A common refrain about the series, especially from anime watchers, is that Touma's fights go only one way: Touma makes a speech and then punch his opponents, while they don't do anything against him or do not use tactics. This leads to accusations of Mary Sueism, Plot Armor, Plot Induced Stupidity, etc.
However, the novels reveal that there are more going on in those fights, and Touma rarely wins them alone or through sheer shounen will. Rather, the anime adaptation frequently fail to convey that properly. I experienced it first hand when I watched Index III and saw what happened to Accelerator vs. Touma Round 2, or the weird things they did during the final confrontation with Fiamma (people will remember them standing on far apart pillars for some reason and Touma somehow crossing the distance by jumping, retreating back to his pillar, and never falling, as well as the weird whirlwind effect around his fist for the final punch that confused viewers as to whether or not this was a new power he got).
For the sake of clarification, here is my summaries of the fights of Old Testament, as this is what (so far) the anime has adapted.
In the very first actual fight of the series against Stiyl Magnus (Touma's
courtship ritual comedy routine with Mikoto the night before is not really a fight), the very hand accused of being the ultimate trump card doesn't help Touma win since Innocentius can just regenerate. If Touma didn't think of the sprinklers to wet and remove all the rune cards, or if they weren't there, he would have been screwed. Another factor is that, as the narration explains, summoning Innocentius requires vast amounts of energy, rendering Stiyl's body weaker than most others, hence why Touma could knock him out.
The second fight of the volume has Touma again losing despite Imagine Breaker. Kanzaki Kaori trounces him thoroughly by relying only on her enhanced strength and speed as well as her skills in swordsmanship. Now, Touma did talk no jutsu her, which is why she apparently was hesitant to deal the finishing blow due the "difference in strength in their convictions". Touma loses, but she spares him.
The final fight is against John's Pen mode Index. If Touma didn't have Stiyl and Kanzaki, Index's Dragon Breath would have killed Touma right then and there. The attack is too powerful for IB to negate and he would have been overwhelmed had Kanzaki not deviated the blast. Touma talk no jutsu them into helping him due to the lies of Necessarius, and they distract Pendex, allowing him to get close and break Index out of her berserk state.
- Result: 2 Touma victories, by way of guile + IB and allies + IB. 1 Touma defeat, though with speeches getting him out of it alive.
Aureolus Izzard had the upper hand throughout the battle, even once erasing Touma and Stiyl's memories so that they left before Touma touched his head with his right hand. Himegami Aisa is clinically dead for a few moments, Stiyl is stripped of his skin, and Touma gets his arm cut off. Then, and the anime didn't talk about this like the LNs did, Stiyl, still alive, cast mirages so Aureolus didn't just turn Touma into red paste right after his right arm was gone, laying the foundations for Aureolus' belief that Touma was unstoppable. This is helped by Touma finding out Ars Magna's weakness (disturbing the user's concentration), and using it by breaking into a manic laugh. This turns the alchemist's belief-based reality warping against him, making him see a dragon and mentally breaking down. Of course there was the "invisible thing" involved in part, but we don't know that until 20 volumes later.
- Result: Touma victory, by way of ally, analysis of combat pattern, and a bit of IT. IB more or less useless in the fight outside of saving allies out of the reality warping. No speech, as Izzard (the alchemist) didn't let Touma a chance to talk.
Misaka Mikoto fries Touma, but it's not really a fight and he wasn't trying to win, only convince her to not go on a suicide mission. The actual fight of the volume, against Accelerator, is fluctuant: Accelerator first uses dust explosions and containers at Touma, who barely avoid them. He then tries to touch Touma to redirect his blood flow and, when it fails, Touma uses the opening to focus on rapidly throwing quick jabs with his right hand, because nothing else was a safe move. Grabbing Accelerator, or throwing a heavy punch that leaves his arm extended afterward, would leave Accelerator able to grab Touma somewhere that isn't covered by Imagine Breaker, at which point Touma is screwed. He's also trying to maintain pressure to keep Accelerator overwhelmed in a situation he's never been in before (being beaten up). However, Accel manages to get away and throws pressure wind attacks from a distance at Touma, who is overwhelmed and gravely injured. The battle is now in Accel's favor, who then amass winds to create plasma, and Touma is barely conscious on the ground at his mercy. Mikoto convinced Misaka 10032 and the Sisters to help, using their power to manipulate the city's wind turbines, disrupting Accel's plasma attack and stopping it from roasting Touma as he was still lying down. It buys enough time for Touma to get up and have the finishing blow.
- Result: Touma victory, by way of IB, quick thinking, fighting prowess, and allies. Touma did talk a little to Accel, about how he was over reliant on his overwhelming power, which falls into deaf ears. If you count the "fight" with Mikoto, 1 Touma loss and a speech.
Touma and Tsuchimikado Motoharu capture a serial killer thanks to Tsuchimikado who takes him down in one hit. The only actual fight in this volume is Touma against his friend due to a misunderstanding that he was trying to kill his father, while Kanzaki fights to stall an Angel-possessed girl from destroying the planet to kill one man. Touma is utterly trashed by his friend's superior martial skill and his father is also knocked out cold. However, Tsuchimikado only meant sacrificing himself, and blows up the Kamijou vacation home, sending the Archangel back in heaven.
Result: Touma loss. IB was completely useless this arc except for surviving the body switch everyone else experienced. Otherwise, Touma achieved jack all in this arc. It was thanks to Tsuchimikado's long range blasting that the incident was solved. No speech.
The Three Stories Arc is a story arc that occurs in the Toaru Majutsu no Index storyline. The arc focuses on three separate events that happen on August 31; two stories focus on Touma dealing with magicians while the other focuses on Accelerator dealing with the aftermath of the Level 6 Shift, which would mark the first time Accelerator is featured as a protagonist to the science side.
The Kazakiri Hyouka Arc is a story arc in the Toaru Majutsu no Index storyline. In this arc, Index befriends Kazakiri Hyouka, a physical manifestation of all espers AIM diffusion fields in Academy City and the key of the Imaginary Number District. However the two of them become targets of a magician seeking to ignite a war between the Magic and Science sides.
The Orsola Aquinas Rescue Arc is a major story arc in the Toaru Majutsu no Index storyline. It focuses on the rescue of the title character of the arc, Orsola Aquinas, a member of the Roman Catholic Church who has found a way to decipher the mysterious Book of the Law, a grimoire that is said to hold great power. The arc marks the first time Touma battles against the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the first time that two different Christian sects – Anglican Church (specifically Necessarius) and the Roman Catholic Church (specifically Agnese Forces) – come into conflict.
The Tree Diagram Remnant Arc is a story arc in Toaru Majutsu no Index. Focusing mostly on the point-of-view of Judgment member Shirai Kuroko, it deals with an important piece of the recently destroyed Tree Diagram, the Remnant, being stolen by Musujime Awaki, a fellow teleporter, as well as Misaka Mikoto and her clones' struggle to stop the experiment from happening once again.
The Daihasei Festival Arc is a story arc in Toaru Majutsu no Index. It is September 19th, and the time has come for Academy City's annual Daihasei Festival, a sporting event that pits ability users from across the various schools of the city against one another in a series of contests. For Kamijou Touma, this year's festivities have come with a twist as he finds himself having to foil a plot that could wreck the fragile balance between the worlds of science and magic.
La Regina del Mare Adriatico Arc or The Queen of the Adriatic Sea Arc is a story arc in Toaru Majutsu no Index. The arc is concerned with Kamijou Touma mysteriously winning a trip to Northern Italy despite his misfortune. Here, he is suddenly caught in another conspiracy by the Roman Catholic Church, this time regarding the mobilization of an ancient weapon against Venice – The Queen of the Adriatic Sea.
The Academy City Invasion Arc is a major story arc in Toaru Majutsu no Index. It features a series of interrelated events occurring in Academy City during Vento of the Front's attempt to search and kill Kamijou Touma, who has now become an enemy of God and the Roman Catholic Church; and Accelerator's struggle to protect Last Order, as he fights against his former mentor Kihara Amata.
In-universe it is called the 09/30 Incident, an event that would influence several other events and story arcs to come later in the series, and would be the primary trigger for the final arc of the Toaru Majutsu no Index series before New Testament. This is most notably due to the now apparent hostility between the two sides after the events of the arc as well as the acknowledgment of the existence of "magic", and the ever increasing presence of Kamijou Touma and his Imagine Breaker in magic side affairs.
The Skill-Out Uprising are a series of events carried out by Komaba Ritoku's Skill-Out gang, and would have culminated in Skill-Out's disabling Academy City's communication network allowing them to attack target espers.
The plan fails after the death of Komaba Ritoku and the turning over of power of his gang to Hamazura Shiage. However, the entire purpose of the plan was later carried out by Accelerator after Ritoku's death.
The Document of Constantine Arc is a major story arc of the Toaru Majutsu no Index series. The arc concerns with Kamijou Touma being sent to Avignon, France, in order to negate the power of the titular artifact, which is being used by the Roman Catholic Church to turn the world against Academy City. However, in order to get to the artifact, he must face Terra of the Left of God's Right Seat.
The Acqua of the Back Arc is a major story arc of the Toaru Majutsu no Index series. Following the defeats of Vento of the Front and Terra of the Left, Acqua of the Back sends a warning to Academy City and the Church of England that he intents to eliminate Kamijou Touma. In response, the Amakusa-Style Remix of Church comes to Touma's aid, but they find themselves struggling against a man who is not only a member of God's Right Seat, but a Saint as well.
The British Royal Family Arc is a major story arc of the Toaru Majutsu no Index series. The arc focuses on a magical conflict in the United Kingdom, as Second Princess Carissa launches a coup d'état for the throne with the backing of the Knights of England. She is opposed by her younger sister Villian, who has the aid of Necessarius, including Index and Kamijou Touma, the two originally in England to investigate a magical attack on the Eurotunnel.
The end of this arc, as well as the following one, would immediately segue into the final arc of the Toaru Majutsu no Index light novels. In this arc, the end of the civil war is marked with Kamijou's first confrontation with Fiamma of the Right, who had taken advantage of the chaos to steal a relic that controls Index and grants him access to the grimoires in her memory. This is followed by Kamijou leaving Index in the care of Necessarius as he chases after Fiamma into Russia, alone.
The World War III Arc is a major story arc of the Toaru Majutsu no Index series. Notably it marks the end of the original Toaru Majutsu no Index light novels. The arc focuses on the three protagonists, Kamijou Touma, Accelerator, and Hamazura Shiage, heading deep into Russia in order to save the one they hold dear just as the entire world plunges into a Third World War. In order to save Index, Kamijou is hunting down the leader of God's Right Seat, Fiamma of the Right, the man who stole the spiritual device that controls Index and has now sparked a global conflict in order to fulfill his ambitions. On the advice of Aiwass, Accelerator is searching for anything involving a "different set of supernatural laws" in order to heal Last Order. Meanwhile, Hamazura is searching for a place that can cure Takitsubo Rikou of Body Crystal poisoning, as well as finding materials to blackmail Academy City with.