Hello and welcome to the start of a new anime season! Anime Corps head writer and admin Nick here and this season I’ll be taking a look at the latest magic school battle anime from A-1 Pictures, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk (The Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water). Right then so as far as season premiers go, this one hit all the expected points of an anime from this genre, but does that mean it’s a total write off?
Here are my first impressions.
For this opening review I’ll break it down into sections, plot, characters, animation & music, and talk about them separately. For all reviews following I’ll stick to (trying extra hard this season) a more commentary style and talk about what I like and didn’t like about the episode overall. Okay so that’s pretty much what you can expect my weekly reviews for this one to be like. Let’s start now.
On paper this anime is exactly what you expect it to be and after ep 1 it’s literally exactly as I expected it would be, yet even so the overall feeling I had afterwards wasn’t complete disgust but rather a slight intrigue. Maybe I have a weakness for anime set in amazing futuristic schools like this, or maybe it’s just because I saw some cute girls in the PV and that got me hooked, but whatever the case is here I am once again watching another magic high school battle anime and getting caught up in its generic plot.
Let’s start with the story: as expected it opens with a rather dark prologue with two characters dueling it out to the death. One prevails while the other lies dying in a pool of blood. Off to a great start already. The set up is in the usual narration and we learn about the world and what’s up. A disaster called the Invertia happened and things got bad. We’re in the future now and because of this Invertia disaster, we’ve got a new generation of humans called the Genestella that are faster, stronger and such and now they fight it out at a special academy or something like that.
As far as story goes it’s pretty generic, something you expect from an anime like this, so I’m not too surprised. I’ve been told that the plot does get pretty good down the line, so while I don’t expect ep 2 to have something mind-blowing happening already, I do hope this doesn’t became another typical ecchi harem anime with some light plot to bring it all together. But we’ll see how that goes. Execution wise it played out as any series opener would, showing us the world, a few key characters and hinting a lots of darker elements to the story. That’s probably what’s getting me intrigued by this anime, but I’m watching myself to not get pulled into something I end up loathing by the end.
Characters: Moving right along then to the characters, once again we’ve got a group of the usual suspects. The average looking main guy, the beautiful and hot-headed main girl, the mysterious and also beautiful student council president, the very nondescript friend of the main guy, and some typical huge always angry guy. Those are the noteworthy (the first 3 are) characters in this ep, so let’s take a look at the top 3 really quickly.
Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt is the main girl of this anime and so far despite her typical tsundere attitude I do like her. She’s voiced by Ai Kakuma, who you might remember as Isuzu Sento from Amagi Brilliant Park or maybe Ruuko Kominato from the Selector WIXOSS series, either way she’s someone I like and it’s nice to hear her again in a leading role. We find out some interesting facts about Julis, the main one that stands out is that she’s a princess from a European country. Going along with that is the other point about her being 5th ranked in the school, so she’s a very powerful princess too. Aside from that we don’t learn much else about her, but she makes it clear that she’s gunning for the top spot for a reason. As for what that reason is, we’ll most likely find out at a later date. And as a small side point, we get to see Julis in her underwear for a few moments, and as expected she looked very nice.
Claudia Enfield, the student council president is another girl introduced that caught my attention right away. While you might miss it at first, Claudia is voiced by the fan favorite Nao Touyama who I’m sure you can name countless roles she’s had. Because of the fact that it’s Nao Touyama voicing her, I can see lots of people calling her best girl based on that alone, but taking that part out of the equation and looking at the character, I also like her quite a bit. She’s very open about the fact she’s a scheming type of girl with a void of dark thoughts inside her, and that caught me a bit off guard that she’s so up front about it. It’s pretty much expected she’s also got some secrets hidden away that will be revealed later, but as for right now I’m totally buying her sexy charm. And as a side note, her character design, and just general character reminds me a lot of Cecilia Alcott from Infinite Stratos.
Ayato Amagiri, our cookie cutter main guy with the default tragic past. His goal is to find out what happened to his older sister, who just so happens to be the girl we saw in the pool of blood in the beginning, but at the same time he’s also there to find a purpose in life. It did feel slightly strange as his motivation went from finding his sister to finding a purpose in life rather quick, but whatever the case is we all know that he and Julis will end up partners or something in some up coming battle. It’s pretty much 100000% guaranteed to happen. I’ll legit be surprised if it doesn’t.
Art & Music: this is where Asterisk hits the high points and makes me want to keep watching. Right from the start you can hear that Rasmus Faber OST kicking in and I’m loving it so much!! After his excellent work on the OST for Rinne no Lagrange, I’ve totally fallen in love with his music, so seeing his name alone is enough of a reason to get hyped. When the OST for this is available I’m so getting it as it’s so worth it.
The other strong point to Asterisk is the art. A-1 Pictures is at the helm and yes they did an excellent job animating this anime so far. The duel between Julis and Ayato looked so good, the explosions and bright colors of their attacks really looking high quality. The character designs also look very good too as Tetsuya Kawakami is in charge of character design. He’s also worked on other A-1 Pictures anime including Sword Art Online, Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin and Oreimo. Along with the character designs are the really cool looking school uniforms worn by the Seidoukan Academy folk. I’ve got a weakness for really awesome school uniforms, especially if they’ve got a lot of white on them, and these uniforms hit all the right points. Lastly the backgrounds and overall scenery all looked excellent and I love the futuristic vibe that this anime has too. Lots of points for the audio and visual department as they’ve won me over with this opening episode.
Overall: so looking at this opening episode and subsequent anime so far, it’s off to a good start, generic as it may be. I’d go as far to say it’s playing it safe right now, sticking with points and elements that aren’t bad, but enough to get you interested to watch more. They’ll start getting into the inner workings on the plot and characters as things go on, gradually opening up to something bigger and darker, but as for right now it hasn’t hit any glaring bad points in my eyes and that’s enough to get me to watch another episode.
Looking back at this ep I can safely say this was a positive experience and one that makes me want to watch more. I can see potential in this anime so I want to give it a chance. Plus as I’m reviewing it I usually give those anime more of a chance than if I’m not reviewing it. The only exception is if said anime is really bad. Anyways, it was good after this premier and I’ve got a good feeling about it so far. Let’s hope that good feeling continues.
Okay now for some non-review related things, feel free to skip this if you want. The first thing I want to talk about is the schedule for these reviews. As this is a Crunchyroll show I’ll be sticking with those subs as they’re solid and very reliable. This anime is out at 8:30AM (PST) on Saturday mornings so by the time I rouse myself and rise from the dead it’ll already be out and waiting. As I’m just reviewing only 1 anime this season I’m going to try my hardest to have new reviews out on Saturday. There will be things that come up though from time to time, much like next weekend where I’m out-of-town all Saturday, but for the most part I’m sticking to the schedule of having new reviews out each Saturday.
Next I’d like to talk about November and what’s going to be happening. I’ve signed myself up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) so that means I’ll be slaving away for 30 days to complete a 50k word novel. Yes it’s gonna be hell and I ask myself every day why I signed up to do this. Nevertheless I’m doing it (or going to try to) so come November I most likely will not have weekly reviews. If I do they will be very short and probably just a paragraph or 2 with a couple pics. This is because I’ve gotta write 2k words every single day if I want to finish on time. As November approaches I’ll become more and more anxious about this along with reminders about how reviews will slow down. If you’re following me on Twitter you can watch as a I descend into a new level of suffering as this novel challenge will surely push me beyond the breaking point.
Alright then that’s gonna be all I’ve got to say in this opening review. Be sure to leave your comments down below about your thoughts on ep 1 and how you think things will proceed from here. As usual, thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and I’m happy to be back to writing reviews again. I hope this season will be a great one!
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