matter’s resolved. And, interestingly, here we have a fight where Touma actually can’t rely on his power to win. For all intents and purposes, the guy seems untouchable. Even Itsuwa, now acting as a live-in bodyguard, couldn’t do a thing to stop him from absolutely brutalizing poor Touma. The episode is clearly building on the magical side of this multi-factional conflict that’s brewing. And it’s easily one of the tensest episodes yet, in the final few minutes.
And I do mean “final few minutes.” The majority of the episode, up to then, was spent on humor and showing off more of Academy City. But another thing I want to highlight is Misaka, who’s reeling from the discovery of Touma’s amnesia. I know where this ends up taking her character already and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the anime decides to depict that arc for her and the development all of this brings to both herself and to Touma. Overall, this episode was great Junk Food, but left on an intriguing hook and I’m really interested in seeing exactly how Touma crawls back from this one.
This episode’s all about Vanessa, which should surprise no one. They’re in her mother’s domain, after all. The Diamond Kingdom’s forces and the Eye of the Midnight Sun approach the forest and now it’s time for a battle. Vanessa’s whole schtick with fighting fate comes into focus. It’s pretty standard stuff, of course, but how well is it done? Well, I actually like the show’s take on it.
The idea of fighting fate is nothing new. Especially in Shounen. And this anime, in particular, seems to have this as a major theme. The notion the characters are bound by some uncertain fate that holds them back for whatever reason – Finral’s brother, the circumstances of Noelle’s birth, the entire Shounen arc Yami went through before any of this – it’s all tied back to this theme. Vanessa has the added edge of the string’s of fate being quite literal, though, since it’s the whole point of her magic. But instead of just making it about fighting fate, itself, it transfers the idea to “you can fight fate, but there are some fates you can’t fight alone.”
Asta’s desire to fight fate is something that inspired Vanessa to do any of this. She didn’t really fight hers, she just ran away from it. And now she’s here. Doing what she can to help him face this fate. And yes, I did find the little subversion about her not actually planning to sacrifice herself amusing. It got a chuckle out of me. From there the queen heals Asta and they move on to the fight, though focus pretty much all of it on battling the Eye of the Midnight Sun. I expect the next episode will focus more on what the other group is doing to fight off the Diamond Kingdom’s forces. For now, the episode was good Junk Food. So I’m glad it finally picked back up.
What I like about this episode is how it manages to do even more building, while still feeling like things are happening. Because they are. The situation revolving around Yato’s condition is revealed and we also got to learn more about Nora – specifically that Nora isn’t so much her name as it is a title. This show does its worldbuilding in a very interesting way, is what I’m getting at. And Hiyori’s part for it all was also great. Up until now she’s mostly been an observer. She stood on the sidelines as little more than a cheerleader. She does stuff, of course, but hardly ever gets directly involved. And while that doesn’t change this time in terms of the action, she does get to be more involved in a pivotal moment for Yato’s development. And it’s probably her influence that winds up really serving them in future episodes, but we’ll get to that.
Overall Episode Medalists
Well, this wasn’t at all expected. But I think this week’s winner is actually pretty clear-cut. The Gold Medal, this week? None other than Bloom Into You.
It really just comes down to me thinking this episode had the best storytelling of the week, overall. Bunny Girl Senpai is broken down into arcs. And while that episode was also fantastic, it was largely setup for something to come. Irozuku isn’t broken into arcs but its storytelling is far more subtle. Index is a longer series that’s building up to a massive payoff. That being said, the Silver Medal, is going to Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai, this week, as it had another really strong episode, despite it being pretty much entirely setup. This leaves Toaru Majutsu no Index with the Bronze. The context of Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara, having such a strong episode, for its part, was great, but it just got trumped by how much fun the latest episode of Index was… until that last part.
This was actually incredibly close. I once again can’t give this to Sakuta because, well… Mai was back to a significant enough role that it didn’t really seem fair. That left this between Sayaka and, surprisingly, Hitomi. Hitomi, as a character, is really coming into her own and getting over her problems. I like that. But because Irozuku is such a slow burn (again, not a bad thing) the carry-capacity that Hitomi has is more limited. Plus, this week’s episode was about Kurumi. Meanwhile, Sayaka basically held down the entirety of this episode of Bloom Into You on her own, this week. But I’ve gushed plenty about the fantastic handling of her character, this week, and how she’s going through very similar things to the two leads.
Unique Achievement: Tropes Defied
One thing that’s always bugged me is the “it’s just a phase” mentality. I was prepared to be mildly annoyed that that very idea came up at the beginning of this week’s episode of Bloom Into You. Then what do they do? They go and buck that entire thing by later on, in that very episode, introducing an adult lesbian couple, one half of which gets a nice scene with Sayaka, allowing her to vent then basically telling her that her feelings aren’t invalid. It was a surprisingly powerful scene and message that I’m glad the show threw out there.
Unique Achievement: Damage Taken
Honestly, with the next branch of Anime TKO fast-approaching, things are about to get rough. But what do you think was the strongest show, this week? Let me know, down below. And maybe check out the latest on SSSS.Gridman, while you’re here. That’s all for me. Thanks for reading, as always. Keep up the Awesome. Take Care.