To Aru Majutsu no Index II – 16

The “Queen of the Adriatic” arc concludes with a lot of very substantial-feeling direction, music and dialogue – if not all that much Earth-shattering in terms of actual events. The arc was a lot of fun, but I see it as empty calories to an extent – it seems less in retrospect than it did while watching it.

For starters, though, if you can’t enjoy listening to Norio Wakamoto ham his way through a scene you’ve a barren soul, indeed. He’s a joy as Bishop Biagio, though of course in the end all of his characters are basically a version of himself – Wakamoto-san is the Jack Nicholson of seiyuu. The troll here – there’s always a troll with Index plotlines – is that the true target of the attack isn’t Venice at all. The “Appointed Time of Rosary” spell is a key to unlock the limiters on the Queen of the Adriatic, allowing the Roman Catholics to use it against anyone they want. In this case, that’s Academy City – the center of all the science the church despises. Yes, Biagio happily tells Agnese, we can destroy half the world in one fell swoop – praise God!

Of course it falls to Touma – with some limited help from Orsola and Index – to save the day with his right hand. There’s a very cool sequence where he punches through the illusory structure of the ice ship room by room, evading ice knights and eventually finding himself one on one against Biagio. The Bishop’s attacks are magically transforming crosses, which he launches with a twist of Christian verse. He thinks Touma crushed and turns his attention to Agnese and the Rosary spell, but Orsala keeps Agense alive just long enough for Touma to show up and Falcon Punch Biagio. Eventually Biagio – after hinting that launching the Queen spell now wasn’t his idea – decides to self-destruct and take out the entire fleet along with the enemies of the church on board. Touma actually uses his unheralded left hand in a counterattack, vanquishes the bishop and ends up on a hospital gurney with Index grinning down at him. The frog-faced doctor calls and orders him home immediately before the Italian doctors get a look at him, and Kaori gets a scolding from Tsuchimikado for putting Touma into danger. Could maid cosplay be in her future?

I can’t help but laugh at the way the Roman Catholic church comes off in this series. They certainly have a lot to answer for, but it’s absurd the stuff they get up to here – world destruction seemingly at the core of most of it. They’re definitely the bogeyman of the series, but there’s a “Scooby-doo” quality to the way those damn kids always foil their plots before we ever really get to see them in action.

It was obvious from the presentation that this was an important arc for the series – no OP or ED and an actual appearance from the Pope, just for starters. Touma is now own the official enemies list and is to be eliminated, according to the order the “Right Seat of God” – the girl with the nasty acne and Alois Trancey-like tongue – gives His Holiness. As I said, it doesn’t seem like all that much actually happened now that the arc is over, though. Next week looks like a veritable pander-fest, with anyone and everyone making an appearance – Biri-biri, Kaori, Accelerator (and by extension, Chibi-Misaka), Kazari, and Tomoe at the least. Given the traditional strengths and weaknesses of this series, that could definitely go either way in terms of quality.

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