A Certain Magical Index Anime visual

A Certain Magical Index: What Is It and In What Order Should I Watch It?

You want to know more about the anime series and movies of A Certain Magical Index? Let me share a short dialogue with you:

‘Hey dude, you should watch A Certain Magical Index, it’s a pretty good show with some catchy songs for the intros.’

‘Oh neat, yeah, I think I’ve heard of this show before. But I don’t know anything about it, can you tell me without spoiling lol?’

‘Well, it’s about magic and science and the main guy has a pretty OP power and he doesn’t look strong but he basically punches everyone lolol.’

That was the transcript of my friend recommending me a new anime to watch about eight years ago. It was high school, and I’d just gotten into anime recently, and he was all about helping bring new anime series to my attention. 

He had a pretty good record with recommendations for Fullmetal Alchemist, Code Geass, and Gundam Seed so far (although I still disagree with him on Gundam Seed: Destiny), which meant I felt like I had to give Toaru Majutsu No Index, otherwise known as A Certain Magical Index, a try.

I started enjoying it immediately. The story and the universe piqued my curiosity. I thought the main protagonist’s power was incredibly unique, and the music used in the openings was so catchy. There were no English translations of the light novel that the series was based on at the time, so the anime was the only way I’d experience it.

TL;DR: The list with the proper order to watch the series is at the end of the article.

Kamijou Index and Misaka from A Certain Magical Index anime

Where A Certain Magical Index Gets a Little Confusing

After the first season of the anime, an anime adaptation of its spin-off manga, A Certain Scientific Railgun, began. While the first season of that serves mostly as a prequel, events from later in the source material occur at the same time as its parent story. Possibly a little confusing, but nothing too much to worry about.

Once the second season came out for each show, it became an exponential issue. The second season of Railgun was fully treading in the waters of the first season of Index, running parallel while also showing some events from different perspectives (and with better animation). 

Newcomers to the series who were confused because of the differences between A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun were only further confused about the order in which they should watch the series. The announcement of an anime-only movie and another manga spin-off called A Certain Scientific Accelerator only furthered the confusion. 

What saved it was the massive break the animated series took after the second season of Railgun. From 2008 to 2011, there were two seasons of Index and one of Railgun that aired alternatively. Railgun S (the second season) and A Certain Magical Index: The Movie The Miracle of Endymion aired in 2013. It would be seven years of fans asking ‘Index Season 3 when’ after Index II finished that an anime adaptation would air.

A Certain Magical Index anime visual

 

And now there’s also the currently running Railgun T to add into the mix. Even though it takes place during the middle of Index II, it’s a little intimidating to see the third season of a series taking place during the second season of another.

Did I also mention that the aforementioned Accelerator spin-off received an anime adaptation as well? It’s enough for those familiar enough with the series to scratch their heads, but if you’re not familiar with the series, you might be extremely confused about all the different versions.

Let’s take a step back and briefly explain (in a mostly spoiler-free way) each series before we get to watch orders.

The Premise and Characters of A Certain Magical Index

The first series of the Index franchise we need to talk about is the one that started it all, A Certain Magical Index. The series follows Kamijou Touma, a student in the technologically advanced Academy City. His world is turned upside down after a chance encounter with a nun named Index. From this point on, he finds himself pulled into the darker web of magic and psychic users.

And that’s the ultimate focus for the Index series. Touma and Index find themselves in the middle of a struggle for power between various magic-using factions. Usually it’s over the latter, but the unique power of the former catches the eyes of many of their enemies. There are plenty of Espers (people who are evaluated with holding powers thanks to science) in the series, but the majority are Sorcerers or other magic-users.

Kamijou Touma: Although he believes himself to be the most unlucky person in the world and is ranked as a Level 0 Esper (someone showing little to any power), he actually has an extremely unique ability that allows him to negate any psychic or magic power. Evidently, this also comes to mean that his own power is what negates his own luck. He’s selfless and more than willing to face off against opponents far stronger than him.

Index: A young nun who holds 103,000 grimoires in her mind, possibly thanks to her photographic memory. This also allows her to easily identify particular types of magic and unknowingly cast strong magical attacks. She’s normally calm and polite, but when around Touma is quick to assume and occasionally acts childish.

Stiyl Magnus: The first antagonist that Touma meets, and a former friend of Index. He is an expert in fire magic and runes. His appearance, attitude, and penchant for smoking make him seem older than he looks.

Kanzaki Kaori: A friend of Stiyl Magnus and Index. As a saint, she has natural superhuman abilities on top of incredibly powerful magic. Although she’s very cold and serious when she’s first introduced, she does begin to show a softer side as the series progresses.

Aleister Crowley: The founder and ruler of Academy City who works to sabotage those on the magic side. He stays in the background and sets grand plans in motion that affect the other characters.

A Certain Magical Index anime visual

The First Side Story: A Certain Scientific Railgun

A Certain Scientific Railgun is the first manga spin-off and follows Misaka Mikoto, the level 5 esper also known as ‘Railgun’, in her own adventures, separate from her involvement in the Index series. Her story focuses more on the Esper side of things and takes place before and during the events of Index.

It’s also the only series so far to have filler arcs in it. Both Railgun and Railgun S (the second season) have secondary filler arcs, while Railgun T has so far only adapted canon material.

Misaka Mikoto: A main character in the Index series, and the titular protagonist for the Railgun series. Her status as a level 5 electromaster esper is enough reason to gain attention, but she comes to learn that events from her past carried more weight than she’d ever known.

Shirai Kuroko: One of the protagonists in Railgun, and the best friend and roommate of Misaka Mikoto. She’s a level 4 Esper with the ability to teleport herself and other objects. She works with Uiharu in Judgement, the student-led discipline committee in Academy City.

Uiharu Kazari: A supporting character and a level 1 esper. She works alongside Shirai Kuroko in Judgement. Although she’s not much of the fighting type, she supports Judgement with her excellent computer skills.

Saten Ruiko: One of the supporting characters and a level 0 esper. She’s a friend with Uiharu and meets the other characters through her. Even without being gifted in terms of powers, she does whatever she can to help those in need.

A Certain Magical Index Railgun anime visual

The Miracle of Endymion

Thanks to the popularity of the series, an anime-only movie called A Certain Magical Index: The Movie – The Miracle of Endymion would come out in 2013. Although it would follow a mostly self-contained story about a girl who could possibly bring about a massive war within the city, small references would be made to it (visually at least) in Railgun S.

Bad Guy Turned Good in A Certain Scientific Accelerator

The final spin-off is A Certain Scientific Accelerator. It follows the character known only as ‘Accelerator’ and his own separate adventures from the Index series. Like Railgun, it focuses more on Espers within Academy City. The series takes place after the first season of Index and during the seven episodes of Index II.

Accelerator: The top ranked Level 5 esper. He’s originally introduced as an antagonist with the Index and Railgun series, but progresses into a protagonist in the former as well as the titular protagonist in Accelerator. At times he can seem especially sadistic and unhinged, especially when fighting strong opponents.

Last Order: The final ‘sister’ of Misaka Mikoto. She stands out the most among the sisters due to being a ten-year-old, whereas the others are the same age as Misaka. She comes into the care of Accelerator, forgiving him of his past actions and allowing him to forgive himself.

Girls from anime A Certain Magical Index

In What Order to Watch the Anime Series

I’ve definitely seen people give watch order recommendations that splice episodes of different series together. Personally, I think that’s way too complicated, and instead, I’m going to recommend two well-known watch orders. The first of them is to simply follow the broadcast order:

  • A Certain Magical Index
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun
  • A Certain Magical Index II
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun S
  • A Certain Magical Index: The Movie – The Miracle of Endymion
  • A Certain Scientific Accelerator 
  • A Certain Magical Index III
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun T

One of the biggest reasons for fans having preferences on watch orders is because of a very important arc that is first shown in the first season of Index that was greatly expanded upon in the second season of Railgun. Some believe that seeing the arc for the second time in Railgun can have less of an impact, as you generally know what’s going to happen already. This is what has led to the equally popular Railgun-first watch order:

  • A Certain Scientific Railgun
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun S
  • A Certain Magical Index
  • A Certain Magical Index II
  • A Certain Scientific Accelerator 
  • A Certain Magical Index: The Movie – The Miracle of Endymion
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun T
  • A Certain Magical Index III

I’d argue that this is a pretty acceptable watch order as well. In a way, it’s a bit more of a chronological watch order, and thanks to the mostly self-contained stories of Railgun and Accelerator, it shouldn’t ruin anything from its parent story. A real chronological order would be splicing episodes together from all around, so this is a lot easier for newcomers.

Where to Watch A Certain Magical Index

If you’re interested in giving the series a shot, then there are thankfully a lot of options for you! I’d certainly recommend it, even if there are some weaker parts. Here’s a list of each series and where you can watch them.

  • A Certain Magical Index – available on Crunchyroll with the Japanese dub and on Funimation with the Japanese and English dubs, although the latter typically requires a subscription. The movie is available as well on Funimation, but you’ll need a subscription to watch it with either dub.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun – available on Crunchyroll with the Japanese dub and on Funimation with the Japanese and English dubs, although the latter typically requires a subscription.
  • A Certain Scientific Accelerator – available on Crunchyroll with the Japanese dub and on Funimation with the English dub.

 

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