Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Asterisk War Vol. #01 Manga Review

Welcome to Asterisk.

Creative Staff:
Art: Ningen
Original Story: Yuu Miyazaki
Character Design: okiura
Translation: Melissa Tanaka
Lettering: Morgan Hart

What They Say:
The school-city of Rikka...also known as "Asterisk." Here, boys and girls gifted of the Starpulse Generation gifted with fierce powers compete in the Seibusai, or the "star battle festa," fighting for glory on the greatest stage in the world.

Ayato Amagiri has just arrived at one of these academies at the express invitation of its student council president, but when he begins his career by making a dangerous enemy, his life on Asterisk is off to a rough start!

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
If you've got a story with a pink-haired tsundere, chances are I'm going to read it. Throw her on the front cover and you've all but solidified the deal. Yen Press, catching on to my romantic affinity tendencies, has done just this with one of their latest acquisitions -- The Asterisk War. The popular action manga series (Which originated as a light novel back in 2012) has finally received an English translated version following the success of the animated series from around a year ago. With a lovable character roster and some high-tier world building, it is no surprise that we're finally receiving a localized publication.

The Asterisk War, while focusing on the lives of various students within Asterisk, centers mainly around Ayato Amagiri -- a skilled, traditional swordsman who has come to Asterisk in search of his sister. Before he can get to searching for her, however, he gets caught in a bit of a pickle. Queue the cliche, yet mandatory, walking in on the tsundere girl while she's getting changed! Even though this is a complete anime trope, Ayato kicks it up a few notches -- literally flying in through Julis Alexia von Riessfeld's (The tsundere) window before getting all bashful and apologizing profusely. As is customary for situations like this, Julis challenges Ayato to a duel. As if this situation wasn't bad enough already, Ayato then finds out that Julis is the fifth highest-ranking student at Seidoukan Academy.

Despite Julis being a page-one ranking student, Ayato is able to hold his own thanks to his mysterious family sword techniques. Just as the battle is leaning in Ayato's favor, he tackles Julis in order to save her from a rogue arrow sent flying by someone who apparently wants her dead for some reason. But why would someone want Julis dead? Oh wait, she's also a princess. Surprise! Before the duel is able to start up again, another girl shows up -- this one is a total bombshell -- long blonde hair, huge boobs, the whole nine yards. This girl (Claudia), who we discover is the student council president as Seidoukan, breaks up any possibility for a continuation and declares that Ayato is not currently a finalized student at the academy. Then she takes him to her office and seduces him. Nice.

No, but really. When Ayato accompanies Claudia back to the student council room, it is revealed that he has been accepted to Seidoukan Academy in order to represent them (Along with a tag-team partner) in the upcoming festa -- a giant, multi-school battle that determines the most powerful duo in the area. Ayato's only condition is that, in return for doing this, Claudia hands over any information she may know about the whereabouts of Ayato's sister. Unfortunately, she doesn't know much and Ayato is left in the dark once again. No worries, though, he's still surrounded by beautiful women. And Claudia is totally trying to jump him already.

Speaking of attractive girls, here comes the childhood friend! Upon arriving at his classroom for the first time, Ayato discovers that the girl who grew up with, Saya Sasamiya, sits right next to him! Apparently, after moving away when the two were younger, Saya has come to Seidoukan to advertise her father's new weaponry. Considering that Saya is also an attractive girl, the harem part of the series starts right here as she and Julis get locked into an argument about who is going to show Ayato around the campus. In order to maintain a fair harem playing-ground, both girls decide to show Ayato around Asterisk at the same time. This, being a completely terrible idea, winds up resulting in a duel between the girls as the manga comes to a close. Of course, we do get a few bonus panels with a little fanservice shortly after.

In Summary:
The Asterisk War is fun. In fact, I'd say it's even more fun than the anime itself. The artwork is actually pretty fantastic and super clean throughout the entire book. The characters, who seemed rather dry and relatively uninteresting in the animated series, are beaming with life and a complete joy to watch in the manga. Considering the mass amount of key events that occur in the Asterisk War series, I'd say this is a well-executed introductory piece to the world of Asterisk. Normally, when you get a harem/action mash-up, you wind up with a series that dwells too much on fanservice and less on actual content. Asterisk War, so far, is the opposite. This series centers around...well, action. Yeah, there's still fanservice (Moreso in the manga than the anime) but those moments are executed the way they were invented to be -- brief, satisfactory distractions from an overall serious concept. I'd go ahead and recommend this to any action/harem fan looking for a long-term commitment without wanting to delve into one of the "epics."

Content Grade: B-
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 26, 2016
MSRP: $12.99

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