More nines: Index II, Arterial

In A Certain Magical Index 9, Touma, Stiyl, and Motoharu continue their search for the elusive Orliana, with plenty of explosion, lights, thumping music and weird jargon.

Touma’s got a bead on the girl and gets the other two to join them, only to run into one booby trap after another, which the two, amusingly, push Touma forward to face. Since he can dispel magic it makes sense, but it again emphasizes Touma’s sad-sack qualities in the face of all this weirdness. And we need this humor when the other two are busy going on about finding vital signs and reversing them, or whatever Stiyl’s on about. Something about hastily created, unstable magic books. The upshot is that Stiyl can’t use his magic anymore without pain, and Motoharu has that condition anyway. Again, screw the jargon. It means they may sacrifice their lives in order to stop Orliana, and to Touma’s dismay, are perfectly willing to do it.

How Misaka plays the ball-throwing game.

Index is more fun with characters and battles, so it’s a relief to find that Orliana set a magical trap of sorts in the stadium where the athletic festival is being played. They rush there and slip in, Motoharu babbling jargon the entire time, just in time for the ball-throwing contest. The subsequent scene works not only for the tension of discovering which basket Orliana has tainted, but because this ball-throwing contest includes the kids’ special abilities. This means lots of explosions and smoke and mayhem. What’s more, Misaka is pissed that Touma’s “participating.” It’s the sort of scene this franchise usually does well, mix character-driven comedy with the action, especially when Touma is trying to talk Misaka away from the tainted basket while she’s in full tsundere mode.

Okay, there are dumb things. How did Motoharu know it was one of the baskets that was tainted? Why didn’t Touma just walk straight up to Misaka and pull her away from the basket? But it worked well enough. And when Fukiyose sets off the trap and is injured it makes this situation personal for Touma. Once again, it’s the characters that save this show.

Fortune Arterial 9 has about an equal ratio of vampire story to high school comedy story. Unfortunatly, the episode as a whole is mostly exposition, with a lot of thunderclaps.

But we start with the fallout from last week’s series of crazy events. Haruna has all her memories back and knows Erika is a vampire, and she’s going to tell her sister Kanade. What will the result be? Just what we expected. Kanade is too grateful to Erika for saving her sister’s life that she doesn’t care if Erika is not human. So that’s out of the way. Then we get the question of what a “Servant” is. Kohei wants to know, but Lori proceeds to dump the school cultural festival work on him. And so we get a lot of scenes of students bonding and working, just like they did for the athletic festival. Ah, I think, so it’s going to be one of THOSE episodes …

Then there’s the one bit of actual drama in the episode, mixed in with helpful exposition. Kohei actually asks Erika what a servant is (thunderclap), and we jump to Kiriha and her master, Kaya, who just happens to be Erika and Lori’s mother (thunderclap). I don’t really get the Kiriha angle. We learn that a servant drinks the blood of a vampire to become one, which gives them all the vampire fringe-benefits (eternal life, heightened abilities, etc) but binds them to the vampire as a servant. Meanwhile Kiriha is confronting Kaya, saying it will all stop now, etc. She obviously hates being a servant. Why did she agree to it in the first place? Not to mention that there’s something afoot that she’s against … Oh, by the way, while everyone else was wondering who Kiriha’s master was, Seichiro knew it all along, but wasn’t talking. Huh?

After that it’s a long heartfelt scene where we learn that Kaya is requiring Erika to obtain a servant by graduation or she’ll be dragged back to the estate, never to return. She hates this. She wants to be human. She refuses to drink blood from one (though she’s taken to guzzling packs of it from her fridge). Her mother hates her for acting like this. I can sort of understand her mother’s reaction: “Kids today. They want to have fun in school and hang out with friends instead of going around drinking people’s blood and wearing capes and being evil like their parents. What is this world coming to?” Kohei, by the way, in that friendly, trying-to-help-out manner that male harem leads often have, offers himself as a servant. And something like that may happen. Erika has another attack of blood-lust, particularly Kohei’s blood. The question is will that happen to thunderclaps or sentimental piano music?

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