On October 13th, Crunchyroll with Aniplex started airing the first episode of, The Asterisk War. I actually didn’t become aware of this anime till just a week or so ago. When I was looking for something new to watch on Crunchyroll. Even though I knew about it, I held off for a little bit longer and actually started the series just after Christmas, while laid up with gout. I have only watched 3 episodes, so far so my current thoughts on the series will only reflect on what I have seen and what research I have done to help me write my review.
I am not sure if this is just a one shot review, or if I will come back and write synopsis of a few episodes at a time, only time and interest will tell.
The series started off first as a Light Novel, written by Yuu Miyazaki. To date, I haven’t found any other works by this author. According to Wiki (I know, a reputable source), the sorry also involved illustrations by Miyazaki as well however I couldn’t find anything definitive via google, as it was either bringing up Yuu Watase’s art or Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli’s art. Which was still a win, considering I like both artists work. Yen Press licensed the novels for release in North America as well as the Manga adaption.
When I found out that Aniplex licensed the anime, I was particularly excited. I have long found that the series they produce have been pretty good quality. Imagine my further excitement when I found out that A-1 Pictures was the animation studio putting out the series. A-1 Pictures of course is responsible for some of the best series out right now, including Fairy Tail, Sword Art Online I and II as well as some other shows. The only thing that may have crossed my mind with Aniplex and not so much in a negative way, because I like these artists, is that they were probably going to use LiSA or Aoi Eir, which they have used pretty heavily in some shows openings/closings. Again, I don’t dislike their work and own a few albums from each artist that stay on my regular rotation for music. My concern came because of Aniplex push of these 2 artists specifically that it took away from their work and making me feel like they were just another property to exploit. That kind of sounded bad, but it wasn’t meant to be.
With all that said, I guess it’s time to start covering the show, as far as what I have seen to date.
The first episode of the series is called “Witch of the resplendent Flames” which is a reference to the female lead in the show, Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt, voiced by Ai Kakuma. The show starts off like many other, setting up a premise for the story, with a narrator to explain what the concept of the story and give the watcher some understanding of the students who have inherent powers, used by a Corporate Government, to bring about shifts of power and fame for the group who wins their tournament.
After the brief introduction, we are shown our first character of the show the male protagonist (hehe, I used the word protagonist in a sentence), Ayato Amagiri. He is seen walking to school, when he noticed a handkerchief falling from the sky. He heard a female voice crying out due to the loss of the item, and in true heroic fashion he used his powers to jump up to the opened window in an attempt to return the lost item. Pretty heroic, huh? Yeah I thought so too. Once up to the window, we get our first glimpse of our female lead, Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt, we’ll just call her Julis for short. In true fan service action we are also “treated” to gratuitous shots of our female lead in her undergarments. This is because, and I am not really sure how this happened, but she lost her handkerchief while getting dressed…….what?
As you can imagine, misunderstandings ensue, but not before our heroine asks for Ayato to turn around so she can finish dressing, then once things are put away, uses her hot headed temper to display her magic abilities in an effort to punish our would be hero/peeping tom. This also gives the story a good time to explain the dueling system for the show, as it relates to the different schools involved. Julis challenges Ayato, who reluctantly accepts. Not having dueled, Ayato displays great battle prowess in avoiding Julis’ attacks, and eventually he unleashes his own attack, only to save Julis from the damage it would cause. At least that I what I thought, in the next episode, we find out that he was also saving her from an attack from people outside of the duel who were interfering.
By this time we are introduced to the Student Council President Claudia Enfield, voiced by Nao Toyama. She comes in a voids the battle and quickly takes our hero to her office under the guise of finishing his transfer papers. It is at this point you begin to pick up that this is a classic Harem Anime. We have our angry at the world girl in Julis, who will probably be the one to fall in love with Ayato as the series progresses and our overly flirtatious “big-boobed” character in Claudia who will serve to undermined Julis in her journey to fall in love with Ayato, only to show Julis that she had feelings for him all along. But as I am only 2 or 3 episodes in, we’ll have to wait and see if I am right.
Claudia’s role in the first episode is to discuss the weapons that they use, called Lux. We find out that to use specific Lux you have to undergo specific testing to ensure that you can use the items. After the discussion, Claudia hugs Ayato and mentions that she is glad they found each other, which leads you to believe she knows something about him that he will undoubtedly have forgotten. When questioned about what she said, Claudia brushes it off and we move on to the class introduction.
Yep, you guessed it, Julis and Ayato are in the same class, and even better he sits in the only open desk in the class room, next to her. She is vocal about it, especially after the way their duel ended earlier that morning. By the end of class, she tells Ayato that regardless of her feelings, because he saved her she is indebted to him for one favor and leaves. We are introduced now to Eishiro Yabuki, voiced by Yuma Uchida, who is conveniently Ayato’s roommate at the boy’s dorm on campus and appears to be Ayato’s default best friend and secondary character. He gives Ayato backstory on Julis, explaining that she is a Princess from a true commonwealth family in Europe and tries to give Ayato a better understanding of her crankiness or superior attitude.
As Eishiro and Ayato walk through campus, we see Julis being verbally assaulted by Lester MacPhail, ranked 9 in the school, and who used to be ranked 5, till Julis took his spot. Lester is still upset that Julis beat him, not once, but three times and has since refused to duel him again because she believes that it would be useless and that her win is inevitable. Ayato and Eishiro watch the exchange from the bushes off to the side, and as Julis continues to verbally fend off Lester, he questions her reason for fighting. This of course angers Julis and we are shown an example of her power with flames wrapped around her, which also reveals why she is called the “Witch of the Resplendent Flames”.
The show ends with this realization. And we get our first glimpse of the opening animation and song. The song is performed by Flying Dog, called Brand New World. I like the song a lot, I haven’t heard of anything from this group before, so I am glad they are using someone new. I feel like the song complements the spirit of the story.
Overall I give the first episode of the anime a solid A-. Mostly because I feel that some things were only there for the sake of fan service. I mean, I expect that, however I feel that the scene with Julis in her underwear was only there to make sure we capture her to our hearts as the show’s hottie, so that when we realize that she’s pretty hard-nosed, we can go back and think about how we were giving a glimpse of her in a vulnerable state. It is my belief that it could have been cut from the show and allow us more time to understand Julis before such a thing happens. I mean, even in Sword Art Online, we knew that Asuna was a hard ass, but was also a softy without needing a glimpse of her unmentionables with in the first 2 episodes.
Anywho, this was a lot longer than I anticipated, so I will end my review with Episode 1. Let me know what you think, if you would like more synopsis reviews of the other episodes please let me know. If you think I missed the mark on what the show is about, tell me that too. I will post links at the bottom to the opening and ending for the show for your review. I recommend checking them out!