So I’m watching the 17th episode of season three of A Certain Magical Index and there is a major revelatory moment. It was so odd I had to share it.
The whole point of the current arc is the characters discovering who or what is DRAGON. All these organization and individuals are running around with various plans to either find the identity of DRAGON or prevent others from discovering the truth. Then at the climax of the episode Accelerator finally corners Shiokishi who is one of the few people who actually is in on the secret. Shiokishi with nowhere else to run says that DRAGON is everywhere and Accelerator should turn around. Shiokishi does not in fact then run away like a cartoon character when Accelerator turns around because there is actually something there. It is DRAGON.
Now at this point I’m TECHNICALLY spoiling the secret of DRAGON in the A Certain Magical Index but the fact of the matter is in many ways this is actually almost impossible to spoil which is actually part of the whole reason I’m writing this in the first place. Going forward there are basically two main camps of people. People who are not hardcore fans of A Certain Magical Index and those who have been watching the series for a while. Everything past this point is so stepped in esoterica that the important parts of the reveal would mean nothing to non fans. The fans of the series have probably already seen this reveal. Even then it actually sort of dodges being a full spoiler for reasons I will explain.
So it turns out that DRAGON is in fact the angel Aiwass. So what does that mean? Well one of the major antagonists in the series is Aleister Crowley. For those not in the know Aleister Crowley is a rather infamous occultist back in the early 20th century. Supposedly his magical teachings are the result of secrets passed on to him by his guardian angel Aiwass. This means that Aleister Crowley is a great persona if you want to throw a historical figure into your urban fantasy series or have some semi obscure magical reference in your song lyrics. I know who he is because I’m a tabletop RPG nerd and enjoy researching things like that but the details of Thelema are hardly common knowledge in the US or Japan. I highly doubt they teach Japanese students the history of The Book of the Law right after lessons on Oda Nobunaga and Meiji Restoration.
The weirdest thing is (and the whole reason I wrote this) is because right after this big reveal the conversation continues as if a casual fact was dropped on the audience and nothing more. There is no expository dialog. No one says, “You know, Aiwass. The guardian angel of your nemesis Aleister Crowley.” It is mentioned the same way as if it turned out one of the minor cast members like Fukiyose Seiri or a celebrity Madonna turned out to be actually be DRAGON. It is supposed to be an unexpected reveal but nothing worth going into detail about.
Now Aleister Crowley is an established character in the show since fairly close to the beginning of the show. They have mentioned that he was once a famous occult figure and is now being kept alive via a mixture or magic and science but not really much more than that. There has never been an episode that explains his back story or his place in the Index universe. Not even a “That dude Ozzy Osbourne wrote a song about.” He mostly is shown as a shadowy mastermind and send out minions or exploits on plot elements at the end of a story arc. Your mostly expected to know who he is on your own. They do VERY briefly mention offhandedly that Aleister Crowley wrote The Book of the Law with Aiwass in the Orsola Aquinas Rescue Arc back in the beginning on Season 2. It was such a minor scene that
1. I had to look up when it happened and
2. I had to look up that it happened in the first place.
It does not help that the episode aired back in on October 15, 2010. Even a lore nerd like myself only vaguely remembered the scene. I actually remembered who Aiwass was more because of Mage: The Ascension than the show itself.
I guess what I expected was either a quick expository line or a quick flashback to get people back up to speed on who this mysterious angel is. Anime is infamous for flashing back to things that happened ten minutes ago let alone 3,032 days ago.
I do have to wonder if this is a sign that A Certain Magical Index has a bit of a mandate to cover as much ground as possible since it has come back. I know that several people have noted that the season’s pace seems rather spirited. Even Frenda’s death seems to happen rather quickly and mostly off screen. (But that might have been more a little bit of self censorship on the show’s part since she dies pretty brutally.) So it might be just a case where when every second counts you have to prioritize new information over things the audience has already been told even it it was a while back.
It could also just be the fact that A Certain Magical Index deeply nerdy show. It is one of those series that clearly prides itself on its extensive depth of lore. That type of show attracts a certain type of nerd. The type of nerd who remembers minor bits of off mentioned esoterica, periodically reads and references wikis, and does research outside of the show itself. As a Type-Moon fan it is clear I’m that type of nerd. The J.C.Staff crew might just have decided that sort of exposition would be like reintroducing Touma every episode. It would just be a waste of everyone’s time.
In the end It was just bizarre that when I saw the DRAGON reveal my first thought was, “It makes sense that Aiwass is DRAGON.” My second thought was, “But wait. Why should that be obvious to anyone watching this unless they are someone like me?” Then my final though was I should write this article. I guess in the end when you are so used to seeing things over explained the inverse sticks out like a sore thumb. While I’m sure many an anime fan would wish away pointless expository dialog from many shows they love it does serve a purpose when used correctly.