Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Asterisk War Vol. #02 Manga Review

I choose my own path...My will is mine alone!

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

What They Say:
Having begun attending Seidoukan Academy--one of the six magical schools in the city known as the Asterisk--Ayato Amagiri begins the task he's truly there to accomplish: investigating the disappearance of his elder sister! He's given a powerful weapon that she once wielded, and it seems like he's on the right track. But when he and Julis are attacked in broad daylight by mysterious forces, it's clear his search isn't going to be as easy as he'd hoped.

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
After having pushed off the second volume of this manga for quite some time, I've finally wound up with ample time to come back to it. Considering I actually quite liked the first volume of Asterisk War, it's not like I was purposely ignoring the series. But after finishing the second volume, I can easily say that I'm glad I picked it back up. Without getting into the nitty-gritty in the first paragraph alone, I will assure you that fans of the anime will enjoy the manga. In my opinion, and this is just my judgement after only two volumes, this adaptation is better -- though, I have yet to check out the original light novel version of the title.

Anyway, the last volume ended with Julis and Saya confronting each other about how this harem is going to get started. Incapable of deciding which of them is going to show Ayato around town, the two girls declare a duel with each other. However, before this duel is able to kick off, another assassination attempt is made on Julis out of seemingly nowhere. Saya, who was her enemy just moments ago, winds up helping Julis to fend off the attackers and ultimately win the favor of the princess, ending the declaration of hot girl-on-girl action. Darn it. Regardless, we still get some fanservice in the ending pages of this chapter. While we're on the topic of fanservice, I just want to note that Asterisk War's use of the technique is actually pretty well done. The fanservice in this series isn't as over the top as it is in similar titles (I'm looking at you, Blade Dance of the Elementalers) but is still gratifying in the cases when it does happen. Okay, pretty much any scene with Claudia can get a little racy- but other than that, it's fine.

It's a good thing I nonchalantly segued into Claudia because she's pretty much the gear that gets this volume in motion. After summoning Ayato to her chambers, we discover some of the different theories behind the attempts at the life of Julis. In an effort to emphasize the small section of her heart that isn't pitch black, Claudia asks that Ayato watches over Riessfeld until the assassins vanish. For this, however, he's going to need some new gear. Queue the orga luxes! For those of you unfamiliar with the series, orga luxes are pretty much the noble phantasms of Asterisk War. For those of you unfamiliar with noble phantasms, go away. Watch the Fate series.

Sparing you details on the more action-oriented parts of this scene (Because reviewing action scenes is the absolute worst), Ayato takes on the same orga lux his sister used when she was in Seidoukan. Considering this is easily the most powerful of all the luxes, everyone is pretty impressed. Well, everyone except that jerk Lester. He's just pissed off. Either way, Ayato gains a new toy and it's now time to go on a date with the main love interest.

The date goes pretty well for the most part if you discount the third assassination attempt made on Julis. But after it comes to a close, we learn more about the princess's back story that goes on to flesh out her character pretty well. Julis makes it known that she isn't your run-of-the-mill princess. In fact, she used to be some tomboy that would sneak out of the castle to hang around with orphans all the time. However, growing up without parents (Who are dead, by the way) turned her into an incredibly driven, goal-oriented young woman who is dead set on doing anything possible to make her dreams come true. Her reason for fighting is now in the clear and we can begin inching toward watching her achieve that goal.

The only issue is making sure no one kills her before that happens.

In Summary:
Asterisk War boasts very impressive artwork and exceptional world building, making the manga a step above your typical action harem. Ayato, while relatively uninteresting, isn't necessarily a bad protagonist. But the real charm of Asterisk War is that all of the girls are actually pretty interesting. Rikka is a great setting for dueling factions, and the fact that each of these factions/schools have well-established and diverse reputations makes following the series that much easier. It's easy to choose which school you would want to be a part of on the [incredibly] off chance that you randomly become an anime protagonist. My only complaint about this volume is that the text continuity between some of the panels and pages makes reading several sections a bit confusing.

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

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: October 25, 2016
MSRP: $12.99

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