What Magical Index and Scientific Railgun Taught Me About Heroes

hiyamizu yukie index kanzaki kaori misaka mikoto to aru majutsu no index

I would never be the lead of an anime series.

I used to have these grandiose fantasies while watching anime. I would myself as the Strike Witch who, using her innovation and guts, beats all odds. Or the reporter who is willing to risk her life to see a friend. I might even be the level 5 who defends truth and justice with unwavering confidence. Yet, there is always a sense of disconnect. It is not the fantastical elements or the fictitious premise – I have no problem immersing myself in a world – but the issue is something more inherent.

chiba takahiro misaka mikoto shirai kuroko railgun index

It first became apparent to me when I thought about Kuroko and Misaka. Misaka frustrated me at times because of her self-righteousness. More than once, I felt that she is too reckless in her pursuit for justice. Kuroko’s sensible approach to serious problems appeals to me much more.

index neko nishimura hiroyuki sphinx majutsu index

I felt this frustration again when I started watching A Certain Magical Index in anticipation for the fall season. While I really appreciate the world the series has built and all the different vibrant personalities of the cast, this particular arc in season one just annoyed me so much.

Majutsu Index screenshot

Index is plagued with a condition that causes her to lose her memories every three years. When the recent cycle approaches, the main character, Touma, attempts to remove the spell. Index’s friends go to lengths to stop him, because they believe that if Index retains her memories, she would die. Regardless, Touma still goes ahead and does his thing… And he emerges the magnanimous hero who finally rescues Index from her cursed life.

Majutsu Index screencap

This is my problem with the arc. Touma acts on a dangerous assumption. On gut instincts and really limited information on the church and magic effects, he trusts that nothing would happen to Index if he were to break the spell even though the opposite has been thoroughly established by the Church and many others. I was really frustrated at Touma because of his blind confidence. Basic rationale and risk management all suggest that he should not have gone through with this. Essentially, Touma gambled with Index’s life merely to satisfy his own sense of justice. *

Of course, things turned out for the best… And I am very bitter about it.

biribiri Touma Majutsu Index

Then I realized that this is what separates the hero from the chumps. The heroes are often so certain of themselves that they disregard any rational thinking just to impose their righteousness. On the other hand, the chumps usually play it safe. This is why I will ever only be a side character if I were in an anime.

himegami aisa kanzaki kaori nomura fusako majutsu index

Enjoying anime often requires a suspension of believe. In most series, we suspend our knowledge of basic anatomy and physics. I guess we also have to occasionally suspend our logic to really appreciate certain characters. It is a bit annoying, but sometimes I just have to accept that 1% chance of success is always going to turn out perfectly.

*Further notes here and here.

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73 Responses to What Magical Index and Scientific Railgun Taught Me About Heroes

  1. Valence says:

    All the leads can charge in and do whatever they want since the scriptwriters will make them succeed. Their disregard for convention and other people’s opinions make them seem like the iconic heroes they are. If they were to be constantly, doublechecking and re-considering everything they would not last as an anime hero.

    • Yi says:

      Yea… I think some characters sometimes just need to consider the possibility of a failure and the consequences. On the other hand, if they did do that, they won’t be the spectacular heroes we love.

  2. Frisko says:

    You need to rewatch that arc. It basically goes like this 1. Touma finds out (from the church) that Index’s memories have to be erased or she’ll die, due to her photographic memory and information implanted by the church causing her brain to be filled to capacity (Also, the memory erasure has to be performed on her, it isn’t something that happens automatically). 2. Touma realizes that Academy City might have some way of helping Index without erasing her memories, and tries to find an alternate solution. 3. Touma’s teacher informs him that the human brain doesn’t have an upper limit on how much information it can store, (in other words the given reason for erasing Index’s memories is false). 4. It turns out that Index has a spell (which was placed by the church) on her that will kill her if her memory isn’t erased, Touma breaks that spell. 5. Index goes berserk due to Touma’s previous action triggering a security system of sorts 6. Touma breaks the spells causing Index to berserk, and loses his memories in the process.

    • angelwings285 says:

      Actually, Touma’s teacher is wrong then:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interference_theory#Proactive_Interference.

      I guess she wouldn’t actually die from it, but it make make it harder for her brain the function.

      • phro says:

        Btw komoe-sensei is not wrong, all she said was that the brain would not break down. She never mentioned anything about how the brain will operate differently.

        • angelwings285 says:

          Well according to Frisko, the teacher says it has no upper limit which is what I’m referring to.

    • phro says:

      I definitely think that Touma put a lot of thought into his actions… He didn’t just blindly do whatever he “felt” was right.

      • Yi says:

        My wording is a bit strong… He thought through it and went through with it.
        My problem is that I think he took a really dangerous bet though. With the stakes being death of Index, it’s not a gamble I’d do with such limited information on how Magic affects brain function. But that’s why I can only ever be Kanzaki or a side character.

    • Yi says:

      @Frisko: You’re right. In my post, I skipped through a lot of the process and I should have been a bit clearer.

      Ultimately, things turned out fine because Touma went through the trouble of breaking the spell put on by the church. And the story goes on.

      My main issue however is still his recklessness. I just think he acted on too little information. At that point, we still don’t really know the good or bad intentions of the church. He also has so little idea on how magic works. Given all that, I think Touma hasn’t gathered enough information to go down a path that might possibly lead to Index’s death.

      If today, a failure would lead to nothing too serious (death), then I’d have little concerns. However, the gamble has extremely high stakes, and I don’t think he’s had enough info to justify his actions. And it wasn’t his bet to take anyways.

      But I’m probably over-thinking the whole thing. It’s important to suspend aspects of real life when watching stuff.

  3. Hogart says:

    Touma DID have the blessing of two high-ranking magicians before he enacted his plan. Although they didn’t have the balls to turn Index into a tragic figure, they did have Touma lose his memories (sadly, this turned out to be under-utilized and affected almost nothing in the plot, if my memory serves me).

    Frankly, this is still a step above the simple “happily ever after” fluff in other series like Railgun. But you’re right, it’s a little sickening that these tropes seem to always take root, especially in shounen. Modern entertainment seems to focus on this archetype more often than not when they require a “heroic” figure, possibly because it’s the laziest way to write such characters.

    • Yi says:

      I went back to watch that part again because I think I might have missed some stuff. You’re right about the two high-ranking magicians. They agreed to help Touma out in the end… But to me, it felt more like they were forced into blessing Touma’s actions. All they did was give Touma some more time, and before they realized it, Touma had already started doing his thing. They had no choice but to back him up.

      Anyways, I haven’t actually the series, so I don’t know how heavily Touma’s memories will play into the plot. It does seem like the anime’s not putting much emphasis on this though.

      I actually enjoyed Railgun a lot… I think it’s because of the fluff and the “filler” feeling. There’s less pretense so I’m cool with seeing the usual shouen tropes. Or maybe it’s because of Misaka. Yea… It’s probably that.

  4. Nopy says:

    It’s a good thing that real-life heroes aren’t like this. Though, I guess if someone were like that in real life, they wouldn’t end up being a hero. Out of both Index and Railgun, my favourite character was Kuroko. She’s level-headed when it comes to work, but she cracks me up whenever she comes up with a plan to get with Misaka.

    • Yi says:

      Exactly! I’m in love with Kuroko because she’s such a calm and composed person when it comes to serious stuff. She doesn’t let emotions cloud her judgment. And she’s funny.

  5. phro says:

    You can always be like Lelouch from Code Geass (lol). I think he is one of the most sensible main characters of an anime. He thinks things very thoroughly

  6. shinra says:

    Railgun = Uiharu annoys me Index = everything except Misaka/Kuroko annoys me😄

    Well, in other words, I love Railgun more than Index…. Touma n Index really pisses me off, wanna smack their faces!!! Especially Touma!!! freaking Touma is just too annoying cause of all his lecturing, and Index is just too childish n my pace!!! wait, everyone in Index is all MY PACE!!! XDDD

    (but i will still watch S2 tho)

    • Yi says:

      Yea, I agree about Touma. I hate monologues about morality or justice or inner strength or whatever b.s. Keep that stuff in your head. The script shouldn’t need to beat us over the head with such themes.

      On the other hand, I actually like Index. She’s kind of cute.

      Either way, I’ll still finish Majutsu Index and season 2. I hope it picks up soon.

  7. Xine says:

    I guess you are right that we have to occasionally suspend logic to appreciate certain characters or scenes in anime. There are plots in some anime that are really predictable but I still watch it because I enjoy seeing how the characters will react in certain situations. I’ve only seen one episode of To Aru Majutsu no Index. I kinda enjoyed watching Railgun though.

    • Yi says:

      Don’t get me wrong. I love love loooovvvveeee Railgun. I don’t mind predictability and I accept that this is how characters will act sometimes. Still, with Index, I’d like it even more if there’s some subtleties to Touma instead of just having him macho charging into rescue missions.

  8. Mystlord says:

    I disagree that heroes have to have a certain illogicality to their actions. It’s just stupid Touma (who is more or less universally reviled by most people that I know). In fact, I’d point to Misaka herself as a counterexample. All characters, no matter whether they’re primary ones or not, hold a certain point of view, and often times it’s the side characters that end up showing a rather one dimensional point of view based on their actions. Misaka’s hotheadedness never really feels illogical per say, like her unwillingness to fight against Accelerator despite his obviously immoral acts, but it’s just a facet of her personality – that she’s an extremely independent character, who’s insecure and worries about her friends. On the other hand, Touma represents that sort of illogical thinking, where he jumps into anything that doesn’t conform to his world views despite not having enough information or clearly being at a disadvantage in any given situation.

    • Yi says:

      Ahhh…. I made the classic mistake of over generalization. Still, I’d argue that while not a defining characteristic, being reckless is quite common among heroes in anime. Of course, there are plenty who don’t fit the mold, but yea…

      Agreed about side characters. They tend to be less developed because they just don’t get as much screentime or attention. That’s why Kuroko really stands out as a favorite of mine. She is extremely complex and lovable.

      Misaka is interesting. I have mixed feelings about her. I really really love her and I think she’s a very fleshed out character. There’s so many different sides… The lovable tsundere-ness, caring personality, and her integrity are all part of her charm. However, when it comes to serious stuff, she sometimes resembles Touma a bit too much. Granted, I’m basing all of this entirely on Railgun… I’m still not far into Index, so I haven’t seen the accelerator arc.

      From what you wrote, I excited to see her part in Index.

      “On the other hand, Touma represents that sort of illogical thinking, where he jumps into anything that doesn’t conform to his world views despite not having enough information or clearly being at a disadvantage in any given situation.”
      Exactly! And perfectly worded! ^ ^

  9. alisa says:

    This anime only tells me what’s moe and les..

  10. I grew pretty disgusted with the series actually because of the idiocy that you mentioned and would disagree that such actions count as heroic. There’s plenty of level-headed heroes out there whose actions make sense and my favorite characters list is made up in large part of characters who strive towards their ideals (heroic ideals at that), but have the foresight to actually think about their actions instead of charging in with reckless abandon.

    • Yi says:

      It’s one huge gripe I have as I’m watching Index. Railgun is actually much better in my opinion because of less emphasis on plot, so we don’t get as much of this frustration.

      Anyways, there are indeed many more level headed characters, especially outside of shounen. I probably shouldn’t have generalized so much in this post.😦
      Oh well, it’s more fun this way. ^ ^

  11. Ryan A says:

    Of course, things turned out for the best… And I am very bitter about it.

    eehehe… I think it is sort of the typical nature of fictional heroes; they tend to do something against all odds and it’s usually extravagant. I don’t find it odd to dislike such a thing either, it’s understandable considering many viewers dislike for predictability, stereotyped characters, etc.

    Do you think the context/risk of the situation makes it more/less acceptable? I suppose it aids in believability, but a convincing story is a lot to ask for, sadly ^^;

    • Yi says:

      I think the context matters in this situation. I actually enjoy cheering on the heroes in most cases and I like seeing them beat the odds.

      I was particularly annoyed at Touma more than other similar situations in other series though because of the context. If the default was death or something extremely terrible, then I don’t mind if the hero went outside the box. The first example that came to mind was Strike Witches S.2. In a battle against the neuroi, Sakamoto, despite being out of magic, goes out and takes a risk with a sword trick that saves the day. This works for me because if she hadn’t tried something, Miyafuji might have died as she faced the neuroi alone. And if Sakamoto fails, she is only risking her own life. So I actually cheered for her in this episode. I thought that was an awesome display of heroism.

      On the other hand, in Touma’s case, the default is better than the worst case scenario. Doing something could potentially be worse than doing nothing. Further, if Touma failed, he doesn’t risk losing his own life, he’s throwing away Index’s. I thought that was a jerk move. To satisfy his own need to feel better about the situation he sees, he attempts a high risk move.

      Think of it another way. If a doctor were to perform a high risk brain surgery for an amnesiac patient today without consent, think of the ethical breach and the world of trouble he’d be in.

  12. Solaris says:

    Wait wait a minute. You mentioned a lot of things in the post.
    Let’s sort them out a bit.
    Touma’s risky behaviour in the first arc.
    The figure of the hero in Railgun and Index
    Difference between Railgun and Index anime.
    I don’t think i can develop an essay for all in a single post.
    Let me start with Touma first.
    Touma’s descriprion in the novel is that of the righteous hero. His behaviour is not illogical, but driven by his sense of justice. That will be important as there will be two more focal chars that are distinct from Touma but moved toward the final confrontation. Their chars will be confronted too, being Touma’s the ideal reference. One is an anti-hero, and another will be a hero for a chance.
    Touma’s role is to force reasoning into people, with strenght if necessary.
    Remember also Touma’s power is to crush supernatural powers bringing espers and magicians back to a plain-to-eearth human condition. He’s something like the right hand of god, thus he has to be righteous.
    In the first arc, after having heard of Index condition, didn’t the numbers Kanzaki spoke looked weird to you? At first i thought that 15% per year didn’t seem mathematically correct. I thought it was some mistake in the anime back then. But it turned out to be the key to the arc. Touma, with reasoning understood what magicians, bound by obedience never dared questioning their superiors. A lie told by higherups to lower magician to checkmate all of them and bind them to obedience. if you think it this way, the anime turns out to be quite clever. It also depicts well the difference between science side and magic side. Reasoning on one side and blind obedience on the other. The social environment is also well detailed.
    Index is quite the cerebral and complex anime. I don’t find it strange people didn’t like it and casted it away out of lack of comprehension.
    Every detail is well machinated. A detail you witness now will be a key element in subsequent episodes. A piece of information that you heard now, will be put in place in a the great scheme that will let you understand Index’s very complex settings.
    Explanations of hard concept that look unrelated to the anime being bad paced is Index’s major fault. All of that information is blurted in the face of the viewer expecially during fights, thus indering the pace of the fight. People lost interest, but all of those infos are necessairy to te understanding of Index premises.
    Railgun didn’t suffer from that, having the main concepts already been explained in Index. Thankully Railgun is much more lightearthed.
    But the role of the hero in Railgun is needed as well as in Index. Misaka had to become and was depicted as the righteous hero counterpart in Index. This may mean we also wil have an anti hero and a hero for a chance. I have the idea this will be Kiyama. We’ll see. But different from Touma who seeks ultimate justice, Mikoto is simply caring. She cares for her friends and Touma. Thet’s her ultimate reason to move on and gain power. She’s not being blessed with some divine power, but build up her own strenght eventually.
    There are a lot more of things to say about Index and many themes to discuss. I think i’l just stop here for now…

    • Yi says:

      I should clear something about my stance up. I follow Touma’s reasoning and I did notice all these details. It’s very clever indeed and it makes the story a very intricate one. With that said, my problem with this arc lies outside of these details. There’s several layers to this.

      First, despite having reasoned out the whole mathematical inconsistency and the anatomical error, Touma is still pretty reckless. He only found out about the existence of magic a week ago and realized that his right hand can dispel some magic a few days ago. He has absolutely no idea whether there could be magic that bypasses his right hand, or whether the particular spell affects memory beyond normal brain functions. At that point of the show, the limits of magic has not been established. Not for us, and certainly not for Touma. There are just too many unknowns for me… But I guess not for the confident Touma.

      Furthermore, I have an even bigger problem with his ethics. Touma has no right to risk Index’s life without her consent. And that’s the biggest frustration I have with the arc. It’s this set up of a righteous hero. I find that incredibly annoying. In many cases, he has no idea the context of a situation, but because of this self righteousness, he forces his own way onto others. I don’t think that’s a cool thing to do.
      I think I’m more with Yu on this one: “Thought provoking shows blur the line between right and wrong.” Even more so when Touma hasn’t really shown himself to be the more righteous person. A little empathy and understanding for others are all I ask from him.

      Misaka, on the other hand, is a lot more likable. She is also a little self righteous, especially in the Kiyama arc, but I think it’s not a blatantly annoying thing.

      • Solaris says:

        Let’s make something clear: Can you distinguish the hero’s role in the story from liking it in the first place?
        I can understand you don’t like that sterotype, as it’s pretty way old fashoned. That kind of hero is made to be a model for reference. Nowadays people like sterotype they can identify with. So peolple like chars such as Accelerator more as they can empathize more with their own trials, despite the fact Accelerator is actually a big son of a …! Are you more inclined to like a very negative char because it looks so similar to yourself or rather look one that’s a model of virtue and strenght? I’m more inclined to the second, as it drives me to the correct path, but i can’t blame who thinks differently and preferred the path of redention like Accelerator’s. I guess it’s related by our own’s extroversion/introversion thing. I can also understand why someone could prefer Misaka to Touma. She shares the same basic traits, but as Touma is blessed with the power of justice, she worked out her own strenght by herself. So it’s again something one can empathize with more.
        That said, chars in Index and Railgun are rather static. There isn’t char development (except for Accelerator, i guess), but this is not a bad thing here. There is something else that is developed in the story, and that’s the chars awareness of their own environment. The good and bad sides are soon switched, as long as the main chars learn deep inside Science’s side and Magic side own affairs. If you look at the level upper arc in Railgun anime, you see it started out quite cheerful and playful, but soon grew angsty and dark as soon as the main chars knew about the level upper, and ended up fighting a mass of evil energy created from the angst and fears of a whole city full of people. Touma’s path is rather the same, as long as he pokes inside magic affairs he will need all of his own selfright-ness to stand sane. It’s something similar in Lovecraft novels (i guess). So chars must have static traits here, as opposed to the deveoping story. And Touma is the main reference we know for distinguish between right and evil, as neither magic nor science are known as good from some point onward.
        For the little detail about Touma’s awareness of magic things, think that as long as he knew about magic rather early in the story, he had plenty of time to make esperience in nullifying it and be sure it could be treated as any other esper and supernatural power by the time he messed with Index.

        • Yi says:

          For me, it’s not about liking the good guy or the bad guy. I don’t like Accelerator anymore than Touma. I don’t hate heroes because they are the good guys. Let’s not why I don’t like Touma. (btw. I don’t like Accelerator either).

          This is not about my moral compass.

          The reason Touma is boring for me is because he’s one dimensional. That’s why I don’t like him. I prefer characters with a little more moral ambiguity. I think it’s more fun to watch heroes come to terms with their sense of justice. Misaka actually has a moment of that in Railgun late into the Kiyama arc. That added a lot to her character and made her heroism much more relatable. Touma, on the other hand, has always felt like he was undeservedly “blessed with the power of justice.” That’s what annoys me.

          As for the plot, I think they’ve done a wonderful job so far in both series. Magical Index is a little slow, but it has a very complex premise. The whole magic and science aspects are lovely and I think the overall flow of the story is nice. It’d be a lot better if it was backed up with an interesting lead though.

          “And Touma is the main reference we know for distinguish between right and evil, as neither magic nor science are known as good from some point onward”
          Now that’s a really really interesting thought. I don’t know if having a reference for right and evil is necessary for a story like this, but it’s a fair point.

        • Solaris says:

          >This is not about my moral compass
          Ehm… i’m not trying to mess with you about that.
          I admit i’m biased towards Touma but i don’t want to attack others for having another opinion. I just wanted to know yours😉 Now i know it, thank you.
          My only remark was that Touma was made like that for a purpouse and i explained why.

        • Yi says:

          Don’t worry about it. ^ ^
          It’s always nice to see fresh and different perspectives. Thanks for that!

  13. Yu says:

    Thought provoking shows blur the line between right and wrong. Railgun (I haven’t watched Index) is not a very thought-provoking show following this definition. It’s actually very much like an American superhero cartoon except with cute girls. Pure enjoyment, if you will. You know the hero is in the right; all that remains to be seen is exactly how spectacularly they achieve victory.

    What shows like that want you to do is to sympathize with the main character, so at the end you say: “Ahah! He was right the entire time! All the doubters were doubting for nothing! I knew he would win against the insurmountable odds!” It’s definitely not realistic. Shows with heroes which do no wrong are often targeted towards younger children because they have an easier time disregarding the unrealistic nature of the hero and his/her actions.

    Shounen is shounen. It’s difficult to create a such a series with a character who thinks too much. Either the pacing is too slow or the main character is an idiot, take your pick.

    • Solaris says:

      Completely wrong. Y(o)u and the other user labelling the show as moeblob.
      This anime has got the most complex setup i’ve ever seen so far.
      Touma has that char for a purpuose. He’s the old style righteous hero and his lifestale will be compared with that of other 2 main chars later in the story. Touma’s the reference for “justice” right from the start. You will se how concept like good and evil don’t apply in this story. Academy City, that appeared “the good side” has a dark face, and the enemies are motivated and not completely evi. That will be the case for the antagonist: Accelerator. He will torun out to be another key char, Touma’s antithesys.

      • Yu says:

        If you had even read my post, you would have seen that I was talking about Railgun and not Index. Hence the “I have only watched Railgun” part of my post. Maybe if I watched Index it would entirely change my perception of such series. Who knows? I haven’t watched it.

        Thank you for reading. Someone is obviously an Index fan.

    • Yi says:

      @Yu: Yea, I think I’m totally with you on this one. As of right now, Touma is so one dimensional. It’s incredibly boring to watch him when he has his monologues and lectures about doing the right thing all the time.

      I actually do like when characters beat the odds. That’s usually fun, especially if it was to save the world or something. But it also depends on the context. In this case, I think he did do wrong by real world standards. And it annoys me even more that he and the anime treat his actions as justice.

      “Either the pacing is too slow or the main character is an idiot, take your pick.”
      With Index, it kind of feels like I’m getting both right now.

      Anyways, the series isn’t that bad. It has its cool moments. I’m being a little meaner than usual.

  14. akani says:

    I completely agree with you on Misaka and Touma. Those very traits are the reason I don’t like them that much. They’re too predictable, too reckless, and their sense of justice just plain annoys me, yet many people still love them anyways. Compared to my favorite character of all time, Accelerator, whose character development from villain to antihero, personality, dark background, insane powers, and reason for trying to protect Last Order all excellently stand out from the rest of the characters, they seem very boring.

    I’ve read the Index LN’s and it does get much better from the cutoff point of season 1 (volume 6). Season 1 was mainly exposition of characters and terminology, and Season 2 will use these characters and terms to their fullest potential to build up tensions between the magic and the science side. The finale of season 2 (volumes 12-13) will be awesome, I can definitely tell you that. Oh, and volume 8 is completely dedicated to Kuroko and her fight against a much more powerful teleporter, so yeah, look forward to it being animated!

    • Yi says:

      I have to admit… I’m not too far into Magical Index yet, so I haven’t seen a lot of Accelerator. He seems really interesting already though. I’ll be looking forward to more of his roles.

      Anyways, Misaka in Railgun is a little better at times. I think she actually had a few moments of weakness and uncertainty in the Kiyama arc, and it made her much more human and interesting.

      About the LN’s… That’s good to hear! I’m excited for season 2, and especially for Kuroko’s arc. She is by far my favorite. God I love her!!!

  15. biotoxic says:

    Whoa, when you put it like that then yeah I guess Touma was a bit reckless. To be honest when I watched Index I can’t really say I noticed any of this. It was an okay series, I enjoyed it, it had it’s good and bad points; but I don’t think it’s worth spending too much time over thinking things. But that’s just my opinion😀.

    I liked Index more than Railgun and I’m looking forward to the second season. Should be interesting seeing what will happen next in Academy City.

    • Yi says:

      I’m definitely over thinking things… And from the comments, there are a lot of people who really really disagree with me. That’s fair.

      Anyways, so far, I’m actually liking Railgun more than Index, but we’ll see as I continue to watch. I think it probably also partly because I watched Railgun first.

      Season 2 should be good judging by the hype. ^ ^

  16. Reltair says:

    As in movies and TV shows, anime heroes many times defy all odds and always end up successful. That’s just the way it is because a lot of people don’t like seeing failure or a bad ending.

    I wouldn’t mind being a Level 5 Esper though. ^_^

    • Yi says:

      I definitely over thought that scene… It’s not that I don’t like seeing success; it’s just I secretly wanted Touma to fail just so he could understand how reckless he is.
      J/k. If they actually killed Index off, I’d be really sad.

      “I wouldn’t mind being a Level 5 Esper though. ^_^”
      Same here! But I’d actually prefer level 4 teleportation. Seems more practical in the real world than level 5 lightning bolts. Saves on gas and I’d never have to worry about accidentally locking myself out.

  17. Shin says:

    I prefer the side character of a lot of shows anyway. The last time I actually liked a protagonist enough to actually aspire to be anything like him was Domon Kasshu from G Gundam.

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  19. Janette says:

    I haven’t seen Index, but if I were her, even if it ended well, and even if I don’t have to lose my memories anymore.

    I’d still smack that guy for gambling with my life.

    • Yi says:

      I agree with you… Although I’d still be pretty happy if I were Index. I think as an observer, I am more annoyed when looking at the situation.

  20. Rei says:

    I completely agree with you. I just started watching this anime and I really dislike Touma. (currently on Ep.11) I mean he only met Index for like what? a few days? If they knew each other for a longer period of time then I would understand his actions. The anime made it seem like they knew each other since the beginning of time or something. In actuality, they barely knew each other. On top of that, Touma didn’t even care much about the feelings of Index’s two magician friends. He brushed it off so easily even though it was clear how much they suffered. He never even tried to understand what they had to go through. Between Index’s life or memories -which is more important? It’s a no-brainer. Yet, Touma chose the latter without hesitation. Ironically enough, Touma would still risk Index’s life so she would not lose her memories of him. I mean, seriously? It’s only like a few days worth of memories. Like hell he really cared for Index. The reason why he risked Index life was for his own sake. I hated how he succeeded at it too. He even called himself a hero to boot. Give me a break. I never met an anime character so one dimensional.

    • Yi says:

      Exactly! That’s another good point. Touma barely knows Index. It makes more sense if his actions were to preserve his own warped morality instead of out of true care for Index.I don’t believe for one second that he really cared for her.

      “I never met an anime character so one dimensional.”
      Agreed.

    • Solaris says:

      How much time is it needed before one’s allowed to save someone, expecially when he’s able to tell the other is victim of some fraud?

      • Yi says:

        We’ll never see eye to eye on this issue.

        Again my problem isn’t that he went to save her. It’s with that confidence. If I met Index today and I was 100% sure that I can save her, I wouldn’t need anytime. No one does.

        The things is, I can’t be 100% sure. Further, I have a problem with Touma being 100% confident about it. His, in my opinion, unjustified confidence annoys me.

        Furthermore, the fact that he is so willing to risk Index’s life kind of indicates to me he doesn’t feel as strongly for Index as the anime wants to portray him.

        Another note, it’s not that you need time before you’re allowed to save someone. I simply question his motivations. Maybe I’m just a cynic, but I doubt anyone could develop such strong feelings for someone else in such a short amount of time. And that further indicates perhaps his actions were simply to satisfy himself.

        I’m probably wrong and the anime does mean for him to be so loving. But that makes him one dimensional to me.

        • Yi says:

          I want to also add that when I wrote the post, I realized that many are probably going to disagree with and perhaps even dislike my conclusions and comments. I understand what the show was going for during this arc. Touma is just not my type.

        • Solaris says:

          I’m only pointing out your wrong premise. The keypoint isn’t Touma gambling with someone’s life, but discovering that threatening life condition wasn’t real in the first place.
          Remember when Styl challenged him to dispel the cross tool he was going to use to erase Index memory? He wasn’t sure yet, so he didn’t dare touch it. If he’d really risk Index life he could have touched it. That scene was expecially made to show how Touma, tough caring, didn’t go out risking people’s life without a reason.

        • Yi says:

          I don’t think my premise is wrong. Again, we just interpreted Touma differently. But I don’t feel like repeating the same things and I kind of feel like you’re annoyed by my stance, so yea…

  21. Rei says:

    Umm.. after cooling down a little, I realize that I was being such a jerk in my previous post. I’m really sorry with I offended anyone. ;(

  22. Always late to the party… Anyway every anime have different heroes. ‘Railgun’ and ‘Index’ have the same feel since they’re from the same universe. I kinda liked Touma because he’s such an unlikely hero yet he throws himself into altruistic situations regardless of the consequences to himself (plus I do have a pair of gloves by Cospa that says Imagine Breaker on one of the glove ^^;). I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but I seem to only see the surface and I don’t go beyond that, at least not all the time. So I didn’t really see what you’re seeing upon first glance of Touma or Mikoto. So I learn slowly about these things from what other people think.

    But anyway your kind of heroics depend on what’s convenient to your personality and then make a story out of it🙂 So you can’t be a hero in some universe, but making your own would create your hero. That’s how I think, anyway. Myself as hero would be the meek kind who does heroics without anyone knowing, for example.

    • Yi says:

      Altruism is nice and all, but I thought he should have a bit more regard for the potential consequences. I think I also over-thought things as many have pointed out.

      “I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but I seem to only see the surface and I don’t go beyond that, at least not all the time.”
      I don’t think that’s true. You don’t give yourself enough credit. ^ ^

      If I were to be a hero in some universe unlikely as it may be, I’d probably also be in the background. I certainly won’t be in the frontline all flashy and stuff. I guess my role might be kind of like Saten from Railgun.

  23. Ningyo says:

    Even later than Rob to the party. Go me.

    A casual glancing question caused a lot of heat, it seems, hehe. I’m not exactly the connoisseur for Index/Railgun plot details, but when it comes shounen series ideals I see where you’re coming from. Gurren Lagann’s Simon brought a good chunk of the human populace into a completely unknown plane just to chase after his kidnapped girlfriend, under the assumption that his Spiral powars were badass enough – a few tragic nakama-deaths and epiphanies later they conveniently were, and the rest is history. Well, if the plot didn’t completely work in these hot-blooded protagonists’ favor, we wouldn’t normally get half as spiritually satisfying a plot.
    I defend them because I have a heck of a fun time writing about them. You should give it a try too😀

    We are meek because we lack power. They say bodybuilding and martial arts develop confidence as well – who knows? One’s views on justice and the justice one can impose may be worldly different if one were a veritable lightning god. If I could resist turning to villainy, I might just consider being a vigilante. Honestly though, I wouldn’t want to be a Level 5. Too powerful. It’d seriously mess up my mentality. I’m not as humble as Mikoto-san.
    Me, I just want the armband. Jajiimento desu no!

    • Yi says:

      Haha yea. It generated a lot more heat than I had expected. I hope I didn’t offend anyone.

      I understand the need for these hot blooded passionate heroes in shounen stories, but that doesn’t mean I have to like them.

      “One’s views on justice and the justice one can impose may be worldly different if one were a veritable lightning god.”
      That’s a really interesting thought. Touma and other heroes are fundamentally different from me because of their capabilities. Without their powers, I can’t sympathize with their justice, their thought process, and their confidence.

      Anyways, I wouldn’t want to have Mikoto or Touma’s powers. I’m not interested in saving the day or being a villain. I would love to have something practical though, like Kuroko’s teleportation.

  24. Accelerator says:

    What is a Hero? A white knight in shining armor that saves maidens and mercilessly slays the dragon? A strict moral-following individual that wont even tolerate something that doesnt cause harm? A Kamina like hero with no regards to anything but to express his burning passion for justice? If so, Touma is none of these things. Touma isnt the kind of person that’ll do a lose/lose chance suicide decision , if possible, he will think of a way to go for the best possible ending, no, HE DOES WHATEVER IT TAKES ON HIM TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE IS HAPPY IN THE END (Understatement). If he has to do a bum rush sort of thing, he’ll do it with the outcome in mind, hell he even has the safety of his opposition in thought like when he was in the star of bethlehem in the light novels (A Giant Space Base Basically) after he defeated Fiamma of the Right when there was only 1 escape pod left that could only fit one person (And mind you Fiamma is the kind of person I dont think anyone would allow to live after what he attempted~Another Understatement~) he let him take it so he could have another chance at life and live it the right way this time. When Misaka tried to save him using a jet, knowing it was his last means of escape and chance of survival he didnt take that either even when Misaka forcefully tried to lift the floor under him using electricity to save him before she had to go (A Jet in the Thermosphere, not even possible in the first place) He stayed since he had unfinished buisness, he had to get Index’s dominion rod and destroy it so no one could ever take advantage of her, defeat the angel inside and send it straight back to heaven, and land the star of bethlehem (crash land) some where safe so it wouldnt harm anyone (The arctic ocean) all this and it meant his life (Touma’s status: Missing In Action) He would go down to the bowels of hell to save someone whose world is collapsing around them, who he doesnt even know, and even have the safety of the demons and even Lucifer down there assured (Unless his objective was to beat the crap out them in which case he would do so without killing) When you think about it, Touma hasnt killed a single person, and every outcome from his actions is the best possible, no, the absolute best. Touma isnt a hero, Touma is Touma, and if I had to be anymore specific, he’s just a boy with misfortune that thinks he drags everyone into his messes, if he causes any negative effect from his actions he will do everything to fix it and take complete responsibility, but what he will not do is stand back when there can be a better outcome, a better ending, a better future. “Does a Level 0 like me really seem that incredible?! Hero? Villain? Stop kidding around! Can’t you save someone if you’re not standing at that spot?! In front of your eyes are people that don’t wish to cry that are crying! In front of your eyes are people that can only clench their teeth while struggling and can’t even say the words ‘please save me’! Is that not enough!! Just step up already!! You don’t need special positions or reasons!! With these, you can step up and be a shield for them!!”-Touma to Accelerator
    Well, thats all I have to say.

    And if you’ve read read the light novels, youd understand why I used Accelerator as my name, the quote above is enough at that.

    • Yi says:

      I’m aware that his actions always lead to the best possible outcome. Thank goodness Touma’s a fictional character, right? Because with the kind of rash decisions he makes, if it were real-life, things would not always have gone so smoothly. He’d kind of be a total jerk for gambling with someone else’s life, or simply stupid for putting himself (and often others) at serious risks.

      ” When you think about it, Touma hasnt killed a single person, and every outcome from his actions is the best possible, no, the absolute best. Touma isnt a hero, Touma is Touma, and if I had to be anymore specific, he’s just a boy with misfortune that thinks he drags everyone into his messes”
      He’s actually really lucky if you think about it. In the very first arc, if he had gotten his assumptions wrong -which is very likely- then Index would’ve died.
      I’m not going to admire him for being lucky and for being an idealist.

      “HE DOES WHATEVER IT TAKES ON HIM TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE IS HAPPY IN THE END (Understatement). If he has to do a bum rush sort of thing, he’ll do it with the outcome in mind,”
      I’m also not going to give him props for being such an optimist. But he’ll always get away with rushing into action and forcing his justice on everyone, because this is anime and Touma’s poorly formulated decisions are always the best.

      p.s. I remember that speech. That’s another thing I can’t stand about this character. I don’t really need a huge monologue every arc about what is right!

      p.p.s. I know there are a lot of Touma fans. I’m just not one of them. ^ ^

  25. Accelerator says:

    And not to offend, but think of Lelouch. He took the “practical path” in the end, it took alot of lives including his own and 2 whole seasons to truly decently save the day once.

    • Yi says:

      Sorry… But I haven’t seen Code Geass, but it sounds like Code Geass is a bit more realistic when it comes to plot developments. To have no terrible outcomes all the time is a bit fantastical, and that’s what Touma is.

  26. Accelerator says:

    And as for Rei’s post, he did it so Index and everyone around her would stop suffering, dont you remember the pain she was in during the time she had to get her memories erased? To live truly only for a couple of days and see your once friends as enemies and persuers the next day, to go through the suffering over and over? Sounds like death all over again, heck, Higurashi emphasizes that in a sense. Touma broke the chain, miracles are miracles, they dont happen from cold calculations, rationalized thinking or heck, even heroism. They happen from something special. Now he’s widened horizons, Index no longer runs in fear, heck, now she gets to truly know Stiyl and everyone. He’s broken destiny and shattered the mest up hopeless illusion. Since thats what imagine breaker does, its the ability of miracles, to cleanse the original sin, to exorcise the devil from god, in is hands and with his thinking, its the power of endless possibilities. (Along with all the other spoilers I’ve regretfully given) It’s not at full power yet, what he has now is a mere fraction of what imagine breaker can do, and even past that he has this awe striking DARK POWER (sorta like Hollow Ichigo but eh, you’ll see…..) that is being held back by imagine breaker, it makes the most powerfull antagonist (Fiamma) encountered thus far cripple with just the release of its aura being held back by itself. He can apparently talk to it, and when in use, it drives him insane and makes him more twisted than Accelerator. “I don’t know who you are or where you from, I don’t even know what you’re trying to do, But,… You just shut the hell up. I’ll take care of this.” Touma to the Unknown Power.
    Seeing as it would have prolly killed Fiamma and he wanted to do this fair and square. (He regenerated his arm and denied the power)

    • Yi says:

      Just a few notes.

      I don’t actually believe that Touma saves Index out of care for Index. I think he did so more out of an inherent need to force his sense of what’s right onto everything he comes into contact with. It’s a subtle distinction, but one of self-satisfaction and altruism. Of course, I may just be being overly harsh on him.

      “miracles are miracles, they dont happen from cold calculations, rationalized thinking or heck, even heroism. They happen from something special.”
      Yea. I don’t really believe in miracles. I wish they exist, but life can be pretty sucky.😦
      Still agreed about miracles in the world of Majutsu Index. They happen left and right, and that makes Touma’s role especially important.

      Anyway, I’m not totally caught up with Index, so actually not sure who Fiamma is. I’ll probably understand more about Touma’s character when I do get to that arc. Also, when I wrote this point, I was still watching season 1.

      p.s. Please don’t get offended by my comments even if we have different opinions on this character. ^ ^

  27. Accelerator says:

    Its ironic, im sorta like Accelerator in a sense. After I said all this, I cant necisarilly say im the nicest person in the world, maybe the cruelest, and maybe possibly able to show positive emotion here and there. But even though Accelerator cant be the hero, he endlessly envies Touma and has a caving to be one, to the point were he limits himself to using his right hand to imitate him once in a while.

    Yeah, miracles are sugar coated shit. If they were real then at some point in history it would have happened once. But realistic or not the whole idea of what Touma does and his ideals strikes a profound feeling at me, and it absolutely urged me to write all this. My opinion is simply that he doest really care about justice or anything of the latter, if he can do something, and make it better he’ll do it.

    More importantly~its an anime, if he fails=everyone thinks he’s a bastard and the anime turns into a tragic story of redemption or something along the lines. he succeeds=everythings a million times better than its supposed to be, blah blah blah, the story begins. It just plays out however the author wants. Example (enter name here) about to be killed by (enter name here), no chance at victory; gains (insert anything), turns the tide, wins miraculously. Moments such as when he gambled with Index’s life, so you say, are used for twists and or suspense.
    That sums it up.

    • Yi says:

      “But realistic or not the whole idea of what Touma does and his ideals strikes a profound feeling at me”
      I think that’s the biggest difference between you and me. It’s that you find charm in Touma’s miracle-driven passion for doing what he thinks is right, while I just can’t seem to relate at all to this character.

      In fact, I think I’d like him (and the anime) a lot more if he does fail in a big way once in a while. I wouldn’t think he’s a bastard, but rather, a more real character.

      By the way, thanks for the comments! It’s been a really interesting, heated discussion. ^ ^

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