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Reading New Testament For The First Time #7: Magic God Othinus
Anyway, I’m getting off track, so let me get back to the meat and potatoes of this post: Magic God Othinus.
|Volume||Arc||Page count||Publication date|
|NT8||Magic God Othinus||240||September 10th, 2013|
The StorySo, the story begins on some ship wreckage, where we learn that Ollerus has successfully infiltrated GREMLIN, and shortly after it transitions into the UN building of all places where the US president, the Russian archbishop, the queen of England and the freakin’ pope hold a meeting about the fate of the world - seriously, where does Kamachi come up with this stuff? Anyway, they talk about the looming danger of Othinus finishing the magical item Gungnir, which can turn Othinus’ one flaw (always being at a 50/50 chance of success and failure) into complete irrelevancy, and thus they need to act fast. They set in motion a giant worldwide search to look for GREMLIN’s base of operations (the aforementioned ship wreckage).
On the other side of the world, poor Touma is once again in a dilemma with a bunch of girls who have somehow become part of his ever-increasing entourage, this time some of them (Lessar and Birdway) decided to sleep in the same bathtub as him. The usual hi-jinks ensue, and Touma once again ends up with bite marks on his head courtesy of his gluttonous roommate. After a quick briefing, Touma is brought up to speed, and they head toward the Academy City airport to send Touma in as a trump card in case something should go wrong. And here… honestly, I don’t know why Kamachi feels the need to do this, but the fanservice does become really tiresome. Here the girls decide to shop for swimsuits, and of course Lessar being Lessar, she absolutely has to tempt fate with the most ridiculous kinds of swimsuits. Touma isn’t having any of it, so he diffuses her advances, much to the bemusement of Lessar, and the utter misunderstanding of the other girls…
And of course everything goes wrong with locating the ship wreckage as they’re fooled by a decoy, but they do manage to locate the real ship wreckage which happens to be… right outside Tokyo. So Touma and the girls head out in the hyperspeed plane, only to be stopped by a GREMLIN contraption. GREMLIN decided it would be a good idea to turn Tokyo into the world’s largest gridlock and send Norse mythology monsters after anyone who traveled at speeds greater than that of a narcoleptic turtle. Touma and the girls are separated, but all of them decide to head for the harbor, and so further shenanigans ensue.
And from this point and until a handful of pages before the story ends, it’s mostly just Touma and Mikoto and Index’s fight against one of GREMLIN’s members, a new character by the name Freyja. And while it is a fairly long fight, it does turn out to be quite interesting, or at least the character of Freyja does. A pregnant woman being controlled by the fetus inside, not really something you see every day… The fight takes place on a moving subway train that occasionally peaks outside, so they’re moving toward the harbor, while they fight, which is very convenient if you ask me.
They manage to defeat her, and meet up with the others, and so the last stretch is taken by boat. As they approach the island of ship wrecks, Ollerus makes his move and attacks Othinus with a powerful spell, but the attack fails, and Othinus retaliates. However, Ollerus new best friend Fiamma of the Right comes in from the side and hits her perfectly, but it seems like Othinus didn’t care either way. Because the spell would still ensure that her flaw (50/50 chance of success/failure) would turn into a 100% chance for either direction, which she could use to ensure the perfect outcome either way, by deliberately failing at failing, thus becoming successful.
The story ends on probably one of the biggest cliffhangers in all of Toaru, by Othinus quite literally “destroying the world” in a flash with a staff she pulled out from her vacant eye socket, and then the pages run out. Spoooky.
- Freyja: The twist came as a bit of a surprise to me, as did it to many others I would think. Even if you know your Norse mythology, you probably wouldn’t have guessed that it was the fetus that was Freyja, and the mother was just an unnamed entity it wanted to protect. So kudos to Kamachi for creating a very unconventional villain. Although I cannot credit him with coming up with the idea first, as Dr. Fetus from the game Super Meat Boy in his glass jar with the tuxedo and top hat came out in 2010, whereas this story was published in 2013.
- Hel: A small character that was only given a few pages of time, but she seems like too intricate a character to be just a throwaway for some fluff and filler. I imagine she’ll have a bigger role to play in the next novels. Although I feel like I must point out that Hel the character in Norse mythology rules over a place that is also called Hel, or Helheim. In this story she says she’s the queen of Niflheim, which is just not true, and it’s honestly pissing me a little bit off, especially considering Kamachi normally takes such good care of getting things right.
- Fenrir: Like Hel, a minor character who does some decoy work far away from the real action, but I also think he’ll play a bigger role in the coming novels. Don’t have much to say about him, other than the comment about Fenrir being the one to devour Odin during Ragnarok comes off to me as a bit of foreshadowing, and if I know Kamachi right, he wouldn’t put a line like that in if it didn’t have some purpose.
- Misaka Mikoto: Finally being given the chance to help Touma, instead of Touma being the one to carry the burdens, and then she’s basically whisked away again to fight a fight far away from Touma. It’s just not fair.
- Lessar: Always fun to see more of Lessar, though her overt sexual nature does seem a little grating if you ask me. Then again, that is her primary personality trait, so I guess it comes with the territory. Still, you can’t help but think she seems a little one-dimensional when it’s all she ever thinks about or talks about.
- Index: The useless food goblin was finally useful for once. While her wealth of knowledge is only good in certain circumstances, her ability to perform Spell Intercept does come in handy in the most unusual of times. So good on her for not being a 2-ton ball and chain around Touma’s ankle this time.
Notes on the NovelAs I’ve mentioned before, I’m reading these on a tablet, with an app that shows my progress in the novel in terms of percentages, and I noticed by the 25% mark that everything that had happened so far was the UN meeting and Touma’s trip to the swimsuit store. I was wondering at that point if all this fanservice was just a way for Kamachi to pad the novel length to a certain amount so that it exceeded some arbitrary threshold. I also couldn’t help but think that if each novel had its own unique title, this one could just be called “Touma and the magic fetus” because the vast majority of the novel feels like it’s just Touma fighting with Freyja while on the subway train.
|Volume||Arc||Page count||Publication date|
|NT9||Magic God Othinus||181||January 10th, 2014|
The StoryOkaaayyy, so we’re going straight into metaphysical territory right out the gate. That seems fair, given that the previous novel ended with the literal end of the world. So what happened? Well, only Touma and Othinus remain in a space of pure nothing. Pure nothing. Not even a sliver of the world remains. So what would anyone do in such a place? Touma runs. Runs like hell. But unfortunately he doesn’t get anywhere useful, as there’s nothing at all. So he returns to face Othinus, who decides to “mentally break him”, and sends him to a brand new world.
This brand new world is seemingly constructed in such a way that everyone thinks Touma is a monster for performing all the heroic feats he’s done over the last 3-4 months, and so everyone is out to get him. Waking up in a bombarded Tokyo he desperately tries to look for a place to hide and make sense of everything, all while Othinus is standing on the sideline taunting him. He even runs into Fukiyose and Aogami, who both are trying to kill him, but he manages to escape both of them. He doesn’t get much farther than that, however, as he’s soon overwhelmed by a very unexpected adversary: Komoe-sensei. And let me tell you, having the mental image of Komoe stabbing Touma with a large kitchen knife while in tears was not a pleasant thought. Needless to say, Touma remains vigilant in the face of adversity, so Othinus creates a new world, one where Kamijou Touma is a completely different person.
This second world shows a different person assuming the role of Kamijou Touma, while the real Touma can only look on from the sideline seeing all his acquaintances have a great time, without the real him. But even this does not deter Touma, even this is not enough to “mentally break” him. So Othinus continues to create new worlds wherein Touma is mercilessly beaten, killed or otherwise rendered irrelevant. But nothing seems to stick, which brings us to the final world that Othinus creates, the final world that is sure to break our dear protagonist: A realm in which everyone is happy, and everyone survives.
And this does get to him. For Othinus says that if he stays in this world, his Imagine Breaker would shatter this world of happiness, so he comes to a very quick conclusion that for the greater good, he should end his own life. But in the process of doing so, a familiar face shows up just in time to stop it. Who is this person? The Will of the Misaka Network. Haven’t seen her in a long while, so this was nice. The Will and Touma get into a fairly long philosophical discussion of reality, morality, happiness and existence itself, which ultimately leads to The Will convincing Touma that Othinus is playing a trick on him and that he should get his shit together and bring back the real world again. And so he sets out to do just that, by confronting Othinus for a final battle.
But this final battle turns out not to be so final, at least not for one of the parties. You see, it turns out that Othinus restarts this whole charade every single time Touma confronts her at this place and loses to her godly powers, but while Touma loses his memory of the previous iterations (mostly), Othinus retains hers, and so she grows mentally ancient, while Touma stays youthful and blissfully unaware of the time that has passed. This whole thing reminds me a little bit of the “Endless Eight” from Harumi Suzumiya, or the final battle in Doctor Strange: one entity relives the same events over and over and over again and becomes worn down from the ordeal.
In the end, Othinus becomes so tired of the constant fighting for literally thousands of iterations, that she slips up, and Touma manages to destroy Gungnir, and through that the artificially constructed world where everyone is happy. They return to the black nothingness where they fight one final fight where Touma gets so close to performing his Signature Punch™, but get sliced in half by the abdomen mere centimeters from his goal. In his final death rattles, he lays some truth bombs on Othinus, which makes her rethink her entire purpose and goal, and he simply asks her to make good use of the Imagine Breaker, the one thing which acts like an anchor to reality not distorted by magic. He dies… but not for long. Othinus makes the uncharacteristic decision to restore everything back to the way things were just before she ended it all, with them all standing on the ship wreckage, and Othinus about to be attacked from every single angle imaginable. But Touma being Touma, he decides to add one more powerful girl to his enormous harem and proclaims that he will defend her, even he he has to fight the whole world to do so.
New CharactersThere are no new characters this time around.
Recurring CharactersThe whole section with the happy world felt a lot like a highlight reel of every character in the past who had experienced some sort of hardship or grief, so there were A LOT of recurring characters this time, even if they only had one or two lines at the most. But as for significant recurring characters, I believe there is only one:
- The Will of the Misaka Network: Like I mentioned up above, it was nice to see this entity again, even if it was brief. I am however not a fan of her vocal tic, and I am starting to be a bit bothered by every character who has a significant vocal tic. I know The Will’s speech pattern is supposed to resemble that of a terminal or a command line, but I honestly can’t imagine this will sound good in the anime adaptation unless they give each “/return” and “/escape” a unique noise instead of literally saying the word. Setting aside the vocal tick, this entity is a very curious one, though we learn more about what makes up the entity, and perhaps what makes it tick. I even got the sense that it, like most other girls in the series, has a bit of a crush on Touma, especially considering how it behaved around him (getting up real close almost touching lips) and thinking about what it could have said to him (”please save me”). Also, is it an “it” or a “her”… or a “they”? What’s the consensus in this regard?
Notes on the NovelTo be honest, I am never a big fan of the kinds of stories where reality is coming into question. Like “what is real?” and “is what I’m currently experiencing real?” and something to that effect. As a person who thinks of reality as a very grounded and tangible thing, questioning reality itself just gives me the heebie-jeebies. Though realizing that there is only one truth, and that truth is “I think, therefore I am”, everything beyond that is open to interpretation, so I cannot fault Kamachi for using it in Toaru. And I also believe that if you were fighting against an actual god, destroying, rebuilding, reshaping, and morphing reality would definitely be one of the primary tools of their trade. Still, not a fan. Also why I don’t like episodes of Star Trek or Stargate where they make people experience a whole bunch of crap inside their head while in reality only a few seconds pass by. It’s mental torture, and can seriously warp a person’s perception of reality. It’s probably why I like Star Wars more than the other “Star” franchises, as that franchise doesn’t mess with alternate realities and criss-crossing timelines and the like.
I do also believe that this novel is the first time, or at least one of the few times, that the movie Miracle of Endymion is referenced, with Arisa and the loli director being mentioned in the background during the aforementioned “highlight reel”. And yeah, you really need to have paid attention in the whole series if you had to get all the references thrown at you in this section. I will say, however, that Kamachi would had a perfect opportunity here to include Saten in the background, a mere name-drop would have sufficed, and no one would have batted an eye, but he didn’t.
With Touma now protecting Othinus instead of battling her, I wonder what’s going to happen in the third and final chapter of this epic.
|Volume||Arc||Page count||Publication date|
|NT10||Magic God Othinus||229||May 10th, 2014|
The StoryLet me preface this bit here by saying that I am a Dane, born and raised and has spent my entire life in Denmark. So it may not come as much of a surprise to you that I was a bit flabbergasted when I opened up this novel and one of the first things I saw was a photograph of Egeskov Castle and a map of Denmark. Now, I had already gathered from the Wiki that Denmark would play some role in the story, but I was not aware in what capacity, and when it would happen. But it turns out that all of NT10 apparently takes place in my home country. In multiple cities no less. Most of which I’ve been to. It was honestly a bit surreal to read. But nevertheless a hell of a lot of fun.
The story starts with Touma and Othinus teleporting to the northern part of Denmark, to an empty field just outside a fairly sized town called Hjørring. Othinus has explained that in order to stop the spell that Ollerus attacked her with, she must reduce her strength from Magic God back to human form, and doing so requires that she retrieves her eye from a lake on Funen, in particular, the lake next to Egeskov Castle. So they start trekking down from Hjørring to Odense, but on their way they run into multiple obstacles in the form of basically all of Touma’s former opponents, one after the other, trying to stop or outright kill him and Othinus.
And the first obstacle is not pulling any punches: it’s quite literally an orbital strike that glasses a handful of fields outside Hjørring quickly followed by one of Touma’s earliest adversaries: Accelerator. However, even though Accelerator is using his overpowered white wings, Touma is being quick about neutralizing him (almost like he’s done it a few times before), and they don’t see any other opponents for a while and move on some more.
They encounter their next opponent in Aalborg: the Roman Catholic Church forces, led by Agnese, who Touma doesn’t defeat in the old fashioned way, but convinces her that he’s helping Othinus for a good reason, and she gives him the benefit of the doubt and lets them through.
Their third opponent is the Russian Orthodox Church, with the familiar faces of Vasilisa and Sasha greeting the pair near Støvring. They toss a walkie-talkie to Touma, and he speaks with a Russian clergyman on the other end who uses a spell on him which reduces his strength based on the seven deadly sins, but Touma outsmarts him and turns the spell back on him, and the two nuns let them go, only for Touma to be knocked unconscious straight away by the fourth opponent, or opponents:
Knight Leader, William Orwell, Carissa and Kanzaki, the four strongest people in all of Britain, flying on a giant fish-like structure (why a fish, though? That still puzzles me) 1500 meters in the air, leaving Touma and Othinus with no way of escaping, but Touma uses Kanzaki’s desire to save everyone to convince her that there is a way to save the world and Othinus without killing her, thereby getting Kanzaki back on his side so she can hold back the others.
Moving on, Touma and Othinus run into their fifth obstacle: Marian Slingeneyer. and she. Is. Piiiiiissed. Pissed enough to actually use the magical sword she was threatening to use in Baggage City, calling upon every doomsday scenario from every religion and mythology she could imagine. And the fight is truly intense but Touma manages to smash the sword, and defeat Marian. The drum-shaped girl comes along and picks up Marian and rolls her away, leaving Touma and Othinus to continue their journey to the lake.
They reach Billund (a town which I’ve been to many many times and know quite a bit), where they face the sixth opponent and Touma’s greatest adversary of all: A unit of soldiers. They swiftly subdue the two of them, and take them into custody where Touma gets a chance to talk to the US president over the phone, where he convinces the president to stand down and let them through.
The ceasefire turns out to be very brief, as the seventh opponents land on the scene not too many moments later: Academy City’s army of Five_Over murderbots, specifically the Railgun variety. So they turn tail because that shit is pure insanity to go up against as mere mortals. They run through the nearby forest, but cannot escape them. However, before they are both turned into Swiss cheese by the pursuing death machines, they stop dead in their tracks as they’re hacked by opponent number eight.
Misaka Mikoto, one of Touma’s oldest acquaintances (post-memory loss), and certified Best Girl™, shows up to save him from getting turned into a fine paste. But that’s where Touma’s luck runs out, because she’s still going to kick his ass. They fight and it almost seems like Touma is victorious as usual, but this time, Mikoto gets properly angry at him after he explains why he decided to help Othinus seemingly out of nowhere. She lays some really strong truth bombs on him similar to what The Will did in the previous story, and it takes him by surprise just long enough for her to beat him literally with her fists, no electricity at all. And finally, at long last, she gets that bloody win she’s been yearning for for so long, even though she admits it wasn’t quite what she had imagined it would be. And can I just say that this image here is just gorgeous? Hits in just the right way for me. So beautiful.
Touma wakes up from the defeat, and Mikoto lets him pass, and she holds back the remaining Five_Over murderbots. Touma and Othinus hitch a ride in a tank, which they promptly drive straight into the harbor of Fredericia. They make their way to… “the bridge” which I can only assume based on the description in the novel is the old Little Belt Bridge, seeing as it has railroad tracks, while the new Little Belt Bridge is host to the E20 highway, and little else. And although the name may suggest it as being a new construction, the new bridge has existed since 1970, so Kamachi really doesn’t have much of an excuse not to at least mention it. On this bridge they find their ninth opponent: an unusual pair of Birdway and Index working together to try and increase Birdway’s strength to rival that of a Magic God. But Touma makes very quick work of this display by interrupting Index’s singing which supplies Birdway with Grimoire knowledge. They’re quickly defeated, and convinced that Othinus can be defeated through other means than just killing her.
They move on to Odense, the third largest city in Denmark, where they face the tenth opponent which doesn’t end up being easy whatsoever: Silvia and Brunhild. In fact, while Touma has received his fair share of bruises so far, nothing compares to what he ends up having done to him at this stage. Silvia is relentless, ruthless, and doesn’t hold back. With the power of a Saint she basically turns him into a bloody red pulp, and he is only saved by having Ollerus come in at the last second, redirecting the attacks of both Silvia and Brunhild against each other, knocking each other out in the process.
Beaten, battered, bruised beyond recognition, they limp the rest of the way to Egeskov Castle, where they stumble into the tenth and final obstacle between them and the eye in the lake: Thor. And Thor proves to be nigh-unbeatable thanks to his one trick of always teleporting (or rather moving he Earth around him, which is not a remotely original idea, btw.) himself into an always-winning position. Touma tricks him into stepping in front of a train, however, so he is still ultimately defeated. Which leaves just one last thing left to do…
But as luck would have it, it’s never quite that easy, is it? Othinus has witnessed all this hardship that Touma has gone through just to protect her and decided that no, it’s not fair, and she shouldn’t be protected like this, so she uses her Magic God powers to summon the giant crossbow from the last story and reactivates the spell Ollerus put on her, which destroys her from the inside. Touma makes a last ditch effort and at the last second reaches her and destroys the spell, but not before it’s too late and Othinus starts withering away… Meanwhile, every television screen on the whole bloody planet is receiving a live feed from this spectacle, and the US president asks everyone if they have it in their heart to forgive what has been previously been considered an unforgivable monster.
Touma wakes up back in the Academy City hospital with the frog faced doctor and much to his surprise, Othinus is alive! But… she’s only 15 cm tall now.
What. The fuck.
- Ingrid Martin: This is about the only character introduced in this novel with an actual name, and even some lines. But outside of her very brief role as the American black-ops soldier that actually won the fight she had with Touma, there’s not really all that much to say about her. She did a good job. Kudos. She’s still not very good at her job though if Lessar of all people can sneak up on her unnoticed.
Recurring CharactersOh boy where to start? This time, it’s basically a “greatest hits” album of Touma’s opponents from the past. Accelerator, Mikoto, Kanzaki, Birdway, Thor and so on. But since most of them are pretty much the same since we saw them the last time, and they don’t seem to grow all that much as characters, there’s really only one character I have any additional commentary on:
- Misaka Mikoto: The character dynamic between Mikoto and Touma has always been interesting to me, ever since OT3 (Sisters), or even the Railgun anime (which was my introduction to the franchise). Their relationship, as one-sided as it may seem, has always been one I have rooted for. It is one of the longest, and also one of the strongest bonds Touma has made over the course of this insanely long story, and it makes me happy to see that it’s still growing, even if it might never become what Mikoto really wants it to be. Her victory over Touma, even if she admitted it was a bit hollow, still seemed like an important milestone in their relationship, at the very least to her, but possibly also to him, as her speech to him about reality and perspective seemed to resonate with him, allowing her to get in the finishing blow. I hope Kamachi actually does something useful with this relationship in the future, though time will tell if that actually happens.
Notes on the NovelOh boy, where do I start? Firstly, as I mentioned in the beginning, I’m from Denmark, and I know quite a lot about the places described in this novel, or have friends who know about them, and while Kamachi does a decent job of representing my country, he does also get a LOT of things wrong. Firstly, he mentions that most of our cities are made of stone and brick buildings that are 500 years old. That is not even remotely the case. If buildings end up being that old, they’re either castles or protected buildings which are part of museums or “old town squares”, like “Den Gamle By” (translated: The Old Town) in Aarhus. Most cities, especially the big cities of today look way more modern. Take “Virgin Anne’s Street” as mentioned in the novel, it looks like this. Another error he makes is that it almost never snows in Denmark, at least not in the ridiculous volumes described in this novel. Now granted, he does save some points by mentioning that snow is rare here about 72% into the novel, but I still wanted to mention this in case anyone got any wrong ideas about Denmark being a winter wonderland. Another error he makes is that he says Denmark sits “only 150 meters above sealevel”. Bitch, our tallest point in the entire country is called Møllehøj, and it’s only 170 m above sea level. According to Wikipedia, our average height above sea level is a poor 31 meters. I’m flattered you think we’re taller than that, but really we’re not. He does get the fact right that Denmark is very flat, though. Also, Aalborg Tower, while it exists, is not even close to being a 100 meters tall. It’s 55 meters tall, and it looks like this. Lastly, and this is probably the silliest error of them all… we don’t have bears in Denmark. I have no clue where he got that idea from, but it’s far removed from reality.
As for the actual story, like Kamachi himself says in his Afterword: this was a “boss rush” style story this time around, or as I called it, a “greatest hits” album, with many familiar faces showing up to give it their all one more time to stop someone they have considered an ally in the past. It’s a much simpler story than the last one, with a lot less philosophy about reality and morality, and more just good old fashioned clashing of wills, and supernatural powers on display. I liked the setup, though it did end up feeling a bit formulaic at the end. You can see how long the novel is, you can sort of guess who the next opponent in line is based on the chapter name, and you can almost always predict the outcome of the fight based on their previous encounters. Of course each time Touma had to be clever about it, but that’s what he always is, and how he’s managed to survive this long, so there’s not really that much of a surprise there. And he’s been beaten to near unrecognizable states before, so it’s also not much of a surprise that he gets away with most of these beatings without much of consequence, thanks to the miracle medicines at the frog doctor’s hospital. Still, while it was formulaic, it was nice to see that Kamachi hadn’t completely forgotten most of the pre-established characters from the old series, and that he can use them for something interesting every once in a while, so kudos on that.
I hope the wait has been worth it. I certainly had my fun jumping back into the series with this titan of an arc.