The Asterisk War: Resurgence of Savagery

By Yuu Miyazaki and okiura. Released in Japan by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Haydn Trowell.

Sometimes I jinx myself. Last time I was happily going on about how Asterisk War may have been cliched but hit all the right notes and was really fun to read. So it’s no surprise that here I am, reading the 12th volume, and finding things that I’m dissatisfied with. This is the last ‘setup’ volume before the next battle, the Lindvolus, and so the author is dragging the characters to where they need to be. For Ayato, who isn’t taking part in the battle (after all, it’s Julis who needs to win it), this will involve getting threatened and blackmailed. For the rest of the cast, it will involve learning about the new Big Bad and what he’s trying to do… well, actually, no one is quite sure what he is trying to do. For Orphelia, it’s starting to look like all she’ll be getting is a merciful death. And for Julis, who likely will have to administer that death, this volume is basically terrible, and it’s no surprise that she ends it distancing herself from her friends.

Firstly, Haruka is awake, and actually fulfilling a plot function, which is nice. Less nice is that the plot function she is filling is damsel in distress, though she has more agency than most of those. She’s up and telling people about the bad guy (her real father), and the scenes where she trains Ayato to realize why he’s still coming up short in controlling his powers are quite good. But the blackmail scene, where Ayato is threatened by revealing that Haruka essentially has a bomb next to her heart that will go off if Ayato doesn’t obey orders, feels like a cliche in the bad way, which Asterisk War doesn’t normally do. In addition, while I enjoyed the flashbacks to bad guy’s school years and him meeting a mysterious student with great powers (who seems very familiar), we only get one chapter of it, and it felt a bit out of place towards the start of the book.

There’s no additional confessions in the Ayatobowl sweepstakes, though his sister is happy he has so many girls after him. Instead, everyone is training for the Lindvolus, which promises to be at least the next three books, so we’d better get ready. We get a look at some of the other participants, some of whom we’ve seen before, and some of whom are new characters. Which is good, because this is a series with a tiny cast that absolutely needed more new characters. Yes, I’m joking. Actually, a lot of these little scenes were quite good, and were probably the parts of the book I enjoyed the most. But in the end the main thing this book was after was the break Julis, and also to drive her away from her friends, and it succeeded admirably. Which is fine, but a little depressing. I like Julis.

Next volume opens the tournament, so expect our heroes to be beating on a lot of supposedly strong folks who will nevertheless be sacrificed to the plot. Asterisk War continues to be a light breezy read that loves its cliches. For good and ill.

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